Sunday 9 September 2012

The Great Ghost Light Tweet Challenge

When I was script-editing Doctor Who I had the privilege of working on some memorable stories.

None perhaps more memorable than the mighty Ghost Light.

A brilliant, quirky, oddball script by the brilliant, quirky, oddball Marc Platt, Ghost Light also has the distinction of having possibly baffled more viewers and fans than any other story.

This always baffled me.

From the inside looking out, Ghost Light always seemed pretty transparent and straightforward.

But numerous discussions and puzzled pleas for clarification over the years have convinced me that there's a genuine issue here.

I, in my turn, have been puzzled as to why.

Ultimately, I've isolated three possible reasons. Two general and one very specific.

Firstly, Ghost Light has a relatively complex backstory. I didn't particularly think so at the time, but I've come to realise it must be a little more ornate than most.

Secondly, I suppose we didn't explicitly spell out every detail of this backstory in the course of the drama. If we had, it would have bogged things down with exposition.

And then there's the matter of Control...

Control is one of the characters, splendidly played by Sharon Duce.

It was only when I went to a convention in Los Angeles that I realised that Control was one of the primary sources of confusion and bewilderment.

The problem was her name.

People thought because she was called Control, she must somehow be in control. That she was the chief, the boss, the captain...

No, no, no, I cry, retroactively over all these years.

She isn't a 'control' in that sense at all.

She is the control in a scientific experiment — the component that remains unchanged so that it can be compared with the component which is subject to change.

Anyway, I've resigned myself to patiently explaining Ghost Light to an endless parade of mystified supplicants and I've gradually honed the explanation down with practise.

But the advent of Twitter recently led to a challenge to summarise the plot in 140 character or less.

Here you go:

Space explorers study alien life by evolving to imitate dominant species. Land in Victorian England. Go slightly nuts. Complications ensue.

That's 139.

You're welcome to submit your own versions.

No swearing, please.

Only I get to do that.

1 comment:

  1. Alien entomologists crash Victorian Perivale. 1 chap evolves. 1 oversleeps. Doc didn’t know much - knew it would freak Ace out. #Ghostlight