It’s looking increasingly like it’s back on the 27th of this month. Are you excited? Particularly after the word of mouth about ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ (s6 ep 08) I certainly am!
This should do just the trick. If only the real show were like this…
OK so there are plenty of people (particularly a certain niece of mine) who won’t want to (or shouldn’t) read this post. It’s incredibly spoiler heavy and full of speculation about what the the underlying plot of series 6. So here’s your chance to click somewhere else and here’s a little
Why did the Doctor kill himself?
It was clearly planned – you can tell by the Doctor’s body language. Delaware knew, the Silence knew and River seems to have known something. The secrets are spoken too far away from the companions to know, so what could cause the Doctor voluntarily to walk into his death? It certainly seems connected to something involving Amy and/or River, but what? His and Amy’s true relationship is apparently going to be revealed – what don’t we already know? Remember him lying about the crack in space following her around him series 5…?
What’s the secret of the space suit?
Why is it used to kidnap the little girl and to kill Eleven?
And who was in it when it killed the Doctor (whom he clearly knew in advance would be there)? River Song in ep 1 says ‘of course not’ when she fails to kill whoever was in the suit. Does she know what’s going on because that was her in the suit? It’s highly unlikely Eleven remains dead at the end of the series, so short of rebooting the universe again, how do they do it?
What’s with the quantum pregnancy?
Why do the Silence need the Doctor to know about it? Amy’s nauseous one minute, then not the next. So is River. Rumours are abounding online about two children.
Who is the little girl?
If she’s Amy’s child how can she regenerate? And who’s the father? If she’s River Song, why does she seem to have no Time Lord-related talents at all?
Who is Eye Patch Lady?
Amy has serious lost time from ep 2 when she was kidnapped by the Silence. Did they impregnate her? What is a humanoid doing voluntarily working for/with the Silence? Apparently named Madame Kovarian, is Amy dreaming of her or remembering her? And why?
Can time really be rewritten?
His previous incarnations insisted not, but Eleven was gung ho about it in series 5. What are the implications for rewriting time and who would really benefit from it?
What’s with the Silence’s Tardis?
It’s the same one cloaked above James Corden’s flat in series 5, which needed a Time Lord to be activated. So why is it constantly hidden, whose is it really, and why not just try to kidnap the Doctor to power it?
Who is River Song?
In her first appearance in the Library she knew his name. The kiss in ep 2 suggests just the relationship that Ten theorises. If they’re destined to be together in her past, and if a past River killed Eleven, how can their relationship happen at all? There has been talk of parallel timelines happening at the same time, and it wouldn’t surprise. Since the start right until last night’s episode Moffat has based his run on the theme of things happening in front of your face which you can’t see.
After the universe was rebooted it took Amy remembering the Doctor to return him to existence. River had never forgotten. She could well be the Time Lord who seems to be revealed in ep 2, but why not regenerate in the Library when she saves Ten?
What are the Silence really up to?
On the planet for centuries, manipulating humanity to what? The moon? Purely to justify the space suit which kills the Doctor in the future and kidnaps (and houses) the little girl? They’re at the Doctor’s death despite him tricking them into suggesting humanity kills them all, and constantly focus on Amy. Have they been doing that off camera in series 5 too? ‘You are Amelia Pond: you will bring the silence.’ Is that so?!
What is this all leading to?
Pond’s pregnancy, River Song’s secret, ‘silence’ falling, and whoever manipulated the Tardis to destruction, causing the cracks in space. All connected? I wonder.
I’ve seen an excellent theory suggesting…
the young girl is River – an assassin created to kill the Doctor (remember even the Daleks fear her adult self), which she seems to do. But all is not as it seems – by inviting the adult River to the deaths she’s already caused, he can successfully cover up the fact he isn’t really dead – he’s sustained by something to do with the second shot (which she remembers and makes sure Amy doesn’t interfere with), and of course she is hardly going to kill her younger self. That younger self goes on to meet the future Doctor whom she presumably marries, and who knows to share his name with her (if only so she can gain his younger self’s trust in the Library). The slap in the diner was for making her watch her ‘kill’ him again.
