Episode 23: The Romans

The First Doctor and his team go to ancient Rome and hang in Nero’s court.  But does the Daleks Aren’t Robots!? team feel this serial has the favor of the gods…or cast it to the lions?

Podcast Contents Include

Editor’s Note: The following are my original notes for the podcast, slightly edited for readability. They’re very far from the full contents of the pod, though.  – Kari


The Tardis falls off a cliff and the team LEAVES HER THERE to hang out in an Imperial-era Roman city as a vacation. The Doctor and Vicki go to Rome out of curiosity, the Doctor assuming the identity of a murdered lyre player on the way to Nero’s court. Meanwhile Barbara and Ian are kidnapped by slavers.

Ian ends up as an oarsman on a galley and Barbara gets creeped on and sold to Tavius, who works for Nero. An assassin tries to murder the Doctor, and gets his butt roundly kicked and tossed out a window by Vicki.

Nero creepily chases Barbara around and the show thinks this is funny (it is not), and Nero’s wife Empress Poppaea tries to kill Barb with poison. Vicki almost poisons Nero but the Doctor saves him and then fakes playing the lyre in a hilariouos Emperor’s New Clothes scenario. Nero decides to feed the Doctor to the lions because his playing is TOO GOOD.

Ian fights in the arena in front of Nero and Barbara and escapes, and then returns to rescue Barb. The Doctor accidentally sets Nero’s diagram of Rome on fire and Nero decides to burn Rome down so he can build it to his liking.

Tavius helps Barb and Ian escape and is revealed to be a Christian (because he has a cross around his neck). They all return to the Roman villa they were squatting in and then depart the era, the Doctor revealing that the Tardis is stuck somewhere and being dragged down.


This is so the Doctor‘s serial. He has SO many moments when he’s at his trickster best in this one it’s actually amazing.

  • When an assassin attacks him, he defends himself adequately and actually gets irritated with Vicki when she comes and helps him out because he was having fun beating the crap out of the hapless would-be killer.
  • He skillfully deflects an attempt to get him to play by buttering up Nero and deferring to him with great respect and admiration.
  • He pulls an AMAZING “Emperor’s New Clothes” stunt and plays “so delicately no one can hear him” and everyone admires it… and it works too well, convincing Nero to have him killed because HE’S TOO GOOD AT THE LYRE.
  • Finally he “accidentally” (it is not clear if it is an accident) burns Nero’s plans for a rebuilt Rome and inspires Nero to burn down the city himself. (Nero was accused of burning the city down but these accusations are not exactly reliable as Nero was hated by the upper class at the time. He also allegedly blamed Christians for the fire but that ALSO may not be correct. Honestly Rome didn’t need help to be on fire, it was on fire ALL THE FUCKING TIME regardless; there’s a reason Crassus got as ridiculously wealthy as he did, you know?)
  • And he has this amazing evil laugh when he realized HE CAUSED THE GREAT FIRE OF ROME at the end.

Vicki doesn’t do a LOT here but she has a couple good moments. I’m actually starting to like her!

  • She is demonstrably curious about Rome and excited to see new places and times, and has a bit of a mischievous streak like the Doctor’s. He’s probably a bad influence.
  • When the Doctor is being attacked she doesn’t hesitate to help him and ends up pushing the attacker out the window kind of.
  • When the court poisoner is going to poison a slave (unbeknownst to Vicki it’s Barbara) she switches the goblets to kill Nero instead, only stopped by the Doctor.

Ian has finally relaxed.

  • Barb changes his hair to look more Roman. He seems pretty happy and cheerful at the beginning of this, and also at the end, and he has a lot of great chemistry with Barbara, joking around with her. He doesn’t hesitate to fight at any point either so we get lots of Action Physicist here.
  • It super bugged me that he was wearing a TOGA and it appeared to be a toga with a stripe, too? That’s usually something fancy worn by someone of rank, OR A CHILD, like a toga praetexta would mean that you were an IMPORTANT PERSON IN THE GOVERNMENT, like a consul. They would not try to enslave an adult man wearing those clothes who spoke perfect Roman Latin. That is a posh person and you don’t wanna go there.

Barbara gets the short end of the stick in this episode.

