What I Think About When I Think About Doctor Who

Adding comments about the new episode of Doctor Who to the Internet seems highly redundant, but I did think it was wonderful. I thought Matt Smith’s Doctor felt instantly iconic, and that the programme now has that Harry Potter-ish feel about it – world-beating, while still distinctly British. Just the right balance of funny bits and magical bits and scary bits and thrilling bits.

These are hardly unique thoughts, so here’s five things – other art – that the Doctor Who story (‘The Eleventh Hour’) made me think about. Not so common connections, I hope.

1. The Tardis swimming pool being somewhere in the Tardis library. This made me think about the novel ‘The Swimming-Pool Library’. (I imagined the Doctor adding to Amy ‘It’s all gone a bit Alan Hollinghurst in there.’)


2. A huge disembodied eyeball. Three other oversized ocular orbs suggested themselves. There’s Odilon Redon’s eyeball-balloon, in his print ‘L’Oeil, comme un ballon bizarre se dirige vers l’infini’ (The Eye Like a Strange Balloon Mounts Toward Infinity). As used on book covers like Ian McEwan’s ‘Enduring Love’.


3. Another eyeball, this time the sky-bound one in ‘Flan’, the early 90s apocalyptic album and novel by the New York musician Stephen Tunney, aka Dogbowl.


I’m pleased to see that the novel’s just been reprinted. It’s like ‘The Road’, but with more floating eyeballs.

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4. One more giant eyeball (they’re like buses): the one behind the door in Clive Barker’s story ‘Son Of Celluloid’ (from ‘Books Of Blood’), which quotes ‘Casablanca’ at its victim: ‘Here’s looking at you, kid’. A tale of a cancerous tumour becoming sentient and doing impersonations of Hollywood movie stars in order to kill people. Outrageous, gory and really rather brilliant.

In fact, because I read too many biographies, I’ve just realised I’m sitting a few blocks away from the house where Mr Barker wrote the story – along with much of his 80s output, including the source material for ‘Hellraiser’ and ‘Candyman’- in Hillfield Avenue, Crouch End, London N8. I’m cat-sitting in nearby Middle Lane. Here’s a panel from the comic adaptation of ‘Son Of Celluloid’:


5. Finally, my favourite tale about sinister voices coming from cracks in the walls. ‘Flies On The Ceiling’, by Jaime Hernandez, from the long-running comic book ‘Love & Rockets’. After an abortion and divorce, Izzy Ruebens finds herself in a dingy rented room somewhere in Mexico. There, riddled with guilt and neuroses, the Devil speaks to her through a crack in the wall. Perfect for Easter: