Watching Doctor Who and a certain other British TV series, I have come to a startling and frightening realization.
As is well known, the original series ended in 1989 with the Seventh Doctor (a startling likeness of the actor Sylvester McCoy), and the last gasp (whimper, some might say) of the classic Doctor Who was the 1996 movie, with the Eighth Doctor (who looked very much like the actor Paul McGann). That incarnation of the Doctor saw the traumatic destruction of Gallifrey, the Doctor’s home planet, and the destruction of all his people, the Time Lords, save a certain small number to be added to as the Doctor’s future adventures are revealed to us.
The next we saw of the Doctor was in 2005, with the so-called Ninth Doctor, whose adventures were channeled to us from a parallel reality by the great psychic brainmaster Russell T. Davies, and who looked a lot like the actor Christopher Eccleston. (It is peculiar how the Doctor looks like a great variety of British actors! No doubt this is some cunning plot of his.) This Doctor was still deeply traumatized by his part in the destruction of his home planet and his people, and somewhat less but still a lot traumatized by his second genocide, that of the Daleks, the toilet plunger people of Skaro.
Now: the popular belief is that the Eighth Doctor (McGann) regenerated into the “Ninth” (Eccleston), and he then wandered the universe, alone, unreported, grief-stricken and not fun, until he met Rose Tyler, the initial chronicler-focium anchor of the Archseer Davies.
I have a different theory for the Doctor’s disappearance during the years from 1989 to 2005; and it involves a television production given to us during those very years.
It is well known the Doctor loves the human race, and especially its British fraction. A considerable fraction of his companions have been British, and especially British people from the fussy post-Imperial period after 1963. (I cannot explain the choice of this time period, but I admit it makes these companions easier to relate to. Suppose the Doctor chose a Screamo-Nudian from the 26th century? Why, the seven sets of genitalia alone would make for very distracting viewing.) So, if the Doctor suffered the loss of his own people, suffered what must have seemed to him like a much too great a price for too bitter a victory, a veritable out-Pyrrhusing of all Pyrrhic victories, what should he do but flee, half-mad, into the crowds of his favorite creatures, the ebullient yet ignorant Earthlings, seeking to be a human being, a human being with no knowledge of things beyond the knowledge of men, a neophobe, a fussy human being with instinctive revulsion for the dearly paid and cosmic secrets of the Time Lords?
It is my conjecture that the Eighth Doctor regenerated into the Ninth, who was a woman; and the Eccleston-like Doctor we have seen is not the Ninth, but the Tenth, and similarly for the incarnations after him.
As for the identity of this woman, this seeming human, this Ninth Doctor who so desperately, indeed comically, tried to assimilate herself into British society, so desperately sought to conform to her image of proper, incurious and exemplary life… well, I give to you that she was Hyacinth Bucket, pronounced Bouquet, of the communicated-from-a-parallel-reality reality show “Keeping Up Appearances“.
This should be obvious enough once mentioned, but let me explain.
Who is Hyacinth Bucket? A madwoman, obsessed with social standing, appearances, and a prissy niceness of life that seems to be too outlandish to be the result of life. The Doctor rarely stays anywhere long; what do you suppose his actions would look like if he insisted on being human? Remember, this is a Time Lord that has met humans from ten thousand different cultures and generations — and still is a person who isn’t quite sure what pregnancy looks like.
Hyacinth’s husband, Richard, is a timid, fearful pushover. How else, if his wife doesn’t seem all that human at times? Suppose he was there when a familiar blue police box fell out of the sky, and a woman crawled out, bug-eyed, glowy with golden particles, and crowing of being late for a candlelit supper?
(Sidenote. Later in the Doctor’s history, he encounters a Mr. Copper (in “Voyage of the Damned“, aboard a star-Titanic), a seeming human of startling likeness to Richard Bucket (both of which characters, probably coincidentally, look a lot like the British actor Clive Swift); don’t you suppose Hyacinth must have gotten better eventually, somewhat amnesiac and confused though she was, good enough to drive for herself, and left Richard somewhere in the stars? After that, poor Richard might not have been quite willing to tell what happened to him. “It was my wife, Hyacinth! She drove a police box to the Moon and left me with a couple of rhino-headed… er, I am er um big shiny pipes, er, Mr. Copper, a er um travelling salesman and a student at, er um, Mrs Golightly’s Happy Travelling, er, University and, uh, Dry Cleaners, isn’t that spaceman enough, right?”)
Consider this quote.
“I hope that’s a first class stamp. I object to having second class stamps thrust through my letterbox. I should have thought postmen would be trained to recognise first class stamp houses!”
Do you really suppose anyone that had actually lived in the 20th century could be as out of touch as this? This is not comical social climbing; this is someone who only got occasional glimpses of human life while running away from Racnoss and the Daleks, and never sent nor received a letter in his (her) (former) life.
Or how about this quote.
“Now listen, horse, I’m not a person to be trifled with.”
Clearly people do not talk to horses, unless they are Time Lords and accustomed to talking horses from outer space. Which Doctor Bucket of course is, so there. (See the classic Who episode “The Horses of Tihsllub”.)
And for all that Hyacinth Bucket tries to be a neurotic pseudo-upper class twit, there is always something in her behavior which seems to whisper she knows it is all an act, accentuated for effect: not just her upper class act, but the seriousness of the act is an act in itself, necessary for the Doctor’s continued semi-sanity. Consider the following quote.
“Lovely day, isn’t it? Completely conducive to contemplating cosy charismatic country cottages.”
Isn’t this more the dotty bravado of Gallifrey shining through, rather than the neuroticism and snobbery of “Hyacinth Bucket”?
Ah, you might say, but Hyacinth has three sisters, and a father. Surely this invalidates your theory, even though on all other aspects it is unassailable? Actually this is not a problem. Remember how Hyacinth talks of her family.
“It is my sister, Violet! The one with the Mercedes, sauna and room for a pony!”
What human being would ever talk of her real relations like this?
And the other relations — her “sister” Daisy and Daisy’s husband Onslow, astoundingly lazy people with no visible means of support; and one more sister, Rose, who is mainly interested in men. Don’t you suppose they have a lot of money in a bank account somewhere, enabling them to live a life of slobbish indolence? A monthly payment, perhaps, for them to pretend that the otherwise insufferable Hyacinth is their sister? (What sane person would suffer such a name? Maybe someone seeing Violet, Daisy, Rose, and picking a random fourth flower?) Note that unlike Hyacinth’s neighbors, her relatives do not seem to mind her lunacy as much; after all, they are amply compensated. Onslow gets to watch horses; Daisy can dote over him; Rose can go clubbing, and occasionally drag something home.
(And the father of the supposed sisters is senile. How convenient!)
Finally, what is the name of this series of psychic revelations that the great seer Roy Clarke gave us, chronicling Doctor Bucket’s life in a dimension parallel to ours?
“Keeping Up Appearances”.
Sure; the first of which is Hyacinth’s appearance of humanity.
Now that this charade is revealed, I will eagerly wait for the BBC special chronicling the end of this dark era, namely “No Extermination on the Carpet! Hyacinth Bucket vs. the Daleks”.