2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the landmark British science fiction series, Doctor Who and the BBC announced that to honour the show, a special episode would be shown in November. For the most part, I hated it. The idea that the Doctor didn’t destroy Gallifrey and tricked the daleks into destroying themselves was frankly bollocks and it retconned what was perhaps the only moment of character development and psychological depth the Doctor has had in 50 years of episodes. The whole Time War rubbish was the major problem with the special but there is another, arguably more offensive aspect of the episode that only a handful of people have really picked up on….
The Elizabeth I of history was born on the 7th of September 1533 to Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. A highly intelligent young girl who was fluent in multiple languages, literature, history and religion and endeavoured to prove it whenever possible. Henry VIII had divorced his first wife, Catherine of Aragon because she had failed to provide him with a son and heir. 3 years and several miscarriages later, Henry had began to tire of Anne’s loud nature and seeming lack of fertility, he may have had a daughter in Elizabeth but, being a girl, she could never succeed without considerable threat of civil war. However, Elizabeth would later go on to rule as Queen for 44 years, firmly establish today’s Church of England and arguably set the foundations for the British Empire. Despite spending the first few years of her reign beset by plots to have her killed and a great deal of backstabbing politicians who both resented being ruled by a woman and disliked Elizabeth’s protestant policies, her reign has been called a Golden Age. The Elizabeth I of Stephen Moffat’s mind is an overweight, dewy-eyed schoolgirl who falls in love with the Doctor and gives the impression of being both supremely arrogant and incredibly stupid.
This is highly insulting. Elizabeth I is one of the most fascinating and brilliant people in human history and for Doctor Who, a show that began as a straight up educational history show, to portray her as nothing more that a stupid little girl is ridiculous. This is like if The Tweenies did a show about Elizabeth I. There’s 16th Century Catholic propaganda less offensive than this crap. I know Moffat felt to need to explain why Elizabeth I refered to the Doctor as her sworn enemy in The Shakespeare Code episode, but any half-decent writer would’ve put some thought into it beforehand. Recently, I’ve thought out an alternative approach that works far better than Moffat’s aborted fetus of an idea.
What about if we replaced Elizabeth I with her mother?
Anne Boleyn was an exceptionally intelligent and well-read woman with a loud and slightly arrogant streak about her. She knew a great deal about politics and theology and endeavoured to make sure everyone knew. By 1536, Anne had only had one child, Elizabeth, along with a string of tragic miscarriages. Henry desperately needed a male heir in order to continue his dynasty and ensure the succession so, in his eyes at least, Anne was a consummate failure. Despite being charismatic and eloquent, nothing Anne could say would’ve saved her. She had become something of a nag, always voicing her opinion on everything and insisting on giving counsel to her husband the king. Henry had found a suitably plain replacement in Jane Seymour and, seeking to avoid the lengthy divorce procedure, had Anne executed on fabricated charges of treason, adultery and incest as well as rumours of witchcraft. This is where my idea comes in. What if the episode where set, at least in the Doctor’s personal timeline, just after he had lost Donna. Wouldn’t he be drawn to someone who reminded him of her in someway? Anne Boleyn and Donna Noble are both strong, feisty, intelligent, somewhat arrogant, loud women and these are all traits that the 10th Doctor seems to admire.
