It seems to have become something of a tradition on this blog that I cobble together a post commenting on my tragic singledom on the occasion of Valentine’s Day. Now, I’m all in favour of blog posts that crop up without me having to think of a topic to blog about, but the slight problem with this one is that I’ve already used up the only two ideas I have for light-hearted posts on this topic. I don’t want to do a serious post about being single because that would imply I actually care, which wouldn’t be strictly accurate. I mean, it’d be nice in some ways to be in love, but it’s not as though I spend every evening alone, desperate to catch the last vestiges of scent from a faded rose pressed between the pages of my diary…
Plus, if I had a boyfriend, I might have to invite him back to my place, and that would mean I’d have to hoover. And, my god, dust. Looked at in the round, there’s quite a lot to be said for just having a wank instead.
But none of this changes the fact that, when I was laying plans for this post, I couldn’t think of anything to write about. And there’s only so long you can blog about the fact that you haven’t got anything to blog about, I find, before your readers throw their hands up and say, “Oh, for fuck’s sake, Aethelread, you don’t actually think writing this self-referential piss water makes you seem clever, or interesting or, god help us, funny, do you? And what the hell’s piss water, anyway?”
So, all in all, I was quite pleased when I realised that the occasion in question is generally just called Valentine’s Day, not Saint Valentine’s Day, and that this opened up the possibility of using the post to honour other Valentines instead. And on that basis, therefore, please find here, as my contribution to the celebration of (Any One Of A Number Of Different People Called) Valentine’s Day, a videographic performance by the late actor, Mr Valentine Dyall. He’s the one with the deep, sepulchral voice who only appears on a screen, and in voiceover:
Well, did you enjoy that? I have to say, it’s not easy finding embeddable video of Valentine Dyall. I was actually looking for his performance as the voice of Deep Thought in the TV version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I could find the scene easily enough, but only the film version (where Deep Thought was played by Helen Mirren) or the radio version (where it was played by Geoffrey McGivern), which wasn’t much use for my Valentine-specific purposes. But an (actually rather well) edited version of the Doctor Who story ‘Terminus’ isn’t a bad alternative, I think. Apart from anything else, dear old Valentine was taking his performance as the Black Guardian absolutely seriously, which improves the camp value no end.
As an aside, I do like the new Who, and I’m sure sometime I’ll get down to watching all the David Tennant and Matt Smith episodes I haven’t seen, but it has to be said that watching that video has made me nostalgic for proper Doctor Who. I mean, mercilessly bad acting, yes (though not from Mr Dyall, who I actually think was quite good, and would have been better if the costume department hadn’t stapled a dead ostrich to his head), horrendous production problems which meant that they had no option but to shoot on sets left unlit so you couldn’t see they were only half-finished, undoubtedly. But also a proper sci-fi storyline with genuinely grand ideas, and the core cast committing to the story (none of this winking-at-the-audience irony that Tennant and Smith can be guilty of), and properly unsettling electronic music from the Radiophonic Workshop.
The new Who, has amazing special effects, of course, but I think the creators sometimes rely on that just a little too much. The (comparative) cheapness of CGI has allowed them to make the show action driven, rather than suspense driven. What used to make Doctor Who scary was the monster waiting just round the corner, not the monster standing right in front of you, and an action sequence was when the Doctor jammed a door open with a table. On new Who it seems like they blow the universe up every other week and that’s exciting, I guess, but it’s not scary and thought-provoking, like the old Who, with its wobbly sets and it’s laughably naff glowing-eyed dog-man creatures, used to be.
Or maybe it’s me. I was 9 when this story aired, and I still have lingering half memories of it from then. Maybe I still see it through a child’s eyes, and, even though I’m aware of the flaws (so many, many flaws), I still buy into it like I was 9 years old. Maybe all that’s wrong with new Who is that I can only see it through the sceptical eyes of an adult. But I don’t think so. I think Doctor Who used to be a different show – slower-paced, driven by ideas, with enough room for the viewer to think and imagine as well as feel – and I think I liked that show better.
Anyway, enough of that. Let me end by wishing you a happy Valentine (Dyall)’s Day.