About the Author

Robert Smith?

Without really intending, Robert Smith? appears to have accidentally created the subdiscipline of Mathematical Modelling of Zombies. By day, he’s a professor of biomathematics at the University of Ottawa, studying infectious diseases such as HIV, human papillomavirus and various tropical diseases. By night, he’s a writer, having written or edited Outside In: 160 New Perspectives on 160 Classic Doctor Who Stories by 160 Writers (ATB Publishing, 2012), Who Is The Doctor: The Unofficial Guide to the New Series (ECW Press, 2012), Braaaiiinnnsss: From Academics to Zombies (UOP, 2011), and Modelling Disease Ecology with Mathematics (American Institute of Mathematics Sciences, 2008).

Books by this Author
The Doctors Are In

The Doctors Are In

The Essential and Unofficial Guide to Doctor Who's Greatest Time Lord
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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Who Is The Doctor

Who Is The Doctor

The Unofficial Guide to Doctor Who?The New Series
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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Who Is The Doctor 2

Who Is The Doctor 2

The Unofficial Guide to Doctor Who — The Modern Series
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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Excerpt

 

The miracle has happened again.

 

I’m often asked what I thought was the secret to Doctor Who’s longevity. My answer then is the same as my answer now: its ability to regenerate.

 

Not just the main character, although that’s useful too, of course. But in truth the best thing about Doctor Who is that it finds itself for a while, continues along in a house style . . . and then throws it all away, often while the going is still good. Of course, this can be traumatic to many fans, who often love the show because of what it is. But it’s also a very necessary part of Doctor Who’s long-term survival.

 

Here we see perhaps the second-biggest change in Doctor Who’s history, after its 2005 return. It’s not just a female Doctor, which is a relatively minor change by this point, having been trialled in various ways throughout the Capaldi era with a lot of groundwork preparing the way. No, it’s far more than that. This looks unlike any previous Doctor Who. There’s no opening credits, no continuity, the aspect ratio is different, the camera lenses are different, and the grim Sheffield setting is a far cry from the previous Earthbound settings. Even the Coming Soon trailer simply shows the guest stars for the season, with almost no giveaways. The Doctor is a member of a team, with a procedural approach to problem-solving and minimal outright heroics.

 

I confess that I don’t watch much other TV. I only care about Doctor Who. So maybe this looks just like every other show out there (I’ll never know), but Series Eleven looks nothing like what’s come before in Doctor Who, which I think is stupendous. The weakest aspect is the writing, as the plot is light and misses some obvious tricks but I was so swept away by the charm, the likeability and the visuals that it simply didn’t bother me.

 

The new team is resolutely ordinary. When confronted with the possibility of aliens, they consult bus drivers, nurses and social media. The person with the most standout success in life is a junior police officer on probation. And the Doctor is fairly ordinary as well. She’s bereft of all the accoutrements of her predecessors: no TARDIS, no sonic screwdriver; even her pockets are empty. And so she has to rebuild both her character and her accessories from scratch: she gets down and dirty in a workshop to make a new screwdriver, steadily grows to accept who she is and creates a portal to the next planet where her TARDIS supposedly is.

 

And yet, despite this ordinariness, Whittaker is utterly fantastic. The thirteenth Doctor is immediately likeable, bouncing into her friends’ lives and walking them through every situation. She’s not condescending, openly admits when she’s wrong and makes space for her friends. Oh, and the new outfit just adds to the charm: she’s a big kid. Just like all the other Doctors.

 

Doctor Who is dead. Long live Doctor Who.

 

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Who's 50

Who's 50

The 50 Doctor Who Stories to Watch Before You Die?An Unofficial Companion
edition:eBook
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Who’s 50

Who’s 50

The 50 Doctor Who Stories to Watch Before You Die — An Unofficial Companion
edition:Paperback
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Braaaiiinnnsss!

Braaaiiinnnsss!

From Academics to Zombies
edited by Robert Smith?
edition:eBook
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