  • She was much more proactive in the Aztecs, and while she doesn’t exactly lie back and think of England here, she’s slow to attempt escape and she isn’t as smart about it as she has been in the past. She does look great, and she does have plenty of pluck, but that’s it. She’s not as devious and ruthless as we’ve seen her in the past, and that’s a pity.
  • Her outfit is also a bit more of a Halloween costume than anything a Roman lady would have worn. There’d be about two more layers probably, and if not it would probably just be a tunic since she isn’t married.


  1. Nero is the emperor, and for the most part it’s a pretty good rendition if it weren’t for the fact that he’s presented as a silly buffoon. He does personally kill one person and chases Barbara around which is EXTREMELY horrifying but the show doesn’t seem to realize it. He’s a lot less gay than he should’ve been too. At one point Nero married a man and played the bride.
  2. Tavius is a servant of Nero who purchases slaves for the household and also encourages an assassin to come and kill Nero. And he also seems to kill someone himself in order to keep the assassin (who the Doctor is masquerading as) safe. This is not really in keeping with the Christianity of the time! Yes, he is revealed to be a Christian by a cross around his neck (which was not a symbol Christians used at that time IIRC). Tavius is an interesting character, kind of the Varys of the piece, but it is not super clear what his goal really is or why.
  3. Poppaea, Nero’s wife, who is jealous of slave girl Barbara for SOME UNINTELLIGIBLE REASON when in real life I would think she’d be glad someone ELSE had Nero’s attention. Then again IRL she and Nero were both married to others when they got together so…. sure, I guess? Later she died, either because Nero killed her or in childbirth, who knows.
  4. Locusta, the court poisoner. Supposedly she helped kill the previous emperor, Claudius. She is eventually executed by Nero’s successor Galba so good on her!
  5. Some dumb, evil slavers and the guy the Doctor masquerades as, and Ian’s slave friend who helps him out a couple of times.


  1. Imperial Rome in Nero’s era. I don’t know how accurate the geography is since they’re kind of vague about a lot of it. The costumes aren’t great, though they do look nice for the most part. The mores aren’t especially well-represented either, but that’s probably because it’s a kids’ show and that much gay and sex and violence wouldn’t be great for them (though apparently implied attempted rape is OK).
  2. Nero has painted toenails I think? Is that realistic?
  3. Also he uses thumbs down to indicate a gladiator should be killed, which is PROBABLY wrong. Thumbs up is killing them and a closed fist is sparing them.


  1. Hartnell flubs a line or two here but he’s magnificent overall. How was his health doing at this point?
  2. Did any stuff from the Greekish part of Keys of Marinus get reused here?
  3. What did Vicki, Maureen O’Brien, think of her first full serial?



Interviews with cast and crew


Nail Varnish

Episode 22: Inferno

We return to the Third Doctor to finish his first season with a bang!  The Doctor battles nuclear werewolves, evil counterparts, and evil scientists in this classic serial.

Podcast Contents Include

Editor’s Note: The following are my original notes for the podcast, slightly edited for readability. They’re very far from the full contents of the pod, though.  – Kari


The Doctor goes to ANOTHER nuclear facility, this one powering a drill attempting to pierce the earth’s crust so that they can access a mythical magic gas that would provide essentially free energy for the world. (Bull butter.)

Stahlman, the scientist in charge of the project, is the obvious bad guy and is maniacal about getting through the crust ASAP regardless of safety. Hot green goo starts coming up during the drilling; a guy touches it and starts turning greenish-blue and growing hair, like some kind of Dracula in a low-budget foreign film. He kills someone and acts like an animal.

The Doctor tries to get the Tardis console to work with the power from the reactor, and argues with Stahlman when the power is taken away from him, then fixes it on the sly. During his second attempt to use the console it takes him to an alternate universe where the Brigadier DOESN’T have facial hair but an eyepatch and a scar, and where Liz has a dark bob and isn’t a scientist. Also fascists, they are all fascists.

In the evil mirror universe the drilling is further along and they pierce the earth’s core despite the Doctor’s attempts to stop them. This begins a chain reaction of lava or something that will inevitably destroy the world. The Doctor can’t save it but persuades some of the survivors of the Turkish Dracula Disease (which has become the Turkish Werewolf Disease) to help him get back to the other world to save THEM.

