Five/Fear

Hosts Ben McKenzie, John Richards and Petra Elliott discuss Peter Davison and fear in Doctor Who in the fifth (well, okay…seventh) live Splendid Chaps episode, recorded at the Public Bar in Melbourne on May 19, 2013, and rushed to your ears in a fraction of the usual time! (You may find it a bit rougher around the edges than normal…) Our guests this month are comedian and actor Tegan Higginbotham (Watson) and horror writer Narelle M Harris, plus musician Georgia Fields performs a cover of Bullamakanka’s “Dr Who is Gonna Fix It”!

Narrelle M Harris, Tegan Higginbotham, Petra Elliott, John Richards and Ben McKenzie. Photo by Robert Young.
Narrelle M Harris, Tegan Higginbotham, Petra Elliott, John Richards and Ben McKenzie recording episode Five/Fear of Splendid Chaps at The Public Bar. Photo by Robert Young.
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Don’t forget you can go into the draw to win a (Region 4) DVD copy of The Visitation (Special Edition) by commenting on this episode below! Tell us whether Davison’s Doctor was bland, what you really think of Adric and Nyssa, share the scariest moments you can remember or just tell us what you thought of this month’s show. Comment by June 14 to be in the running, and we’ll announce the winner at the recording of Six/Clothes on June 15.

47 comments

  1. Tom Bowyer says:

    My personal scariest moment of the show is Inferno, half because as a child I suffered a crippling fear of Dr Suess’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas, in particular the Jim Carrey film, and thus the Primords, with their green fur and bestial nature scared the living daylights out of me. It also scares me now because of the fact that at the end of the episode, an entire world is destroyed, and the Doctor doesn’t get to save them, instead an entire world like ours burns to death slowly and horribly, in what must be the highest death count of any Doctor Who story. All of that said, Doctor Who isn’t really that scary for me most of the time, however a couple of nights ago I had what was, in retrospect a nightmare, featuring the Taran Wood Beast…

  2. Scott Vandervalk says:

    I’ve always struggled to connect with the 5th Doctor and stories on TV (the audios are a different matter).

    Terminus is rather dire, but I watched Kinda for the first time in a long time recently – and it was excellent. The writing and Peter Davidson were both in top form

    • John Richards says:

      I’m such a fan of this period, and I had such a great time revisiting it. Kinda is excellent, as is Snakedance, the sequel. I also give mad props (as the young people probably no longer say) for Enlightenment, Caves Of Androzani, The Awakening, Frontios, Resurrection Of The Daleks, Earthshock… Even Terminus, which I admit isn’t my favourite either, has some lovely moments. I remember as a kid being terrified by the first cliffhanger.

  3. Georgia Fields’ “Dr. Who is Gonna Fix It” brought me close to tears while I was sitting in the audience… and damned nearly did again as I listened to the podcast. Very cool.

    The story “Enlightenment” resonates as a strong favourite of this era, mainly because my younger brother and I had just secured a copy of Ultimate’s “Cyberun” for our Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48K computer (search for an image of the cover of the game if you need to see why).

    Any time the question of ‘my Doctor’ comes up, I get a little muddled. Tom Baker was *technically* that, but (because of ABC scheduling and repeats) Jon Pertwee is the one I think of when I reminisce fondly on the subject of fear — so much of the scary stuff was actually a part of our world!

    HOWEVER, it was Peter Davidson that got me through until the end of high school. Much of watching a Davidson story today is accompanied by the residual thoughts, “I’ll watch this, I’ll have dinner with the family, then I’ll get in and do some study… it’s a school night. After that I’ll pen some teen angst poetry, practise that third chord I’ve been trying out on the guitar, then see if I can try out this ‘shaving’ thing without decapitating that zit on my cheek.” And there’s nothing really more terrifying than that.

    Thanks for another great instalment in this podcast series!

  4. Ben Collins says:

    I’ll always remember Caves of Androzani as “The one where everyone dies”. Really huge contrast from the current series, in which death is both rare and seemingly reversible in a lot of cases.

    • Andrew Mitchell says:

      I think the problem that “death is both rare and seemingly reversible in a lot of cases” has been a problem since the reboot. I’ve loved is all from nine to eleven, of course, but too much “just this time, everybody lives” de-values the drama for me. Sure, Amy and Rory “died” but it was after a long (and presumably happy) life together. With series 7 and the stories of with Clara and River it seems to be getting worse.

