Posted by Melissa Stewart
How does the Doctor’s experience of intergalactic death care compare with our earthly experiences? What would he think of arrangements in an average high street chain?
In the 1985 episode ‘Revelation of the Daleks’, loosely based on Evelyn Waugh’s ‘The Loved One’, we learn a little about the Doctor’s attitude to funerals. By all accounts the good Doctor is an existentialist believing that when you die that’s it.
The story is set in the Tranquil Repose Funeral Home on the planet Necros. Renowned for their funeral arrangements for the galaxy’s elite, the deceased are placed into suspended animation until a ‘cure’ for their death is found and they are returned to life. These people are called the ‘Resting Ones’. But all is not well, the Tranquil Repose has been taken over by the evil Davros who is using the deceased in the storage hub to make new Daleks.
Outside the funeral home is the ‘Garden of Fond Memories’, where statues of the Resting Ones are erected in their memory. It is the job of the staff Mister Jobel and his student Tasambeker to upsell and this they do via the ‘perpetual arrangement’. Sound familiar?
While your body is ‘suspended’ you can opt to have music and information played to you by ‘The DJ’ to keep you abreast of music trends and news. You don’t want to be out of date when you come back do you? For a just a little more the DJ will also read you messages from your loved ones. And then there’s the memorial statue!
In the Garden of Fond Memories is a statue of the Doctor, made of polystyrene but sold as stone. Davros has put it there with the intention of killing the Doctor. The Doctor stares at it and declares “No, no, this is dreadful. Do you realise how much a thing like this would cost …… America doesn’t have the monopoly on bad taste”. He turns his back on the statue and it collapses on top of him. Jobel appears in a half hearted attempt to rescue him knowing his actions are not really necessary “I am Jobel. I am very important here, I am the Chief Embalmer”. The Doctor replies “Are you touting for business? The Doctor pushes the statue off himself stating “It’s all part of an elaborate theatrical effect”. Tasambeker later stabs Jobel in the heart and is himself killed by a Dalek.
At the end of the episode The Doctor says “This place is called Tranquil Repose. I think we should leave the dead in peace don’t you? I know somewhere that is truly tranquil, peaceful, restful. A panacea for the cares of the mind.”
“Planets come and go. Stars perish. Matter disperses, coalesces, forms into other patterns, other worlds. Nothing can be eternal.” – The Sixth Doctor, Colin Baker.
So it’s a natural burial for The Doctor then, if he ever stops regenerating.