Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

Doctor Who and Belgium: the complete(ish) list

Tomorrow is the 57th anniversary of the first Doctor Who episode. To commemorate the occasion, I've updated my list of all the times Belgium is mentioned on Doctor Who on TV (plus the Sarah Jane Adventures) and compiled them for you, in historical order.


I've also made an even fuller list of all of the references I felt worth including to Belgium in the Whoniverse as a whole. It's striking that the Doctor seems to have been at the famous battlefield football match during the Christmas Truce of 1914 several times over (though perhaps there was more than one football match). The First World War is a favoured topic for writers, so I've given those stories a tinted background. (NB however that the First World War scenes of The War Games are explicitly in France.)

I'm sure that there are some I have missed; do let me know.
Story: The Unicorn and the Wasp
Year of setting: 800 AD (flashback from 1926)
Year of broadcast: 2008
Doctor: Tenth
Medium: TV
Writer: Gareth Roberts
Director: Graeme Harper
DOCTOR: You know, I've been to Belgium. Yeah. I remember I was deep in the Ardennes, trying to find Charlemagne. He'd been kidnapped by an insane computer.
Story: The Lonely Computer
Year of setting: 800 AD
Year of publication: 2008
Doctor: Ten, with Donna
Medium: Short story, on BBC website
Writer: Rupert Laight
'We're heading for Belgium, actually,' said the Doctor, without looking up.
The TARDIS suddenly jolted to a stop.
'Belgium?!' yelled Donna. 'I don't think so!'
But the Doctor had already sprinted over to the main doors and yanked them open. Donna trotted down the ramp to join him.
'I ask you,' she said, 'what's the point in Belgium?'
'They do fantastic lace,' offered the Doctor.
Year of setting: 1538 (in part)
Year of release: 2016
Doctor: Eighth, with Liv Chenka, Helen Sinclair and River Song
Medium: Big Finish audio play
Writer: Matt Fitton
Director: Ken Bentley

Thomas Cromwell decides to leave for Flanders to find a bride for Henry VIII (a bad move, as it turned out) and puts aside thoughts of the supernatural.
Story: The Astrea Conspiracy
Year of setting: 1666
Year of release: 2019
Doctor: Twelfth
Medium: Big Finish audiobook, read by Neve McIntosh
Writer: Lizbeth Myles
Director: Nicholas Briggs

Aphra Behn is in Antwerp, preventing a plot to assassinate Charles II, and a strange Scottish man turns up trying to restore the timeline.
Story: World Game
Year of setting: 1815 (the Belgian bits anyway)
Year of publication: 2005
Doctor: Second, with Lady Serenadellatrovella (Serena for short)
Medium: Novel
Writer: Terrance Dicks

Someone is trying to alter the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo, and the Doctor is sent by the Time Lords to set things right. (A Season 6B story.)
The Doctor and Serena sat at a pavement café table in the Grande Place in Brussels and watched the world go by. It was a pleasant sunny morning in June 1815 on the eve of Waterloo. The battle was still unfought, history still unchanged.

‘This mission seems to involve a great deal of sitting in cafés,’ said Serena.

‘It’s the Continental lifestyle,’ said the Doctor.
Year of setting: 1815
Year of release: 2012
Doctor: Sixth, with Flip and Davros
Medium: Big Finish audio play
Writer: Jonathan Morris
Director: Nicholas Briggs

The Daleks are in 21st century London, but in fact Davros is also trying to alter the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo.

(Several scenes are set in Wavre, the rather nondescript provincial capital of Brabant-Wallon, which I pass through most mornings when I get the train to work. I've never seen any Daleks there myself.)
Story: Year of the Pig
Year of setting: 1913
Year of release: 2006
Doctor: Sixth, with Peri
Medium: Big Finish audio play
Writer: Matthew Sweet
Director: Gary Russell

Toby the sapient pig is in hiding in Ostend.

(Also fearures Adjoa Andoh, who played Martha's mother  in New Who, Maureen O'Brien, who played Vicki in Old Who, and Michael Keating, who played Vila in Blake's 7.)
Year of setting: 1914
Year of publication: 2014-15
Doctor: Tenth Doctor, with Gabby
Medium: Comics (Titan)
Writer: Robbie Morrison
Artist: Daniel Indro
Colourist: Slamet Mujiono
Letterers: Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt

When Gabby and the Doctor arrive by accident in No Man's Land in July, 1916, they're met by Corporal Jamie Colqhoun — a soldier who knows from bitter experience that there are worse things than the Jerries out in the rat-strewn trenches. Things that drift through the smoke of a thousand cannon shells, and move only when you look away. Shadows that flit over artillery-blasted field hospitals and throw their terrifying wings over the living. Statues that steal your life in an instant. The Weeping Angels. But in a conflict where the life of young men is cheap, and thousands die every day — are the Angels actually offering salvation?
Story: Warfreekz
Year of setting: 1914
Year of publication: 2006
Doctor: Tenth, with Rose
Medium: Comic, in: Doctor Who Adventures issue 5
Writer: Alan Barnes
Artist: John Ross
Colourist: Adrian Salmon

The alien Warfreekz are enjoying the slaughter in the Forest of Mormal; the Doctor and Rose stop them.

