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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. mimhoff
    January 14, 2019 @ 2:59 pm

    I started following the Eruditorum in 2013, at the time of the 50th anniversary and when you were ending the Tennant era and heading into Smith. It’s weird to think that these things that happened 2-3 years ago are now “history” when at the time I was wondering how you could possibly put the Smith eras into their proper context. Or indeed Capaldi who had just been announced….

    It hasn’t been that long and yet the teleology all seems clear, and not in a good way. Are the seeds of a better future in here somewhere and how will we recognise them now?


  2. Jane
    January 14, 2019 @ 3:13 pm

    Who is “that clown” in Sue? I think it’s Jesus Christ.

    He’s dying too, not dying to.

    He says he can’t give it all away. He also says that saying no but meaning yes is his message, so in context he’s saying he really can give it all away, and indeed he does.


  3. Leslie L
    January 14, 2019 @ 7:34 pm

    I remember watching a lot of the music video that came out after BlackStar, I was deeply affected by that one video with Bowie in bed with the black button eyes .

    2016 was an important year for me, in terms to painful to fully say . That’s for my Therapist.

    I still am amazed by the Passage of time . Here we are , two Years later, Yet another wait time until the Next season . ( If only there was enough money to have a special Like Tennant had)


  4. Terry
    January 15, 2019 @ 2:17 am

    Quite possibly the best single-paragraph description of Donald Trump I have ever read.


  5. Przemek
    January 15, 2019 @ 1:05 pm

    Thank you for another excellent essay. Although I wish it could’ve been more optimistic about the state of the world.

    It’s strange, watching the humongous world events like Trump and Brexit from the perspective of a small, insignificant European country. We were all certainly shocked in 2016 when we heard, not least because the news seemed to resonate with what was happening in our own country around the same time. In 2014 Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula, sparking a war in our neighbouring Ukraine. In 2015 we got an authoritarian right-wing government and a right-wing president, in 2016 we hosted the Catholic World Youth Day and got visited by the Pope. It didn’t feel like a complete and utter disaster the way Trump felt but was it all certainly worrying. The same government is still in power now…

    As for Bowie, all I can say is that I’ve never listened to him much but for some reason “Blackstar” strongly affected me. Haunted me. I listened to it while writing a story about the world where God died, leaving an incompetent Satan in charge. Sometimes you can just feel the psychic waves moving across the world. Rest in peace, David Bowie.


  6. AntonB
    January 15, 2019 @ 1:54 pm

    Quite right. The Bowie/Capaldi interface heralded the end times. I only hope that, looking back on this post in, say, ten years time, we can all sigh in relief that the 21st Century hadn’t really started yet and we were wrong to be scared, we weren’t screwed. I remain the eternal optimist. (A bit like Moorcock’s the Eternal Champion but with less angst).

    Been meaning to comment on your Blackstar post for a few days but really had nothing to add to your spot-on observations however twitter told me to do it.

    Are you also going to cover the ‘Bowie is’ touring exhibit and/or ‘Lazarus’ the musical?


    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      January 15, 2019 @ 4:25 pm

      Bowie is already the only totally non-Doctor Who figure to get two essays; three if you count Chris O’Leary’s guest spot in the Baker era. Any more seems excessive.


  7. Sean Dillon
    January 15, 2019 @ 5:34 pm

    Back in the Pop Between Realities for the Winter of Discontent, back when Bowie was releasing The Lodger, I dropped a Warren Ellis quote I always enjoy about how in the 1980s the US just had a dotty cowboy as a President, while the UK had a truly terrifying and fucked situation with Margaret Thatcher. 2016 is much the same, only with the roles reversed.

    Wait, so is the border wall his Falklands War? A manufactured crisis that exists solely to, in theory, show the strength of the leader and thus get them reelected. Though, in practice, this is looking to be a bit of a clusterfuck (as was the Falklands War).


    • Aylwin
      January 16, 2019 @ 12:55 pm

      Re-election as such wasn’t a problem for Galtieri and co., who had never been elected in the first place, though holding onto power more generally was.


