They’re here already! You’re next! You’re next! You’re next!

I’ve just started reading Jack Finney’s The Body Snatchers. 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Thing From Another World are my favourite 50’s sci-fi films, and though I’ve watched Invasion many times over the years it’s taken me this long to read the book. I’m not sure why. The same thing happened with Jaws.

Jaws is one of the few instances, possibly the only instance, where I’ve preferred the movie adaptation to the book itself, and as I love the Body Snatchers film perhaps the same thing will happen now. My expectations are, though, that I’ll at least be checking the garden shed and beneath the decking for pods. Anything less and I’ll be disappointed.

The title of this post is, of course, taken from the movie, and there’s another line which, if you substitute the name Becky for Andy, I’m sure my wife could relate to:

I’ve been afraid a lot of times in my life. But I didn’t know the real meaning of fear until… until I had kissed Becky.

The Doctor Orders A Mexican

It was just a typically random conversation, walking into Manchester from where we’d parked the car.

“So, after the Dutch student leaves we’ve then got a Korean one?” asked my wife.


“Isn’t their leader a bit of a bugger?”

“That’s North Korea. This girl is from South Korea.”

She thought on it a little. “Do you know any Korean words?”


“How about Japanese?”

I’m not sure how she thought that would be of help, but answered “I know they greet each other with ‘Konnichiwa’.”

She looked at me in amazement. “How can you possibly know that?!”

I like her to think that I’m multi-lingual, so instead of explaining that I used to watch Shogun back in 1980, I tried to give an enigmatic shrug: “I pick things up.”

After traipsing around the shops for an hour or so we called into Chiquito for something to eat. We’d timed it right-early enough to avoid it being packed out, but not too late to miss a convivial, Christmas buzz about the place.

As she tucked into her enchiladas, Jen asked me “What about Mexican? Know anything in Mexican?”

I nodded sagely. “Arriba arriba, andale andale.”

She dropped her fork. “And what does that mean?!” 

“See how quick I am, watch me go!”

(I’ve just discovered it actually means something like ‘get up get up, let’s go let’s go’. Close enough.)

I didn’t mention Speedy Gonzales, just a casual “I just  picked it up.”

After basking in her admiration for a while, I nipped to the toilet to secretly Google translate something romantic, a painting on the stairs caught my eye.

This could be the Tardis, the nerd in me thought. Maybe a little battered from the explosive power of Capaldi’s (soon to be) witnessed regeneration.

Then, next to it: This could be the Tardis, given some TLC from the (soon to be) new Who incumbent Jodie Whittaker. Is that sexist of me? Thinking that the first female Doctor in the show’s history might start off with a bit of a spring clean?

I’ve tried not to go on too much about the impending Christmas special, knowing how trying I can be on my wife’s saintly patience, although with just four days left my excitement was building. I’d been trying my best not to ruin her Christmas though.

Remembering the mission that had brought me to this stairwell, I did a sneaky Google translate and returned to the table. I took Jen’s hands in mine, gazed into her eyes and whispered softly:

“El nuevo Doctor, ella viene!”

“I know,” she smiled, lovingly. “You picked it up.”

Who’s The Doctor? Doctor Who?

It’s been a Doctor themed weekend.

On Friday, I sent my wife a text while she was at work.

I’ve got a lovely surprise for you when you get home.

She peppered me for clues, but I stood firm:

Wait until you’re home.

And so eventually, shift completed and finished for the week, Jen arrive home.

“Okay,” I said. “Close your eyes.”

She did so. I’m not sure what she was expecting, but she asked “Is this going to change the way I look at the world?”

“This is going to change the way you look at the bedroom.” (In hindsight, perhaps she was now expecting something a little risqué.) “Okay: open your eyes.”

I placed into her hands:

“What’s this?”

“A signed photograph.”

“Who’s she?” She couldn’t see past the loincloth-wearing Leela.

“It’s Leela,” I replied, then, theatrically: “with the Fourth Doctor!”

“He looks like Leo Sayer gone wrong.”

“What?! He’s the greatest ever Doctor! The great and eccentric Tom Baker!  Soon he will be, whisper it, dead. He’s in his eighties now. I wanted one with Sarah Jane, but as she’s died they are hard to come by, so Leela is the next best thing.”