(Incidentally the Forest of Mormal is just over the French border, so this may not actually be set in Belgium at all, but of course in the fog of war nobody can be quite sure where they are.)

(Apparently an earlier story in the same magazine but the same authors has the Doctor finding a "Belgian phrasebook" in his pockets. Hmmph.)
Story: Brotherhood of the Daleks
Year of setting: reference to October 1914
Year of release: 2008
Doctor: Sixth, with Charlie Pollard
Medium: Big Finish audio play
Writer: Alan Barnes
Director: Nicholas Briggs

The Doctor recalls his visit to Folkestone where he met Jessica Borthwick in October 1914 when she was taking Belgian refugees across the Channel in her yacht while under fire from the Germans.
Year of setting: 1987 with reference to Belgium in 1914
Year of release: 2013
Doctor: Sixth (twice), with Mel
Medium: Big Finish audio play
Writer: Matt Fitton
Director: Nicholas Briggs

Most of the play is a complicated origin story for Mel, but there's a reference to one character losing her husband in Belgium in 1914.
Story: Twice Upon A Time
Year of setting: Christmas 1914
Year of broadcast: 2017
Doctors: Twelfth and Firist
Medium: TV
Writer: Steven Moffat
Director: Rachel Talalay
Also 2018 novelisation by Paul Cornell

The First and Thirteenth Doctors, both on the verge of regeneration (or not, depending) get caught up in a final adventure for them both which starts on the battlefield and ends with the Christmas Truce. You've probably seen it.
Story: Deep and Dreamless Sleep
Year of setting: Christmas 1914
Year of publication: 2006
Doctor: Tenth
Medium: Short story, in The Sunday Times
Writer: Paul Cornell

Daniel Francis Thompson, aged four, and the Doctor also visit the battlefield to witness the Christmas Truce, where the Doctor referees the famous football match.
Story: The Little Drummer Boy
Year of setting: Christmas 1914
Year of publication: 2003
Doctor: First, with Steven and Sara
Medium: short story, in Short Trips: Companions edited by Jacqueline Rayner
Writer: Eddie Robson

The Doctor, Steven Taylor and Sara Kingdom, having survived their adventure in Hollywood, find that the TARDIS is constrained to visiting various places at Christmas only, including the Christmas Truce, where Steven participates in the famous football match (maybe there was more than one of them).
The slaughter of the trenches of the First World War was an image that had easily resonated down the four centuries to Steven's time. He'd expected to see tentative men keeping their heads below the tops of the trencftes,a deadly impasse.He hadn't expected to see the opposing forces mingling in the middle of No Man's Land, talking as best they could in spite of the language barrier, and sharing cigarettes. A sizeable group, down in one of the dugouts, was the source of the singing that Steven had heard. There was even a game of football taking place between the enemy trenches.
This seems to be the earliest visit to Belgium in the Doctor's personal timeline.
Story: Never Seen Cairo
Year of setting: Christmas 1914, and briefly a year later
Year of publication: 2004
Doctor: Fifth, with Peri; and briefly Seventh
Medium: short story, in Short Trips: A Christmas Treasury, edited by Paul Cornell
Writer: Darren Sellars

The Fifth Doctor and Peri encounter Edward Woodbourne in the trenches (and the football match, again). A year later, the Seventh Doctor delivers a letter from Edward to his widow. (Not a spoiler, the story starts there.)
The Doctor was certainly an odd chap, much more friendly than any of the officers who'd visited the trenches.
Story: Horrors of War
Year of setting: 1914, just after the outbreak of war in Belgium.
Year of release: 2018
Doctor: Third, with Jo Grant
Medium: BBC audiobook, read by Katy Manning
Writer: Justin Richards

The year is 1914, and the Great War is just getting started. In a field hospital in Ypres, Belgium, Nurse Annie Grantham receives two visitors: a distinguished doctor and his administrative assistant, Miss Grant. They have many questions to ask of Annie, and of her distressed and wounded charges.

