Neil Gaiman talks “Nightmare in Silver” and DOCTOR WHO as Mythology
Literary rock star Neil Gaiman held telephonic court this week, talking to reporters about his upcoming episode of Doctor Who, “Nightmare in Silver”. There was much mid-60s Who geekery to be had, as Gaiman spoke about the origins of the Cybermen, how Doctor Who has informed his life, and why he wouldn’t want to travel away with Jon Pertwee.
When asked about taking the crown of cybernetic menace back from the Borg, Gaiman admitted that while “I’ve seen every episode of the original Star Trek many times and could quote you the entirety of “The Trouble With Tribbles” with my eyes closed, Star Trek: The Next Generation […] I kinda missed it.” He was aware of the Borg in the background, but chalked it up to “parallel evolution”. He was also keen to stop them clanking around, “Cybermen talk about upgrading, let’s watch them upgrade.”
The show has been deeply meaningful for Gaiman from childhood. “It was the first mythology that I learned. Before ever I ran into Greek or Roman or Egyptian mythology, I knew that TARDIS stood for Time And Relative Dimension In Space. It’s been hugely influential on the shape of my head and how I see things. I feel ridiculously comfortable in that universe.”
Despite now having written two episodes, he still has a dream. “I’d love to create a monster and have it be one that’s interesting enough for someone else to come along and write it,” he said. Adding, “I love that Terry Nation left us the Daleks and Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis left us the Cybermen. I love that the Great Intelligence came back but I miss the Yeti.”
He also took the opportunity to reiterate his love of Patrick Troughton:
It’s hard to answer that completely rationally because you’re talking about the Doctor for me between age 6 and age 9. And he was the Doctor for me. He was quirky, small, funny, slightly on the edge. Everybody always underestimate him because he seemed to be a little bit goofy and he would win somehow. And there was a cost. He didn’t always win cleanly. He was the Doctor I would have wanted to go off in the TARDIS with. I wouldn’t have wanted to go off with William Hartnell because he scared me. I wouldn’t really have wanted to go off with Jon Pertwee because I didn’t have a miniskirt and I wasn’t old enough and I think you needed to be someone pretty and ride next to him in an old car to be a proper companion for him. And by the time Tom Baker came around I was just too old to fantasize about going off in the TARDIS with Tom Baker. Though I think going off in the TARDIS with Tom Baker would be a wonderful, wonderful thing. So I think for me it was always Patrick Troughton.