      • John Richards says:

        I must admit the recent “death has no meaning” approach has been getting to me. Dramatically, it undercuts any moment of grief because you know the character is likely to come back to life before the end of the series, if not the end of the episode (or indeed, in The Name Of The Doctor, by the end of the same scene). So having the show trying to make me cry over a “dead” character ends up being annoying when you know they’re going to undo it any second. It was odd to realise that every regular (and semi-regular) character on screen in the most recent episode had been “dead” at least once.

        I feel this is also one of the base differences between science fiction and fantasy – science fiction generally considers death to be final or at the very least a Really Big Thing whereas fantasy tends to see it as a possible bump on the road. I would like to see Doctor Who really kill a regular character again, to pull an Adric on us, just to let us know that threat can actually happen (I think Tegan did a great job of explaining the importance of that in the podcast).

        • Andrew Mitchell says:

          Agreed John. Unfortunately it’s going to be a bit hard to really kill Clara now that she’s present throughout the Doctor’s whole timeline.

          • John Richards says:

            Oh, I wasn’t just thinking Clara. There’s Strax, Jenny, The Doctor, River, Amy, Cap’n Jack, Rory, Rory, Rory, Rory, Rory…

  5. Mathew Guglielmi says:

    I starting watching Doctor Who during the Peter Davison era and remember having nightmares about Kinda and Snakedance. The scenes where Tegan was possessed by the Mara I had to turn down the volume on the tv, as the scenes really freaked me out. I could not get the courage to even watch the episodes until the ABC repeated them at 5:30am in the early 1990’s. I then was able to appreciate the stories as some of the most cleverly written in the series history.

  6. Henrik Hansen says:

    Another excellent episode. Thank you especially for the closing song. I found it hauntingly beautiful.

  7. Murray says:

    I really think that we need a census of twins called Tegan and Nyssa. I was about to come here to mention the twins I knew in the Pilbara of WA when I heard Ben talking about the pair he knew as a kid. I still remember the moment I first heard their names being called out in the shop I worked in. I was dumbstruck.
    For reasons I can’t explain, I have very little recall of any Peter Davison stories from “back in the day”, even though I remember watching Who at and either side of that period (not that I saw much of six at the time either). Was the timeslot unusual? The introduction to him that I remember was in the Target books, before following him up on video. I remember being a bit put off, in part via the books, by the idea that it seemed like he was too “kid-friendly” – he seemed to travel around with “kiddish” characters (if not kids as such, the fresh-faced young adults that TV casts in preference to actual kids) and seemed to have his picture on all of the lamer ‘educational’ Doctor Who books.

    • Steve Leahy says:

      I met a Nyssa in the relevant age range a few years back, and asked the (to me) obvious question. The answer was, “No, I’m an only child, but yes, my parents are Doctor Who fans”. I recall that a Sydney couple who produced a well-known DW newsletter back in the 1980s named their daughters Nyssa and Tegan.
      In 2006 there was a sudden up-surge in the popularity of the name Amelia, which has continued to this day. I know this because when my daughter came along in 2007, and we named her after her great-great-grandmother, we thought we’d picked a nice, but relatively uncommon, name. Then we started paying attention to those yearly lists they put out, and realised that we we wrong, it wasn’t that uncommon. This was brought home when she wen to kindergarten and she was one of three Amelias in a class of 25 kids.
      Now in 20 years or so, all these Amelias are going to be considered “Amelias of a certain age” and get asked about their parents TV viewing habits, even though they’ll be too old…

  8. Ian Simpson says:

    Chaps; cannot tell you how much I’m enjoying these podcasts (even though I I sort of just did). I’m a fan from way back and I have real soft spot for the stories of the Fifth…cleverly written (absolutely) but with great imagination & imagery….

    Come on, do a Podcast from the UK….maybe in November?

  9. Sam Streeter says:

    I think fear has so many facets and it’s effect on each of us is so personal that even what scares us may seem inconsequential to someone else. For example, I’m not a fan of jump scares as most seem pointless & contrived. In Torchwood: Children of Earth (I know it’s not Who) I was so scared & horrified by the government committee divvying up the children as it was one of those things that I could see as being real (in some incarnation).