“And how exactly will this make me look at the bedroom differently?”

“I’m thinking of putting it on the bedroom wall.”

“You’re bleeding  not!”

I think she’ll come around with time, no pun intended.

Anyway . . .

You may have heard the news that the new Doctor was to be unveiled on Sunday afternoon, immediately after the men’s tennis final. The identity of Doctor number 13 had been a closely guarded secret, so for us fans it was a big deal.

And Jen had arranged a trip into Manchester for the whole family on that very day . . .

We were sat in Starbucks, and I kept tuning into FB. I also had someone lined up to message me as soon as the world knew who the Doctor was to be. But, just in case it slipped by on someone else’s watch, I kept tuning in. I updated, and my mobilised army of Whovians were making comments which I was relaying to the family.

“The final is still going on.”

(Jen didn’t bat an eyelid.)

“Federer is two sets up so it may not be long.”

(My son: “Roger Federer is the new Doctor?”

“David Tennant is at Wimbledon! He’s in the crowd!”

(My daughter: “Tennant’s coming back?!”)

“They could be doing the reveal there, on court!”

(Jen: “I want the toilet.”)

“The match is over!”

(Jen: “Who won?”)

“Who cares! It’s imminent!”

My informers told me that there was a lot of analysing and backslapping going on, so I began surfing the web for signs of any leaks.


To pass the time, I took a photograph of Jen, wrote ‘Meet the new Doctor’ and posted it on FB. A friend saw the caption, but the photograph took ages to load. She told me that she was having palpitations, and then when Jen appeared she commented that, much that she thinks Jen is lovely, she felt slightly gutted.

I update again, this time categorically denying the rumour that I was the new Doctor on account that, with the kids finishing for the summer, I simply didn’t have the time.

Jen had had enough and decided that she was going to pop into a local store with the kids. I said, unnecessarily,  “I’ll wait here. I’ll text you as soon as we know who it is.”

“Don’t bother.”

Off they went, and on I searched, making sure my phone wasn’t on mute.

And then I heard and was stunned, the announcement coming straight out of left field.

Immediately I found the advertisement that had revealed all on BBC.

The new Doctor was Jodie Whittaker. The first female Doctor.

I never expected it to be a woman-I knew it was coming, the Master being regenerated as Missy had served to soften us up to the idea a bit, but I thought it wouldn’t happen until Doctor #14.

Although before it actually happened I was a little unsure, I have to confess that I’m now quite excited to see what Jodie does with the role. It will be fresh and, even though each new Doctor brings to the show a clean start, her appointment has shaken things up.

And some of the long-term fans couldn’t take it. The Doctor is a thousand year old alien that changes his face, but being a woman appears unacceptable.

Surely, with the strong female leads in the Star Wars and Game Of Thrones franchises, it was just a matter of time until a woman donned the mantle. And come on-once the Doctor even had a tin dog and that was fine!

Jodie released a statement:
Jodie Whittaker says: “I’m beyond excited to begin this epic journey with Chris and with every Whovian on this planet. It’s more than an honour to play the Doctor. It means remembering everyone I used to be, while stepping forward to embrace everything the Doctor stands for: hope. I can’t wait.” She added: ‘‘I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gender. Because this is a really exciting time, and Doctor Who represents everything that’s exciting about change. The fans have lived through so many changes, and this is only a new, different one, not a fearful one’
Some weren’t listening though. Among those venting their spleen and vowing never to watch again, there were many supportive comments. I liked this one:

‘This story reminds me of a profound moment in 1988 on the last day of my senior year at Holland Hall. Craig Benton (one of my all time favorite teachers) challenged us with a riddle:
“A father and his son are in a horrific car crash. The father dies instantly. The boy, in critical condition, is transported to the hospital needing immediate surgery. The doctor upon entering the O.R. exclaims, “I can’t operate on this boy he is my son!” – How is this possible?”

Our class of 63 students who were headed to The Who’s Who of prestigious colleges were completely stumped. Not one of us realized the doctor was the boy’s mom.’
Jen arrived back: “It’s a woman isn’t it?!”