He gets back and averts the disaster (barely). Then he tries to use the Tardis console again to escape, but ends up in the garbage dump. WHAT IS DIGNITY


  1. The Doctor, as usual, is great in this one. He’s arrogant and rude to Stahlman, who deserves it, but it bites him in the butt when Stahlman reacts by pulling his power. He’s still trying to use the Tardis to escape Earth, so he hasn’t given up on that.
  2. The Doctor does say that he has heard the weird sound the creatures make early on at the eruption of Krakatoa, but this doesn’t really ever get explained. Probably for the best.
  3. He gets to make some great faces in this one, particularly when he kind of has a bad “splinching” experience early on trying to use the Tardis.
  4. Liz is great in this one and it’s a real bummer that this is her last serial. Though the real Liz spends a lot of her time running a couple spurious errands for the Doctor intended to get her out of the way, Caroline John also gets to play Evil Liz, who has a short, dark haircut and is in the fascist military of her world. She’s still scientific minded, though, and studied physics in college–she comes to believe what the Doctor says and is good enough to help him get back to the other world to save it, knowing she and all her world is doomed.
  5. Briggie also really shines in this episode. He’s his stuffy, mostly-harmless-seeming self in the normal world, showing the Doctor a picture of himself without a mustache which comes back later when his evil self is mustacheless. Evil Briggie is a great villainous type–he’s still brave and stalwart and does not flinch when he has to defend the others against the Turkish werewolves. However, he’s super fashy and shouty and also looks exactly like Arnold Rimmer. He also tries to force the Doctor to take him and Liz with when he goes back to the real world, likely because he doesn’t trust that the Doctor is telling the truth about the other world being destroyed if they go.
  6. Benton! Is a character here at last. He’s kind of just a UNIT mook, but he has a name and he does some stuff, and his evil counterpart is brutally turned into a Turkish werewolf.
  7. Bessie exists in the alternate universe. Is she any different, I really couldn’t tell.
  8. The Tardis console is still dismembered and unfed but she still tries, poor girl. At least she’s in a garage now and not that HIDEOUS room of grandma’s awfullest knicknacks.


  1. Stahlman, the very obvious villain, who is obvious. He’s hellbent on getting the drill through the crust. Why is never really explained other than that it’s his project. He’s even worse in the evil world, and beardless there just like Briggie. Both versions turn into Turkish werewolves and die.
  2. Petra, the assistant director of the drilling project, a pretty blonde girl who is extremely competent, professional and loyal to Stahlman. When Sutton hits on her she enforces her boundaries with no equivocation, but after that he starts treating her with respect and she ‘s into him. The evilverse Sutton also hits on her, she enforces her boundaries there too and they also are super into each other.
  3. Sutton, an oil guy brought in on the project who wears a horrible ascot and hits on Petra. I thought he was just going to be a pig and that the story would be OK with it, but he isn’t. He helps out at one point and then tells Petra there is SOMETHING she can do for him… and we all went OH NO, but he follows it up by 1. call me by my first name, and 2. help me convince Stahlman about safer drilling procedures. His evil version is actually also good and helps the Doctor escape to save the other world.
  4. Sir Keith, the bureaucrat who’s barely in the show. He tries to reign Stahlman in but isn’t successful; his evil world version dies before we see him.
  5. The Turkish Draculas, who then evolve into Turkish Werewolves. They are hilarious, with greenish-blue faces and loads of hair. They’re bestial so they’re not really characters, just menaces. It’s not really explained what the hell is going on with them and it’s also just assumed they can’t be fixed or cured.


  1. Earth of the 1970s, specifically a nuclear facility drilling down through the earth’s crust.
  2. The lab is a garage now, MUCH better than the hideous granny knicknack room.
  3. THE EVIL WORLD. We don’t see a ton of it, but it’s clearly fascist. There are some nice nods immediately that tip us off we’re in a different world, with barrels being in different places. It has a dictator–who is it? UNIT goose-steps in it, and is if anything slightly less quick to shoot people here. People have fashier titles too. Love that!
  4. The Tardis console ends up on a trash heap. 😦


  1. Caroline John’s last episode. We’ve talked about it a little before but what happened?
  2. Venusian Karate, what prompted that? It’s pretty hilarious looking but it works and it’s not as overtly violent as… most of the rest of the show at this point honestly! Is it inspired by anything real?
  3. I see a lot of Third in Eight–from the outfit to the actiony orientation to the VIBE to even the doctor Companion.
  4. The science is hilariously garbage on this, and mostly that’s OK, the magic slime doesn’t bug me. But people at a nuclear facility find an object that’s hot and don’t reach for a Geiger counter? Really??? They don’t check ANYTHING for radioactivity, not even once!
  5. Generally I’m noticing a pattern here too, there’s a “science” facility powered by nuclear stuff and something goes wrong, sometimes because Man Should Not Meddle (this one) and sometimes because Man Sucks (Ambassadors of Death) and sometimes we Dug Too Deep (this one and Silurians). Is that going to keep being a thing? Is that the show now?


