15 October, 2007

The Unquiet Dictionary

I love well-researched reference books about television series. My shelves are full of them. The latest and perhaps best book about New Doctor Who is The Encyclopedia by Gary Russell. It is as the title indicates, a lexicon of every person, alien race, location, device and more featured or mentioned in the new series. Some of the entries are a little questionable (I'm not sure, for example that Kylie Minogue deserves an entry of her own simply on the merit that the Doctor quoted a line from one of her songs; or why it is that the Master's alter egois always referred to as "Harry Saxon" and not "Harold Saxon").

The book does however render entirely redundant a project that was once in development for TSV. The plan was to publish a Ninth Doctor Dictionary encyclopedia covering the 2005 series as part of an issue or possibly as a special supplement. TSV editor Adam McGechan masterminded the project and assigned each of the ten stories to a different writer. I selected The Unquiet Dead, which remains one of my favourite episodes from the first series. I worked on this in October 2005, and the Dictionary was planned to appear in TSV 72, then in issue 73, and thereafter it was shelved indefinitely. I'm not sure why, but perhaps it was to do with the difficulties inherent in coordinating and consolidating the work of ten writers, each with their own style and views about what should and should not be included.

After receiving my copy of Gary Russell's Encyclopedia, I unearthed my old notes for The Unquiet Dead entries and compared them to Gary's book. Interestingly there were a number of items I had entries for that do not appear in the book, including: Bleak House; Cardiff and Methyr Guardian, The; Cardiff Children’s Hospital; Christmas; Gloucester Chambers; Hillman, J, Milliners; Llandaff; Llwyd, Mr Fred & Mrs Frederick; Martin Chuzzlewit; Shakespeare; Snow Storm; Temperance Court and Tilly of St Leonards.

Here, published anywhere for the first time, are my notes (with thanks to David Ronayne, who provided some detailed and very useful notes that informed this revised draft).

The Unquiet Dead

1860: The Doctor picked this year for Rose's first visit to the past and claimed to not to know what happened in 1860. The TARDIS however arrived in 1869.

1869: The Doctor and Rose visited Cardiff on 24 December of this year.

Bad Wolf: When Gwyneth looked into Rose's mind she saw ‘the big bad wolf’. This was the earliest reference to Bad Wolf that Rose was aware of.

Barbarella: The Doctor likened Rose to Barbarella, meaning that her modern day clothes were inappropriate for the 1860s. [Barbarella was a sometimes scantily clad science fiction heroine who appeared in 1960s comics and a movie of the same name].

Bishop: Sneed did the Bishop a favour once, making his nephew look like a cherub even though he'd been dead in the weir for a fortnight. Sneed considered getting the bishop to do an exorcism.

Bleak House: [1852-1853] A novel by Charles Dickens, mentioned by the Doctor.

Boston Tea Party: The Doctor was present at the Boston Tea Party [16 December 1773], where he ‘pushed boxes’.

Brecon: A town north of Cardiff. The Doctor likened the rift to a blocked road between Brecon and Cardiff.

Butetown: An area of Cardiff where Madame Mortlock held her séances.

Cardiff: The Doctor and Rose visited this Welsh city on 24 December 1869.

Cardiff and Methyr Guardian, The: [Incorporating Glamorgan, Monmouth and Brecon Gazette] A Cardiff newspaper. The Doctor purchased a copy of the 24 December 1869 edition.

Cardiff Children’s Hospital: Charles Dickens’ performance at the Taliesin Lodge was to honour this hospital.

Christmas: The Doctor and Rose spent Christmas Eve in Cardiff, 1869. Charles Dickens’s novel A Christmas Carol was set at Christmas. Dickens considered Christmas not the best time to be alone, and planned to make amends with his family on Christmas Day.

Christmas Carol, A:
[1843] A ghost story written by Charles Dickens, featuring the characters of Marley and Scrooge. Dickens performed a reading from this story at the Taliesin Lodge.

Dickens, Charles: [1812-1870] The famous author of works including A Christmas Carol, Bleak House, Martin Chuzzlewit, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, The Signalman and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. He travelled alone from London to perform readings from his works, including A Christmas Carol, for free at the Taliesin Lodge in Cardiff on 24 December 1869. Dickens claimed to be weary of life and missed his family, from whom he was estranged, having been ‘clumsy with family matters’. He considered himself too old to cause any more trouble, thought his imagination had grown stale, and wondered if he had thought everything he'd ever think. He refused to believe in supernatural events and fantastical illusions, striving to unmask them as tricks. He dedicated his life’s work to fighting injustices and social causes, and hoped that he was a force for good. He was flattered by the Doctor’s appreciation of his work. His experiences in the Doctor's company showed him that instead of thinking he knew everything had barely started, and this reinvigorated him. He was inspired to write about his experiences. Dickens learned from the Doctor that his books last forever. He planned to take the mail-coach back to London to spend Christmas with his family and to try to make amends to them. Dickens died in 1870 and never got to tell his story about blue ghosts.

