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Out of Time

The Deaths and Resurrections of Doctor Who

Alec Charles

Doctor Who is one of television’s most enduring and ubiquitously popular series. This study contends that the success of the show lies in its ability, over more than half a century, to develop its core concepts and perspectives: alienation, scientific rationalism and moral idealism. The most extraordinary aspect of this eccentric series rests in its capacity to regenerate its central character and, with him, the generic, dramatic and emotional parameters of the programme.
Out of Time explores the ways in which the series’ immortal alien addresses the nature of human mortality in his ambiguous relationships with time and death. It asks how the status of this protagonist – that lonely god, uncanny trickster, cyber-sceptic and techno-nerd – might call into question the beguiling fantasies of immortality, apotheosis and utopia which his nemeses tend to pursue. Finally, it investigates how this paragon of transgenerational television reflects the ways in which contemporary culture addresses the traumas of change, loss and death.
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← vi | vii → Acknowledgements


The thoughts behind this book began life in a piece I wrote in 2010 for Science Fiction Film and Television: my thanks go to my editor on that occasion, Mark Bould, for his invaluable support and advice. Thanks are also due to David Butler, Valentine Cunningham, Terry Eagleton, Julia Ipgrave, Rob Latham, James Leggott, Andrew Milner, Tom Moylan, Lindy Orthia, Nicole Pohl, Matthew Ryan, Simon Sellars and Robert Young who have also supported my efforts in these areas across the years. Thanks are also due to my friends and colleagues Lesley Albon, Lawrence Bellamy, Jen Birks, John Cain, Lynne Connolly, James Crabbe, Peter Dean, Mark Duffett, Russell Dyson, Ian Edgington, Ato Erzan-Essien, James Evans, Caroline Ford, Neville Ford, Neil Fox, Ian Fraser, Neil Grant, Dave Grimshaw, Kelly Hallam, Emily Harmer, Peter Harrop, Chris Hart, Chris Haslam, Paul Hassall, Michael Higgins, Matt Hills, Luke Hockley, Dan Jackson, Keith Jebb, Malcolm Keach, Matthew Kilburn, Simon Lydiard, Haili Ma, Brian Machin, Anna Mackenzie, Mary Malcolm, Marie Manuel, Jim Mason, Nancy Mbaya, Lesley McKenna, Bethan Michael, Michelle Morgan, Beth Morris, Simon Morrison, Tom Neville, Andy Nixon, Steve O’Brien, Wayne O’Brien, Nada Oldfield, Brendan O’Sullivan, David Pattie, Michelle Ponting, Phil Potter, Mike Pumford, Karen Randell, Ian Rasmussen, Laura Ravenscroft, Simon Roberts, Gary Russell, John Ryan, Heather Savigny, Kate Sillitoe, Vera Slavtcheva-Petkova, Paul Smith, Darren Sproston, Jenny Spruce, Bill Stothart, John Sullivan, Matthew Sweet, Mick Temple, Jo Warburton, Jem Warren, Alexis Weedon, Garry Whannel, Tim Wheeler, Fiona White, Karen Willis and Jason Wilson. Thanks are also...

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