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Arthur is a good name for a horse

The Doctor Who production office is messing with my brain.

Back when I got excited about the Christmas Invasion, I mentioned my theory about Arthurian themes which I had posted on OG. This is the original post:

Ever since I heard the probe was called Guinivere, I'd been thinking about Battlefield (it's got UNIT, as well). Battlefield suggests the Doctor is Merlin, the dark wizard who guided King Arthur, and also suggested that at one point in the future the Doctor will be ginger ("Am I ginger?"). Given Arthur is often a Welsh hero (although being Devonian, I obviously reckon he be a West Country lad), can it be co-incidence that there are a couple of Arthurian references which really stand out straight away from The Christmas Invasion and which suggest the Doctor is more Arthur than Merlin?

  • Guinivere
    Guinivere betrays Arthur by sleeping with Lancelot, causing the downfall of the golden age of Camelot*.
    Harriet Jones, who authorised the Guinivere project, betrays the Doctor's trust by using Torchwood. In revenge, he brings about the downfall of Britain's new Golden Age.
  • The King Lies Sleeping
    One of the myths around Arthur is that he lies sleeping and will rise again at the time of Britain's greatest need (hence 'The Once & Future King'). cf King in the Mountain article on wikipedia.
    The Doctor lies sleeping until the time of the Earth's greatest need, when he wakes and defeats the enemy in a bloody broadsword battle (complete with sword being thrown to him by a beautiful woman**).
    The folk tales about sleeping heroes often include them being partially woken before their time, as the Doctor is when the Santas attack.

Anyone more versed in Arthurian myth than I am spot any more possible references?

*"Let's not go there, tis a silly place"
**"Just cos a watery bint lobbed a scimitar at you"

You can read how people continued to run with the idea over in the forum.

So far, aside from the delight of the Glasses Moment(s) every week, there have also been exceedingly tenuous Arthurian things. Maybe I'm just seeing things that aren't there but:

  • New Earth
    And a man stood there, as still as moss,
    A lichen form that stared;
    (Madison Cawein, Wasteland)
    The Face of Boe has a secret which he intends to tell the Doctor on their third meeting. This sequence is strongly suggestive of the Campbellian hero taking advice from the wiseman (as personified as Arthur and Merlin in the Arthurian cycles). Three times, as we all know, is the charm.
    There's also something of the Fisher King about the hospital, with the labrats akin to the spiritually dead court of the King. Only one who is pure can release the cursed king and his court. Also, if you look at earlier myth cycles, the Fisher King is connected to Bran, a giant of a man whose head was cut off.

  • Tooth & Claw
    Werewolves! Kung-fu monks! Er...sorry. Got distracted. The ruler of the land is the land: if the wolf takes over Queen Victoria, it takes over the land (which is something I touched on in the OG discussion). Actually, Arthur is said to have fought were-wolves.
    Then there is the mistletoe, aka the Golden Bough. A symbol of rebirth and the return of the sun king innately tied to the Midwinter Solstice (on which Arthur is said to have been born).

  • School Reunion
    OK, I admit I'm not sure about it here. I was distracted with Buffyesque thoughts such as how like "Sunnydale" "Deffry Vale" sounds etc.

  • Girl in the Fireplace
    The horse is called Arthur.
    No, really, the horse has significance. In this episode the Doctor is closer to a Lancelot figure. He falls for the King's lady, and she for him, but is ultimately denied. All the business riding about on white chargers rescuing damsels...

The big thing this years seems to be how the Doctor is always, ultimately, alone (the Lonely God, a Lonely Angel) and that we would seem to be heading for a hubristic tragedy. If I were to continue the Arthurian thing, I'd point out that, as Camelot falls, Arthur finds himself alone save for Bedevere who he sends off to return Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake before three queens take him to his 'rest' in Avalon (from whence he will one day return - we're back with the Once & Future king). All sounds like bad news for the handsome chap in specs.

Posted @ 10:10 pm on Sunday, May 07, 2006
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