Doctor Who's Daftest Moments
Because even great programmes get silly sometimes…
Tramps Like Us
The Claws Of Axos, episode 1
Aren't tramps funny? The way they stink and nick stuff that they can't afford to buy? Ha ha. With that spirit in mind, a big shout out to Pigbin Josh, The Claws Of Axos's mentally disabled bicycle thief and first victim of the Axons. We also applaud writers Bob Baker and Dave Martin for giving a man with barely any dialogue, outside a few "Ooh, wha"'s, such a brilliant monicker. There's even a Pigbin Josh on Facebook now.
The Doctor Drags Up
The Green Death, episode 4
Jon Pertwee, the man of a thousand voices, all of them Jon Pertwee's, must have been pestering Barry Letts for years to allow him this kind of scene. When the Doctor has to sneak into Global Chemicals, he first slopes in by pretending to be a milkman (complete with comic Welsh accent), but after he's rumbled, he drags himself up as the plant's cleaning woman. Oh, how we'd have loved it if it had been Christopher Eccleston done up like Hilda Ogden...
The Mel Of The Rani
Time And The Rani, episode 1
DW was already being ridiculed for casting Bonnie Langford as the irkesome Mel Bush, so what kind of sense does it make to have Kate O'Mara as the Rani, laser-sighting all the reasons why Langford was wrong for Who as she impersonates the carrot-topped computer programmer in front of a confused, post-regeneration Doctor? From the springy walk and the helium voice to the Watch With Mother enunciation, it's an assassination of Langford's dramatic ambitions.
Peri, Don't Be A Sap
The Mark Of The Rani, episode 2
First Gary Cady's Luke Ward steps on one of the Rani's mines and turns into a tree, and then Peri goes innocently wandering off, when the tree grabs her just before she has a chance to step on one. It's a brush-daft idea, made worse by a very plastic looking tree. Even Peter Jackson and WETA struggled to make a moving tree something other than ridiculous. Wouldn't a normal mine have been more efficient?
Jo Confuses Azal To Death
The Daemons, episode 5
After five episodes of high drama and English village terror, it transpires all UNIT had to do to get rid of the deadly Azal was simply confuse the bleeder. When he tries to kill the Doctor, Jo steps in front and demands he kill her instead. Cue lots of head grasping as Azal cries, "This action does not relate!" You got that right, mate. Or convince, either.
Of All The Uses Of A Tray...
The Moonbase, episode 4
"They've punctured the dome!" the crew yell as the Cybermen depressurise the moonbase. Oh no! What to do? Ah, of course, Hobson's jacket can seal it off! Oh no, it was just sucked through the hole! What else? Ah, of course, a drinks tray! One plastic bit of kitchenware and suddenly the whole base is safe. To remind you - Moonbase writer, Kit Pedler, was scientific advisor to Doctor Who and was hired to inject a harder science edge into the programme.
The Windy Bin
The first of series one's trademark flatulence jokes. As if to prepare us for the farting onslaught of Aliens Of London, Mickey is terrorised by a wheelie bin controlled by the Nestene Consciousness before being gobbled up. After which the bin bellows a hearty belch. The spirit of Robert Holmes raped by Kevin Smith. Thankfully, Russell T Davies resisted the urge to have Davros soil himself or have Rose vom over Sarah-Jane, for which we can be truly thankful.
Robot, episode 1
If only Colin Baker's Doctor had had the Brigadier around to inform him his costume "might attract attention." Trying out a variety of new outfits post-regeneration, Doc Number Four first comes out as a Viking soldier, then, quick as a flash, the King of Hearts, and then Pierrot to a weary shake of the head from the Brig. Of all the Doctor-choosing-a-new-costume scenes, this is the most daffy. And most brilliant.
Sarah-Jane And The Hillock
The Five Doctors
In the script we imagine it read like something out of Indiana Jones. Sarah-Jane falls off a steep embankment, only for the Doctor to heroically rescue her from her certain doom. But faced with a slope that would would hardly trouble Stephen Hawking, they decided to go through with it anyway. It's especially insulting to Sarah-Jane who, as one of Classic Who's few toughies, is reduced to a Perils of Pauline damsel.
Frankenstein Vs The Daleks
The Chase, episode 4
Only William Hartnell's cobweb-brained Doc could materialise in a House of Horrors without realising it. On the run from the Daleks, the Doctor and his band arrive at a futuristic theme attraction called the Festival Of Ghana. There they encounter the world's most rubbish Dracula and a mechanical Frankenstein's Monster, which ends up obliterating the Dalek sent there to kill the Doctor. The most feared monsters in the universe, my arse.
The Doctors Gets All Heath Robinson
The Time Monster, episode 3
Oh dear, the Master is experimenting with time again through a device called TOMTIT - that's Transmission Of Matter Through Interstitial Time - and is causing all matter of mischief! But how to stop him? Of course, find a wine bottle, attach a set of keys, some nailvarnish, a cork and top it off with some tea leaves! Doctor Who's Bad Science nadir. It's Horizon by way of Why Don't You?
The Karate Kid
Warriors of the Deep, episode 3
A giant sea monster is rampaging through Sea Base 4! As ever, what looked good on paper was soon screwed up on screen. So the giant sea creature becomes a lolopping panto horse, manned by Rentaghost's Dobbin duo, and the rampage becomes a listless crawl. And to make a shitty episode even worse, Ingrid Pitt, already past her most agile, decides to defend herself from the monster by karate kicking it. Apparently it was Pitt's idea. Directors' lesson: never listen to actors.