Other stories considered as season finale

Project Mohole

Cast and crew interviews

Caroline John/Liz Shaw retrospectives

Jon Pertwee as radio announcer cut scene from British broadcast

Pertwee Intelligence agent meeting Churchill and Ian Fleming


When the World Screamed by Arthur Conan Doyle

Episode 20: The Rescue

Welcoming special guest Blue aboard the Daleks Aren’t Robots TARDIS (DARDIS, if you will), we look at the first episode with the First Doctor’s new companion, Vicki.

Daleks Aren’t Robots!? is a podcast in which two Whovian friends take two non-Whovians on a deep dive through the show from the very beginning.

Podcast Contents Include

Editor’s Note: The following are my original notes for the podcast, slightly edited for readability. They’re very far from the full contents of the pod, though.  – Kari


The Tardis lands on Dido (so I guess a woman immolating herself for a man DOES feature). There Barbara and the boys (Ian and the Doctor) are separated when a spiky looking alien fires a weaponlike object at Barbara. There is a crashed ship on Dido with a girl named Vicki and a man named Beckett in it; both of them fear someone named Koquillian, who sounds like he might be a native to the planet. Barbara meets Vicki, who tells her the Didoans killed ALL the other people on the ship who didn’t die in the crash. Barbara accidentally kills Vicki’s pet, Sandy, mistaking it for a monster.

The Doctor has been to Dido before and knows the people there, a small population that’s friendly and cool. It turns out that Bennett is Koquillian and he murdered a guy on the ship, and killed all the other survivors AND a bunch of Didoans to cover it up. Vicki didn’t know about it because she was a kid. Bennett has been using a Didoan temple and their holy gear in his masquerade; the Doctor confronts him there and almost dies, but two surviving Didoans intimidate Koquillian off a cliff. They take Vicki with them when they leave.


The Doctor: He’s a bit sad in this episode, clearly missing Susan. He’s a lot gentler to Barbara and Ian than usual, and he’s also super kind to Vicki. He might be seeking to fill the granddaughter-shaped hole in his heart. At one point he’s about to order Susan to open the door, says her name and then gets this sad look on his face. He’s very sweet with Vicki.

He figures out Koquillian isn’t who he seems. He also has a near-fatal moment of overconfidence when he confronts Bennett in the Didoan temple and Bennett kicks the crap out of him, until two Didoans come and save the day.

Ian: Ian is JOVIAL and cheerful in this episode. Maybe it’s just an effect of the Doctor being nicer, but he’s really grown a lot and removed the stick from his ass over the past season and a half.

Barbara: Barbara makes a rare mistake in this one, and kills Vicki’s pet monster when she mistakes it for, well, an actual monster. She grabs a flare gun and straight up murders the thing. She isn’t as apologetic as I would have expected, when she finds out it was a pet, which seems out of character for Barbara.

Vicki: The new girl! She seems more childish than Susan–is the actress younger as well? She’s also kind of… well, it was SUPER obvious that Bennett was Koquillian almost immediately. She seems kind of gullible.
She’s mad at Barbara for killing her pet, but that’s totally reasonable (even if the show doesn’t seem to think so). She does immediately have a rapport with the Doctor, and she’s pretty brave–she helped Barbara and hid her from Koquillian, and helped treat her wounds. She’s apparently an orphan (her father was in the wreck) and she’s from the future (she left earth in 2493 after her mom died).

She’s independent minded and doesn’t want people to feel sorry for her. She does have kind of a hysterical crying fit at one point, but it IS right after her pet was killed, so…


Bennett: The bad guy. He’s a murderer who killed the crash survivors AND did a genocide in order to hide his murder. He is not as scary as Reegan, but I was legitimately worried for the Doctor when he was trying to kill him at the end. His monster suit is pretty good, and for once there’s a damn good reason it looks like a guy in a suit!

