Gaze not into the abyss lest you accidentally write a book

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Jane Campbell


  1. Sean Dillon
    June 14, 2016 @ 6:18 pm

    That was an amazing article, probably one of your best, but you blatantly used the wrong picture for the Creature in the Pit.


    • Jane
      June 14, 2016 @ 6:28 pm

      Yeah, I was running out of time. Wait, I think I can correct this real quick…


      • Jane
        June 14, 2016 @ 6:31 pm



        • Sean Dillon
          June 14, 2016 @ 6:39 pm

          Much. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  2. Chris C
    June 14, 2016 @ 6:26 pm

    The kind of Doctor Who research you can’t find anywhere else. Blazingly unique and – I’ll risk redundancy by saying it – beautiful.


  3. John G. Wood
    June 15, 2016 @ 9:11 am

    Great article, again.

    Going back to Enlightenment for a moment, one of the most memorable scenes for me (admittedly based on only two viewings) was when Tegan put on that dress. It is really obvious that she feels beautiful, an aspect of human beauty I don’t think you go into. Just for a moment she doesn’t need any form of validation – but when the Doctor fails to notice she deflates. The small-scale tragedy of that moment (and for me it’s one of the most gut-twisting times of 80s DW) says so much about what our culture does to women’s self-esteem.

    Hm, I’ll have to watch it again and see if my memory is accurate. Which is no hardship…


  4. Anton B
    June 15, 2016 @ 10:29 am

    I imagine you’ll cover this in your follow-up essay on monstering but I think this scene from The Daleks is key. Although the actual words ‘monster’ and ‘beautiful’ aren’t used, their meaning is implicit both here and in subsequent stories in the words ‘mutation’ and ‘perfect’.

    Susan is forced by the Daleks to return to the TARDIS to retrieve the anti-radiation drugs. She is told to beware the indigenous Thals –

    DALEK 1: Most of them perished in the war, but we know that there are survivors. They must be disgustingly mutated, but the fact that they have survived tells us they must have a drug that preserves the life force.

    Then when Susan meets a Thal outside the TARDIS she says to him –

    SUSAN: What do you want? But they said you were, but they called you. But you’re not. You’re perfect!

    The equation of mutation with the hideous and of perfection with beauty is established here. The Thals are presented by Terry Nation’s script (in an audacious attempt at having your post-war imperialist cake and eating it) simultaneously Noble Savages, Atomic War Survivors and ‘perfect’ specimens of Aryan beauty while also managing to draw some humour from the fact that the Daleks cannot recognise their beauty and see them as monsters. –

    ALYDON: We are the survivors of a final war. But the radiation still persists and that is why your friends are ill. I wonder if the Daleks have seen us.
    SUSAN: Seen you?
    ALYDON: I mean, if they call us mutations, what must they be like?

    This theme of the subjective perception of beauty as a dichotomy between mutation, and perfection is, as you point out, a constant in Doctor Who.


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