It was one of the ironies of the end of the original run of Doctor Who in 1989 that the final serial should be called Survival. Watching the first couple of episodes this evening, I couldn’t help reading into it similarities with the new series that began 16 years on.
Survival has that very down-to-earth feeling that the current series pursues, trying to ground adventures in the real world. Ace returning to visit her friends in Perivale has strong parallels with Rose’s trips home. Sergeant Patterson even mentions that Ace’s mum reported her missing – just like Jackie Tyler in Aliens of London.
Superificial similarities between the Cheetah People and the Cat Nun Nurses in New Earth aside, there’s also a more refined portrayal of Anthony Ainley’s Master, who finds himself at one point in a London council flat: very Russell T. Davies, and very New Who.
Like all Doctor Who stories, it has its weaknesses, but the script is so strong that these are easily overlooked, resulting in probably the best story of Sylvester McCoy’s run. As is often noted – because it’s true – Survival is the pacifist antithesis of the “stand up and fight” message of the second Doctor Who serial (which introduced the Daleks), and as such can warm the cockles of wishy-washy liberals everywhere.