Oscar Wilde was a 19th century Irish poet and playwright. He was a good friend of the Paternoster Gang (PROSE: The Importance of Being Strax) and encountered the Doctor on several occasions throughout his lifetime. By the Doctor's tenth incarnation, he considered Wilde an old friend. (COMIC: Bat Attack!, Dead Man's Hand, PROSE: The Scarlet Empress, The Gallifrey Chronicles, AUDIO: The Sword of the Chevalier)
Biography[edit | edit source]
Early life[edit | edit source]
Born in the mid-19th century, Oscar Wilde was still only a young boy in 1865, according to the Sixth Doctor. (AUDIO: Assassin in the Limelight) During his days as a student at the University of Oxford in the 1870s, he attended a séance with several friends. Instead of contacting spirits, the thought waves from the séance attracted the attention of an alien who attacked the students, killed them and drank their blood. She spared Wilde's life, but bit his neck and infected him with a vampire virus. The ordeal left him with the unnatural urge to kill or infect those he loved. It also turned him into a beacon that signalled to other extraterrestrial creatures that Earth's inhabitants were suitable to be fed upon. (COMIC: Bat Attack!)
Around this time in 1874, he met a woman named Florence Balcombe back home in Dublin, Ireland. Two years later in 1876, the pair met again in Dublin and grew to love one another. Wilde and Florence began a two year romantic relationship that he considered the happiest and sweetest time of his youth. (COMIC: Dead Man's Hand) Both considered the other their first love. Despite his happiness with Florence, it was during this time that Wilde infected her with the vampiric disease that he suffered from. (COMIC: Bat Attack!) Their relationship deteriorated because he foolishly did not give her the respect she deserved and Florence ultimately married Bram Stoker in 1878 instead. The loss left Wilde heartbroken and he tried writing plays to prove himself to her. Over the next four years his faith in himself, God and in people was tested and failed. (COMIC: Dead Man's Hand)
By January 1882, Wilde was paid to travel to the United States of America for a lecture tour relating to a musical that mocked him. Over the course of the tour, he gave lectures of aestheticism, and spoke to crowd on topics of interior design in houses, such as wallpaper designs and curtain shades. He was unhappy for much of the tour, feeling that he had become a joke and was simply running away from his problems at home. Wilde often believed his audiences didn't care who he was or what he had to say, and that those who did understand his lectures did not like them. His travels took him all across the country and after three months he reached the town of Deadwood, Dakota Territory while on his way to an event in San Francisco. There, Wilde crossed paths with the Eleventh Doctor and Clara Oswald. After meeting the Doctor, he commented to Clara that he couldn't help feeling as if he'd met him before. At one point, while aboard the Doctor's TARDIS, he found the Eighth Doctor's old Wild Bill Hickok outfit and tried it on, finding it a perfect fit. (COMIC: Dead Man's Hand)
Successful writer[edit | edit source]
During a stay at the Langham Hotel in 1886 Wilde first had the idea that developed into his famous novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. (COMIC: Dead Man's Hand) Later, in May 1893, Wilde again stayed at the Langham Hotel for several weeks. Over the course of his time there, he encountered the Time Lord Straxus, who was stranded on Earth. Straxus noted Wilde's ability of delivering sharp insults and claimed to a crowd gathered for a Straxus Imperial auction that they did not come cheaply. Indeed, over the course of their acquaintance, Straxus presented the writer with at least one cheque. As Straxus attempted to disrupt the established timeline to alert his superiors of his plight, his Cwej assistant Septimus suggested that he could have simply killed Wilde, who had an impressive destiny ahead of him. He was still staying at the hotel when Septimus attempted to detonate a bomb at the hotel meant to consume the entirety of London and draw the attention of the Cwejen god "Mister Seven". (AUDIO: The Adventure of the Diogenes Damsel)
He lived in London with his wife Constance (AUDIO: Beautiful Things) and their two children[source needed] during the early 1890s. By this time, he had written a widely read novel entitled The Picture of Dorian Gray and was also a successful playwright. (AUDIO: Beautiful Things)
Following the appearance of metal spheres from the future in London in the 1890s, the Metropolitan Police Service issued the cover story that they were a stunt by a group by Bohemian artists. When Professor George Litefoot raised the possibility that this may, in fact, be the case, Sergeant Quick told him that the police were currently interviewing Wilde to that end, but he did not truly believe Wilde had anything to do with it. Litefoot commented that it was a shame he was not involved, as he knew Wilde personally. (AUDIO: Chronoclasm)
A short time after he was questioned by the police, Wilde's next play A Woman of No Importance premiered at the Haymarket Theatre. The day before the play's premiere, he attended one of the final rehearsals and where he watched two of the actresses performing a scene between Lady Caroline and another character. Unhappy with their performances, Wilde stopped the rehearsal and called for a short break. During the break, Warren Gadd approached him and told him that the actresses did not understand his work, but that it was perfection. Wilde was struck by the man's beauty and responded that he too felt his own words were brilliant. He asked Gadd for his name, but Gadd avoided the question and simply stated that he was a patron of the arts and couldn't resist the opportunity to make his acquaintance. Gadd then told Wilde that he had a proposition for him and would be attending the play that evening, suggesting they meet afterwards to discuss the matter. Intrigued by the mysterious man, he agreed. Gadd then left the theatre signalled to the cast to resume rehearsing the play from the beginning.
