The Shakespeare Code

* This is a cracking and possibly under-rated episode, and I’d forgotten how much I like it. It’s not one that you’d necessarily get a hankering to go back to, and there are certainly episodes later in this series that vastly overshadow it, but it’s a fun and thrilling forty five minutes, and it’s funny. Nothing too deep or heavy, but one of the better light-hearted episodes.

* I’m glad that the presence of a black woman in Elizabethan England was addressed. It’s obviously great that race isn’t an issue in modern Doctor Who for the vast majority of the time, but there’s also a responsibility to not ignore a character’s colour completely, especially when there’s an opportunity to address a specific issue. It also fits in with Martha’s habit of asking the kind of questions a genre-savvy audience would ask. This is another difference between her and Rose, who would ask the questions that a general audience would ask, further reflecting the show’s new status as an established fixture.

* When Martha suggests recording the performance of Love’s Labours Won, she asks The Doctor if he’s got “a MiniDisc or something”. A MiniDisc? This was 2007, not 1997.

* Shakespeare was great. It would have been so easy to portray the classic image of the old man with a skullet from the cheque guarantee cards hologram, but instead they made him Robbie Williams with wit. I enjoyed the running joke of Shakespeare nicking phrases from The Doctor, and “57 academics just punched the air” is a superb gag, even more so now I know that the oddly specific number is a reference to a homoerotic sonnet.

* Super Hans! He’s on a particularly bad trip here. Also, his jailer is Bear Strangler McGee from Red Dwarf‘s Gunmen of the Apocalypse, and the woman from the inn is Angie, the secretary from the first series of The Brittas Empire who was replaced by Julie and then never mentioned again. I recognised those two straight away, yet I’m pretty sure this is the only thing I’ve seen the much more famous Christina Cole in, and my reference point for Dean Lennox Kelly is his role as the Gazza equivalent inĀ Mike Basset: England Manager. My cultural references are very specific.

* The Doctor talks about Back To The Future. A meeting of the two greatest works of time travel fiction of all time. Although, given that BTTF is now established as a movie (and a novelisation) in the Who universe, we’re now extremely unlikely to get a crossover episode, The Two Docs. With all the Harry Potter references, we can only assume that the books were never made into films in Martha’s world, or if they were, Barty Crouch Jr was played by someone else.

* Sod it, I’m adding Queen Elizabeth I to the list of recurring characters.

RATING: 8