Steven Moffat was seated at his computer one summer’s day, seeking ideas for the next Dr Who Christmas special. Suddenly an angel appeared to him and told him this tale:
Once upon a time, in a world (beyond worlds), on a planet not so very unlike our own – yet unlike our own – there was a time travelling hero called Dr Woe, a fellow who turned up wherever there was danger and saved the day. Unlike you or me he could live forever and proceeded to do so.
But there was one menace he never managed to defeat, the Dahl-Hicks mechanism, a sort of exterminating engine for killing rats, said to be created by two misguided Victorian inventors Ray Dahl and Terry Hicks. Somehow it mutated beyond its original programming to spread out across the universe treating everyone as vermin and destroying whole peoples and planets.
‘Why, Doctor Woe, why can’t you destroy the Dahl-Hicks?’ he was often asked. (I can’t remember who by).
‘Oh, I don’t know,’ he chirped back, on the way to the fez shop.
Then one day, the Dahl-Hicks (mechanism) decided to attack the very planet of Dr Woe himself and annihilate the Timid Lords themselves, a quiet folk who never interfered with time (itself), or space, or each other’s cheese.
As the great plastic and pretend towers of the Timid Lord planet melted and crumbled at the attack of the Dahl-Hicks, their High Council begged him.
‘Please Doctor, only you can save us!’
But the Doctor could not, and to explain why, he said many things very fast that barely seemed to make sense.
So the Timid Lords used a time straw to suck up the Doctor from his own childhood, (before he became so super-clever no-one could understand him), and sent Doctor Zero back to the Genesis of the Dahl Hicks, a dangerous six-parter, to see if there was any point in the action where new footage could be inserted in order to change history and prevent their creation.
But young Dr Zero found a very strange thing. Travelling back through the lost pages of time he found no trace of any Victorian inventors called Ray Dahl and Terry Hicks.
When he did finally track down the inventor of the evil robots he was shocked to see their creator looked like a grown up version of… himself. Because it was a grown up version of… himself!
The young Doctor fast-forwarded through time, to his own planet, where the Time’s Up War was raging. In the Null-field of the Dubious Metaphor he saw a burning Dahl-Hicks mechanism screeching at the older Doctor (himselves!)
“Please Doctor, I beg you – let us stop this horrible slaughter! It is making the Dahl-Hicks the most hated name in time and space!”
“Sozzer,” quipped the Doctor, in a cold, cruel tone. “I invented you centuries ago to blast the life energy out of entire races, so that I could follow in your wake, feed on their death energy, regenerate and live forever. Without you angry pots peppering the universe with death, I would be a goner. All hail me!”
“But Doctor – your OWN PEOPLE!” the Dahl Hicks sobbed. “Have you no mercy?”
“I cannot have mercy,” explained the pin-striped charmer, “For it is predicted in the scrolls of the Scrells that one of my own kind will learn my secret and destroy me. Therefore to preserve my secret, and provide me with enough energy to truly live forever, all the Dahl Hicks and Timid Lords must die in the Great Time’s Up War. A war so big-budget the truth of it will never be known!”
The Dahl Hicks mechanism suddenly saw a small figure lurking in the shadows, a sad-eyed child.
“There!” It barked. “The one who discovers your secret! It must be that kid – for he just overheard your whole confession!”
The Doctor whirled round, wild-eyed – to gaze upon his younger self. The last of the Dahl Hicks, unable to go against its programming shouted, “Exter –“
“This is completely unbelievable!” protested Steven Moffat. “I’ll take it!”
and he gave the angels a couple of passing carol singers to eat and – oh dear – it was supposed to be summer wasn’t it? Time itself collapses.
Merry Christmas anyway!