But even though the Silence created her (Amy is clearly her mother, but which father?), are they really working for Eye Patch Lady (Madame Kovarian apparently) or someone else? And has River concealed Time Lord abilities as long as we’ve known her? Did the pregnancy (as Rory’s rebirth as an auton) happen in the timeline aborted by the Tardis’ explosion, but not in this one (causing the fractured memories/problematic pregnancy)? Does the Doctor die in the aborted timeline? Is that where the orphanage is hidden? Another great theory is here.
In this theory characters are bouncing between the two timelines, possibly without any of them realising it. The Doctor might be dead in one reality but not the other. What he and everyone else (except perhaps River Song) doesn’t yet know is why. What’s the Silence’s Tardis? And what the hell was that regeneration?
Stephen Thompson’s first shot at the Doctor is much lighter in tone than Moffat’s opening two-parter – a great big pirate romp on a pirate ship, without very much mention of the Silence, rewriting time, mystery pregnancies, unexpected future deaths or River Song. For me personally it made it a lesser outing – showrunner Steven Moffat has raised the stakes so high now that any delay in dealing with his increasingly intricate plot strands is just annoying and it’s a little bit of a shame. Having said that the episode had its merits – the Tardis trio opt for an adventure on a pirate ship being terrorised by a Siren, who apparently kills crew members at the slightest drop of blood. But is she all she seems? And why is Amy still seeing visions (memories?) of the Eye Patch Lady from episode 2?
The humour is clumsy, Smith seems completely out of his element, but the script does have some warm moments, particularly when the Doctor bonds with pirate captain Hugh Bonneville, playing off one another as fellow ship’s captains. And director Jeremy Webb does a fair enough job, particularly in the more intense moments late on in the episode between Amy and Rory, but will the kids care? It’s a difficult one – I have a suspicion that the core audience for series 6 is a fair bit older than under Russell T Davies, and although the mystery around Amy’s pregnancy is touched upon, I don’t think enough was presented for the more sophisticated audience Moffat seems to be aiming his run at.
The story had a happy enough ending and it’s cute (if unremarkable) how they get there, but this felt distinctly like filler material. Writer Thompson has very little to say even about the Doctor himself, unlike Simon Nye in ‘Amy’s Choice’, and it leaves the episode feeling bland, despite some highly emotive exchanges.
The questions about the ongoing subplots remain though: who is Eye Patch Lady? Casting Frances Barber is serious stuff so she’s clearly someone significant. Why is Amy pregnant one second and not the next? Is it because rebooting the universe created a parallel timeline? How would this benefit the Silence? And what the hell was that regeneration at the end of the last episode? And who the hell is River Song really? Memories are being played with still, very little is as it seems (and since Amy’s introduction never has been) and I’m getting impatient for the payoffs to start. Episodes under Moffat’s management come off best with high stakes and a certain amount of darkness. I hope we get some of it next week with Neil Gaiman.
His hatred of the Tories is self-evident (and quite right). Cameron says he believes a free media is a building block of a free society? He has a funny way of showing it indeed. But Mitchell’s hatred of Labour is equally valid – for them to attack the BBC for cowardice when the Hutton witchhunt was entirely their doing is unbelievably hypocritical. The two of them together have reduced BBC News to a supine gathering of cowards and sycophants, uncritically presenting what each government has told them is fact, without any meaningful critical evaluation. I would say the biggest problem is their refusal to stand up to both parties – if they end up diminished, under-funded or wholly trampled over by Murdoch, much of it will be their own fault.
Stephen Green, leader of Christian Voice, has never been shy of berating gay people for our immorality. It’s now time to take him apart for his hypocrisy:
Caroline Green, who was married to the anti-gay Christian extremist for 26 years, says she has come forward now because “the people who support him financially and morally should know what he is really like”.
She told the Mail on Sunday that he had beaten her and her children, “brainwashed” them and forced them to live in a dilapidated caravan in remote Wales to protect them from the “evil” of urban life.