“How do you know?”

“We heard a girl in the shop telling her Mum.”

My daughter beamed: “It’s a girl.”

My son scowled: “It’s a girl.”

And there it was-the whole, Whovian reaction. In microcosm.

Let’s give her a chance, yes?



*For another Whovian themed post where you may feel further sympathy for my long suffering wife-see here:




Claws For The Weekend: Wookie Woes

In Manchester last week, in the middle of the Build A Bear store, I saw what must have been the most dejected Chewbacca I’ve ever seen. 

This is what happens when they kill off your best friend.

Have a great weekend everybody. Hug and cherish that special Rebel Alliance leader in your life. Especially if he made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.

See you on the flip side.

Which Orwell? Oh Well

I know, I’m late to the party.

Somehow I had managed to get to my forties without reading any Orwell. Seeking to remedy this, I ordered a book to be picked up at my local library: 1984.


Except, it wasn’t what I wanted. It was what I ordered, granted, but not what I wanted. There is no way it can be called a blonde moment, and hopefully we can’t put it down to age, but what I meant to order was Animal Farm. But anyway, 1984 it was.

It’s a good book, but I don’t have to tell you that, seeing as though you’ve all already read it. Somehow Orwell made that bleak, totalitarian world attractive enough for me to finish it within a few days.

There are some things that we take for granted in popular culture today, without ever being aware of their source: I have never watched a single episode of Big Brother, but I have seen several episodes of Room 101. I knew of the link to the book of the former, but not of the latter.

The book ends with little hope on offer, as O’Brien tells Smith:

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face-forever.

And, in underlining further future plans, he informs him that they are going to abolish the orgasm. That’s going too far.

Stop the world-I want to get off.

A Deluge of Doctors

The moment was almost  upon us. After counting down the days, and all the hype, it was now time for the 50th Anniversary special The Day Of The Doctor. I was sat with my unenthusiastic wife Jen, who would rather be watching X Factor. Quarter of an hour to go, trying to wile away the time by browsing my Facebook feed, I learnt that Darren, an old school pal of mine who had moved from oop norf (Manchester) to darn sarf (London), along with his partner Laura, had somehow managed to acquire cheap tickets to watch it in the cinema.

Of course I took the posts personal. Every mention of the Whovians in fancy dress, how he made sure he didn’t sit behind the Sontaran as the massive potato head would obstruct his view. Being offering a jelly baby by a three foot cybermidget.

Consumed with jealousy?

As the clock wound down towards zero hour and my wife Jen sighed and plugged into her ipod?

You bet I was.

I tried to replicate the cinema experience, switching off the light, getting some chocolate, trying to ignore my wife singing along to The Dooleys.  But, then, I learnt that




in 3D.

In complimentary

stupid glasses.

To pass those final, frustrating minutes before the show aired, I decided to swamp his newsfeed with relevant Doctor images.  Just for my own amusement, you know. Maybe the vibration of numerous Facebook notifications would distract from his ogling of a Leela in a loincloth,a Romana in a rah-rah, with a surreptitious glance towards Laura from behind his green and red lenses.

The product of a juvenile mind, I thought that I would share them here with you. I should explain that references such as ‘chips and gravy’, are just a peculiarity of the north-south divide.


Just like your London buses, you wait hours to see a Doctor then five turn up at once.

photo (3)


Great atmosphere here, even Jen is getting into the swing of things

photo (4)


Tenth Doctor:”Cheap tickets, for the southerners, to watch in an obscenely comfortable cinema in 3D?”

Eleventh Doctor:”Yes, while those poor commoners oop norf have to watch it sat on the couch, squabling kids around their feet, wives that would rather watch that X Factor rubbish. We must do something timey wimey and wibbly wobbly.”

photo (54)


“Oi, you Cockneys-take those damn silly glasses off first!”

photo (55)


“I can barely watch, Pond. No gravy. Chips…without gravy.”

photo (56)


“Hello my Cockney Darlings! Time to kick some Dalek arse!”

photo (57)


Darren, when you said you got those tickets cheap, did you bother to read what it actually said on them?

photo (58)


Yes I know. I’m cool in 3D.



