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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. peeeeeeet
    August 26, 2013 @ 12:46 am

    Here's what I thought about yon Bilis Manger at the time of broadcast (I spelt his name wrong, but I think that probably helped):

    Torchwood: Billis Manger's Missing Motivation

    Billis Manger is obviously an anagram of something, though sadly not ANOTHER ILL-FITTING TONY AINLEY MASK. Here are some thoughts as to why Mr B Manger resurrected Abbadon, Bart to Satan's Homer:

    Because he was fragrant – I BRING A SMELL
    To coax Lethbridge-Stewart out of retirement and cure Yates and Benton – MEN ILL AS BRIG
    To install 80s horror comedies on Linux – A GREMLINS LIB
    [Mildly offensive one redacted]
    Because otherwise his arms will last too long – LIMBS A LINGER
    Something to do with hat sales – SELLING A BRIM
    Because he wanted to barbecue his pen – ME GRILLS A NIB
    Because he needed his bottom price-tagging – LABELING RIMS
    Because he had incorrectly price-tagged his bottom – MISLABEL RING
    Because he had thrown glass spheres at the script-writer of The Mind Robber – I MARBLES LING
    To avenge his arm, which, you'll recall, lasted too long, when it was referred to as a "dairy farm" by a cockney – SLANG LIMB IRE
    To detract attention away from his bottom's melodious slander concerning the afore-mentioned mis-labelling – RIM SANG LIBEL
    In the hope that running away from Abbadon would cause him to lose weight and discard his torn clothing – BE SLIM RAG NIL
    Because he has brie gills – MAN BRIE GILLS
    To add a comment to his BASIC code to indicate that something is similar to billing – REM AS BILLING

    So, which of these make most sense? Remember, we are talking about Torchwood.


  2. Unknown
    August 26, 2013 @ 1:20 am

    Bilis Manger was an effective enough villain (even with confused motivations) that it seems a shame that they never reused him in a later series of Torchwood.

    Doesn't he get an "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry" in there somewhere for another Doctor parallel?


  3. Lewis Christian
    August 26, 2013 @ 2:31 am

    I, too, wish Bilis had returned. So much potential, and a brilliant character.


  4. Ross
    August 26, 2013 @ 2:45 am

    There is, of course, a reasoned objection to be had here, which is that it is maybe just a little too optimistic to think that 1941 was a time in which a captain in the US Air Force could publicly snog another man and get away with it, even to the extent of flying a fatal mission the next day

    I know quite a few people who consider it canonical that Captain Jack Harkness (The real one) was shot in the back by his own men the next day, and the official reports were a fabrication.


  5. Seeing_I
    August 26, 2013 @ 3:34 am

    Yes, they really dropped the ball by not bringing him back. What a shame!

    One night I watched the 1961 kitchen-sink drama A Taste of Honey, and was bothered for a few scenes by how familiar the gay character looked, before the light bulb went off and I said "My God, it's Bilis Manger!" Murray Melvin has turned in several other excellent performances I'd seen but not realized it was him – he is in "Alfie," "The Boy Friend," (dancing up a storm!) "The Devils," "The Krays," and was even in the (rotten) film musical of "The Phantom of the Opera."

    Are they still making those Torchwood audio dramas? I wish they would do one with him in, filling in some of Manger's backstory, before it's too late.


  6. Seeing_I
    August 26, 2013 @ 3:36 am

    I am not going to go that far, but I did think it was pushing the romanticism / suspension of disbelief just a bit too far, especially after they'd taken care to depict how touchy Tosh's situation in 1941 was.


  7. BerserkRL
    August 26, 2013 @ 4:49 am

    And of course "Bilis" is a slight scrambling of "Iblis" (presumably the Arabic original, not the Galactican knockoff).


  8. BerserkRL
    August 26, 2013 @ 4:54 am

    Doctor Who is defined by the TARDIS, an eccentric space that serves to suture other spaces together.

    That is manifestly not how Torchwood works.

    Except that Torchwood HQ is itself a variant of the TARDIS — a large space hidden inside (or in this case, beneath) a mundane object, into which people can vanish. Gwen's tracking the team to Dahl Plass and trying to figure out where they've vanished mirrors Ian and Barbara's tracking Susan to Foreman's junkyard and trying to figure out where she's vanished.


  9. BerserkRL
    August 26, 2013 @ 4:58 am

    As noted below, "Bilis" is surely "Iblis." "Manger" is French for "to eat" (so Devil-eater?), but could also be a reference to Jesus' birthplace (herald of the Antichrist?). Of course he's also a Manager.


  10. Theonlyspiral
    August 26, 2013 @ 5:20 am

    Except in the TARDIS you might never come out of where you enter. Look at Vicky for example. The strange space never leads back home. The Hub on the other hand is crashed into the real world and left there. You come back out into Wales. One Week, Doctor Who is on a Space Ship, the Next in Churchill's Bunker, then on to a Maze of the Dead and then back to Venice. Torchwood…is Wales all the way down. You never fall out of the world. You wander into a place where the strange has encroached.