Two Didoans: They don’t say anything, they just stop Bennett from murdering the Doctor and intimidate him off the cliff. They’re just wearing white coveralls with capelets and boots.

A couple of ADORABLE monsters who are obviously just a guy in a lobster/lizard suit lying on the ground. I’m sure there are no toys of it for STUPID reasons. The monster-pet that Barbara kills is named Sandy and it appears to have light-up eyes.


  1. There are some adorable miniatures of the broken spaceship.
  2. There are some rad Indiana Jones style traps in the cave where the Tardis lands, and they are escaped very sensibly too. There’s kind of a neatly-made wall that looks like a monster’s face–the monsters we see, maybe.
  3. The spaceship wreck interiors look good; the planet Dido looks OK too. I didn’t notice anything all that unusual or special about them.
  4. The temple set at the end looks cool, with some pillars and a chest I think?


  1. Why Vicki? Why did they choose that actress? Why did they choose that character? How old is the actress? How will she be different from Susan? What did fans think of Vicki?
  2. Was it meant to be obvious that Bennett was Koko?
  3. The mini spaceship was adorable, is this from the same miniaturist that made the other minis? It’s so charming and cute.
  4. They have kind of a large, cool looking flashlight at one point, is it a normal flashlight?



Contemporary Articles

Sean Connery (no, really)

Episode 19: The Ambassadors of Death

A look at the Third Doctor’s third episode.  An investigation into a failed space rescue takes a turn when the returned astronauts seem to be something quite different than they were before. 

How does the Daleks Aren’t Robots team react to it?  Find out!

Podcast Contents Include

Editor’s Note: The following are my original notes for the podcast, slightly edited for readability. They’re very far from the full contents of the pod, though.  – Kari


An astronaut is being sent up to retrieve the astronauts of Mars Probe 7, which has been silent for more than 7 months, but the rescuer hears a nasty noise up there and then goes silent himself. Because we are not on our earth, this is an AU.

The Doctor sees it on the TV and goes to help. It turns out it’s a message and a group of people on Earth is replying to the messages; when Briggy sends guys there there’s a huge gunfight and half of UNIT dies.

Eventually we retrieve 3 guys from space, but it turns out they’re radioactive aliens that can kill with a touch and NOT the astronauts. The astronauts are being held hostage by aliens who want their ambassadors back–it turns out that a bunch of crappy humans kidnapped their ambassadors and mindcontrolled said ambassadors into committing crimes for them.

The ringleader is Carrington, a military bad guy who is basically a xenophobe and wants to nuke the aliens, and his dragon, metaphorically, Reegan, is a frighteningly competent asshole helping for the paycheck. Carrington wants to fake an alien attack so that earth’s governments all nuke the aliens, but the Doctor and Liz rescue the aliens and then it ends and YES IT IS ACTUALLY THAT ABRUPT.


  1. The Doctor is great in this one. He Karens his way into the bowels of the space center right off the bat, traps a bunch of baddies by somehow magnetizing their hands to Betsy (I mean it’s magic but whatever) and even actually goes to space to talk to the alien leader. He is short with people and at one point he gets knocked out, which was hilarious, so it’s nice that he’s not immune to things happening to him.
  2. Liz is kidnapped in this one, but she’s still actually pretty great. She struggles to escape physically and then when she DOES escape, only to be recaptured, that doesn’t stop her from trying to get out yet AGAIN. And she actively helps the Doctor make a signal device to get help from UNIT when he too gets captured, as well as a gadget for being able to actually talk to the Ambassadors of Death. At one point she sarcastically promises the baddies not to hurt them, which was hilarious.
  3. Briggy can’t hit the broad side of a barn and leads from the front, which is pretty stupid since he’s probably the only one who knows what’s going on. That said he does OK in this episode mostly, and backs up the Doctor when given the chance. So far he does always act within the constraints of his role in the military, i don’t know if that will continue.
  4. The TARDIS has been FUCKING DISMEMBERED. Not that we are explicitly told that in this episode. I thought that he and Liz were IN the Tardis as there’s a scene with them at the console, but apparently the Doctor REMOVED THE CONSOLE. LIKE A GODDAMN MANIAC. YOU DISMEMBERED HER YOU GODDAMN VIVISECTIONIST PRICK!


