Bring Back… Robert Shearman

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Guest contributor Tim Manion thinks it’s long overdue for 2005’s Dalek writer to return.


It’s 2005. Doctor Who has been off TV screens for 9 years and silence has fallen on the Whoniverse. A whole new generation has grown up with no hand to take and be told to “Run”. Doctor Who has become a easy joke of pipe-cleaner monsters and Dalek impersonations on comedic TV panel shows. All seemed lost. Then one day, the big wigs at the BBC decided it was time.

When I was 9, my dad called me into the living room, excited as a child at Christmas, to watch a ‘new’ show called Doctor Who. Fair enough I thought. Anything that could get adults excited could be worth the watch. From that point on I was hooked. But, the thing that struck me looking back now is, how on earth did Christopher Eccelston, in a war veteran, man of action-style, appeal to children? The answer is pure and simple, legacy.

Obviously the charm and wit of the Doctor was a big appeal, as was the complete madness of aliens, time machines and spaceships on Earth’s doorstep. It was all just mind-blowing. But what impressed, and still continues to tug my heart strings, was the enigma.

The Doctor: “It’s like when you’re a kid, the first time they tell you that the world is turning and you just can’t quite believe it ’cause everything looks like it’s standing still. I can feel it…”

The best example of this has to be the episode “Dalek”. It was possibly the best episode of 2005, and in my opinion, the Daleks’ entire history. Hear me out with this. Growing up it was hard to avoid images of Daleks and aforementioned cheap laughs at Doctor Who monsters, to someone not having experienced the show before. The Daleks sort of felt like a novelty. Older fans would say they would “hide behind the sofa”, but how could they all have been scared of a pepper pot on wheels? The new generation were in for some serious education.

Robert Shearman had worked with Doctor Who before, writing audio stories and short adventures. It was by Russell T Davies’ request that Shearman write a story for the ninth Doctor, and what a story he delivered (a loose adaptation of his Big Finish audio story Jubilee.) The reaction of the Doctor (beautifully acted by Eccelston) when confronted with his mortal enemy was perfect for showing a new generation just how much history and pain and suffering in a way that would frighten children and give adults the chills. It’s one thing to be scared of monsters, but when the Doctor shows his darker side it makes him so rich and deep and… real. This is why he appealed, we had seem him cry in The End Of The World and now we would see him bounce back from the darkness and be strong.

This episode is also brilliant for the way it captured not only the relation between the Doctor and the Daleks, but also the sheer power and ferocity of them. Just one Dalek was such a powerful and relentless killing machine to take out an entire army. Its eye had such a cold and silent stare, along with its broken voice and hate; it was such a beautiful yet tragic creation. An image I think is missing in their recent episodes. (Ok, Asylum of the Daleks was pretty good).

I would love too see Shearman return for Series 8, it would be so fitting. Just like when Doctor Who had to be re-introduced in 2005, he captured the Doctor in a way that summed up and re-invented the character and his greatest enemy in one episode alone. With Capaldi’s Doctor bringing in quite a more dramatic change than previously it would be fantastic to see this type of character definition again.

So could Shearman write for a new monster, or another old classic? Needless to say, i’m sure it would be chilling scary and cause us to fall in love with the Doctor all over again.

Happy birthday Robert Shearman.