Space Doctor

Have you ever turned up at a party to find yourself surrounded by people you didn’t know who all seemed to be united by an in-joke you didn’t get? That was my Space Doctor experience.

The problem with Space Doctor being a parody of everything terrible about science fiction programmes is just that - it comes over as being not very good.

The stage was full of people who all appeared to shout a lot. There were flashing lights, loud noises, a rickety portaloo time-machine and an unnecessarily complicated plot. So let me try and explain. There’s a demented fan/robot/alien who despite her unwavering enthusiasm in every part she plays, never manages to convey the irony of being in a production that’s obviously meant to be rubbish. There’s a man with a beard and an American accent, possibly the agent of the actor playing Space Doctor whose default setting of exasperation is demonstrated by sucking on a large cigar. There’s Space Doctor himself, who essentially did get the irony and did a decent job of conveying total confusion by the action taking place around him, while throwing pots of jam into the wings. It did make me feel a bit sorry for him, as sometimes it’s better not to know. Other characters who add to the complicated plot include someone called D.J Vortex and King Henry VIII. They fall in love due to a time/space/gender crumple. I think.

So everyone is gathered in a convention to celebrate the Space Doctor phenomenon, which is meant to be a parody of all that is equally dreadful and wonderful about Doctor Who. The Doctor’s young assistant becomes possessed by the spirit of an evil alien, but this possession manifests itself in a high, whiney voice. The Doctor’s old assistant of forty years ago materialises from Bolton, explains her youthful looks on Botox and walks with a stoop. Are you with me so far? No? I’m not surprised. Space Doctor’s most celebrated scenes are recreated; cue flashing lights, loud noises, everyone shouting and some grainy film footage. The evil alien is eventually defeated, the assistant’s voice returns to normal and the fan makes a fortune by stealing the portaloo and the idea for a sci-fi series about a Doctor. I’m not giving anything away, honestly. I’m just trying to help.

The problem with Space Doctor being a parody of everything terrible about science fiction programmes is just that – it comes over as being not very good. Have I missed the point? Probably. Was there a real Space Doctor TV programme? Could it have been one of the myriad of sci-fi cult series from the 1970’s? Does this mean there’s more scope for parodies of Blake’s 7, Logan’s Run or Space:1999? The mind boggles.

Discerning Doctor Who fans know that most of the early episodes of the cult sci-fi series featured terrible rubber monsters, over-acted scenes and problematic plots but they love it anyway. Fans of Straight-Up Productions' spoof obviously feel the same judging by the chuckles from the audience. The predominant positive element of the whole confusing experience was the sheer enthusiasm and total commitment the large cast of seven had for the production.

Despite attempting to join the revelry and understand the in-jokes, I’m left with the feeling that I’m at the wrong party. Beam me up Scottie.

Reviews by Christine Kempell

Underbelly, Bristo Square

Austentatious

★★★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Emma Sidi: Faces of Grace

★★★★★
theSpace @ Jurys Inn

The Big Lie

★★★★
Underbelly, George Square

Siblings: Acting Out

★★★★★
Rialto Theatre

Martin Lingus

★★★
Brighton Spiegeltent / Rialto Theatre

After

★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Time travel, space ships, scary monsters, evil aliens, sexy assistants, demented fans. It can only be 'Space Doctor'! After 40 years out in the wilderness, Britain’s favourite television time traveller is back. Passionate fans of the cult 1970s sci-fi show ‘Space Doctor’ have gathered in Brighton for a convention to finally hear from an ageing panel of cast and crew, including Space Doctor himself, Mervyn Pestle. Amidst the discussion and re-enactment of Space Doctor’s most “celebrated” moments, the crowd gets far more than it bargained for when the show’s horrific truths are revealed.

Most Popular See More

Heathers The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £45.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Come From Away

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

SIX

From £29.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets