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Which Second Doctor Story Made Neil Gaiman Fall in Love With Doctor Who?

Fantasy author and Doctor Who script writer Neil Gaiman has revealed that the episode which made him fall in love with Doctor Who, and indeed television itself, was the concluding part of the epic Season 6 finale The War Games:

His comment came in response to a tweet which mockingly posted a rather curious meme of a woman seemingly taking her children for a walk whilst carrying a sign urging people to head outdoors on the grounds that “kids won’t remember their best day of television”.

Gaiman, who wrote the Eleventh Doctor stories The Doctor’s Wife and Nightmare in Silver, is not alone in admiring Patrick Troughton’s swansong which saw the Time Lords catch up with the Doctor and putting him on trial for breaking their rules preventing interfering in other planets’ affairs. The episode’s many memorable moments include the Doctor’s desperate efforts to escape, a moving farewell scene as he says goodbye to Zoe and Jamie, and his stubborn rejection of all the faces chosen for him by the Time Lords.

Our own Joe Siegler gave his own tribute back in 2019, marking The War Games‘ fiftieth anniversary:

“The first time we see a Time Lord was in Episode 10. The idea that a Time Lord regeneration can be “controlled” in any way was first brought up in Episode 10. The first time we saw Gallifrey was in Episode 10 (although the word “Gallifrey” wasn’t used until much later – 1973’s The Time Warrior in Jon Pertwee’s final series). There was a scene fairly early on where Troughton’s Doctor expounds on some of this stuff, claiming he was “bored” as the reason when asked by Jamie why he left his home in the first place. The claim that Time Lords can “live forever, barring accidents” was first made here, too.”

And Peter Shaw expanded on why the story’s themes still resonate in his piece Why I Love… The War Games:

“Necessity, graft, and inspiration drew out from two of Doctor Who’s finest writers, Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke, arguably the best end-of-Doctor story there ever was.

“And it’s not just a romp. The title’s a giveaway. It’s about evil men causing death and destruction. About brainwashed soldiers fighting for a cause they don’t fully understand. And about heroic resistance fighters risking their lives to reveal the truth, while striving for justice and freedom. It’s about as inspiring a story as we could hope for right now.”

All of which prompts us the DWC to wonder what was the moment that made you fall in love with Doctor Who? I’ll start us off by taking us back to 8th June 1974 when Jon Pertwee’s Doctor, fatally weakened by radiation on Metebelis Three, collapses in front of Sarah and the Brigadier and transforms into a new body… You didn’t see that kind of thing on Trumpton.

Let us know in the comments!

Jonathan Appleton

A regular Doctor Who viewer since Pertwee fought maggots and spiders, Jonathan isn't about to stop now. He considers himself lucky to have grown up in an era when Doctor Who, Star Trek and Blakes 7 could all be seen on primetime BBC1. As well as writing regularly for The Doctor Who Companion he's had chapters included in a couple of Blakes 7 books.

Which Second Doctor Story Made Neil Gaiman Fall in Love With Doctor Who?

by Jonathan Appleton time to read: 2 min
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