Saturday, 26 September 2015

In A Fix With "A Fix with Sontarans"

So, what are we to do these days with A Fix With Sontarans?
The DVD of The Two Doctors has this little item as an extra. This is one of the oldest of the DVD releases, and so would have been a good candidate for the Special Edition treatment had they continued to release these.
One thing I am certain of - this item would no longer have been included.
UK readers will be well aware that shortly after his death, allegations of child abuse started to circulate about the eccentric DJ and TV presenter Jimmy Saville. This has lead to a widespread investigation into a number of high profile media figures of the '70's and '80's.
A recent celebration of BBC Radio 1 entirely omitted Saville, despite him having been there right from day one, and being a regular Top of the Pops presenter for decades. When a clip of him slipped out in a repeat of old TOTP material, viewers wrote to the BBC to complain.
Long before this controversy, Saville presented a "make a wish" type series called Jim'll Fix It.
People could write in and ask to meet a celebrity, or do an activity, or some other bit of wish fulfillment. I recall one episode in which big screen Doctor Peter Cushing, near the end of his life, had a rose named after his late wife.
A young man named Gareth Jenkins wrote in asking to meet Colin Baker. His granny had made him a replica of the Sixth Doctor's costume. (Mental illness obviously ran deep in that family...).
Rather than just get to meet the current Doctor, JNT came up with a whole mini-episode for him to appear in - made after the series was already being "rested", but broadcast during Season 22.
Nicola Bryant was unavailable, so Janet Fielding stepped in to reprise Tegan. Gareth got to play a mini-Doctor (and apparently mastered the script better than the real one, who had to read some of his lines off of notes hidden around the TARDIS console).
The villains of the piece were the Sontarans. They were played by the same pair of actors who had been to Spain with Baker, Troughton, Bryant, Hines et al - Clinton Greyn and Tim Raynham.
There is a little adventure, set in the TARDIS console room, and at the end Jimmy Saville turns up to give young Gareth his badge. (Everyone got a "Jim Fixed It For Me" medallion on a red ribbon that was draped around their neck).
At the time, it was a harmless bit of fluff. Certainly not remotely canonical.
Something to be known about, but little else. A bit like Dimensions In Time, if you know what I mean.
Then came all the scandal.
Should it be simply wiped from our collective memories? Personally, I think not.
I don't like witch-hunts of any kind, and all the allegations about Saville emerged after he died - so he is not around to have ever defended himself. At the same time, I believe that there is rarely smoke without fire. On balance, I believe that much of what has been alleged is true.
A Stalinist airbrushing from history, or a Roman damnatio memoriae, is not the way to go forward.
Whether we like it or not, this mini-episode happened. Let's accept that, but also recognise that the person whose show it appeared in was a despicable person.
Simply brushing monsters under the carpet and pretending they never even existed isn't a positive thing in my view.
Tragically, there are some monsters even the Doctor can't stop.

1 comment:

  1. Since Gareth has confirmed that nothing nefarious occurred during the filming of this scene, I don't think "A Fix with Sontarans" should vanish in the mists of time. You could easily edit off the ending where Saville appears and it wouldn't affect the story at all. There have been two books which gave mention to this; The Doctor experiencing it in a dream, so it has been given some credence. After a while the furor over the confirmed and awful things Saville did will simmer down and I think the (British) public will accept "A Fix" for what it is....a DW novelity piece; the first minisode.