Having been supplied with tickets by Professor Claudius Dark, Henry Gordon Jago, Leela and Ellie Higson attended the premiere of Wilde's latest play, A Woman of No Importance, at the Haymarket Theatre. Originally, one of the tickets was intended for Litefoot, but he refused to attend, on the grounds that he knew the man personally but did not like him. From his previous experiences, Litefoot considered Wilde egotistical and felt the man always wanted to be the centre of attention. He dismissed the new play, declaring that it would be "nothing more than a lot of terribly grand people, being terribly witty about things that matter terribly little". Wilde was accompanied to the premiere by his close friend Lord Alfred Douglas. Warren Gadd, who observed him in Douglas' company, threatened to tell Constance that Wilde had a terrible secret which he was keeping from her if he did not cooperate. (AUDIO: Beautiful Things)
Several years before 1895, Wilde befriended Jenny Flint, Vastra and Strax, a trio of detectives known as the Paternoster Gang. He sought out their assistance multiple times and in one of these instances they helped him deal with baskets of rotten fruit that he was receiving. Throughout their acquaintance, Strax regularly challenged Wilde to a bare-knuckled brawl, but he declined on the grounds that they were not enemies. On 14 February 1895, he invited Vastra, Jenny and Strax to the opening performance of his play The Importance of Being Earnest at St James's Theatre. The performance began smoothly and the audience was drawn in by the actors' performances, especially Rose Leclerq as Lady Bracknell. When she delivered the funniest line of the play, "A handbag?!," the audience erupted in uncontrollable laughter. The actress playing Lady Bracknell was actually an alien from the planet Proscenia in disguise. She paralysed the audience with laughter and attempted to use the sound as a beacon to signal an invasion by her people. Almost all of the humans in the audience were affected, but Wilde was able to resist her laughter ray because of his superior intellect. The non-human Vastra and Strax were also unaffected, but when Vastra tried to stop Leclerq, the alien focused her attack on her and she too fell under the spell. Wilde immediately made his own assault, but was quickly overtaken by the uncontrollable laughter. Only Strax, who proudly declared he had no sense of humour whatsoever, was able to resist the laughter ray. He quickly leaped onto the stage and struck the alien actress with the handbag prop to knock her out, which immediately ended her signal and freed the audience.. The audience members began to boo and one questioned who would play Lady Bracknell with Leclerq unconscious. Wilde declared that they needed someone who was smart, sparkling and a star to play the part and prepared to suggest Madame Vastra. Before he could, however, Strax volunteered and the play continued with one difference; Lady Bracknell was now played by Strax. (PROSE: The Importance of Being Strax) The Sixth Doctor was also present at this performance. (AUDIO: Assassin in the Limelight)
The following month, Wilde hosted a party that was attended by the Doctor and another Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw, where his two guests had a discussion about alcohol. (PROSE: The Gallifrey Chronicles) At one party, Wilde told the Doctor that he was "the life and soul of the party," a remark the Seventh Doctor later said he thought Wilde made sincerely. (PROSE: Falls the Shadow) On another occasion, they went out on the town together. The excursion left the Doctor feeling so poorly that the Eleventh Doctor later commented that he had not felt as bad since then when he was attacked by a Silurian and poisoned with her venom. (PROSE: The Silurian Gift)
Imprisonment and later life[edit | edit source]
Later in 1895, Oscar Wilde was the subject of a terrible scandal, which resulted in his two-year prison sentence to Reading Gaol. On top of Wilde's personal scandal, a secret conspiracy to experiment upon him and discover the secrets of his vampirism formed a second underlying motivation. At Reading Gaol, he was known only as Prisoner C.3.3. There he was subjected to harsh treatment and forced into hard manual labour and an hour of exercise daily. As standard practice, he was fed a single bowl of gruel at lunchtime. In addition to the conventional rigours of prison, Wilde was regularly experimented upon by Reading Gaol's doctor. The cruel prison doctor carried out invasive procedures upon his body and recorded Wilde's every response, with the intent of synthesising the vampire virus. (COMIC: Bat Attack!) While he was imprisoned, Bernice Summerfield came to visit him at some point. (PROSE: Predating the Predators) In 1897 the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler teamed up with Wilde's old flame, Florence, in an attempt to break him free from prison.
