“Are You the American?”

Because the Doctor needs his companionsTrue story: Late last October, on my way back from the Vienna film festival, I cleverly arranged a seven-hour layover in London so I could dart into the city to stock up on all the British goodies I so dearly love — bakewell tarts, mint Kit Kats, and the like — before catching my flight home.

Because the Piccadilly line train is largely above ground for the airport run, I phoned Kate to give her an update on my whereabouts. I don’t remember the exact content of the conversation, but it was in some way film-festivaly — some stuff about Vienna, and a mention of stopping by the London festival’s offices while I was in town, since that was still running and I’ve made some friends there.

And somewhere, I guess, we talked about “Doctor Who”. Maybe it was that the Christmas special had just been announced; maybe Kate had asked me to pick something Who-related up at Tesco’s, which is more likely. Anyway, there was some chat about that, and then I hung up.

At which point, I noticed the two well-dressed young gentlemen sitting opposite me, staring with what I can only describe as “goggle eyes”.

I nodded a hello. (I am polite, especially on public transit in foreign lands.) They nodded back, and after a moment, the younger one of them leaned forward and asked what seemed like a very important question.

“Are you … the American?”

It seems that they both worked for the BBC, and had heard that someone from America was coming in to “help” with “Doctor Who” as the show enters a bumpy transition period. Not only is it changing showrunners, with Steven Moffat stepping in for Russell T. Davies, who’d brought the series back from the dead in 2005, but the Doctor himself is being replaced; David Tennant had announced he’ll be leaving the role at the end of 2009. (UPDATE: Upon reading this post, Kate reminded me that we were, in fact, actually discussing Tennant’s departure, the news of which had broken just hours earlier.)

And from what they’d heard of my conversation, it seemed I might be that American. I gently informed them I was not. I told them what I did do, and we talked about several things, including the show; eventually, I managed to glean that neither of them actually worked on “Doctor Who” — I think they worked in the legal department — but had dealings with the entertainment side of things.

But I did suggest that they strongly consider Dylan Moran as the next Doctor. His name hadn’t come up in any serious speculation, which amazed me; the looks on their faces suggested they hadn’t thought much about him, either. We parted ways at the Hammersmith station, they heading for the BBC offices and me on my way to the nearest pasty shop.

Flash-forward to yesterday, and the discovery that my advice went unheeded. The BBC finally announced the identity of the eleventh Doctor; it’s some flubby-faced unknown named Matt Smith, who at 26 is the youngest actor ever to play the role. I’ve watched the interview that appears on the official “Doctor Who” site; it does not exactly fill me with hope for the future of the series.

The American — well, this American — disapproves. But he also abides. Hang in there, Dylan. Our time will come.

3 thoughts on ““Are You the American?””

  1. I like the idea of a drunk, cranky, Irish Doctor.

    “Doctor! Save us!”

    “I’m drinking.”

    “You can drink later!”

    “I’m not saving you with that attitude. Here. Have a drop. It’ll shut you up”

  2. I’m convinced that one of these days Dylan Moran is going to surprise everyone with a superb dramatic role.

    PS. Extra points for one of the best Black Books pics ever.

  3. Sadly, what’s great about Doctor Who is also what’s bad about it. Because he can regenerate, the show can go on for ages (I’ve watched since I was a teenager and Pertwee was the Doctor). But if a really good actor playing the Doctor leaves, it can take a long time for “forgive” the new one for replacing a favorite. I hated it when Christopher Eccleston left after one year, and I will hate it when David Tennant leaves. Thank God Captain Jack doesn’t regenerate.
    Fingers crossed not to be too disappointed.
    (Maybe you should have offered to be creative consultant on the show and work for Jaffa cakes.)

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