Doctor Who: Death in Blackpool Review

You know what I always disliked? Soaps. You know what I really disliked about soaps? The Christmas episode that was almost guaranteed to be depressing as hell. Well, welcome to the Doctor Who equivalent of that! Death in Blackpool is Lucie Miller’s leaving story (though far from her last story) and it’s not exactly full of Christmas cheer, to put it bluntly… Let’s have a look then…


Lucie Miller always loved Christmas back home in Blackpool. Her Mum running a still-frozen turkey under the hot tap at ten. Great-Grandma Miller half-cut on cooking sherry by eleven. Her Dad and her uncle arguing hammer and tongs about who was the best James Bond all through dinner. And in the afternoon, Aunty Pat, haring up to the house on the back of a moped weighed down with ridiculous presents.

Christmas 2009 didn’t turn out like that.

Christmas 2009, the Doctor turned up…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Simple yet striking cover. Really like it, though McGann’s pulling a bit of a weird face, buy hey…

Death in Blackpool has a some good to it, don’t get me wrong, mostly revolving around Zygons. You see, as I haven’t reviewed it yet as of writing this review, a previous Lucie Miller story revealed that her Auntie Pat (Helen Lederer) actually married a Zygon who was shaped liked a human male, then when Pat was killed and The Doctor mentioned Lucie’s fond memories of growing up with her eccentric Aunt the Zygon, named Haygoth, took Pat’s form instead and decided to live the rest of Pat’s life. The Doctor decided it was best to keep Lucie’s memories intact and not tell her that the Auntie she loved growing up was actually an alien Zygon pretending to be someone she never knew, and that brings us to this story. The Doctor was trying to bring Lucie to Christmas 2009, the Christmas after she left, but accidentally lands a year earlier, where there is already a Lucie celebrating Christmas. So The Doctor, Lucie, Auntie Pat (who they ran into on the way there) and a drunkard who thinks he’s father Christmas (played by Jon Glover) try to celebrate it anyway.

Sadly Lucie gets hit by a car, there are lots of depressing hospital stuff and blah-blah (more on that in the “Bad” section) and eventually we find out that a “Zynog” has followed Haygoth to Earth and wishes to possess a human body in order to “fix” itself. Apparently a Zynog is a Zygon who is deformed and unable to shapeshift as punishment for committing the ultimate Zygon sin: shapeshifting into another Zygon. While this Zynog is trying to convince Lucie to give her body to him in her subconscious, Lucie is shown The Doctor and Pat revealing the truth about the whole Zygon/Pat lie. Eventually Haygoth gives his life to take out the Zynog and save Lucie, which includes a great scene with the latter wakes up in Auntie Pat’s dying body, scared of his impending death and The Doctor comforts him until the end, despite being an enemy. It was a great scene.

Lucie can’t forgive The Doctor for his lie and basically tells him “thanks for everything and all, you’re not a bad person, but sod off” and that’s that… for now.

The Bad:

Man I hate depressing hospital dramas the best of times, but to put this on near Christmas and have to listen to Lucie being hit by a car, The Doctor and Pat arguing at her bed side, the Zynog trying to convince Lucie she’d be better off dead, telling her stories of people with children who are about to die at Christmas… Jesus, I don’t want any of this in my Doctor Who period, let alone at Christmas. I’m glad Lucie reappears and gets a… erm, I hesitate to say better ending, but a more … happy isn’t the word… Well, I’m glad The Doctor and Lucie’s relationship doesn’t end like this, let’s put it that way.  

Drunk Santa was kind of funny at the start, as The Doctor and Lucie poke fun at him, but then he becomes a very real look at mental health issues and people being made redundant at Christmas time… *sigh*. At least it sounds like he might end up with a job as a hospital porter because he’s good with people, that would at least be something nice…

The Continuity:

I believe this was an in-lay picture from the CD release… doesn’t really add anything, but it breaks up the text at least!

The Zygons first appeared in the Fourth Doctor TV story “Terror of the Zygons”, while the whole Auntie Pat storyline happened in “The Zygon Who Fell to Earth”. Lucie Miller will return officially in the two parter “Deimos / The Resurrection of Mars”, which is then followed by a far more cheery Christmas special called “Relative Dimensions”, which is up next!

The only other thing is that The Doctor and Lucie land in a service station in Bramlington that was the setting of the second ever Lucie/Doctor story, “The Horror of Glam Rock”, though that was set in 1974, so they remark how different it looks, or how it still looks the same, I can’t remember… *shrugs* They mention it, anyway…

Overall Thoughts:

Death in Blackpool is the kind of depressing thing I avoid in my fiction, I don’t mind a bit of drama, but this kind of … I hate to use the term realistic in a story involving Zygons and Zynogs, but you know what I mean. Nobody likes to be down at Christmas, so I don’t want to be brought down listening to a Christmas story about hospitals, suicide attempts and children having to go into care due to their dad dying. I liked Auntie Pat/Haygoth and the idea behind the Zynog, plus the scene with The Doctor and the latter, but it’s safe to say I won’t be listening to that again…

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