Space Doctor

This November happens to mark the 55th anniversary of the BBC broadcasting the first ever episode of Doctor Who, so it's hardly surprising that several shows on this year's Fringe have again opted to grab hold of this now-iconic part of British culture; indeed, the people behind Space Doctor even touch on some of the aspects which distinguish Doctor Who from other popular British TV shows like EastEnders—its active fandom base, for example.

It has all the speed of the best farces, but lacks the clarity, sharpness and slammed doors.

So this show begins with its audience suddenly playing the role of the audience at the 40th anniversary convention of Space Doctor, a (very) short-lived series apparently broadcast for little more than a minute on BBC2, back in 1978. This hasn't stopped at least one devoted fan, Nancy Adric, from organising annual conventions, and writing new Space Doctor scripts (although for copyright reasons she's changed the names of most of the characters and concepts). The suggestion is that she alone has kept enthusiasm for the long-cancelled show high among the guests and audience alike—albeit at gunpoint.

Certainly there’s potential here: it was near enough on its 40th anniversary, after more than 16 years 'lost in the wilderness' as an ever-so-derided piece of cult TV, that the news broke about the BBC making a new series of Doctor Who. This is not, however, the fate for Space Doctor; we're promised a re-enactment of the first episode, but this stumbles on the not-so-shocking revelation that Space Doctor is actually real and that the biggest mistake the programme's producers made was to show just how low-budget the rest of the universe actually looks.

What follows is an unsubtle parody of Doctor Who's vengeful aliens, 'celebrity historicals' (hello Henry VIII) and 'timey-whimey' plots; it has all the speed of the best farces, but lacks the clarity, sharpness, and slammed doors—like a rushed student revue where the cast are having more fun than the audience. As for the final plot twist about the relationship between time-travelling Space Doctor and Doctor Who, well… you’ve probably guessed it already.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

Underbelly, Bristo Square

Tom Neenan: It's Always Infinity

★★★★
Assembly George Square Studios

Police Cops in Space

★★★★★
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Rik Carranza: Still a Fan

★★★★
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Marmite

★★★★
Gilded Balloon Teviot

Magic 8 Ball (My Life With Asperger's)

★★★★
Traverse Theatre

What Girls Are Made Of

★★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Prescription: space justice. Dosage: lethal! Time travel, space ships, scary monsters, evil aliens, sexy assistants, demented fans. It must be Space Doctor! After 40 years out in the wilderness, Britain's favourite TV time traveller is back... Space Doctor is a riotous and playful sci-fi parody, set at a fan convention, celebrating the fictional 1970s programme Space Doctor. Amidst re-enactments of the show's most "celebrated" moments, shocking truths are revealed and the fans demented dedication becomes clear as the convention reaches its farcical conclusion. 'The laughter does not stop throughout, with incredible innovations flowing from every scene' (AYoungerTheatre.com).