The Doctor is returning to a scenario he encountered long ago: a version of the First World War where the Archduke Ferdinand wasn’t murdered, leading to changes all along the subsequent timeline. He now suspects that someone is at large in 1914, intervening in events with some unknown purpose.

Story: The Haunting of Malkin Place
Year of setting: Flashbacks to 1917
Year of release: 2017
Doctor: Fourth, with Romana II
Medium: Big Finish audio play
Writer: Phil Mulryne
Director: Nicholas Briggs

It's 1922, and the Doctor and Romana get mixed up with a dubious spiritualist (played by Simon "Arthur Dent" Jones). Young Maurice does not seem to have fully escaped the Third Battle of Ypres.
Story: Timechase
Year of setting: unspecified First World War
Year of publication: 1975
Doctor: none, just Daleks
Medium: short story, in the 1976 Terry Nation's Dalek Annual
Writer: Terry Nation (presumably)
Also 2018 audiobook version read by Matthew Waterhouse

A story that is not very subtly based on the 1965 TV story The Chase. The Daleks pursue our protagonists to various places, including the trenches, where they unintentionally blunt a German advance.

(NB the earliest published reference to Belgium in spinoff fiction, as opposed to TV Who.)
Year of setting: 1944
Year of publication: 1999
Doctor: Eighth, with Sam Jones and Fitz Kreiner
Medium: Novel
Writer: David A. McIntee

The Ardennes, December 1944: the Nazi forces are making their last offensive in Europe — a campaign which will come to be called the Battle of the Bulge. But there is a third side to this battle: an unknown and ancient force which seems to pay little heed to the laws of nature.
Where do the bodies of the dead disappear to? What is the true nature of the military experiments conducted by both sides?
The Doctor, Sam and Fitz must seek out the truth in a battlefield where no one and nothing is quite what it seems...
Year of setting: 1949, flashbacks to Belgium 1944
Year of publication: 2003
Doctor: Unknown (possibly Shalka Doctor?)
Medium: Novella
Writer: Daniel O'Mahoney
Also audio read by Terry Molloy

Protagonist Honoré Lechasseur was wounded fighting in Belgium in 1944.
Story: Good Night
Year of setting: 1952 (probably)
Year of release: 2011
Doctor: Eleventh
Medium: DVD extra
Writer: Steven Moffat
Director: Richard Senior
Doctor: River! I'll see you in Antwerp! Tell Marilyn she's too late, she'll have to use the biplane. Take care!
Reference presumably to Marilyn Monroe who the Eleventh Doctor met (and possibly married) in 1952.
Story: The Idiot's Lantern
Year of setting: 1953
Year of broadcast: 2006
Doctor: Tenth, with Rose
Medium: TV story
Writer: Mark Gatiss
Director: Euros Lyn
Guard: Wait, wait, wait! Where do you think...
(The Doctor shows him the psychic paper.)
Guard: Oh! I’m very sorry, sir. Shouldn’t you be at the Coronation?
Doctor: They’re saving me a seat.
Tommy: Who did he think you were?
Doctor: King of Belgium, apparently.
(Of course there is no such person as the King of Belgium. Our head of state is the King of the Belgians.)
Story: The Faceless Ones
Year of setting: 1966
Year of broadcast: 1967
Doctor: Second, with Ben, Polly and Jamie
Medium: TV story
Writers: David Ellis & Malcolm Hulke
Director: Gerry Mill
Also novelisation by Terrance Dicks
Commandant: Splendid, Splendid. I'll take that Brussels call now.
Doctor: There's just one thing, Commandant.
Commandant: Yes, yes, right.
Doctor: Our Tardis. Our police box.
Commandant: Ah Bruxelles. Oui, j'écoute. [Excruciating accent]
Doctor: The police box on the runway.
Commandant: Oh, yes, of course. Jean, see that the Doctor gets his property back, will you? Goodbye, Doctor, and thank you so much.
(The first time any part of Belgium was mentioned in the show. Lost from the archives, sadly.)
Story: The Time Monster
Year of setting: UNIT era
Year of broadcast: 1972
Doctor: Third, with Jo, Brigadier, Benton, Yates and the Master
Medium: TV story
Writer: Robert Sloman,
Director: Paul Bernard
Also novelisation by Terrance Dicks
Percival: But I'd stake my reputation on the professor's integrity.
Cook: You already have, Charles. You already have. A foolish gamble gone wrong. Now, it's not surprising that you lost.
Percival: Please, Humphrey!
Cook: I can see no alternative to a full Whitehall inquiry. I can only hope that we don't have to parade our dirty linen at Westminster, not to mention Brussels.
Story: The Man from DOCTO(R)
Year of setting: post-UNIT era
Year of publication: 2003
Doctor: none, just Harry Sullivan
Medium: short story, in Short Trips: Companions edited by Jacqueline Rayner
Writer: Andrew Collins
‘And so the girl gets on this blooming great spaceship with the seeding device to save an entire alien civilisation,and promptly leaves the planet. Leaving me to get back from the Belgian Alps without my passport’ Harry sat back and swirled his brandy. ‘Fortunately, I know a chap at the Embassy...’