  11. Chris Andersen
    August 26, 2013 @ 5:22 am

    Thinking about this some I posit that Doctor Who is essentially about just how utterly huge and strange the Universe is compared to ordinary human life and how difficult it would be for us to manage direct contact with it with out a sympathetic intermediary.

    Put another way, Doctor Who is the optimistic version of H.P. Lovecraft. Yeah, the universe is a scary place that is generally indifferent to humanity except for this one lone character who seems to live comfortably in both worlds and wouldn't hesitate to dismiss Cthulhu as just another would-be-god.

    The Doctor makes the scary fun and something to look forward to.


  12. Lewis Christian
    August 26, 2013 @ 5:24 am

    Some interesting points from you both.

    It's also worth noting, though, that Torchwood has the Rift which allows different times and worlds to collide. It's kind of like a psuedo-TARDIS.


  13. Theonlyspiral
    August 26, 2013 @ 5:34 am

    But the Rift fundamentally brings the weird to Wales. We don't get Gwen and Ianto charging off to fight Daleks, detouring to Dinosaurs only to end up in a spaghetti western. It just doesn't happen. The weird is grounded to the everyday life of our protagonists.


  14. Matthew Celestis
    August 26, 2013 @ 7:01 am

    Which is why most fans hate Neil Penswick's The Pit, in which Dr. Who meets a Lovecraftian horror and turns out to be absolutely useless in the face of it.


  15. BerserkRL
    August 26, 2013 @ 7:15 am

    On a related issue: what should we make of the fact that at the end of "End of Days," the clear implication is that the TARDIS has materialised inside the Hub, despite what the beginning of "Utopia" shows?


  16. Aaron
    August 26, 2013 @ 7:28 am

    Most fans hate the Pit because it's incredibly poorly written, has plot threads that go nowhere, lacks likeable characters, and has an obvious padding episode in the middle where the Doctor not only solves the Ripper murders but meets a William Blake who serves as a more generic companion than even Mel did.

    The Lovecraftian Horror part is actually the best bit, hence why Lawrence Miles cites Neil Penswick in The Book of the War.


  17. Seeing_I
    August 26, 2013 @ 8:12 am

    I always thought it was that Jack heard it materializing (a la Jackie & Mickey hearing it in The Christmas Invasion) and vamoosed double-quick.


  18. Jesse
    August 26, 2013 @ 8:58 am

    The episode is in no way about the fact that it’s the “gay men” episode, a quiet confidence that such an episode doesn’t need to be a Very Special Episode that’s about the glories of its own existence.

    This approach is so rare, and it has a lot to do why this episode is a favorite of mine.


  19. jane
    August 26, 2013 @ 12:53 pm

    Did you hear about our Jack? He's a gay man now.


  20. BerserkRL
    August 26, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

    Right, that's what one thinks if one views it through the lens of "Utopia" (though even so, Jack has to run an awful long way to reach a sound that seemed so close). But watch it while trying to forget "Utopia," and the implication is clear that the papers blowing in the Hub are from the TARDIS having just dematerialised, and that Jack has vanished from the Hub in some non-mundane way.


  21. ferret
    August 26, 2013 @ 3:31 pm

    Agreed that appeared to be the intention at the time, but if I had to explain it away I'd say the TARDIS materialization sound was transmitted straight down the invisible-lift shaft, and the papers blowing around in the hub are thanks to Jack running at top speed with his big flappy coat on.

    However I seem to recall the Torchwood characters saying something along the lines of "there was no way he could have got past us" to the exit door, although I wouldn't put it past Jack to have a secret exit he's not trusted with anyone but himself.


  22. Ross
    August 26, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

    I can't believe I'm making this comparison.

    They're like the Deep Space Nine to Doctor Who's TNG. To Boldly stay where no man has stayed before.


  23. Bryce Thomason
    September 4, 2013 @ 7:09 pm

    Also the spoke of Hollywood, where Hollywood writers seemed to put a gay person on every single sit-com and at least one scene or character in every single movie – stating that wasn't right because there just are not that many gay citizens in our country by proportion. Then they spoke of the ""gay agenda" in our politics in Washington DC, in our entertainment manufacturing, at our college campuses, and claiming that the GLBT crowd was preying on adolescents who are going through their own hormonal awakenings, thus, in a way brainwashing them as they are confused about the changes in their own bodies.


  24. occono
    September 11, 2013 @ 4:04 pm

    All of these Anagrams and you didn't even mention "Grim Lesbian"?


  25. occono
    September 11, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

    Oh I see "mildly offensive one redacted". Well, you didn't give him the name….


  26. William Silvia
    October 9, 2013 @ 7:25 pm

    Your suggestion doesn't fit in with the inherent misspelling.


  27. William Silvia
    October 9, 2013 @ 7:27 pm

    They stared in disbelief, and then when they tried to say something…
    "Captain Harkness was dancing with a man! And snogged him!"
    "I did? Well then where did he go?"
    "There was this flash of light and then he and his Japanese friend…"
    "I think you've had a bit too much to drink there."


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