Loads of one-hit wonder characters in this one, most of whom don’t really have personalities.

Carrington, Evil Military Guy: He’s basically a caricature, and he’s doing this because the aliens accidentally killed his coworker when he went on an earlier Mars mission. He’s explicitly called out as being mad in the show, and claims that it was his moral duty to nuke the aliens. Sure, Jan, nuke the scary brown I mean blue people who literally came here as ambassadors. You bet.

Reegan, Terrifying Competent Dragon of the Big Bad: This guy was actually pretty spooky. He absolutely does not care about alien life but he also doesn’t care about human life or anything, apparently, other than money. He was almost certainly planning to screw Carrington over and use the Ambassadors to commit robberies, and he’s not even ruffled when he gets caught at the end.

Cornish, Competent Bureaucrat: This guy is just like the bureaucrat in the Silurians except he’s not evil, he doesn’t suck at his job and he’s totally cool under pressure. So basically exactly the opposite of that guy. This guy had a lot of charisma for kind of a thankless part, he did a good job.

Taltalian, AKA Evil Beardo: Bad guy scientist, turns out to be a mook and is then blown up by his own boss.

Lennox, AKA Wormy Scientist: Scientist who tries to care for the Ambassadors as much as he can, even though he’s working for the baddies technically. He tries to help Liz escape, escapes himself and is then horribly murdered by radiation.

There are some other guys, like a reporter who’s got 80s style a few years before the 80s, but I don’t really care about them.

The Ambassadors themselves? They’re not characters, and neither is their alien captain. They are just plot devices. Only for a very little portion of the show are they able to act under their own power and they don’t really talk about how traumatic it’s been to be forced to murder people or anything. There is SO LITTLE RESOLUTION after this show. It’s even more abrupt than the Silurians, who at least got blown up. These people are gonna be super traumatized! They were mind controlled and dazed and zombielike for a long time! They were forced to murder people on a weird planet! They’re gonna need SO MUCH THERAPY.

Also they are tinsel mummies.


  1. Earth of the 1970s.
  2. Also they dismembered the Tardis and put her controls in the UGLIEST ROOM EVER CREATED, GOOD GAD. Everyone went spontaneously blind in the 1970s, I’m pretty sure.
  3. There are some cool location shots, like some sort of factory with many pipes and walkways and stuff, that are nicely used.
  4. The space scenes actually looked pretty good. The alien ship had some greenscreening which was VERY unconvincing but not unusually so for the time and budget, but the design of the human spacecraft and control room was pretty good, considering it was probably mostly sheet metal and paper clips.
  5. The alien spaceship looked OK. Not super distinct, but there was a scene where the astronauts were watching an alien TV showing light blobs but they saw a football game, which was satisfyingly creepy and well-executed.


  1. That’s the most 1970s music I’ve ever heard. That sir is no krumhorn, thank god. It’s GOOD music and once we figured out what was going on with the ambassadors, their eerie, slow harp-like music fit really well. I liked it, but O M G SO SEVENTIES.
  2. The 80s news guy is weirdly ethically void. Like, he doesn’t even argue about what he should do, just shrugs and whatevers his way into almost being responsible for genocide.
  3. When do we find out that the Doctor dismembered the Tardis?
  4. Why are we on an alternate earth? What’s the deal with that? Is NuWho in the same alternate earth?
  5. There’s a whole part where the Doctor sends himself and then Liz 15 seconds forward in time, and then it comes up again when he hides a macguffin from a baddie that way. CAN HE JUST DO THAT NOW??? I had to literally stop the show to WTF over that, does that literally EVER come up again?!
  6. Is UNIT based on a real thing? They don’t seem like it.
  7. UNIT likes to shoot but they also GET SHOT like a looooot. How many UNIT guys get shot or get dead in this one?
  8. Were there rewrites in this? There were some loose plot threads, like we never did find out where the Doctor had heard the Ambassadors’ signals before this episode. And the episode ended SO SUDDENLY.






Doctor Who Kits carcinogenic

How they reconstructed the episodes for what we see today


Episode death count

BTS photos

Opinion: A “Jolly Good Smacked Bottom”

Recently our podcast covered “The Dalek Invasion of Earth.”

