Tooth and Claw
Rose: Can I just say one thing?
The Doctor: What?
Rose: [excitedly] A werewolf!
The Doctor: [equally excited] I know!
Production Code: 2.2.
Doctor Who Season: S28 (Ep2).
Story Number: 169.
Two carriages meet in the vast rolling expanse of a Scottish Highland wilderness: one blue box with its two joyful companions; one, a woman alone though guarded by her subjects…
Scotland’s portayal in Doctor Who has been, up to 2011 – if you’re not counting the companions – fairly sparse. Loch Ness of the Highlands has featured twice, onscreen (Terror of the Zygons) and off (Timelash), and the Highlands were the setting for The Highlanders – which also provided the be-kilted Jamie (who gets a namecheck in this story). Of course more recently there’s been “the Scottish girl in an English village” Amy Pond – also, the Seventh Doctor proved “every planet has a Scotland”. Tennant in this story is allowed to lapse into his regular accent under the pretence of the Tenth Doctor trying to blend in.
Scotland in Doctor Who then is resolutely rural, (urban adventures occuring almost invariably in London). The monster of this story, an archetypal werewolf, except given a Sci-Fi twist via the blending of the extra myth-type of a falling star. Unlike Nessie there’s nothing particularly Scottish about the monster-myth, though the actual Queen Victoria would often spend time at Balmoral at the Highlands, and after Albert’s death she increased the amount of time spent each year.
It’s the absence of Albert which is a significant element of the story – Victoria sits at the apex of Empire at this time but alone and without her consort beside her. The Lord of Time has Rose by his side; their constant larking-about contrasts with the solemnity of the lone Empress.
One of the quiet reflective moments for the Doctor is when he discusses Albert with the Queen:
“Since my husband’s death, I find myself with more of a taste for supernatural fiction.”
“You must miss him.”
Oh, completely. And that’s the charm of a ghost story, isn’t it? Not the scares and chills, that’s just for children, but the… hope of some contact with the great beyond.
We all want some message from that place… it’s the Creator’s greatest mystery that we are allowed no such consolation. The dead stay silent. And we must wait.”
Speaking of consolations, the story, its title “Tooth and Claw” (which chimes with the werewolf element) is from the poem In Memoriam A.H.H. (by Tennyson) which was a consolation to the actual Victoria – “Next to the Bible, In Memoriam is my comfort” she said.
There’s a whole hidden web of meaning with this poem: it, the poem, is in part a reaction to evolutionary theories of the Victorian age and what that meant for religion; it contains some significant lines for the saga of the Tenth Doctor and Rose…
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
At the end of the story, when the Queen banishes the Doctor and Rose from her Empire – it there a tinge of jealously there, she recognises what she has lost in their happy togtherness? Whatever her reasons, “Torchwood” starts on Torchwood Estate in the wilderness, although we’ve already seen it active in the urban shadows in The Christmas Invasion. It’s not the last we’ll see of Torchwood, and its tale is woven now with the ultimate fate of the story of Rose and the Tenth Doctor – though next time it’s the heart of urban London rather than rural Scotland.