  10. Claire McDowall says:

    Speaking of fear…. your podcast helped me solve a mystery! From about 5 to 15 I had a reoccurring dream of being chased through a big white spaceship. I ended up hiding behind the centre console in this big round room. There were people in pods in the walls, and they started to come awake to come and get me… I didn’t know where this dream came from until I heard you mention arc in space. Something twigged and I found the episode on YouTube. Viola! The source of my reoccurring dream!!!! THANK YOU! I told Mum, and her reply? “I knew you were too young to watch that show”.

    • Sarah Brown says:

      I used to have recurring dreams/nightmares about being chased by daleks or cybermen, whose on-earth human traitor was usually my social studies teacher. That was… odd. And I have a worm phobia, which I’ve pinned down to the Green Death and the scene with the giant maggots. *shudder* My mum was a huge Doctor Who fan, so it was always on TV for us.

  11. Daniel Burnett says:

    Peter Davison is the first Doctor I really managed to get into or even accept after Tom Baker. I’d grown up only watching Tom and rented out Snakedance from the video shop. I remember how strange it was so see someone so utterly different in the role and yet compelling enough to watch. By the end of that story I think I had become `a full fledged fan because it was then and only then I fully grasped how Dr.Who can be a different show with a different lead but still thoroughly enjoyable.

    As an adult I respect Davison even more because in all honesty, following after Tom can not have been easy. Davison was more than up to the task and for me, he manages to make even the stories I’m not a huge fan of not only watchable but still enjoyable.

  12. Kerry Dustin says:

    While I’m of an age to have had Pertwee or Baker as my first Doctor, my parents didn’t have a TV during my younger childhood years, so I’ve always considered Davison as my first Doctor. As such he will always have a special place in my heart. I don’t remember hiding behind the sofa, but knowing my childhood self, I was probably in and out of the room depending on how nervous the show was making me feel.

    Someone mentioned the theme music (didn’t they?) and my son was terrified of the Tennant theme. He’d go racing out of the room in terror whenever he heard it, which meant I had to be careful about scheduling my Who viewing.

    I’ve only just discovered the podcast (thanks to Tansy) and I’ve really enjoyed getting caught up. I’m a bit sad I’ll have to wait a month for each new one now.

  13. Steve Clark says:

    Blink was definately the scariest for me but my three year old boy got pretty scared the other day watching “Hide”. I’m hoping to instill that “my first memories are of hiding behind the couch while watching Doctor Who” response. Also, how far in advance can you get tix to these things. My birthday is in October and doing the math this should correspond with David Tennant, (my fav Doctor despite growing up with Tom Baker). So I’m hoping to go to that show for my Birthday and bring along my geeky Doctor loving friends.

    • Ben says:

      Hi Steve! We usually try to get tickets on sale at least a month in advance, but for the new series episodes we think there might be more demand, so if possible we’ll get those on sale earlier. Depending on how early we can confirm venues and guests and so on, of course!

      As for Hide, the bits in the woods were pretty classic horror film stuff. I found them freaky, and the monster too – at least until we saw its goofy face close up… 😉

  14. Ari B. says:

    Years ago, I met a woman named Tegan. (Oddly enough, Tegan was a waitress at the local Kosher deli, but I digress.) Upon conversation, I learned that Tegan’s parents were indeed Doctor Who fans, and that she has a sister named Perpugilliam (usually called Peri, but when she was a small child, she loved trotting out the full name). There was a third sibling with a companion name, but I don’t remember it at the moment. K9? Turlough? I’m not sure.

  15. Sarah Brown says:

    I actually prevented a child from being named Nyssa. I think her father had convinced her mother that no one would ever get the obscure reference (this was in the first year of the new series), but she gave me the list of names to read, and the first thing I said was “What, like Doctor Who?” and my friend got a set look on her face. The baby was named Phaedra. 😀

  16. Sarah Brown says:

    OK, I will put this out there: my second child is due on 23 November this year. I have been teasing my family that I will have a Doctor Who themed name: does anyone have any less obvious suggestions? We don’t know the sex yet, so names can be for a boy or a girl.

    Until then, the Brig is growing well. 😀

    • John Richards says:

      I think Peri is quite nice, myself. Or Jamie? Zoe? Polly or Ben? Canton Everett Delaware? Verity is very nice, or Delia…

      • Sarah Brown says:

        Not Zoe! There’s a bad association with that name. I do like Verity, not sure if the man will go for it.