Unravel this one, Jeremy Kyle.

photo (59)


No Jen-don’t put your earphones back in. Let me run this by you again…

photo (60)


Darren, you haven’t have you? Laura please check and let us know. Don’t worry, they won’t be in 3D.

photo (61)


This is just up your street Darren. The London eye, I mean, not the erm, you know…

photo (62)

With this last photograph posted, I ran out of time. The programme started, and it was ‘fantastic’, to quote the above Doctor. With the mini episode before it-The Night of The Doctor, both Paul McGann’s and Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor were tied up nicely,providing continuity, and I just love how the ‘new Doctor Who’ acknowledges, references, and celebrates its own history.  Has to be important for a show about time travel.

And for a long term fan like me, the surprise appearance, at the end of the episode, of my Doctor, the great Tom Baker, was the icing on the cake.

We only have to wait until Christmas now to see Matt Smith’s regeneration and the new Time Lord on the block.

Darren-what do you mean, you have tickets?

Jen-what do you mean, divorce?

The Day of the Doctor

Calm down Whovians, we are nearly there!



That’s whovian.

Me toovian.

Eleven days to go. Here’s a taster.

Oh, go on then-for you lot who like continuity. Here is the first trailer, featuring the old Doctors. Continuity can be complicated though, especially when it comes to time travel.

Hold on to your fez.

Jellybaby anyone?

When A Nerd Turns Manic

**Warning:Nerd Alert**

We have heard rumours before-some missing Doctor Who episodes have been miraculously re-discovered. Sometimes they are rumours. Sometimes they are hoaxes, although how anyone can be so evil is beyond me.

You may have to humour me a little, but to Whovian geeks it is a big deal.

Then a newspaper reported that over 100-yes 100- long-lost episodes had been found in Ethiopia. It sounded like our Nag Hammadi watershed moment. But experience has taught us to take things with a pinch of salt.  But the excitement was building.

Then came an announcement from the BBC: several missing episodes had been discovered, although the number claimed wasn’t accurate.

You had to feel for my wife, Jen.

Since the over 100 claim, I had been regaling her with the myths concerning the missing 106 episodes. How the BBC in their wisdom had wiped or destroyed many of the early stories featuring the first two Doctors, and ever since the rise of videos and dvds they had been searching high and low to reclaim copies. How some episodes have turned up on church fairs and in garages, and how some were located in the dust gathering vaults of overseas broadcasters.

In 1991 every episode of The Tomb Of the Cybermen, part of the Who Holy Grail, was found in Hong Kong. Finding a story in its entirety is fantastic, as it tends to be just the odd episode of missing stories that turn up, and even then it is a rare find.

There is a DVD, fittingly entitled Lost In Time, that gathers together various isolated episodes from stories that we have had to accept will never exist in their totality again.


Having initially read the ‘over 100 episodes’ claim, I admit that I may have casually mentioned this once or twice in conversation. I know I definitely spotted Jen’s eyes roll a couple of times. But I had to remind myself nothing had been confirmed officially. Try to keep a lid on it.

Being a long time fan of this great British instituion, my favourite Doctor was always the one who held the mantle when I was a kid-that great eccentric Tom Baker whose scalf was a sharp reminder to knitters everywhere to not get carried away.


Do you remember him Jen? Do you want a jelly baby?

Maybe not.

These are the old ‘classic’ Doctor Who stories, before they were reinvented with the benefit of high budget special effects and made into short, fast paced stories for today’s generation of kids who don’t have the attention span to sit and watch six or seven episode stories. Back in those days I didn’t think there had ever been any other Doctors-the Doctor was Tom Baker. Who the hell had heard of someone regenerating?

Wasn’t that something that worms did?

I can still recall being knelt up in front of the tv on the Saturday that the Doctor fell from that dish at Jodrell Bank, and turned into Peter Davidson. Emitting a ten year old’s confused and high pitched  “Who is that?” No pun intended.

I shared such stories with Jen. Cue deep sighs and rolling of eyes. She is a poet and she doesn’t want to know it.

For the sake of my marriage I kept things to a minimum. Tried not to speculate. No news is good news.