  8. TheHabbadasher
    January 15, 2019 @ 6:54 pm

    For all that it looks like this entry isn’t gonna be getting many comments, it feels very much like the platonic form of the kind of thing that one read Tardis Eruditorum for.


  9. Sean Tait Bircher
    January 16, 2019 @ 3:22 pm

    I’m pretty sure the TV show just barely keeping the worst of 2016 to the present at bay is either “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” or “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” (or both).


    • mx_mond
      January 16, 2019 @ 9:57 pm

      At the risk of robbing it of its power by naming it in this context, The Good Place.


      • Przemek
        January 17, 2019 @ 9:22 am

        Holy shit, it fits perfectly. (THE BIGGEST GOOD PLACE SPOILER YOU CAN READ) In 2016 we thought we somehow got lucky and ended up in the Good Place… but we were in the Bad Place the whole time.

        And I wouldn’t worry about naming it here – I think it would take a public recognition of how significant this show is to strip it of its power. We’re nowhere near that.


    • Aylwin
      January 17, 2019 @ 4:50 pm

      The PBRBITFT post schedule would suggest that the official answer is Mr Robot.


      • Aylwin
        January 17, 2019 @ 4:56 pm

        (Albeit that “official” feels an inherently inappropriate word to apply to our hostess in any context.)


      • Aylwin
        January 18, 2019 @ 1:11 am

        I mean PBRHITFT obvs.


  10. Andy G
    January 19, 2019 @ 3:14 am

    I appreciate the 2016 death toll needed to be kept reasonably concise for the article, and this isn’t intended to come across as suggesting you overlooked people – but in keeping with your general focus on Doctor Who and British cultural history, I would add Terry Wogan, George Martin, Ronnie Corbett, Victoria Wood, Caroline Aherne, Kenny Baker, Andrew Sachs and Rick Parfitt as other names whose loss was felt deeply this side of the pond – to say nothing of international names such as Johan Cruyff, Gene Wilder, Leonard Cohen, Arnold Palmer, Glen Frey and Anton Yelchin. It really was the year where it felt like everybody died.

    There were points in 2016 where I honestly started to wonder if those people talking in terms of The Rapture weren’t quite as crazy as I thought!

    You remember that old toast which went “May you live in interesting times”? Well, these days I’m kind of longing for boredom, much as the developments in our respective countries are fascinating from a historian’s point of view.

    I honestly don’t know who I’d rather be at the moment, British or American. But as bad as things may be in the US right now, at least Trump can’t live forever. Sooner or later he will be gone. On the other hand, Brexit is for keeps, and I honestly have no idea how Britain can survive it. Things are genuinely so crazy over here that I read Eruditorum entries talking about the Three Day Week, the Winter of Discontent, the miner’s strike etc and almost feel nostalgic. That’s how fucked up and unreal things are here right now.

    And tying into your David Bowie theme, I have had “Five Years” playing in my head periodically ever since the morning after the referendum. I’m trying not to make too much of that, as you can imagine!

    Thank you for another superb article.


    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      January 19, 2019 @ 3:33 am

      In my defense I did include both Wilder and Cohen. Almost included Cruyff and Palmer, but this is such a not sportsy crowd. For what it’s worth, the 1973 list is similarly abridged, probably doubly so given the number of names that would have still seemed huge in 1976 but don’t have the same impact today. (Jack Hawkins, for instance.)


  11. Daru
    January 27, 2019 @ 9:10 am

    Really great article El, thanks for this – it’s timely.
    I remember just after Bowie died, there was a dance space I attend where the guy that runs it did a set based on a lot of Bowie music, but some cover versions of them – and I hadn’t heard Blackstar yet as it had only just been released, and a big part of the set included Blackstar and Lazarus. I think we did some blindfold dance that night too – and it was just simply amazing, especially with hearing tracks for the first time whilst dancing. So my memory of the album will always be linked with dance.

    And recently I was reading issue #2 of Die on the bus recently, and I decided to read it with the soundtrack of Blackstar, and it just worked beautifully in how they matched tome for me (including all of the back matter). So I think this album will probably be linked to that series now too for me.


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