“Paul McGann doesn’t count!”

There are two very different ways of looking at the character of the Doctor — two mutually-contradictory views of the character that have usually remained unspoken but which have fuelled decades of fan arguments, many of which have been proxies for one or other view.

The first is that the Doctor is not, in himself, a particularly special person.

By the early 1990s, it had become clear, despite the BBC’s occasional claims otherwise, that Doctor Who would not be returning to the TV any time soon.

While the New Adventures were an acceptable substitute for many Doctor Who fans — and in the opinion of many even an improvement on the TV show — there were those who simply weren’t satisfied by words on a page, and needed to see old character actors being menaced by improbable monsters before they could feel fully happy.

Enter BBV Productions, producers of Who Methadone.

One of the things that people who want to defend the Doctor Who produced in the sixteen years the show was off the air often say is that it was hugely influential on the programme once it returned to TV.

Sometimes this is clearly not the case

By 1991, Virgin Books (who had bought up Target some years previously) were rapidly coming to the end of the TV stories they could novelise, and there was no likelihood of a new TV series coming out any time soon. There was only one thing for it.

They’d have to hire people to write some new, original Doctor Who stories.

By 1990, Doctor Who had finished on the TV. There was nothing left but the hopes of the occasional of old shows on VHS or (for stories that had been destroyed) cassette, the comic strip in Doctor Who Magazine, which surely couldn’t keep going that much longer now there was no TV show, and the Target novelisations, which themselves had to come to an end once there was nothing left to novelise.

As I write this, it has just been announced that Matt Smith is quitting the role of Doctor Who, effective as of the end of the year. There’ll be a new Doctor. There’s always a new Doctor.

The Happiness Patrol is one of the greatest triumphs of Andrew Cartmel’s aesthetic as applied to Doctor Who. It’s a Brechtian political satire about consumerism and Thatcherism, a cutting polemic and the logical end-point of the theatrical tradition which I have spent much of these essays arguing is where Doctor Who is most at home.

It’s also an utter failure in one important way

A quick note before I begin here — I had no home internet access for a month, and so wasn’t able to watch or write about the rest of the recent series. Sorry to those who were hoping for more reviews. That’s also why I haven’t looked at comments recently.

Paradise Towers is a watershed moment in Doctor Who’s history, as it marks the real introduction of Andrew Cartmel as script editor for the programme.