Babblesphere

The Doctor and Romana arrive on a remote Earth colony fashioned as the Palace of Versailles. The inhabitants are enslaved by the Babblesphere, a social network linked to the brain with compulsory membership.

Picking up on ideas from Douglas Adams’ Shada, Babblesphere presents the ideas of minds being collected and connected together, updated for the age of the social network. It’s an area ripe for exploitation by Doctor Who. It has been touched on in stories like Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead and The Bells of Saint John, but never so explicitly as here. The Babble Network is made up of people who eagerly joined, but then became trapped in a miasma of mindless minutiae. The story is fairly tongue-in-cheek, with little real sense of peril for our two Time Lord heroes, who are as unfazed and nonchalant as usual.

Lalla Ward’s reading contains enough different voices to breathe life into the various rebels our heroes ally with, and she captures enough of Tom Baker’s tone and emphases to pass muster. Her co-star Roger Parrott, meanwhile, barely gets a look-in.

Despite not troubling our heroes too much, the idea itself is fairly horrific if you give it some thought. I began a Twitter account last year (@CarlisleWhoFan) specifically to talk about Doctor Who with like-minded people (because no-one I know in real life is a fan, or at least, to borrow Toby Hadoke’s watershed, no-one that knows who Pat Gorman is). It would be pretty unbearable if it was an unfiltered constant stream into my mind. Twitter itself would be hell without the ability to ‘unfollow’. The young ‘fan girls’ endless tweets about how beautiful the cast are and their ‘feels’ can be annoying, but at least they are enthusiastic about the series. What is far worse is the relentless negativity of those who profess to be huge fans of Doctor Who, but have hated it for the past four years! I saw a post yesterday for a blog which was called something like “Why I hated the last scene of The Crimson Horror”. Life’s too short to feel personally aggrieved when there’s something about the series you don’t like.

It’s not all bad though, there’s some very funny, perceptive tweeters, not to mention how fortunate we are to have excellent Doctor Who contributers including Babblesphere‘s writer Jonathan Morris. A very witty man. Just before we leave the subject of Twitter, I’d be remiss not recommend the hilarious account for ‘Ian Levine’. He’s a superb comic creation; a tragicomic character to rival David Brent or Alan Partridge, and deserves a wider audience.

While Doctor Who fans were watching Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, Lalla Ward was on Radio 4 promoting Babblesphere:

(Video via @BlogtorWho)

Unfortunately she can’t quite bring herself to talk about the actual play, and is far more keen to show how much she’s above it all. By far the biggest revelation is that she keeps getting asked back to appear in the TV series, seemingly uniquely among the actors who played companions in the past; and rather strangely, given the well-established extinction of all Time Lords except the Doctor.

Not heard Doctor Who – Babblesphere yet? Order the CD from Amazon:

Doctor Who: Babblesphere (Destiny of the Doctor 4) (Doctor Who – Destiny of the Doctor)

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