Mrs Green described the incident which prompted her to leave him, recalling how he made a list of her failings as a wife and then beat her until she bled with a piece of wood.
She said: “He even framed our marriage vows — he always put particular emphasis on my promise to obey him — and hung them over our bed. He believed there was no such thing as marital rape and for years I’d been reluctant to have sex with him, but he said it was my duty and was angry if I refused him.
“But the beating was the last straw. It convinced me I had to divorce him.”
She also said that he had beaten their eldest and middle sons with belts and broomsticks.
She added: “It was almost like living in a cult. We were all subjugated to his will and cowed by him. Over the years he belittled us and made us feel worthless.
So the next time Stephen Green is interviewed by the BBC as a counter-balance to gay-related news, you know just how severely to condemn them too.
We’re so lucky to have The Moff.
The first Steven Moffat written Doctor Who Christmas Special is showrunner Steven Moffat’s take on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and what a breathtaking morality play it is, wrapped up in sly humour, unbelievably strong performances and a script which made all of the RTD specials instantly redundant. Rory and Amy begin on a honeymoon cruiser that’s about to crash on a planet covered in a mysterious fog. Local baron Michael Gambon has the power to control the fog, and save the Doctor’s assistants’ lives, as well as the other 4000 passengers, but he doesn’t want to; there’s nothing in it for him. To save the ship the Doctor has to teach an alien Scrooge morality and discover why he has Katherine Jenkins flash frozen in his basement. Can he do it in just one hour?
Of course he can, and Moffat indulges his propensity to play crazy backward and forward games with time, managing to take a wholly new perspective on a very old story. Ghost of Christmas Past Eleven fits a lifetime into one hour, trying to get into the heart of a bitter old man through making friends with his younger self. It’s a wonderful, rich drama with towering performances – ‘Dumbledore’ Gambon always careful though not to overshadow the leads, as the comfortably quirky yet demonstrably noble Doctor played by Matt Smith holds the show together. It’s not like anything we were given during the Tennant era – this isn’t superheroics by any means. It’s a nuanced look at love and loss under the cover of sci fi, whilst giving us a wonderful, leisurely look at what makes Eleven tick too. Marilyn Monroe? OMG!
Gone is the regular Christmas campery of Russell T Davies, in is seasonal fantasy and steampunk chic – the production crew pulls off a Dickensian yet futuristic cityscape brilliantly. The shark too was a suitably weird touch, and wonderfully deployed – lost your sense of wonder at Christmas stories? Get it back right now (I should add Moffat adeptly bleeds any hint of religious undertones out in the very first act). And rather than taking a Kylie-esque role, Katherine Jenkins doesn’t just act brilliantly (who knew?), but is an essential element the Doctor needs to understand – singing and all – in order to make Gambon’s character care about other people. There was more than one occasion where the acting and writing came together to make me more than a little bit tearful, which couldn’t have made me happier. But as I said earlier, Moffat’s story is nuanced – for every dramatic turning point there are chillier scenes, like the holograms of the condemned 4000 passengers, and Gambon’s determination to ignore them.
It’s all blissfully continuity-free, which may have helped Karen Gillan seem to feel comfortable as Amy Pond for a change and act with authority. I should add it was pretty cute to have hers & Rory’s sexual roleplay clearly signposted, despite the seasonal tone of the story. Continuity though, as the trailer for series 6 shows, is about to take centre stage; this special is the calm before the storm. The Doctor was manipulated into rebooting the universe, we don’t know who was responsible for the cracks in space, and are no nearer to finding out whose voice it was who said ‘silence will fall’. With River Song’s imminent reappearance in what looks to be a deeply dark first half of the series, we may be about to get answers. I for one can’t wait.
Was it for this that I broke the habit of years and accepted the Guardian’s invitation to listen to Thought for the Day? Was it for this that the BBC, including the director general himself, no less, spent months negotiating with the Vatican? What on earth were they negotiating about,if all that emerged was the damp, faltering squib we have just strained our ears to hear?