      • Sarah Brown says:

        Heh. The man has agreed that Rory is nice – what do you all think? Could work for a boy or girl?

        And there’s always Stormageddon. 😉

        • Kerry says:

          Rory is nice. That could work for a boy or a girl. (Maybe don’t call him Mr Pond if you get a boy though.)

    • Andrew Mitchell says:

      How about Jane? I really liked the Doctor’s Daughter and I hoped that she would be a recurring character.

      Or John? As in John Smith.

    • Kerry says:

      I rather like the idea of Zoe as a name that’s pretty and not too common and has a less than obvious Doctor Who link.

      I’m not so sure about a boy’s name. Depending on who he meets, Jamie may or may not be obvious. Same with Jack, but going back to the old show, Ben might work and it still a modern name.

      Either way, picking from a show or not, you can’t win. We decided to name our son Marcus (any outside inspiration that might have happened related to Marcus Aurelius) and all our friends, knowing our viewing tastes, assumed he’d been named after Marcus Cole on Babylon 5. To this day I don’t know if they believed our protestations to the contrary or not.

      • Sarah Brown says:

        I think Jamie’s pretty tame. I had thought Alistair, which is also my grandfather’s name, and a quiet nod to the Brigadier. Obviously we don’t know the sex yet, so that doesn’t narrow it down.

        • Narrelle says:

          Well, Alistair could nip down to Alice quite nicely, which is not precisely the same, but WE’LL know.

          Jamie/Jaime works for both genders, and I loved his character.

          There’s always Ace… though people might think you’re referencing Red Dwarf.

    • Rhonda says:

      Leela, My favourite of all time. She had a sweet innocence but was also a strong, beautiful, brave and determined warrior; all of them characteristics I believe are welcome in a woman…. or a man although I don’t think he could get away with the name Leela. Yes, there would be many who recognise it as a Who name but there is no shame in that. Much better than being given a boring, everyone has it, name.

    • Alsatia says:

      Rory is a really good name. Stormageddon works too, but only if you use his full name which is “Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All” if I remember it correctly, anyway. 😉

  17. actualchad says:

    Despite growing up with Pertwee and Baker I, it was during the Davison era that I found my feet as a FAN, not just a watcher. I started reading the books voraciously, clipping out or photocopying the slightest mention of the show in magazines, newspapers or books, and working on my knowledge of older programs that I had never/would never see.

    Unfortunately, for me, it was also the point where the show began to slide into cheap-looking, cardboard sets and effects (never mind that the effects of the 60s and 70s were terrible, the sets were definitely a higher standard.)

    It also seemed to be the time that merchandise exploded locally, with Davidson’s face on everything. Sure, Baker’s time was the biggest of the classic show, but coming into the 80s had spurred the show to endorse every merchandising opportunity possible with Davison’s face, almost like they were trying to scrub out the memories of Baker from the public consciousness.

    But I totally understand the passion and glee in Time Crash, and it was amazing to see Davison inhabit that persona after all that time, and just NAIL it.

  18. Megan says:

    I really enjoyed listening to the podacast of your five/fear episode. Though I admit now I feel a bit ripped off, Tegan is a much cooler name than Megan, only one letter different! I was. even born in that era. Oh well back to the podcast, I cant say too much about Peter Davidson but he does seem a tad bland compared to other doctors. Im glad I listened to your show because now I have a new list of episodes to watch! I love that you give us ‘homework!’ Im hoping to join you at one of your shows soon!

  19. Richard Ingram says:

    I have never had the hide behind the sofa feeling from Who, but the best episodes do seem to be the scarier ones. Blink was the episode that made me a fan, until then i had only watched a couple of serials and the Paul McGann film as a child and a few of the Christopher Eccleston ones. Now I am trying to get some from every era to try them. I just wish a TV station in the UK would play repeats of the older episodes, they seem to be stuck on New Who, while it seems Australasia gets the classics.

    The only Peter Davidson who i have seen is Time Crash, so I look forward to trying some of your recommendations.

  20. Matt Church says:

    Great Podcast. Davison was the first ‘New Doctor Who’ for me as well.

    I wonder if Adric was so hated more for Matthew Waterhouse and the revelations of the actor’s behavior on set more than the actual character of Adric.

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