Time Changes Everything
The TV Movie
Oh, fiddlesticks! - Grace and the Asian Child are dead at the hands of the Master. No worries though - the TARDIS is a time machine, so why not take it back in time a few minutes to when they were alive? Sorry, America, it doesn't work like that. A worrying sign of the baggy science to come, had Doctor Who become a proper US series back in the 90s. Imagine the harm done if the Doctor had remembered to do that with Adric...
Pertwee's Cross-Eyed Strangled Acting
Spearhead From Space, episode 4
...Or indeed The Three Doctors, Inferno, and a dozen others. For an actor who was desperate to show how serious an actor he was, it's baffling how Carry On he gets when strangled by the tentacles of the Nestene Consciousness. Normally straight-faced to the point of pomposity, he become a goggle-eyed loon whenever there's something wrapped around his neck. Do people really pull faces like Marty Feldman when they're being killed?
"Thank you, Doctor! And Merry Christmas!"
Voyage Of The Damned
It's like the spirit of The Goodies wafted into the world of Doctor Who for one brilliant minute. The Queen had popped up in Doctor Who before, for a few scant seconds in 1988's Silver Nemesis, but never in slippers and curlers thanking the Doctor for saving Buck House from a spaceship replica of the Titanic crashing into it.
Fact of the Day - the Queen was voiced by Jessica Martin, who'd played Mags in 1988's Greatest Show In The Galaxy.
Towing The Earth
Using a combo of Sarah-Jane's Mr Smith, K9 and the Cardiff rift, the Doctor, aided by enough people for a satisfying orgy, tows the Earth back to its rightful place after it was planetnapped by Davros. But judging by the earthquake-like shakes it produced, it's likely that many millions more died from being knocked on the head by household objects than when the Daleks invaded in the previous episode. It's still fab though.
The Chase, episode 5
So the Daleks have created a robot double of the Doctor. But it's a rubbish one. Edmund Warwick, bless him, looked as much like Hartnell as Colin Baker looks like Sophie Ellis Bextor. Lipsyncing to Hartnell's voice with all the animation of Nookie Bear, Warwick had been his double on a number of other stories, but never had his un-Hartnell-like face been so clearly seen. He's even beaten by Hartnell in a fight, meaning his was probably the weakest robot ever made.
Is That From The Goon Show?
The Horns of Nimon, episode 2
The TARDIS has been damaged and the Doctor's trying to repair it. "Right, K9," the Doc says, "without our gravitic anomoliser, this is the best we can do. Let's give it a try, shall we?" Cue some rudimentary BBC explosions (or farts with matches) and a sound effect titled "Bloodnok's Stomach" nicked from The Goon Show. It wasn't hard to see some Douglas Adams' DNA in that one.
Thank God For The Jeep!
The Hand of Fear, episode 3
The Doctor, Sarah-Jane and Professor Watson think that the nuclear power planet is about to explode. Out they scarper and... hide behind a jeep? Ah, if only the citizens of Sheffield had thought of that in Threads. They could all have survived and simply moved to Huddersfield. A rare, silly moment courtesy of Philip Hinchcliffe and Robert Holmes there. The Doctor comes across magnificently cool though, refusing the duck down.
Time And The Rani, episode 1
When Colin Baker refused to come back for regeneration duties after his sacking, the production team were in a pickle. So new boy Sylvester McCoy, though six inches smaller and 25 stone lighter, is put in a Harpo Marx wig and Baker's colour scream of a costume with computer effects over his face. It doesn't convince for a minute and even the special effects come in way too late to disguise McCoy's features. And then it's even more downhill after that.
The New Romanas
Destiny Of The Daleks, episode 1
In a scene that continues to get Who's hardcore miserablists in a lather, Romana decides to regenerate. Yes - decides. She then goes through as many new bodies as Carrie Bradshaw does frocks before a knees-up. It has Douglas Adams written all through it and though it contradicts everything we've ever been told about regeneration, we'll forgive it its many continuity sins for being giddily absurd.Though we'd have loved just one story with the big, busty one…
Harry And The Clam
Genesis Of The Daleks, episode 3
Even the best Doctor Who stories have the occasional dropped stitch. When the Doctor and Harry are wandering through the caves under the Kaled Dome to the wastelands, they nearly come a cropper with a giant clam when it attacks Harry's leg. It's about as frightening as, well, a giant clam can be. Much respect to Ian Marter, though, for giving it his all in looking so scared.
Flushing The Master Out
Logopolis, episode 2
Christopher H Bidmead has set himself up as modern Doctor Who's science police, but how he let this particular bit of duff science through is a mystery. The Master is hidden somewhere in the depths of the TARDIS. How to get him out? The Doctor does the obvious and decides to open its doors under the Thames and flush the Master out. Wouldn't the dry-cleaning bill for that be a bit steep? And wouldn't the Doctor and Adric die too?
The Creature From The Pit, episode 3
Trying to communicate with a giant, green splodge is going to be difficult. When the Doctor, having had little success before, then grabs what looks like the monster's throbbing cock and blows into it, it looks like Doctor Who's attempt at a remake of Deep Throat. The Doctor's sexuality was always up for scrutiny in the old show. It seems that maybe he went through "a phase" in his younger days...
Dragonfire, episode 1
What a wheeze, they must have had back in 1987, to have an actual, literal cliffhanger at the end of an episode. It would have been nice if it had been plotted and had a reason behind it though. But no, instead, Sylvester McCoy climbs over the railings and hangs from his stupid question mark umbrella for no reason whatsoever! And what kind of hero has to be saved by Sabalom fucking Glitz??
This article originally appeared in SFX in 2011.
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