We’ve already had what little apology we are going to get (none in most cases) for the raped children, the Aids-sufferers in Africa, the centuries spent attacking Jews, science, women and “heretics”, the indulgences and more modern (and tax-deductible) methods of fleecing the gullible to build the Vatican’s vast fortune. So, no surprise that these weren’t mentioned. But there’s something else for which the pope should go to confession, and it’s arguably the nastiest of all. I refer to the main doctrine of Christian theology itself, which was the centrepiece of what Ratzinger actually did say in his Thought for the Day.
“Christ destroyed death forever and restored life by means of his shameful death on the Cross.”
More shameful than the death itself is the Christian theory that it was necessary. It was necessary because all humans are born in sin. Every tiny baby, too young to have a deed or a thought, is riddled with sin: original sin. Here’s Thomas Aquinas:
“. . . the original sin of all men was in Adam indeed, as in its principal cause, according to the words of the Apostle(Romans 5:12): “In whom all have sinned“: whereas it is in the bodily semen, as in its instrumental cause, since it is by the active power of the semen that original sin together with human nature is transmitted to the child.”
Adam (who never existed) bequeathed his “sin” in his bodily semen (charming notion) to all of humanity. That sin, with which every newborn baby is hideously stained (another charming notion), was so terrible that it could be forgiven only through the blood sacrifice of a scapegoat. But no ordinary scapegoat would do. The sin of humanity was so great that the only adequate sacrificial victim was God himself.
That’s right. The creator of the universe, sublime inventor of mathematics, of relativistic space-time, of quarks and quanta, of life itself, Almighty God, who reads our every thought and hears our every prayer, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God couldn’t think of a better way to forgive us than to have himself tortured and executed. For heaven’s sake, if he wanted to forgive us, why didn’t he just forgive us? Who, after all, needed to be impressed by the blood and the agony? Nobody but himself.
Ratzinger has much to confess in his own conduct, as cardinal and pope. But he is also guilty of promoting one of the most repugnant ideas ever to occur to a human mind: “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).
Further proving John Pilger’s charge of coasting on the back of unquestioning journalism, the BBC has responded to the criticism of Ben Brown’s interview of Jody McIntyre:
We have received a considerable number of complaints about an interview Ben Brown did last night on the BBC News Channel with Jody McIntyre. The context of the interview was that Mr McIntyre was on the student demonstrations in London last week and video emerged yesterday of him being pulled out of his wheelchair by police.
I am aware that there is a web campaign encouraging people to complain to the BBC about the interview, the broad charge being that Ben Brown was too challenging in it. However I am genuinely interested in hearing more from people who have complained about why they object to the interview. I would obviously welcome all other views.
I have reviewed the interview a few times and I would suggest that we interviewed Mr McIntyre in the same way that we would have questioned any other interviewee in the same circumstances: it was quite a long interview and Mr McIntyre was given several minutes of airtime to make a range of points, which he did forcefully; Ben challenged him politely but robustly on his assertions.
Mr McIntyre says during the interview that “personally he sees himself equal to anyone else” and we interviewed Mr McIntyre as we would interview anyone else in his position. Comments more than welcome.
Kevin Bakhurst is the controller of the BBC News Channel and the BBC News at One and the deputy head of the BBC Newsroom.
John Pilger in his new documentary ‘The War You Don’t See’ charges the BBC above most news organisations with a disinterest in challenging power, particularly in questioning the position of the state. Brown’s interview and Bakhurst’s defence of it proves his point as effectively as his film – Brown took the police’s position on the action at the #dayx3 protest, the rationale behind it, and only ever attacked McIntyre on the most spurious grounds, fed by the police, not from anyone else’s experience or account of the day. Again and again he lambasts him for being a ‘revolutionary’ and implies that, under any circumstances, a man with his disability could have posed a threat to riot police. Never once does he pick up on McIntyre’s complaint about the Met’s attack and outrageous treatment of Alfie Meadows; Brown just soldiers on, implicitly again and again labelling his interviewee as part of the problem that day.