So lets say that the Doctor travels for a bit after wiping Donna’s memory and eventually ends up in Tudor England. Anne would immediately be drawn to this intelligent, charismatic and slightly flirtatious figure. By this point, Anne has had a series of miscarriages and one living girl child, Elizabeth, and while Henry may claim that all is well both he and Anne are probably beginning to wonder whether a male heir is possible. Anne is stressed and then the Doctor comes into her life. Anne desperately needs a friend and the Doctor needs a Donna substitute and they both help the other, but they’ve begun to drawn attention. People are beginning to notice that the Queen is getting a little too cosy with this strange new arrival at court. He wears strange clothing and talks in an unusual manner but what raises the suspicions at court endeavors Anne to the Doctor. Over the course of a few months they get closer until the Doctor takes her travelling in the TARDIS and shows her the universe. He even begins to teach her about future technology, after all Anne’s unquenchable thirst for knowledge means she devours all of the Doctor’s babblings and seemingly nonsensical mutterings. Again, however, they have been spotted. Anne has been disappearing for hours at a time and has been spotted with the Doctor as her demonstrates his sonic screwdriver, a device that is easily mistaken for a magic wand. After Anne miscarries a male child and Henry shows every sign of removing Anne for failing to provide an heir, the Doctor decides to whisk Anne away as a permanent companion. Anne’s joy is broken, however, when a group of Zygons arrive on Earth hoping to replace Henry and Anne with two of their own. One Zygon morphs into Anne but, guess what, is seen by a courtier who mistakenly believes this to be the Queen’s true form. By now, rumours of the Queen’s dalences with Satan are spreading like wildfire throughout court and are beginning to drawn attention from higher places. The Catholic Church, led at the time by Pope Paul III, was never fond of Anne and these rumours simply add ammunition to their continuous attack on her character.
“OH MY GOD A STRONG, INTELLIGENT WOMAN!!! CLEARLY SHE IS SLEEPING WITH SATAN, THERE IS SIMPLY NO OTHER EXPLANATION FOR THIS UNNATURAL ANOMALY!”
This is when the other Doctors appear. After dealing with the Zygons, the Doctor tells Anne that he has to do something but promises to return. Anne watches as the Doctor steps into the TARDIS and materializes away, but someone else is watching. Thomas Cromwell, Henry’s loyal and ambitious first minister has been tasked by the king to find some evidence against Anne that can be used to divorce her. Taking an interest in the rumours of the Queen cozying up to a stranger that appears to be skilled in witchcraft and the sighting of the Queen’s supposed ‘true form’, Cromwell follows Anne and is there when the Doctor promises to return to rescue Anne form Henry before stepping into a strange, blue box and disappearing. Not only is this the ultimate proof Cromwell needs that Anne has links to witchcraft but it could also be used as adultery and treason. Shocked, Cromwell goes to tell his master everything that he has witnessed, probably emphasising the most startling parts in order to serve his own purposes.
Sort of like Jan Moir only not an ugly, boss-eyed bigot…
When Henry hears this he is mortified and resolves that Anne ought to be executed instead of merely divorced. He also decides to marry Jane Seymour, a plain, mousey little woman who couldn’t possibly have any links with the sort of things that Anne appears to have revelled in. So Anne is arrested and executed, Henry marries Jane Seymour and Elizabeth I grows up hearing stories of how her mother was a whore and how a strange man in a blue box, most likely the Devil, had played a part in her death. From here, Elizabeth is faced with a dilemma. Who deserves the blame for her mother’s death? To blame her mother would be too painful and to blame her father would be treason. Instead she blames the Doctor. After all, it was he who corrupted her mother and lead her astray, Elizabeth begins to think of him as her sworn enemy. Many years later, after a turbulent succession, Queen Elizabeth I visits the Globe Theater to see a special performance of William Shakespeare’s ‘Love Labours Won’. It is here where she see’s the Doctor and, filled with rage and grief, orders his death and witnesses him dart inside the TARDIS with another poor, corrupted young girl and disappear. Everything Elizabeth has told herself is true.
This would’ve been a far better way to go about why Elizabeth I hated the Doctor than simply saying that it was because he jilted her at the altar. Even though there are probably plot holes with my version, they could be ignored or even remedied with further re-writes. Sadly, Steven Moffat couldn’t be arsed thinking about writing a remotely interesting or character based story, instead settling for a story filled with historical inaccuracies, offensive misconceptions and, the ultimate offense to our greatest monarch, an idiot Queen played by the Welsh one from Gavin and Stacey.