“Don’t get any ambitious ideas,” says Castellan Spandrell to his prisoner.
“I just wanted to check it was the same staser,” says the Doctor, examing the weapon used to assassinate the President of the High Council of Time Lords. “You see that symbol at the end of the corridor?”
The Doctor indicates a huge Seal of Rassilon.
“What about it?” asks Spandrell.
“You try and hit it,” says the Doctor, handing Spandrell the staser.
“That’s the kind of vandalism we’re always running the Shabogans in for,” grumbles Spandrell.
Spandrell is, basically, the Chief of Police in the Time Lord Capitol. As such, the Doctor is his prisoner, having been caught holding a rifle in a gallery near the spot where the President was gunned down.
We never see any Shabogans. The reference is never explained. It just seems to be part of a Gallifreyan policeman’s job to arrest people called ‘Shabogans’ for vandalism. But let’s not pass over this too quickly. There is regular crime here? There are hooligans running around the corridors of the Capitol of the Time Lords of Gallifrey?
Well, yes, of course.
The Time Lords are not just ‘aliens’. They’re explicitly potrayed as the ruling class. They have sycophantic TV presenters who interview them creepily (about process and personalities… just like Andrew Marr outside Number 10) when they congregate at elaborate government ceremonies. They wear traditional robes and ornate, arcane bling at these state events. They have the poshest of posh accents, like a great club of old Etonians and Oxbridge alumni… or like Oxbridge dons. They have Academies and Colleges in the Capitol, populated by fussy, blithering, crusty old farts who reminisce about how many of these ceremones they’ve attended over the centuries. They have Chancellors. They have Cardinals and Chapters too. One of them creates a nightmarescape for the Doctor which references Western colonialism (there is a khaki-wearing hunter who goes on safari and tracks the Doctor like big game) and the First World War. They have a ‘Panopticon’, named after the surveillance-heavy prison designed by Jeremy Bentham, one of the founders of Liberalism. They have a kind of police force, run by the Castellan, whose uniforms make them vaguely reminiscent of Swiss Guards. They also have a President. Their Presidents have names like kings or popes (Pandak III, for instance) and are chosen by a tiny electorate (just the other Time Lords, presumably) from a tiny pool of thoroughly respectable establishment types. They also have a shadowy government organisation, complete with secret agents, called the CIA (Celestial Intervention Agency – yuk yuk).
Police. Media commentators, edcuated at the same Academy as the other Time Lords, taught by the people they end up talking about on TV. Great White Hunters. Popes. Kings. Presidents. Colleges. Chapters. Cardinals. Chancellors. The Time Lords are a concentrated synthesis of various Western power structures. Oxbridge. The Vatican. Prisons. Liberalism. Conservatism. The House of Lords. The CIA. Washington.
So, of course there are ‘Shabogans’. There must be ‘Proles’ so that the rulers have someone to rule, so that the dirty jobs get done, so that the Time Toilets get cleaned.…