The British government's recent U-turn over product placement on our television screens has opened up a tin of 'Green Death'-style maggots. But what if the world of Doctor Who
had been allowed to operate under such a system since 1963? Cult Spy
looks at a very alternate world that might have unfolded on our idiot's lanterns during the last 46 years of time travelling escapades…
The very first Doctor Who
adventure is referred to as 'The Tribe Of Gum' in some quarters and would have been a mouthwatering endorsement proposition for chewy confectionary manufacturer Wrigley. Interpreting the title all too literally for the sake of a few quid, the plot would have seen The Doctor offer the irate cavemen some destressing spearmint gum that allowed them to clear their thoughts and embark peacefully on their quest for fire.
You just have to look at the chart dominance by the cast of Glee
to see how influential telly is at plugging pop. Back in 1965's 'The Chase', The Beatles appeared on the Time-Space Visualiser performing 'Ticket To Ride'. What we weren't subjected to, fortunately, was Susan Foreman holding up a 12" vinyl copy of the record and urging Ian and Barbara to buy it when they return back to Earth. Presumably, the accompanying gramophone would have been a convenient plot device for the ever-clumsy Susan to stumble over and sprain her ankle.
In the First Doctor’s final story 'The Tenth Planet', the weary Time Lord tells his companions that his 'body is wearing a bit thin'. All he needed was Polly to hand him a Red Bull to give the Gallifreyan some wings and continue long enough to defeat the Daleks on the planet Vulcan. With Patrick Troughton eventually taking over, his 500 Year Diary could have had a nice Ryman or WH Smith logo emblazoned on it. Furthermore, that incarnation's consecutive outings in rather cold conditions in 'The Abominable Snowman' and 'The Ice Warriors' might have seen the Tardis crew decked out in thermal gear courtesy of British Home Stores. Mind you, all those dads tuning in on Saturday teatime for a nice bit of female companion flesh wouldn't have welcomed the endorsement.
Would the infamous 'daffodil attack' scene in 'Terror Of The Autons' have taken place if Interflora had paid a wad of cash to tart up UNIT HQ with flowers? Highly unlikely. A more dubious marketing opportunity would come in 'Death To The Daleks', where the viewers would be urged by the continuity announcer to go out and buy some Andrex loo rolls to create their own Dalek 'Point Of View' shots as seen during the story. Those who wish to restage the Exxilon attack sequence need only wander round Camden late on a Friday night for the desired effect. Also, the plot of 'Planet Of The Spiders' could have been grossly affected had Rentokil nobbled the script editor. All the Doctor needed to do was find an electrical socket on Metebelis 3 to plug in one of those ultrasonic insect repellent plug-in devices to save the day.
The Fourth Doctor's fondness for a certain picket-dwelling sweet would have grown tedious had he delivered lines such as: "Would you care for a Bassetts Jelly Baby? They're in a wibbly wobbly league of their own, Romana!" As for the Time Lord's liquid diet, his adventures during 'The Android invasion' might have been a seriously sizzled affair had the central town's Fleur-de-Lys pub been Wetherspoons-branded. With their drinks promotions, it would have been rude not to have a serious imbibition session. "Is that finger loaded?" The Doctor would have asked an android, before dashing behind a nearby tree to empty the bladder. He could have subsequently given accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers a nice namecheck in tax-themed story 'The Sunmakers', advising the bedraggled citizens of Pluto to check them out.
On the subject of all-things Waterhouse, to adopt an Alan Partridge-style link, how cool (well, naff) would it have been if the end credits of 'Earthshock's final part played out over Spandau Ballet's 'Gold'? The demise of Adric and his crumbled, golden mathematical badge of excellence should have merited an emphatic 'punch the air' moment in living rooms around the country, along with a sneaky plug for the New Romantic crooners. As for Nyssa's decision to strip off her clothes in 'Terminus' – the lingerie chains would have come knocking the deck out the Traken lady in some suitably kinky attire. Feisty one, she is.
An opportunity for the likes of cricket gear manufacturers like Slazenger and Gray Nicholls would have dominated the first part of 'Black Orchid', where The Doctor could have popped back to the Tardis to nab some hi-tech branded merch for the big match. His successor certainly didn't warrant any aesthetic endorsements though, given the ludicrous multicoloured garb he wore. However, the nature of acting in 'Timelash' might have alerted tinned food purveyors Spam to sponsor the show. Plus, the annoying nature of the siblings Romulus and Remus in 'The Twin Dilemma' lent itself to sponsorship by Durex – as a means of birth control.
Much like Formula One drivers plaster their vehicles with various logos, advertising space on the bomber jacket of Ace could have been a nice little earner for the Beeb. Surely a deal with cat food manufacturer Whiskers was a nailed-on dead cert for 'Survival' if the broadcaster was allowed. 'The Happiness Patrol' appeared to be an ad for Liquorice Allsorts given the guise of The Kandyman, although Bassetts reportedly weren't too keen on the rather malevolent nature of the fondant monster.
More interest would have been sparked by Ambrosia, given the Seventh Doctor's apparent love of unlimited rice pudding. Rice Krispies should have also been credited as playing an integral part in the make-up process during Omega's stint in Amsterdam during 'The Arc Of Infinity'. Poor Peter Davison probably can't stand the sight of them after that experience. Subsequently, Paul McGann's brief stint as The Doctor allowed The Master to show off his shades, sadly deprived of any Ray Bans logo.
The Ninth Doctor's trip to Satellite Five in 'The Long Game' might have been greeted with a McKronk Burger – a sign that the fast food giant survived into the Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire. They'd have been more interested in that than endorsing Davros's dubious food products that he churned out from human flesh in 'Revelation Of The Daleks'. However, mechanically/Dalek reclaimed meat might whet the appetites of those dreaded Turkey Twizzler makers. Let's get Jamie Oliver a one-way ticket to Necros right now!
The Tenth Doctor's defeat of the Cybermen and Daleks in 'Doomsday' might have been lucrative if an optician had handed over some dosh. Instead of those flimsy 3D specs The Doctor uses to see the Void material, a sturdier frame and lenses would have worked. "Emotions destroy you," stated the CyberLeader. "That might be the case, but I've just been to Specsavers. Allons-y!" As for those distinctive trainers he wore, no comment. Converse must be laughing at all that free advertising. Meanwhile, The Doctor's luscious quiff at the time must have had Brylcreem salivating at the prospects of a commercial tie-in.
David Tennant's recent swansong in 'The End Of Time' offered up a multitude of possible product placements. Firstly, The Master's resurrection via the Immortality Gate would have been followed by a trip to Boots to acquire a bottle of John Frieda's Sheer Blonde shampoo, and then on to KFC for some finger-licking bargain bucket action. Yummy times indeed!