At the time, there was some discussion about the “What you need is a jolly good smacked bottom!” line that the First Doctor says to Susan, his granddaughter.

In this situation, though, we did kind of just move on from it: given the way the Doctor says the line it seems quite obvious he has no intention of doing it, and is more concerned and scared for Susan’s safety. It is still sexist and not a good line.

It’s hard to find out where this line came from; it is claimed it is not in the original Terry Nation script, and is generally attributed to an ad lib by William Hartnell.

Now the First Doctor, as we have discussed, does have a lot of British paternalistic qualities and sexist elements. A lot of this does come from the time but it is still there. However, as we have also discussed, the show notices these and generally shows more nuance than you would expect with the character especially given that it was produced in the 1960s.

But if it isn’t that big of an issue in the episode, why do I feel the need to bring it up? Because on Dec. 25, 2017, more than 50 years later, the line came up again in Peter Capaldi’s final episode as the Twelfth Doctor and Steven Moffat’s last episode as showrunner, “Twice Upon A Time.”

In “Twice Upon A Time,” the First Doctor (played by David Bradley) and the Twelfth Doctor meet, right before they both are to regenerate. Moffat did intend this to be a cyclical thing showing how the character has changed and how they haven’t. Additionally, this episode wasn’t meant to happen when it did — Moffat wanted to complete his run with the end of Capaldi’s final season.

However, Chibnall did not want to start with a Christmas special, and if the show didn’t have a Christmas special, Doctor Who would have lost the Christmas special slot permanently. This meant Moffat had to rush to write and record a whole extra episode while still having basically wrapped the Twelfth Doctor’s story at the end of his final season. Meanwhile, Paul Cornell was writing the novelization at the same time the episode was being written, and they had to cut 30 minutes from the final episode.

Some of the issues I have can thus be explained, but I am judging based on what we got on screen.

The portrayal of the First Doctor that ended up on our screens for this episode seemed to be based fully on the “smacked bottom” line and sexist attitudes of the 1960s. They even had the First Doctor say that line to a woman he was not related to and had just met.

This is played as a joke in the episode, and it isn’t the only one. One of the only character traits Moffat plays up in the aired episode is how sexist and out-of-touch with the modern day the First Doctor was. Which is certainy an aspect of the character having been written and portrayed in the 1960’s we can’t ignore that aspect of the character,however Moffat exxaggarates an highlights no other aspects of the character.

In other post-Hartnell appearances, the First Doctor has often fared better; for example, in “The Five Doctors,” he is portrayed as being the most knowledgeable and experienced of all the incarnations.

This may have been Moffat’s way of popping that fan view… which is a complete misunderstanding of who the First Doctor is.

Even this one line was not as bad as it sounds, as I explained earlier, and while the First Doctor certainly comes across as paternalistic, sexist, and from the 1960s there is more equality there that Moffat in the aired episode seems to ignore, basically boiling it down to the Twelfth Doctor being embarrassed by this sexist, rude past version of himself that is completely out of touch with current attitudes.

This is completely unlike any other portrayal of the First Doctor, and bordering on an insult in how it is handled.

While it has been argued that instead of just the First Doctor, Moffat was portraying the attitudes of the 1960s show in general, there was also racism then and the episode really doesn’t deal with that at all. Also, putting all that on the First Doctor still makes it a terrible characterization.

As I mentioned earlier, Cornell was working on a novelization at the same time as Moffat was writing the episode, and at least 30 minutes of the episode didn’t make it to the final version on screen.

Some of the problems with the rushed episode are fixed in the novelization. For example, in the book it is explained the First Doctor acted sexist and out-of-character to annoy the Twelfth Doctor because he didn’t like him, and in the book he tones it down as he begins to like this other incarnation of himself.

Whether or not this was the intention of Moffat’s on-screen version, it does not come across that way when watching the episode.

Also, I want to be clear: none of this is on David Bradley, who has portrayed Hartnell brilliantly in the Big Finish audios and in the docudrama “An Adventure in Space and Time.” Moffat may have intended to show a more nuanced version at some point but what came across was an awful “joke” that really did not work and instead came across as the worst interpretation of the First Doctor in a canon appearance.

Let me know if you agree or disagree, and either way, I hope you join us by listening to future and past episodes of Daleks Aren’t Robots!?