Eight/Science (live show)

The Doctor, mysterious saver of worlds, is summoned to collect the remains of his rival Time Lord, the Master. But it’s a trap: the Master forces the Doctor to land in San Francisco on New Year’s Eve, 1999, where he is shot, taken to hospital and accidentally killed on the operating table by heart surgeon Grace Holloway. After a delay, the Doctor finally regenerates – but with no memory of his identity. He seeks out Grace, who helps him settle into his new personality: suave, energetic, romantic and full of enthusiasm, this new Doctor encourages those around him to live life to the fullest – sometimes by revealing little bits of their future. He manages to stop the Master from taking over his body and destroying the Earth, after which he kisses Grace farewell and goes on travelling alone.

Splendid Chaps is a year-long celebration of Doctor Who‘s fiftieth anniversary: eleven live performances recorded as podcasts in which your brains will be fed, your funny bones tickled, and your hearts opened (yes, both of them!). Our eighth major episode brings us to the Doctor of the show’s “middle period” between classic and new Who – Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor. A cult figure thanks to his starring role in Withnail and I (alongside alternate Ninth Doctor Richard E Grant), McGann was a popular choice and garnered much kudos for his performance – but almost nothing else about the American co-produced telemovie seemed to please audiences on either of the Atlantic, and no new series was produced. It’s a weird moment in the so-called “wilderness years” between old and new Who.

It’s also National Science Week, so we’re looking at science in Doctor Who. Ostensibly science fiction, and starting out life with an educational remit, Doctor Who originally alternated between trips to historical events and sci-fi tales that were meant to teach us about science. But amongst the mad scientists, wobbly grasp of concepts like “black hole”, “neutron” and “constellation”, and the rather more fantastical bent of the post-2005 show, does Doctor Who actually depict real science in any meaningful way? Does it champion the idea of being “sciencey”? What does it get wrong, what does it get right, and what can we learn from it about science in either case?

Hosts Ben McKenzie, John Richards and Petra Elliott are joined by a panel of actual scientists including biologist and geneticist Jack Scanlan , astrophysicist Dr Alan Duffy, and science communicator Allie Ford. Plus a musical performance from folk musician Hannah Pelka-Caven, and all the usual prizes and surprises!

Space: upstairs, Bar Open, 317 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Time: Sunday, August 11; recording starts 5 PM
Accessibility: We regret that this venue is not wheelchair accessible.
Tickets: $15 (plus booking fee where applicable)
Bookings: via trybooking.com or at the door (subject to availability)
Podcast: not yet available; released 23rd of August, 2013.


  1. camila says:

    Great! I can’t wait for this one. I think we all sometimes overlook the actual science-fiction in doctor who since it’s relatively “light”…but there are some geniuenly interesting sci-fi concepts and ideas over the 50 years of the show! will you guys talk about how doctor who has influenced the space race in britain/the world? (if it has at all?) as that’s one of the things about sci-fi that interests me the most, how it inspires people to look at the real world and inmerse themeselves in real science and nature.

    What’s our homework for eight? I wanna get started on the homework as soon as possible! ( lol never imagined knew I would be typing those words in my live haha).

  2. Andrew Waddington says:

    Another great show: this one brought me back to square one with the podcast as I had discovered Splendid Chaps via the Pseudoscientists. For me a critical part of Who was the science [even if it dodgy at times]. A line that always springs to mind from The Web Of Fear novelisation [and one i was delighted to see in the surviving episode in the Lost In Time dvd] was one from Anne Travers when she says: “Well, when I was a little girl I thought I’d like to be a scientist, so I became a scientist.”
    It was that easy those days [apparently].
    Looking forward to Nine / Women

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