Those Damned Stairs…

The media circus. The photographs, the interviews, the WONDERFUL billboards. It’s a stunning synchronicity of television, radio and print; Doctor Who is everywhere. Billie Piper and Christopher Eccleston make us sit up and watch, each trailer carefully tailored to little boys and girls, or the little boys and girls in each of us adults so devoted to the show. We see them gazing into the skies as we go to the supermarket, and listen to the Doctor invite us on a “trip of a lifetime”. “Highbrow” programs such as “Newsnight” and “The Culture Show” (wonderful piece by Matthew Sweet, full of love and affection) on BBC2 run features on the new series, while kids Saturday morning TV run both current trailers within 30 minutes of each other (“Top of the Pops Saturday”). Meanwhile the photographers snap, the actors give out awards and the media wanders along into next Saturday, the 26th March 2005. Destined to be one of the 5 most important dates in Doctor Who.

“Five?” I hear you ask. “Where the hell did you get “five” from?! Dear, the Kasterborous guy has been at the sauce again!”.

“Nevermind love, just make sure he doesn’t have a go at anyone then deny it the following day!”

“Aye, will do. Now then, about this five. Obviously 23rd November, 1963 is when the show started…”

Yes, that’s one of them.

“And then there’s the date the show ended, 6th December 1989?”

Got it in one

“Probably the broadcast date of the TV Movie starring Paul McGann would be next?”

25th June, 1996 I seem to recall.

“And of course next Saturday, the date you gave above Mr Cawley.”

That’s right!

“So what is this mythical 5th? Do you know something we don’t? s the show about to get axed again?”

Well I shall explain. The next date so massively important to the whole history of Doctor Who relates to that other VERY important element of the show after the Doctor and the TARDIS. That’s right.


In just under 7 weeks time, on April 30th 2005, that age-old, oh-so-amusing old gag about the Daleks been unable to climb stairs will FINALLY be erased. It will die, caput. It will be a dead joke. It will have joined the choir invisible. Finally it shall stop clinging on to life eighteen years after a Dalek was shown to be able to quite comfortably negotiate a flight of stairs. That scene from Remembrance of the Daleks was itself 15 years after the flying Dalek in Planet of the Daleks (using an “anti-grav disk”).

On April 30th 2005, a new episode of Doctor Who will air (part 6). Written by Rob Shearman, the story features a single Dalek trapped in a collection of alien artefacts. At some point in the story it is believed the Dalek breaks free from the chains (see BBC trailer) restricting it, and begins to fly…

Already this week, I’ve heard 7 instances (albeit in passing) of the “stairs being the Daleks greatest foe”. The most recent of these was Michael Parkinson a few hours ago.

But why do this myth persist? The fact is of course, that these other earlier instances were by and large missed by the viewing public and the media. The “anti-grav disk” Dalek was attacked with a boulder and failed to emerge from the air duct in Planet of the Daleks; meanwhile when Remembrance of the Daleks was broadcast most of the British Press where politely ignoring any of the goings on in the life of the Doctor, silently expecting the show to quietly shuffle off this mortal coil forever…

So in just six-and-a-bit weeks the UK Media will at last see a flying Dalek. Doctor Who will continue and the joke will end; or will it? As described earlier, there are 3 main elements to Doctor Who; the Doctor himself, the TARDIS and of course the Daleks. Each of these has at some point been killed off (yes I am counting regeneration here) only to return when someone (usually the production team) saw the need. Perhaps the old Dalek-joke will make a comeback, maybe in a story featuring Daleks that temporarily lost their power of flight?

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