Then a BBC spokesman played things down, saying  the 100 episodes in Ethiopia claim was ‘inaccurate’. But when asked if there were some episodes to be announced at a forthcoming press conference, admitted “There is a connection.”

Oh you enigmatic little…..

What the hell did that actually mean- inaccurate, but a connection. I couldn’t contain myself.

Jen they have found some new ones! Or rather new old ones! But if it’s not 100, how many? 90? Could we dare to dream, Jen, could we? Why couldn’t they just tell us which ones? Or was it just the country that was innacurate and not the figure? Why are you doing that thing again with your eyes Jen?

A press conference was scheduled for the beginning of the week-as the day approached my wife was conspicuous by her absence. The imagination went into overdrive-would they be Hartnell or Troughton stories? Great though the first Doctor was, the second Troughton is a close second to Baker as my favourite. Clips like this, featuring both Doctors so not to give the game away, added to the anticipation:


Unbelievably, no time was given as when the conference was taking place, so I intended to arm myself with the tv remote for teletext and my Ipad  for Google search. I would have preferred a ‘breaking news flash’.

But then we were told by the BBC that they were ‘not quite ready’ and the press conference had been put back towards the end of the week. Not quite ready? In what way? And end of the week was too vague. When end of the week?

And then, came the comment

We want everything to be ready for this announcement to excite fans so they will have to wait a few days longer. They have been waiting nearly 50 years for this , so a








I tried to rip open my cushions with my teeth. My dog scarpered upstairs, and Jen blocked my calls.

Somewhere, in the dark BBC corridors of power, a Machiavellian tyrant was rubbing his hands and chuckling ‘ that jackdaw guy will be ripping out his feathers!’

News then leaked that old Doctor’s companions Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling had been invited to help make the announcement, which indicated that the found episodes would indeed be from the Troughton period, as this was the Doctor that they had both worked with.

Finally, finally, the date of the reveal in which the episodes would be announced, and a couple of them screened, was given as Thursday, betwen 3.30pm and 7.00pm.

What the hell? A three and half hour window? Why could they not just give the damn time? Was I going to have to trawl the internet again for hours? Just how long was they going to string this out for?

Millie’s toy Winnie the Pooh was launched into the kitchen.

I made a mental note for when the time came: don’t create a scene while the kids are eating…keep quiet while Jen is reading. Time passed by. Several googles of ‘Doctor Who episodes found‘ was returning nothing but old news.

I boiled in silent frustration. The night wore on with nothing. Then:

The conference had been held, the episodes revealed but, the BBC had









I apologise now for the language as I apologised then. Jen almost scalded herself with her cup of tea, the dog briefly levitated. Thankfully, thankfully, the kids didn’t wake.

I responded to Jen’s shrieked questions with a barrage of incoherent quick-fire staccato garble.

Someone who pulls the strings was really getting off on this.

But, this is the best bit- screw you BBC, this is the 21st Century! News leaked out through Twitter and Facebook. Your cold war capers don’t work anymore.

There were new episodes, Patrick Troughton ones too! There were nine, okay, not 100 as promised by that damn second rate journalist, but I think the confusion was that the amount of missing episodes in total numbered 106. But anyhow,new episodes, episodes long written off as lost to us, had been recovered. Regenerated even, from a tv station in Nigeria.

Episodes 1,2,4,5, and 6 of the six part story The Enemy Of The World was now complete as there was already episode 3 in the archives. And now the six part The Web Of Fear was missing only episode 3. As the audio soundtracks to all the Doctor Who stories exist, this last story would no doubt be released with the missing episode replaced by an animated one, as had been done with other stories that were missing just the odd episode.

I knew Jen was familiar with this trailer for a more modern Doctor Who story:


so in order to try and sell her a bit of enthusiasm for The Web Of Fear, I replaced the excitedly given line

“Dinosaurs, on a spaceship!” with

“Yetis,  on the underground !”


She looked, then said “They look like fluffy teddy bears gone wrong.”

Deep breaths. Forget you heard it. Put the heavy PC down.

Never mind. I am already looking forward to my Second Doctor Night.

And the number of missing episodes now has fallen from 106 to 97.

There must be more out there. We have to keep looking

Jen stop doing that, you look like Marty Feldman.