Doctor, The: He claims not to know what happened in 1860. He witnessed the fall of Troy, World War Five and the Boston Tea Party. He was a big fan of Charles Dickens, having read all of his works, regarding him as a brilliant genius. He considered himself responsible for Rose, blamed himself for getting her into dangerous situations and was very glad to have met her. He liked two sugars in his tea. He considered his clothes suitable for the time period though he changed his jumper. He had different moral views to Rose and had no problem with alien beings reusing the bodies of the dead, likening it to recycling or organ donation. He carried enough local money to purchase a newspaper in 1869 Cardiff.

Gelth: Ghostly alien creatures that lived in gas and attained physical form by inhabiting recently deceased human bodies. The Gelth apparently once had physical bodies but these wasted away as a result of the Time War and they were trapped in a gaseous state. Because they were weak they only inhabited bodies for a short time and then returned to living in gas pipes. When human bodies decomposed they produced gas, providing perfect vehicles for the Gelth. The dead when possessed by the Gelth retained some of the motivations of their former selves. The Gelth used the rift in Cardiff to cross over from the other side of the universe. As the rift widened, the Gelth grow stronger, but only a few could pass through and they needed Gwyneth to form a bridge across the rift so that they could all cross over. The Doctor offered to help the Gelth inhabit human bodies temporarily until he could take them somewhere where they could build proper bodies. The Gelth claimed to be facing extinction as there was very few of them left, however this was a lie to gain the Doctor’s cooperation – there were actually a few billion Gelth and all in need of corpses. The Gelth intended to invade by killing the human race and making the bodies vessels for the Gelth. The Gelth were drawn out of their human hosts when the air around them was flooded with gas. They were destroyed when the gas exploded.

Gloucester Chambers: The name of a building across the square from the Taliesin Lodge in Cardiff.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen: Traditional Christmas carol sung by carollers on Christmas Eve 1869 outside the Taliesin lodge in Cardiff.

Great Expectations: [1860-1861] A novel written by Charles Dickens that the Doctor admired.

Gwyneth: A young servant girl, orphaned at the age of twelve when both her parents died from the flu. She was taken in by Sneed who pays her eight pounds a year, which she considered very generous. She went to school once a week, every Sunday but hated it. One week she didn't go and instead ran down the Heath on her own. She admitted to liking the butcher's boy, who came by every Tuesday. She quickly befriended Rose. Gwyneth had the ability to read minds since she was a little girl, but she didn’t like to use it as her mother told her to hide it. Every night she heard voices in her head. She believed she would be with her parents again one day in heaven. Her powers had developed because she grew up on top of the rift and they were getting stronger all the time. She consulted with spiritualists and mediums to try to understand her ability. She attended séances held by Madame Mortlock. Gwyneth’s powers were a key to the rift, enabling her to form a psychic bridge between dimensions. She believed that the alien Gelth were actually angels sent by her mother on a holy mission. She was killed when she formed the bridge that enables the Gelth to cross over, but in death - and possessed by the Gelth - she still retained enough of her own will for at least five minutes to realise that she had been deceived and destroyed the Gelth by striking a match that ignited the gas and in doing so saved the world.

J. Hillman, Milliners: A Cardiff company that sold locally-produced hard-wearing extra quality silk hats, advertised in 1869.

Little Nell: A Charles Dickens character [from The Old Curiosity Shop, 1840-1841] whose death scene the Doctor found amusing.

Llandaff: Sneed and Company Undertakers were located in this area of Cardiff.

Llwyd, Mr Fred & Mrs Frederick: Names that were listed on a poster advertising events in the Taliesin Lodge.

London: Rose and Charles Dickens were both from London. Gwyneth had never been to London but had seen it in drawings. Gwyneth saw visions of Rose’s modern day London. Dickens planned to return to London by mail coach.

Marley: A ghost in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, mentioned in his reading at the Taliesin Lodge

Martin Chuzzlewit: [1843-1844] A novel written by Charles Dickens. The Doctor disliked the section of the novel set in America.

Mortlock, Madame: A spiritual medium in Butetown, Cardiff, from whom Gwyneth learned how to hold a séance.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood: [1870] An unfinished novel by Charles Dickens in which, lacking an ending, the mystery of Edwin Drood’s disappearance remained unresolved.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood and the Blue Elementals: Charles Dickens' proposed revised title for his unfinished novel. He had planned to make Edwin Drood's uncle the boy’s killer, but after his experiences with the Gelth, he intended changing the book to feature supernatural events. Dickens never got to write this version, as he died in 1870.

Naples: The Doctor attempted to land the TARDIS in this city, but instead arrived in Cardiff.

Oliver Twist: [1837-1839] A novel written by Charles Dickens that the Doctor admired.

