Doctor Who: 10 stories that would make great musicals

After the Doctor Who Proms broadcast, Andrew selects 10 Who stories that would make fantastic musicals (best just go with us on this one)...

Many fandoms have an outpost that clamours for a musical episode, and it’s pretty much entirely because Buffy the Vampire Slayer managed to pull it off. The resulting lack of musical episodes for many franchises can largely be explained by most actors being cast for their talky bits, rather than their singing voice, though Doctor Who has dabbled in the dark art of musical theatre. To date, it has never done so on screen, instead we hear the Doctor sing during Big Finish’s Doctor Who and the Pirates; the stage play The Ultimate Adventure (also adapted by Big Finish) featured occasional musical numbers amidst the thrilling re-staging of the plot of Day of the Daleks.

Where, you will no doubt be asking yourselves, is our generation’s Ultimate Adventure? When will Sylvester McCoy take to the stage to effortlessly rap ‘Straight outta Kroagnon’ with the help of the K.W.A. in a trailblazing adaptation of Paradise Towers? WHEN?

To speed along the realisation of this dream that we all share, here are ten stories that would take the West End by storm.

Next stop, Broadway.

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The Sensorites

This six-part William Hartnell story might not immediately scream ‘IT’S OPENING NIIIGHT’, but the titular creatures are cousins of the Ood. We all know that the Ood can sing. And The Sensorites is not without its evocative moments, opening with the leads summarising their time together as ‘A great spirit of adventure’. What an introduction.

What lets the story down is that the Sensorites’ initially sinister impression is counteracted by the ensuing bickering and squabbling. How much better, then, to render such arguments and sash-based-misunderstandings through the majesty of song?

The Underwater Menace

I like The Underwater Menace. It has a scene where genetically engineered fish people go on strike, and there are other reasons. The leads give surprisingly sincere performances when confronted with one of the maddest scientists in the show’s history (an explanation involving the death of his family was cut). Professor Zaroff has burgeoning Einstein hair, Germanic accent, and a pet octopus. His plan to destroy the world will also result in his death. Sanetastic.

A Danish musical based around the destruction of Atlantis, but it lacks an insane scientist, a bustling market place, the unsung brilliance of Ben and Polly (oh, imagine the cockernee lapel-tugging), and Amdo the Fish God.

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Worth it just for the musical interpretation of the line ‘You’re not going to turn me into a fish.’

Carnival Of Monsters

Carnival Of Monsters is, of course, utterly brilliant. It’s fun, it’s clever, and it’s hugely entertaining. There are admittedly quite a lot of monsters in it, but if they can make a flying car prop for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang then they can probably knock up a Drashig (not like that, I should imagine that to be impossible on a number of levels).

The character interactions are particularly good in this one, and the idea of people repeating the same routine lends itself to recurring motifs or refrains. The tone of Carnival of Monsters is so jaunty that I anticipate crowds to pour out of theatres clicking their heels with infectious levity. 

Also, I want there to be a song called ‘One Has Twinges’ in the style of ‘I’m So Ronery’ from Team America. 

The Horns Of Nimon

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Famous for one of the great over-the-top performances in the show’s history (Graham Crowden’s Soldeed), the Nimon themselves are purple bulls wearing nifty off-the-thigh glittery skirts. Add some dry-ice, a glitterball and some rollerskates and you’ve got yourself a high-camp extravaganza. 

Then there’s option two: Every single one of Soldeed’s lines is crying out for Bruce Dickinson to sing it. Indeed, so is the title. I can clearly hear ‘…of Niiiiiimon’ being cried after two chords crash and fade. Bring in Iron Maiden as creative consultants, and only glory can ensue. 

The Caves Of Androzani

The Phantom of the Opera? A Lloyd-Webber musical? That’s of little to no interest. 

What? 

They’ve remade it? With guns? And drugs? And robots? 

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The only way this could be better is if an amoral businessman concluded each one of his songs by breaking the fourth wall, and it concluded with an Orbital remix of A Day in the Life.

Timelash

The Doctor is his technicolour dreamcoat belting out tune after tune with the aid of H.G. Wells and the unforgettable menace of Maylin Tekker? Sold.

Who could forget such timeless classics as ‘The Bandril Ambassador’s Suite’, ‘Dangling on the Edge of Oblivion’, and Peri’s touching yet jaunty reflection on the perils of time-travel: ‘I’m Being Menaced by a Morlox’? 

And then of course there’s the fearsome Timelash itself: most people depart with a song. 

Remembrance Of The Daleks

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‘Daleks do not sing,’ say the Daleks in Jubilee. However, what is Remembrance of the Daleks if not a subtle reworking of West Side Story? Instead of the Sharks and the Jets, we have the Renegades and the Imperials. There’s still a focus on social issues facing Britain in the Sixties, and we have the complex on/off relationship between the Doctor and Davros, which ends in tragedy when – due to an unfortunate misunderstanding – the Doctor commits a teensy bit of genocide. Then we end with a funeral procession, and a melancholic realisation that maybe things got a bit out of hand.

It’s basically the same.

Doomsday

Tragedy. When the feeling’s gone and you can’t go on. It’s hard to bear. Also it’s good television. Possibly the only way to make people cry more at the end of this would be to insert ‘The Love is Gone’ from the VHS cut of The Muppet Christmas Carol. For nothing other than catharsis, I think people would go to singalong versions of this musical and wail along.

Gridlock

First of all, there are cats. Secondly, there are hymns (Series three was big on religious-faith-subtext). Thirdly there is a ready-made chorus in the supporting cast. Fourthly there is the Face of Boe (as played by Alfie Boe). Fifthly, with the Doctor jumping onto all those cars, there’s room for a percussion heavy song and dance number, topped off by the Macra employing their claws in lieu of cowbell.

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Doctor Who Unbound: The Musical

A play separate from established continuity in which the Doctor – as played by Andrew Scott – has to thwart the dastardly plans of Professor Moriarty – played by Andrew Scott – with help from his new companion, the Fonz (Andrew Scott). Songs include: ‘Great Scott’, ‘The Height of All Pleasures (The Lord of All Things)’, and ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’. The show culminates with all the Andrew Scotts singing a lament for his status within continuity. Possibly a shark is involved. 

And now for the inevitable punchline: 

The West End Musical of Rassilon:

Let’s do the Time War again.

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