Doctor Who’s best speeches | 12-10

The speeches and monologues in this show make up some of Doctor Who’s most memorable moments. The writers love to show their flair by giving the Doctor or his companions and friends rousing monologues to perform, whether they’re extended soliloquies or short and punchy passages. They’re the centrepieces of the best episodes, and we consider a Doctor or a companion short-changed if they haven’t been given a sufficient selection of meaty, memorable monologues to perform. Over the next four days I’m counting down what, in my opinion, are Doctor Who’s 12 best speeches and monologues.

I’ve restricted myself to New Who because, while I know there are plenty of brilliant monologues in Classic Who, it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen those episodes so I don’t want to miss out any worthy speeches just because I’ve forgotten about them!

So, without further ado, here goes…

12. Tenth Doctor, The Christmas Invasion

After being practically absent for the entirety of his first episode up to this point, wasn’t it just so, so sweet when Ten strutted out of the Tardis, bathrobe and all, and proceeded to lay down the law? It was the big payoff to this episode, seeing our new Doctor for the first time — for real — and seeing him wrest control of the situation in such a familiar flamboyant Doctor-ish style. And it worked. It established, within a matter of minutes, this unfamiliar new face as undeniably the Doctor in the eyes of an audience which could easily have failed to take to the new actor after the beloved Christopher Eccleston’s departure. I don’t think it holds up as well with time as it does on first viewing — some of the cornier lines and gestures make me cringe now, and Ten’s character is still relatively unhewn here — but it’s still undoubtedly one of the most memorable moments of New Who.

11. Ninth Doctor, Rose

In the first episode of the revived series, the Ninth Doctor expresses powerfully and mysteriously to Rose who the Doctor is. Although the Doctor is a beloved and iconic figure for viewers, part of the secret of the popular fascination and appeal of the character is the element of mystery and mystique which surrounds him, most obviously in the fact that the Doctor never reveals his name. In rebooting the character and the show, Rose did a fantastic job of establishing the Doctor in the minds of the audience as an interesting and endearing character, but also whetted the curiosity of the audience by casting a shade of mystery and mystique over him. In doing so it captured the essence of the Doctor perfectly, to my mind.

10. River Song, The Forest of the Dead

Just when you thought this majestic two-parter was going to end on the morose, poignant note of River Song’s sacrifice, it takes a complete u-turn and delivers one final, thrilling coup de grâce as the Doctor races against the clock in pursuit of one, final, lingering chance of saving River. It’s an uplifting, exhilarating, emotional short sequence set to River’s haunting monologue about the Doctor. It all captures who the Doctor is so rousingly and perfectly. I find it incredibly stirring and it never fails to make me emotional every time I see it.

Quickie review: Rose

“It’s a disguise!” the Doctor exclaims gleefully, without a hint of irony, as he looks affectionately upon his spaceship disguised as 1950s police box. Rose suppresses an amused snort.

Rose was the first taste of Doctor Who that a generation of Whovians would experience. It was a high-stakes enterprise, rebooting the dusty old cult show for a whole new generation. In my humble opinion it did so superlatively. Rose, in any other circumstance, would be a fairly mediocre story. London is invaded by walking mannequins. The Doctor chases the mannequins around London. The Doctor finds the mannequin-in-chief (a giant blob of molten plastic) and kills it. It’s not a particularly imaginative or exciting plot. But that’s not the point–like The Eleventh Hour, five years on, Rose was not trying to be a gripping plot, its overwhelming object was to introduce a rebooted Doctor Who to the audience, not just new characters, but the whole franchise. It answers the questions: who is the Doctor? What is the TARDIS? What is the universe of this show? What is Doctor Who? To my mind, there is no doubt that it achieved its objective, and did so magnificently. Everything new viewers needed to know about the show was conveyed stylishly, as was what existing fans wanted to know.

The Ninth Doctor and Rose make a highly watchable team, and the chemistry Eccleston and Piper have together is unmistakable. The introduction of the Doctor was done admirably. In New Who, the Doctor has always been a more enigmatic figure than he was in the original run, although the precedent for this was set at the end of the original run, in the McCoy era. This I think is a good thing, putting the Doctor at the centre of the show, and was a stroke of genius for Russell T Davies to take up this device from the get-go. Rose, too, was introduced effectively, the show establishing literally from the beginning that the revival would be a companion-centred show. Rose, almost in this one episode alone, was more fleshed out than any companion from the original run. Rose is presented as an ordinary girl from London, albeit extraordinary in her own way: it’s not just any 19-year old girl who would swing from a chain to save a man she barely knew from walking mannequins. The viewer truly forms a strong bond with Rose over the course of this episode who remains, despite everything, the archetypal New Who companion.

Although, as I said, I’m willing to overlook (for the most part), the uninspiring plot, I have somewhat less tolerance for the kind of juvenile humour this episode (and other episodes in Series 1) indulged in: the burping bin, plastic Mickey, even the Doctor himself, to some extent. I appreciate that the show was trying to find its feet anew with Series 1, straddling, as it always has, the divide between children’s entertainment and serious science fiction, but I struggle to recall anything Classic Who ever did as cringe-worthy as the burping bin (or something even worse in a later episode). The original Season 1 was directed towards children, but it didn’t patronise those children at all. I think the inclination on the part of Russell T. Davies and the producers to go in for this kind of juvenile humour was an error of judgment which, even in the circumstances (which do mitigate the seriousness of the offence… somewhat), could have been avoided with prudence.

Nevertheless, overall, a very positive start.

Rating: 8/10.