Brown’s ‘polite challenges’, through making them at all, effectively supported the police’s behaviour against him, through acknowledging that their claims and only their claims might have had merit. It’s disturbing but not surprising that Bakhurst doesn’t understand why that’s such a problem. It’s what FOX News does; it’s not what most of us expect from the BBC.
Can I just say WTF? How could a man with cerebral palsy ever have posed a threat to riot police? I’ve of course blogged earlier about Jody McIntyre and the police’s treatment of him on the #dayx3 student protest against the government’s policy to allow massive rises in university tuition fees, and am utterly shocked by Ben Brown’s behaviour – bias you’d normally expect from an Adam Boulton or a Kay Burnley. The video mostly speaks for itself, but McIntyre stands out particularly for destroying the establishment (ie. BBC) narrative on the protests, and with a grace not reciprocated by his accuser/interviewer. The BBC are still completely ignoring incidents like the attack on Alfie Meadows (and the Met’s appalling behaviour towards him afterwards) in favour of rewriting the student movement as an insurgent, ‘revolutionary’ attack on the state. For reasons known only to the BBC, they continue to report what the state gives them as fact, even when the state blatantly lies through its teeth to them. As I was reminded by John Pilger in the Q & A he gave after last night’s London screening of ‘The War You Don’t See‘, there are times that journalistic ‘neutrality’ is utterly ridiculous – in this instance there couldn’t be an equally valid alternative angle on the Met’s treatment of McIntyre. For Brown to push for one at the very least makes him and his employer look monstrously stupid, at worst it smacks of outright bias on his part.
Video of what happened to Jody McIntyre can be seen below:
In my opinion Brown is guilty of a serious breach of journalistic standards and should be held accountable for it. Suggesting McIntyre was in part responsible for student violence, and refusing to acknowledge police violence even when prompted by McIntyre to do so (and which he must have himself seen on the day), is pretty shocking. His appalling journalism across the entire #dayx3 protest story has thankfully been taken comprehensively apart by John Walker. Anyone who previously thought the BBC had any interest in challenging the state on anything should probably think again after this.
You can complain about Ben Brown’s treatment of McIntyre, if you’re minded to do so, here.
Cassetteboy knocks it right out of the park again. It’s going to be a long five months, but it won’t be laugh free, thankfully…
You’d think it unlikely that our largest public service broadcaster should become part of the problem in relation to Uganda’s push towards gay genocide, but look at this:
Should homosexuals face execution?
Yes, we accept it is a stark and disturbing question. But this is the reality behind an Anti-Homosexuality Bill being debated on Friday by the Ugandan parliament which would see some homosexual offences punishable by death.
The bill proposes:
Life imprisonment for those convicted of a homosexual act
The death sentence where the offender has HiV, is a “serial offender” or the other person is under 18.
Imprisonment for seven years for “attempted homosexuality.”
The bill claims to ‘protect the…traditional family values of the people of Uganda’, but it has prompted widespread international condemnation.
Homosexuality is regarded as taboo in much of Africa, where it is often regarded as a threat to cultural, religious and social values.
Has Uganda gone too far? Should there be any level of legislation against homosexuality? Should homosexuals be protected by legislation as they are in South Africa? What would be the consequences of this bill to you? How will homosexual ‘offences’ be monitored? Send us your views.
Should Jews be gassed? Would that be going too far? Should there be any level of legislation against Judaism? If the BBC actually posed those questions and asked for people’s views they’d be in breach of all sorts of incitement and hate speech legislation, yet in the name of ‘impartiality’ they’re actually not just prepared to debate the merits of executing gay people, but are prepared to defend doing so:
The editors of the BBC Africa Have Your Say programme thought long and hard about using this question which prompted a lot of internal debate.
We agree that it is a stark and challenging question, but think that it accurately focuses on and illustrates the real issue at stake.
If Uganda’s democratically elected MPs vote to proceed with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill this week they will bring onto the statute book legislation that could condemn people to death for some homosexual activities.
