“Blink” is the second “Doctor Who” story in a row based on a previously existing tale. It makes you wonder if they’re short of ideas! Whereas the two-part adventure written by Paul Cornell is based on the novel of the same name, but with added scarecrows, the latest episode originated as a short story in the “2006 Doctor Who Annual” and was called ““What I Did on My Christmas Holidays” by Sally Sparrow”. Sally, in the original, is but twelve years old and conscious of having to wear braces! She has a younger brother called Tim which seems to be a popular name in “Doctor Who” these days!! Not a bad name, by any means!!! The short story is simpler, aimed at a younger audience, and much more interested in the time paradox than its TV equivalent with added statues. It was originally a ninth Doctor story without Rose. Writer Steven Moffat captures his character well, as in “The Empty Child”. It’s implied, at the end, that Sally becomes the Doctor’s travelling companion for a while and isn’t left behind like the older character in the updated version, as played to quiet perfection by Carey Mulligan.
I first came across Carey when she played Ada Clare in Andrew Davies’ 2005 adaptation of Dickens’ finest novel “Bleak House”. RTD has employed a fair number of actors from this production in “Doctor Who”, and its spin-off “Torchwood”, over the last few years. Anna Maxwell Martin, in “The Long Game”, appeared in “Doctor Who” before she was seen as Esther Summerson in the Dickens’ classic whereas Burn Gorman was cast as Owen Harper in “Torchwood” after Russell had seen him as Guppy in “Bleak House”. Catherine Tate, Donna in “The Runaway Bride”, had a (thankfully) minor role as Mrs. Chadband in the Dickens’ production while Anne Reid, Florence Finnegan in “Smith and Jones”, played Mrs. Rouncewell. Which brings us up-to-date with Ms Mulligan. Her big break was as Kitty Bennet in the film version of Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice”, alongside Keira Knightley, Brenda Blethyn and Donald Sutherland no less! And, since “Bleak House”, Carey has returned to Austen, in the same season of films in which Billie Piper also appeared, in an ITV1 adaptation of “Northanger Abbey” as Isabella Thorpe.
The usual new age “Doctor Who” philosophy was as implicit in the latest episode as in all the others, despite the virtual absence of the lead characters, that in order to form a meaningful relationship with another human being one must first let go of obsessions. In other words, older “Doctor Who” fans… grow up! Hand your DVDs and transcripts back to the Doctor, stop searching for “Easter Eggs”, in order that you may free yourselves of the encumbrance of an old TV show to hold hands with your lover!! Bit patronising, really, don’t you think, Steven? Aren’t the writers biting the hands that feed? Don’t they want us long-in-the-tooth fans to watch in case we’re a little over-critical of the series’ oh-so-many shortcomings?!! I might just take their advice and switch off! As understatedly beautiful as Carey undoubtedly was as Sally, though, she was upstaged in just one scene. Louis Mahoney, as Old Billy Shipton, stole the show, for me, as he talked of the Doctor and of time travel with his tongue firmly in his cheek but with the added pathos that it was on his last day on this Earth.