Celebrating 50 years of Dr Who - 18 November 2013

Today in parliament Dr Who fans and colleagues from both sides of the parliament paid homage to The Doctor, fifty years on this month. My contribution noted a few connections Australia shares with the long-standing BBC series and encouraged the latest incarnation of the Time Lord, crew and producers to come Down Under to film an episode here. My speech is below followed by the Private Members Motion that sparked it.
ANDREW LEIGH (Fraser):  In the spirit of bipartisanship that pervades this debate, let me acknowledge the members for Moreton, Mitchell and Dawson for their fine speeches before me. It clearly proves that sci-fi nerdom is a bipartisan gene. The next series of Doctor Who should be filmed in Australia and, indeed, it should be filmed right here, in Canberra, because what better setting to host an attack of the cybermen, the Daleks or the Slitheen than the 'Shine Dome', the home of the Australian Academy of Science, colloquially referred to around town as the 'Martian embassy'.

The member for Dawson has done a terrific job in his motion of highlighting a range of connections with Doctor Who to Australia. I might also point out another one from one of my electors, Peter Martin, that Doctor Who producer Verity Lambert, who essentially set up the program, came to Australia many years later in the 1980s to film 'Evil Angels' in the Central Desert. Peter Martin also points out that several of the lost tapes for the early episodes, which had been binned by the BBC and assumed to be lost forever, were actually found in Australia, archived by the ABC. The love of Doctor Who also extends to Senator Conroy. One can go on Twitter and look at the twitter account, @ConroyMO, which features not Senator Conroy's face but the logo of a Dalek.

Doctor Who turned many Australian kids onto science and technology. It made science 'cool', and in recent episodes it has broadened that discussion to ethics through 'Torchwood'. There are many pieces of advice from Doctor Who which are sage for this government. In season 2, episode 2, the Doctor said: 'You want weapons? They're in the library—books. The best weapons in the world.' It is good advice for a government which is cutting back on science. For those of us who are perhaps mourning a government that fell too short, in season 3, episode 6, the Doctor says: 'Some people live more in 20 years than others do in 80. It's not the time that matters; it's the person.'

I put the call out on Twitter for suggested episodes which one might mention in this debate. @joshgans suggested 'The Green Death', which is about an attempt to effect a corporate takeover that will lead to greater pollution and brainless, brainwashed humans. The member for Moreton has mentioned that one. @davstorm75 suggested 'The Daleks' Master Plan', in which the action takes in the world of Kembel, a place where, as the Doctor says, 'The atmosphere outside is entirely poisonous'—something that I hope this government will avoid in its public relations. @bilbo_fraggins suggested the early Doctor Who episode, 'The Meddling Monk', which focuses on a monk who liked to meddle in history, lending mechanical assistance to, for example, the builders of Stonehenge, despite that clearly not being needed. @acaderama suggested the 'Genesis of the Daleks', in which the species sees the introduction of Davros, who will ultimately terrorise not only his planet but other species.

@StrangeBrew55 suggested 'Aliens of London'—this was a favourite—in which the Slitheen take over the government. They look innocuous, initially, and are terribly popular until it turns out that, in fact, what they want to do is take over the planet. The episodes featured that simultaneously awful and compelling line: 'What's the use of school league tables if we can't use them to decide which children to get rid of?'. @JamesTeach suggested the 'Monster of Peladon', in which a power struggle bisects the miners and the government, with the workers left off to the side.

There is much fruit here. Certainly my own childhood experience, in which the only half-hour of TV I had each day was Dr Who, has made me a lifelong lover of this series and one who believes that the lessons of Dr Who writ large can not only benefit the film industry, as the member for Moreton so articulately put it but can perhaps one of these days give us a better government. I commend the motion to the House.



Mr George Christensen: To move—That this House:

(1)   notes:

(a)   that the television series Doctor Who will celebrate its 50th anniversary on the 23 November 2013;

(b)   that the 50th anniversary of the first screening of Doctor Who in Australia will take place on the 12 January 2015;

(c)   the many connections between Doctor Who and Australia including (but not limited to):

(i)    the very first Doctor Who story, ‘An Unearthly Child’, written by Australian scriptwriter Anthony Coburn;

(ii)    the score for the signature Doctor Who theme tune, written by Australian composer Ron Grainer;

(iii)    the incidental music in the series throughout most of the 1960s and 1970s, written by Australian composer Dudley Simpson;

(iv)    Australian actress Janet Fielding, playing an Australian character Tegan Jovanka in the series (alongside the Doctor as portrayed by Peter Davison);

(v)    actress Katy Manning, playing the character Jo Grant in the series (alongside the Doctor as portrayed by Jon Pertwee), and becoming an Australian citizen in 2004;

(vi)    Australian horse racing icon Gai Waterhouse, playing the character of Presta in the Doctor Who episode ‘The Invasion of Time’ (alongside the Doctor as portrayed by Tom Baker); and

(vii)    Australian pop star Kylie Minogue, playing the character Astrid (alongside the Doctor as portrayed by David Tennant) in the 2007 Christmas Special ‘Voyage of the Damned’; and

(d)   the fact that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has been the main broadcaster for Doctor Who in Australia; and

(2)   request that:

(a)   in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first screening of Doctor Who in Australia, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) consider filming the 2015 series of the television show in Australia; and

(b)   the ABC, Screen Australia and the various State-based film funding bodies consider offering finance to entice the BBC to film the 2015 series of Doctor Who in Australia. (Notice given 13 November 2013.)

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.