We published it alongside clear explanatory text which gave the context of the bill itself (see above). And as we said at the top of our debate page, we accept it is a stark and disturbing question. But this is the reality behind the bill.
I’ve always used the tag line from ‘Good Night and Good Luck’ to deal with so-called journalism like this: just because there are two sides to an argument doesn’t mean they are both equally true or equally valid. There is no valid pro execution argument here, and to entertain the notion under the guise of ‘impartiality’ is quite simply indefensible. The title is far more than just ‘stark and disturbing’ – by implying it’s a valid subject for ‘debate’ it’s inciteful to homophobic hatred. Join with me and complain here. This blog’s friends at Soho Politico have posted an excellent article with a form letter for you to copy or draw from here.
UPDATE: The title’s been changed to ‘Should Uganda Debate Gay Execution’ but the page is no less offensive or inflammatory.
I’m not one of those people who felt Nick Griffin shouldn’t have been allowed on Question Time because his and the British National Party’s (BNP) views on race, religion, nationality and sexual orientation were perverse. They clearly are, but I acknowledge too that freedom of speech has to include those views you despise, as well as those you agree with – you can’t preemptively say even someone as hateful as Nick Griffin shouldn’t be allowed to speak. If he breaks laws then he has to pay a price, if he indulges in hate speech he needs to be prosecuted, if he says appalling things about the holocaust he needs to be condemned for it, but be stopped from speaking because he’s a homophobic racist? Absolutely not. So what was Question Time like after all the hype? In my view it was a mixed bag.
If Griffin wanted to continue his process of ‘cleaning up’ the BNP brand he did a pretty lousy job of it. He came across as blatantly homophobic (he wasn’t alone on the panel in that, you Tories), he was unapologetically anti-semitic and refused to be drawn into sensible discussion by Bonnie Greer about just what he meant by the ‘indigenous British people’. Anyone with any degree of common sense will have watched that and been thoroughly appalled when he tried to wriggle out of his penchant for holocaust denial, and when he tried to justify homophobia. He’s a disgusting man, with a disgusting message, but he will sadly have made significant political capital out of two aspects of the show. Firstly when Jack Straw was asked whether he thought New Labour’s authoritarian immigration policy had contributed to the rise of the BNP, Straw pointedly dodged the question. Typically lawyerly Straw simply answered another question, and it was tragically the key pitfall which lay in wait for him, and which he unceremoniously threw himself into. A government which demonises ‘failed’ asylum seekers, which makes legal aid next to impossible for people fleeing persecution, and expecting help under the Geneva Convention, and which locks up their children, is hardly in a position to preach tolerance to the BNP. Straw knew it, the panel knew it and a smirking Griffin knew it too; Blair and now Brown have given him part of a constituency previously unthinkable in modern times.
The other gain for Griffin was even more alarming. The entire show was debated on the BNP’s terms – their talking points were justified by concentrating only on them. Even Chris Huhne demeaned himself by trying to prove that, yes, the Lib Dems too could be tough on immigration. Every word uttered was a gain for the BNP; whilst it was a delight to see him hammered comprehensively (notably by David Dimbleby), the man who claimed to be a legitimate elected representative wasn’t ever called to express his position on education, the health service, energy policy or transport. By making the programme an attack on Griffin, however justifiably, the BBC played right into his hands, as did every guest on the panel other than Bonnie Greer.
The BBC has said it might invite him back onto the show – if it does I sincerely hope they hold a normal panel, and stop enabling him to play the martyr, particularly one who isn’t expected to live up to the standards expected of the office he now holds. We must remember Griffin’s rise is inextricably connected with the failure of the political system, which forces all three major parties to fight for marginal advantage over a tiny number of swing voters, and all are now entirely disinterested in concerns outside of that bubble. When they either bother to get round to addressing the issues affecting their former supporters, or are forced to by a more proportional voting system, Griffin and his scummy ilk will soon fall back into irrelevance. Until then, we have a problem on our hands, and need to start coming up with less sensationalistic ways of dealing with it.