After the Tenth Doctor cured Wilde of his vampirism and he was released from prison, Wilde left for self-enforced exile in Paris. Though free from prison and no longer a vampire, he knew he was still unwelcome in a world that did not want him. (COMIC: Bat Attack!) While living in Paris, Wilde once again encountered the Doctor — this time much younger, in one of his first incarnations — along with Iris Wildthyme. The pair spent an afternoon together drinking absinthe and discussing where they had their shirts made. Together, they turned the concept of having a beautiful shirt made for you into a metaphor for everything ranging from life and art to love. Iris listened to the conversation and was astounded by Wilde and the Doctor's interactions. (PROSE: The Scarlet Empress) After his death, Wilde was buried in a tomb whose design featured abstract imagery of the human form and had triumphalist qualities, visuals that were one day echoed in the architecture of Rakath. (PROSE: The Mary-Sue Extrusion)
Legacy[edit | edit source]
Oscar Wilde was widely renowned as a writer during his life, and regarded by some contemporaries as the leading poet, playwright and wit of the age, even after his scandal brought him infamy. (COMIC: Bat Attack!) Wilde's works, such as The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest, endured in popularity far beyond his own time. Into the 21st century, Wilde's writings had many admirers, including Clara Oswald. (COMIC: Dead Man's Hand) Performances of his plays continued into the 22nd century, such as a production of The Importance of Being Earnest done in Prague in the year 2181. (PROSE: Suspension and Disbelief) His works were available as a complete collection titled Complete Works of Oscar Wilde at least into the late 26th century. (PROSE: Return to the Fractured Planet)
In addition, Wilde continued to be recognised for his personal life for centuries after his passing. Clara Oswald, born over a century after Wilde, was aware of his sexuality and relationships with other men, (COMIC: Dead Man's Hand) and the 26th century archaeologist Bernice Summerfield knew through her research that Wilde's era was not enlightened or accepting of him in this regard. (PROSE: All-Consuming Fire) His life and writings were greatly influential and would help shape the course of the next century. (AUDIO: The Adventure of the Diogenes Damsel)
Works[edit | edit source]
Wilde was the author of several comedy plays, including The Importance of Being Earnest (AUDIO: Assassin in the Limelight) and A Woman of No Importance, the popular novel The Picture of Dorian Gray (AUDIO: Beautiful Things), the poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol, (PROSE: Mordieu) and a story called "The Happy Prince". (COMIC: Dead Man's Hand) "The Happy Prince" involved a "living statue" and was among the works of literature that the alientologist Justin Richards speculated was spawned by an innate knowledge of the existence of Weeping Angels. (PROSE: The Secret Lives of Monsters) Wilde's works were known for their homoerotic themes. (PROSE: Bad Therapy)
References[edit | edit source]
Phrases from Oscar Wilde's plays and other writings were frequently quoted or paraphrased. In the 1970s, on Earth, the artificial intelligence BOSS explicitly misquoted the writer by saying: "As Oscar Wilde so very nearly said, to lose one prisoner may be accounted a misfortune, to lose two smacks of carelessness". (TV: The Green Death) The quotation was a line said by Lady Bracknell in the play The Importance of Being Earnest. It was also misquoted at the play's first performance in 1895 by Strax, who delivered the line by instead declaring "To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like the work of the mighty Sontaran Empire! Sontar-ha! Sontar-ha!" (PROSE: The Importance of Being Strax) After being temporarily separated from Sam Jones and Fitz Kreiner, the Eighth Doctor mentally paraphrased the same quotation: "To lose one companion was bad enough, but to lose them all, and the TARDIS...that smacked of carelessness." (PROSE: Dominion)
The Fourth Doctor also quoted The Importance of Being Earnest when he told Romana to "always have something sensational to read on long journeys," referring to his diary. (PROSE: Special Occasions: 3. Better Watch Out, Better Take Care) Earlier in his life, while attempting to mediate a dispute between the kings Conrad and Gavin, the Second Doctor paraphrased Wilde's Vera; or, The Nihilists when he told them that "a good king is the worst enemy of democracy". (PROSE: Twin Piques) Shortly before his death on 31 December 1926, Major Cyril Haggard quoted Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan, saying "We're all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars". (AUDIO: The Emerald Tiger) Fitz recited the same quote to Sam shortly after their first meeting. (PROSE: The Taint) Additionally, Dorothy Bell quoted Oscar Wilde as saying: "When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers," a line from An Ideal Husband. (COMIC: Spiral Staircase)
