CT536/7 - Jez Strickley

CT536/7 Information

Seeing in the Dark

By Jez Strickley

“We’re halfway out of the dark.” (A Christmas Carol, 2010, Steven Moffat)

Light in midwinter has an especial quality. Its illumination reaches out towards the distant equilux with its waxing blue-glass skies, reminding us of brighter times to come. To boost our modest ration of light, we may look to acts of kindness and caring to bring comfort and joy to these light-famished days. The Doctor’s timeless struggle against villainy and malice is a prime example of this act of seeing in the dark––the occasional theme of this issue.

“There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things. Things which act against everything we believe in. They must be fought!” (The Moonbase, 1967, Kit Pedler)

If battling the monsters is all part of banishing the shade, then it’s interesting to note the coincidence of Dalek adventures in the BBC’s Yuletide schedules. December 1963, December 1964, Christmas Day 1965 and December 1966 each contain at least one episode of a Dalek story. Louis Marks’ Day of the Daleks made its entrance on New Year’s Day 1972 and more recent Dalek stories have been broadcast on New Year’s Day 2019, 2021 and 2022, marking something of a hold on Christmastide by Skaro’s most infamous export.

“I do what I do, because it’s right! Because it’s decent! And above all, it’s kind. It’s just that. Just kind.” (The Doctor Falls, Steven Moffat, 2017)

This double issue contains a trove of topical pieces. The most seasonal offering is Ian Scales’ survey of Christmas comic strips, spanning fifty years of visual storytelling. Nick Mellish revisits An Unearthly Child with an eye on this issue’s theme, whilst J. R. Southall reflects on Jodie Whittaker’s swan song The Power of the Doctor.

“Yes, that was the daisiest daisy I’d ever seen…” (The Time Monster, Robert Sloman, 1972)

Whittaker’s Doctor’s final lines include the deeply poignant, “Blossomiest blossom…”, very likely a reference to the late playwright Dennis Potter, who, during his last interview in 1994, made a strikingly similar observation (“blossomest”, though, rather than “blossomiest”). The remark may also point to that wonderful scene in The Time Monster, where Jon Pertwee’s Doctor comforts his young companion, Jo Grant.

Fiona Moore and Alan Stevens deliver another instalment of ‘Cool Things’, this time spotlighting one of Steven Moffat’s earlier scripts. Alan also proffers some intriguing script analysis of the first Christmas Day episode, The Feast of Steven. Additional thanks go to Colin Brockhurst for photo enhancement and Ann Worrall for proofreading.

Hamish Crawford and Arthur Wellow each delve into contrasting subjects at some length, the former considering those instances where the Doctor-companion dynamic is less than collaborative, the latter following up on the environmental themes propounded in CT 530. Meanwhile, I look at some more malign impulses, this time in the case of the Great Intelligence.

Andrew Evans warmly remembers his late friend and one of fandom’s earliest pioneers, Mark Chaloner.

By way of an aesthetic triple bill, I’m delighted to welcome back Andy Lambert, whose striking Christmas Specials-inspired back cover is complemented by Andrew-Mark Thompson’s splendid front cover, which draws on The Galactic Council from The Daleks’ Master Plan. To complete the set––and marking his artistic CT début––former CT editor Grant Bull presents his evocative hand-painted acrylic work ‘Time In Motion’, which appears on the inside back cover.

I am ever grateful to Nicholas Hollands, whose sterling layout has transformed a folder full of files into a full-colour bumper issue.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.” (‘The Merchant of Venice’, William Shakespeare)