It’s What’s in the Dark – It’s What’s Always in the Dark

It’s 1963. You’re involved in planning the show that will become Doctor Who. A question arises: what should the Doctor’s space/time vehicle look like?

Here’s an excerpt from a memo of that period:

Evidently, Dr. Who’s “machine” fulfils many of the functions of conventional Science Fiction gimmicks. But we are not writing Science Fiction. We shall provide scientific explanations too, sometimes, but we shall not bend over backwards to do so, if we decide to achieve credibility by other means. Neither are we writing fantasy: the events have got to be credible to the three ordinary people who are our main characters, and they are sharp-witted enough to spot a phoney. …

When we consider what [Dr. Who’s “Machine”] looks like, we are in danger of either Science Fiction or Fairytale labelling. If it is a transparent plastic bubble we are with all the lowgrade spacefiction of cartoon strip and soap-opera. If we scotch this by positing something humdrum, say, passing through some common object in [the] street such as a night-watchman’s shelter to arrive inside a marvellous contrivance of quivering electronics, then we simply have a version of the dear old Magic Door.

Therefore, we do not see the machine at all; or rather it is visible only as an absence of visibility, a shape of nothingness ….

Evidently the rejected “common object” option ended up being reconsidered. But what bizarre definitions of science fiction and of fantasy must they have been working with, to deny that Doctor Who was either?

One Response to It’s What’s in the Dark – It’s What’s Always in the Dark

  1. Roderick May 20, 2013 at 6:06 am #

    More of the original showmakers’ bizarre conceptions of genre here:

    The series is neither fantasy nor space travel nor science fiction. The only unusual science fiction ‘angle’ is that four characters of today are projected into real environments based on the best factual information of situations in time, in space and in any material state we can realise in practical terms. … Our central characters because of their ‘ship’ may find themselves on the shores of Britain when Caesar and his legionnaires arrived in 44 BC; may find themselves in their own school laboratories but reduced to the size of a pinhead; or on Mars; or Venus; etc etc.

    I wonder what it would have been like if it had been science fiction!

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