Muriel Kreiner brought her son Fitz to see a local amateur performance of one of Wilde's plays. The young Fitz was unhappy with the ending because there was no dramatic scene where all of the characters' secrets were revealed, but his mother told him he was missing the point. Although not identified by name, the plot description suggests the play was Lady Windermere's Fan. (PROSE: EarthWorld) In another instance, Fitz Kreiner mentally paraphrased a quote from Wilde, but resisted saying it aloud. (PROSE: History 101)
In his fourth incarnation, the Doctor recalled having met Wilde. (PROSE: The Clanging Chimes of Doom) Later the Eighth Doctor mentioned having met George Bernard Shaw at a party hosted by Wilde. (PROSE: The Gallifrey Chronicles)
In his tenth incarnation, the Doctor joked that his first incarnation had got his walking stick in an adventure involving Wilde and "midget assassins". (COMIC: The Forgotten) He cited Wilde as an example of a "name-dropper". (AUDIO: The Sword of the Chevalier)
In Washington DC on 14 April 1865, Wilde was impersonated by Robert Knox in the lead-up to the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. The Sixth Doctor realised the incongruity immediately because the real Wilde would have been too young. (AUDIO: Assassin in the Limelight)
Jack Bartlett checked out two Oscar Wilde books and one by James Baldwin from the Holborn Library. He felt as though the librarian could tell detect the secret of his sexuality by his reading choices, as both authors' books were known for their homoerotic themes. In his hurry to leave, he ran into Eddy Stone, a boy with similar interests. (PROSE: Bad Therapy)
The Eighth Doctor was often thought to resemble Oscar Wilde because of his hair and clothing. When he visited 1976 San Francisco with Sam Jones, Carolyn McConnell, upon first glimpsing him, thought of the Doctor as "a long-haired guy dressed like Oscar Wilde". (PROSE: Vampire Science) When asked by the television writer Bill if he was trying to be like Wilde, the Doctor responded by quoting from the poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol. (PROSE: Mordieu) Sabbath Dei, upon seeing the Eighth Doctor's attire, commented that he resembled "one of Oscar's aesthetes". The Doctor responded by joking that he would need to walk down Piccadilly with a lily in hand, (PROSE: Camera Obscura) a reference to a famous, though apocryphal, story in which Wilde does the same. In another instance, the Doctor was described as looking "like he was ready to audition for a biopic of Oscar Wilde". In 1944, Ray Garcia was confused to see "Oscar Wilde" outside his office the first time he saw the Doctor and thought he was dreaming. (PROSE: Autumn Mist) Sam Jones, however, once told the Doctor that Wilde dressed better than him and wouldn’t be caught dead in fancy dress, referring to the outfit’s origins as a stolen party costume. (PROSE: Genocide) Nonetheless, when the two met in 1882, Wilde tried on the outfit and found it fit him perfectly, and ultimately parted ways with the Doctor while still wearing it. (COMIC: Dead Man's Hand)
Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]
- According to The Brilliant Book 2012 — a book that contains non-narrative based information — in River Song's World, an alternate timeline where all of Earth's history occurred simultaneously, Wilde was available on social-networking sites and was friends with Charles Dickens.
- The Seeds of Doom uses a gag based on Lady Bracknell's famous exclamation of "a hand-bag?" in reaction to learning Jack Worthing was found in a hand-bag as an infant in Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. Amelia Ducat exclaims "a car boot?" and she and the Fourth Doctor proceed to exchange lines paraphrased from the play.
- The Talons of Weng-Chiang includes another take on the same joke. In this instance, the Doctor claims Leela was "found floating down the Amazon in a hat box". to which George Litefoot responds "A hat box?"
- Fourth Doctor actor Tom Baker portrayed Oscar Wilde twice on stage. He first played him in 1974 at Oxford Theatre Festival in The Trials of Oscar Wilde, shortly after being cast in Doctor Who. Directly after leaving Doctor Who in 1981, Baker returned to the stage as Wilde in Feasting with Panthers at the Chichester Theatre Festival.
- He was portrayed by Peter Egan in the 1978 TV series Lillie, Stephen Fry in the 1997 film Wilde and Steffan Rhodri in the Big Finish audio series The Confessions of Dorian Gray.
- In the Afterword for The Scarlet Empress, a book which mentions him multiple times, author Paul Magrs lists Oscar Wilde among the authors to whom he was indebted while writing the book.
Footnotes[edit | edit source]
- Sturgis, Matthew (2018). Oscar: A Life. London, UK: Head of Zeus. p. 163. ISBN 9781788545976.
- Established career. Tom Baker Official. Archived from the original on 7 August 2016. Retrieved on 19 June 2019.
- After Doctor Who. Tom Baker Official. Archived from the original on 7 August 2016. Retrieved on 19 June 2019.