A Visit to the Cinema was a Brief Encounter short story published in Doctor Who Magazine 190. It depicted Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. as fictional elements within the Doctor Who universe.

Summary[edit | edit source]

The Third Doctor has a bit of free time on his hands, which is rare for him, and so goes to the cinema to watch a double-bill of a particular couple of movies starring Peter Cushing.

Characters[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  • The Doctor refers to Peter Cushing as "that splendid chap Van Helsing".

Notes[edit | edit source]

  • The text refers to several things in the 1960s Dalek films: a "young man" sitting on a box of chocolates, the titles of the second film being orange, and a "highly amusing scene with a food machine".

Parody or straight?[edit | edit source]

This story can be read in two ways. Superficially, it seems to suggest that the events of the 1960s Dalek films are fictional parts of the DWU; the Doctor is entertained by "that young chap sitting on those chocolates", a reference to a memorable moment for Roy Castle's character in Dr. Who and the Daleks. Later, two elderly ladies sitting next to the Doctor — who have disapproved of his outbursts of amusement — exclaim that they wish the Doctor would develop the manners of "that lovely Mr Cushing". Likewise, The Doctor compares the "bizarre eye make-up" worn in the film to that employed by Jo Grant, making light of the make-up used on the Thals in Dr. Who and the Daleks to make them appear more alien than their televised counterparts.

However, careful reading shows that the films are never mentioned by name and the word Dalek doesn't appear anywhere. The reader is free to imagine that things aren't quite as they appear. The reader is given even more scope to imagine it's parody when the Doctor says, "How wonderful to have seen that particular planet in colour at last." The Doctor can't be referring to Skaro here, because obviously he would have seen it in colour, even if TV viewers did not. Yet, if it's not Skaro he's talking about, then he's not watching Dr. Who and the Daleks. Thus, this can be read as a meta-fictional comment, which takes the piece closer to parody.

This is all only as far as the authorial intent at the time could be considered, however; long after the short story's release, Steven Moffat's The Day of the Doctor novelisation would reveal that the first and second incarnations of the Doctor were colour-blind, giving a perfectly good in-universe reasons for the Doctor not to have seen Skaro in colour yet by the time of the early days of his third incarnation. The narration indeed suggests that the Doctor is still in exile at this point, and thus fairly early in his third life, since it is said that "his afternoons off were few and far between" and that his other option was to enjoy a bag of chips with Sergeant Benton.

Echoes[edit | edit source]

Notably, this is not the only story to suggest that the films exist as fiction within the Doctor Who universe. The notion would be returned to at greater length in Steven Moffat's The Day of the Doctor novelisation, where it is revealed that the Eleventh Doctor was such a fan of the films that he ended up going back in time to become friends with Peter Cushing, even lending him the waistcoat he wore in Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.

In a similar but hard-to-reconcile account, Nev Fountain's short story The Five O'Clock Shadow, in the anthology Short Trips: A Day in the Life, reveals that Dr. Who and his eight-year-old granddaughter Suzy are creations of the real Doctor to keep the nemesis named Shadow, the embodiment of grief and sorrow, distracted until the real Doctor can overcome his grief and escape from Shadow's prison. Shadow has no hold over the cheerful, angst-free Dr. Who, who departs with Suzy on further childlike and wondrous adventures.

Continuity[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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