It’s Time Doctor Who Did a Musical Episode
There's never been a better time for Doctor Who to give fans an all-singing, all-dancing adventure.
Things are looking more exciting for Doctor Who than they have in a very long time. Yes, we’ve got David Tennant and Catherine Tate back for the specials, but that’s already old news. What we’re excited about is what happens next. Russell T Davies at the helm of the show he brought back from the dead, not just celebrating anniversaries or reliving past glories, but taking the show in a bold new direction with the 15th, that’s right 15th Doctor Ncuti Gatwa holding the TARDIS keys.
Davies is in a position to take the show to places it has never been before. To tell stories in exciting new ways. And as far as we are concerned, there is one way to use that opportunity that simply cannot be passed up.
Yes, it is time for Doctor Who: The Musical Episode.
The TARDIS, by design, is a vehicle that can travel between genres as well as spaces and times. It regularly pops up in horror stories, murder mysteries, action blockbusters and even the occasional science fiction story, a musical seems like the next logical step.
It would not be the first show to try this (Buffy, Scrubs, Lucifer, The Afterparty and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia are some of the more successful examples), not by a long shot, but it is an incredibly natural fit. Outlandish costumes, huge set pieces, over-the-top performances and piles upon piles of camp. Are we talking about musicals or Doctor Who? You just don’t know!
“I’m not sure if it’s Marxism in action or a West End musical!”
Doctor Who has never been too far away from bursting into song anyway. The Doctor has tried their hand at numerous instruments over the years, from Troughton’s recorder to McCoy’s spoons, to Capaldi’s electric guitar (and who can forget the Eleventh Doctor’s turn on the triangle in the aria ‘L’amour est un oiseau rebelle’?)
Since it came back in 2005, music has been integral to the show, and not just in the form of Murray Gold’s legendary scores. The show has featured guest stars from classically trained singer Katherine Jenkins in ‘A Christmas Carol‘, to Kylie Minogue herself, and that’s without mentioning that before she hopped in the TARDIS, Billie Piper was mainly known for singing (that song so loud).
Neil Hannon, frontman of The Divine Comedy, has also contributed songs in the form of ‘A Song for Ten’ and ‘Love Don’t Roam’.
The show has also given some fantastic song and dance numbers to its most fabulous villain: Davros. Just kidding, it’s the Master, with his wonderful rendition of The Scissor Sisters’ ‘I Can’t Decide’ in ‘Last of the Time Lords’, and most recently, his unforgettable, in-costume dance routine to Boney M’s ‘Ra Ra Rasputin’.
You’re going to be imagining that Davros showstopper though.
And anyway, it isn’t as ridiculous as it first sounds – the design of the Daleks themselves was inspired by the way the Georgian State Dancers in long dresses seemed to glide across the floor.
But while the TV show has skirted around the edge of a musical a few times, it has never gone all the way. No, we’re not counting ‘The Gunfighters’.
But while the TV show is yet to give us the extravaganza we deserve, Doctor Who has always been far more than just a TV show, and others have tried to make this vision a reality. Big Finish audios, perhaps naturally, have been the first to venture into this territory. The Sixth Doctor adventure, ‘Doctor Who and the Pirates’ features several Gilbert & Sullivan-inspired numbers. Third Doctor companion, Jo Grant, has also featured in the story ‘The Scorchies’, which sees her trapped by aliens posing as a Muppets-esque 70s children’s show, with catchy songs that will stay in your head for years. Everyone reading this who’s already heard that one will now be humming “Jo is making a thing”.
Perhaps the most surprising attempt at a Doctor Who musical, however, comes from the Doctor Who Magazine monthly comic, with the story “Planet Bollywood”. It’s hard to carry a tune in a speech bubble, but this story tries gamely with lyrics like “Technobabble, technobabble, half the time it sounds like he’s gone mental, technobabble, technobabble, my brain’s not dimension transcendental”.
But to really see the idea live up to its full potential, we’ve got to see it happen on the screen, and not just so we can enrage thousands of fans by having a legion of Cybermen do “the robot”.
One of Russell T Davies’s big innovations when he brought the show back – such a big innovation, in fact, that it felt like it had always been part of the show – was the “celebrity historical”, and the first subject of one of these episodes was the author Charles Dickens. He was followed by William Shakespeare and Agatha Christie, leaving writers pretty well covered, and then Van Gogh, to tick off the visual arts. It’s time for the Doctor to drop in on Beethoven or Elvis Presley, or anyone except Andrew Lloyd Webber.
And really, has there ever been a better time? With the show about to land on Disney+, nestled alongside the likes of Mary Poppins, Hamilton and High School Musical 3: Senior Year, it’s time for the Doctor to show off his pipes. After all, we already know Ncuti Gatwa can sing.