Mrs Peace: Redpath's grandmother, who died aged 86 shortly before Christmas 1869. Before she died she planned to see Charles Dickens at the Taliesin Lodge. Her body was interred at Sneed and Company undertakers where it was inhabited by the Gelth. She then killed her grandson Redpath and attended Dickens’ performance.

Redpath: The grandson of Mrs Peace, he was killed by her reanimated corpse and was interred at Sneed and Company undertakers. His body was then inhabited by the Gelth.

Rift: A weak point in time and space, a connection between dimensions. Rifts were the cause of ghost stories most of the time. A rift was located in Cardiff and Sneed’s house in Temperance Court, Llandaff, centred right over the rift, causing supernatural events going back generations. The rift gave Gwyneth her psychic powers, and she was the key to opening the rift. The Gelth used the rift to pass between dimensions. The rift was closed when Gwyneth destroyed the Gelth.

Samson: Sneed and Company’s horse, used to pull the hearse.

Scrooge: A character in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, mentioned in his reading at the Taliesin Lodge.

Shakespeare: Famous playwright mentioned by Charles Dickens, who also quoted from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet.

Shareen: Rose’s friend from school. They used to play truant together to go to the shops and look at boys.

Signalman, The: [1866] A short story written by Charles Dickens, featuring trains and a ghost. The Doctor thought it as terrifying and one of the best short stories ever written.

Sneed and Company: A nineteenth century firm of undertakers based in Temperance Court, Llandaff, and run by Gabriel Sneed. The company has been troubled by the dead coming back to life. This has been going on for about three months and these incidents include a sexton who almost walked into his own memorial service, and Mrs Peace, who killed her grandson and then attended to a performance by Charles Dickens.

Sneed, Gabriel: An elderly man who ran a undertakers called Sneed and Company, based at his house at 7 Temperance Court, Llandaff, Cardiff in 1869. He had to deal with many incidents with the dead coming back to life over the three months prior to meeting the Doctor, but was more concerned about what damage this might do to his reputation and his business than he was to learn why this might be happening. He was not above abducting strangers to keep these incidents hushed up, and appears to keep chloroform handy for this purpose. His only servant was Gwyneth, whom he took in when her parents died. He was aware of Gwyneth’s psychic ability and generally took supernatural events in his stride. He was killed by the Gelth and his body was then inhabited by them. [Note: Sneed's first name Gabriel was only revealed in the closing credits]

Snow Storm: Listed on a poster advertising events in the Taliesin Lodge.

Sonic Screwdriver: The Doctor used his sonic screwdriver when working under the TARDIS console.

Taliesin Lodge: A theatre in Cardiff where Charles Dickens gave a free performance to honour the Childrens Hospital, on Friday 24 December 1869, starting at 7.30pm.

TARDIS: The Doctor’s ship was unsteady when in flight, and somewhat unreliable, missing Naples 1860 and instead landing in Cardiff 1869. The TARDIS had many passages and rooms accessed via the control room. The TARDIS had a wardrobe, and from the control room it was first left, second right, third on the left, straight ahead, under the stairs, past the bins, fifth door on the left.

Temperance Court: Sneed and Company Undertakers were located at 7 Temperance Court, Llandaff, Cardiff. Sneed got the house cheap because it was said to be haunted by ghosts, going back for generations. Sneed however considered the ghost stories to be appropriate for his business as an undertaker. The house was located on a weak spot on the rift. The weakest part of the house, where the most ghosts were seen was the morgue. The house was destroyed by a gas explosion that kills the Gelth.

Tilly of St Leonards: Listed on a poster advertising events in the Taliesin Lodge.

Time War: The Gelth claimed to have lost their physical form in the Time War. During the war, the whole universe convulsed. The war was invisible to smaller species but devastating to higher forms such as the Gelth.

Troy: The Doctor was present at the fall of Troy.

Tyler, Rose: Rose was 19 years old. Her first journey into the past was to Cardiff in 1869. She dressed up in clothes from the TARDIS wardrobe. She hated her time at school, and would often play truant to go to the shops with her friend Shareen to look at boys. She liked boys to have ‘a good smile, nice bum’. Her father died years ago, but he was in her thoughts a lot lately. She had heard of the Time War. She didn't believe it was right to let aliens inhabit dead human bodies. She possibly carried a donor card. She initially believed that she couldn't die in the past, until the Doctor corrected her. She didn't blame the Doctor for exposing her to danger; she was glad to have met the Doctor, and was brave in the face of death.

World War Five: The Doctor witnessed World War Five taking place.


Anonymous said...

You know, I still have my notes for Dalek and Father's Day kicking around somewhere...I think I finished the Dalek entry and got pretty close with Father's Day.

Anonymous said...

I think I have my notes for Bad Wolf too. Perhaps we should put them all up?

Anonymous said...

You know Adam, that is not a bad idea at all. Perhaps we could do a web based release of all of the areas that were written?