Downing their pints, Chumpy Withers and Buffy Worthington were chortling in gleeful disbelief. Buffy gave him a shrewd look. ‘Does Belgium actually have Alps,old man?’ he asked.

Harry looked up sharply, then cleared his throat, ‘My round, I think,’ he said,and headed for the bar.
Story: The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith
Year of setting: 2009, Brussels visit implied in early 1990s
Year of broadcast: 2009
Doctor: Tenth, but it's Sarah's show
Medium: TV - Sarah Jane Adventures
Writer: Gareth Roberts
Director: Joss Agnew
Also novelisation by Gareth Roberts
Gita: So, Peter, where are you heading after the reception? Somewhere exotic?
Peter: Afterwards is a surprise.
Gita: It can't be any worse than our honeymoon. Total disaster.
Haresh: I enjoyed it.
Gita: Brussels. There's nothing there!
Story: Whatever Happened to Susan Foreman
Year of setting: 1994
Year of broadcast: 1994
Doctor: no Doctor, just Susan, Ian and Barbara
Medium: BBC audio play
Writer: Adrian Mourby

Jane Asher plays Susan, James Grout is Ian Chesterton, Andrew Sachs is Temmosus, Peter Woodthorpe is the researcher, finding out what exactly happened to her. It turns out that in 1994 she is working in Brussels (in a job that in our time stream was not actually invented until 1999). See the video (well, pic with soundtrack) for the full story.
Story: Escape Velocity
Year of setting: 2001
Year of publication: 2001
Doctor: Seventh, with Fitz Kreiner and introducing Anji Kapoor
Medium: Novel
Writer: Colin Brake
After five years as an item, three living together, Dave and Anji had come to the conclusion that they were meta-morphosing into some kind of off-the-shelf parody of a married couple long before their time. This year they had decided to do something about it, and their joint New Year’s resolution had been to do Wild and Spontaneous Things.

‘I’m really not sure Brussels was quite the right choice to be a Wild and Spontaneous Thing,’ moaned Anji, hugging her elegantly-cut designer coat tighter against the cold, drizzly wind. She started walking again, quick but small steps taking her back towards the centre of the city. Dave hurried after her, speculating – not for the first time – as to whether his long-time girlfriend had hidden powers of telepathy.
Story: Death in Heaven
Year of setting: Unspecified, probably 2014
Year of broadcast: 2014
Doctor: Twelfth, with Missy
Medium: TV
Writer: Steven Moffat
Director: Rachel Talalay
Missy: In fact, you know what? Just for that, I'm leaving. Boys, blow up this plane and, I don't know, Belgium, yeah? Kill some Belgians. Might as well. They're not even French. Byeeee!
Story: An Extraterrestrial Werewolf in Belgium
Year of setting: Unspecified, probably 2015
Year of broadcast: 2015
Doctor: no Doctor, but Iris Wildthyme
Medium: Big Finish audio play, in the Wildthyme Reloaded collection.
Writer: Scott Handcock
Director: Scott Handcock

Iris Wildthyme and her friend Edwin Turner visit Mechelen, between Brussels and Antwerp, and have a typically eccentric adventure with a Flemish werewolf.
Story: Time Crash
Year of setting: beyond time and space
Year of broadcast: 2006
Doctors: Fifth and Tenth
Medium: TV
Writer: Steven Moffat
Director: Graeme Harper
The Fifth Doctor: That's an alert, level five, indicating a temporal collision. It like two Tardises have merged, but there's definitely only one Tardis present. It's like two time zones or more at the heart of the Tardis. That's a paradox that could blow a hole in the space time continuum the size of....

Well, actually, the exact size of Belgium.

That's a bit undramatic, isn't it? Belgium?
Undramatic, eh? I guess I'll take what I can get.

Well, I hope you enjoyed that!
Tags: doctor who, doctor who: 01, doctor who: 02, doctor who: 03, doctor who: 05, doctor who: 06, doctor who: 07, doctor who: 08, doctor who: 10, doctor who: 11, doctor who: 12, doctor who: sarah jane, world: belgium
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