DID-a-dadda, DID-a-daada, DID-a-dadda...
This nod-and-wink certainty detracts to some extent from the earnest hand-to-mouth amateurism that typified all but the very last of the previous series. Surrounded by pasteboard sets and risible costumes, the team had, to some extent, to woo us. They had to work hard to enjoin us willingly to suspend our disbelief as uneasy looking extras wearing pantomime cod’s heads and swathes of plastic fish-netting emerged from the sea. Now, in these post Star Wars, post analogue, post modernist times, too often the genuinely quirky, distinctly English wit that peppered the early series has been replaced by the rather jaded archness of the languid stand-up comic whose knowingness makes him cosily complicit with his audience. Sci-fi, however mainstream, must retain throughout at least an element of wonder; it must instil in the spectator some sense of awe in the face of the unknown and hitherto imponderable.
So it was a bonus in last night’s episode for the vintage viewer to be re-acquainted 30 years on with Elizabeth Sladen as Sarah-Jane Smith, last seen bidding a wistful farewell to Tom Baker’s Doctor. Although she must be pushing 60, those three decades have been very kind to her and there was no sense of faded lissom sidekick when she hugged David Tennant’s skinny, boyish regeneration as, once again, the Doctor prepares to head off into the Fourth Dimension. Her presence restored a little of that relative innocence from a time when we didn’t know nearly everything and could guess the rest.
Meanwhile, back on earth… I was hanging out the washing yesterday afternoon and, in the tall beech in the copse at the top of the garden, I heard the mechanical pocking of a woodpecker. I looked up and there in plain view was a green woodpecker hammering away at a dead branch.
Not exactly a David Attenborough moment, but when coupled with the sighting of five roe deer picking their way across the newly-harrowed field across from the house (in the middle of which last week a pair of hares boxed vigorously before bowling away towards the hedge line), at least I’m getting some dividend back from this investment of living in the English countryside.