The Time Lord lands in a period drama

The BBC was always fond of repeating programmes, but now it has started repeating ideas as well. Dear old Dr Who is back on our screens after all these years. Jane Austen is never off our screens. The corpse of 'Call My Bluff' has been revived and is haunting daytime TV. 'Just William' keeps coming back. ... It's only a matter of time before the BBC desperately tries to combine them all in one glorious edition of ...

Dr Who And the Battle For Regency England

The scene is an 18th-century drawing room. Three young sisters, Katie, Emma and Caroline, are sitting on a sofa, sewing and talking about young men in general and husbands-to-be in particular.

Katie: I sometimes think how wonderful it would be if some young gentleman would pay a call totally unannounced and break the tedium of the afternoon!

Emma: Don't look now, but I think you may well have your request granted.

All this time, through the window, she and we can see a police box labelled 'Tardis' materialising in the garden, and Dr Who emerging, looking rather dazed. The girls rush to the window. He spies the front door and moves towards it, and they rush back to their seats. Moments later he enters the drawing room and addresses the girls.

Dr Who: Ladies, may I ask you something?

Katie: Sir, we have not been introduced.

Dr Who: There is not time for that, I fear. I need to know one thing immediately. In what century are we?

Katie: A gentleman, sir, need not know what century it is to have some manners. A knowledge of etiquette is more important than a knowledge of chronology.

Emma: Katie, can you not see that the young man is in some trouble? This is no time for social games. To Dr Who. We have just entered the 19th century, sir. These are Napoleonic times.

Dr Who: Are they, by heavens? Then where are the Tarjeets?

Emma: There is no family of that name in this neighbourhood, sir. Are they of good stock?

Dr Who: They are small, four-armed creatures whom I am pursuing through the time spectrum. I must catch them before they bring the Jewel of Tryggvasar back to the Palace of Sighs and change the result of the Napoleonic Wars.

Caroline: They have jewels? They sound interesting. Are they handsome?

Dr Who: No. They are very warty and their ears are detachable.

Caroline: Hmm. Even so, if they have many jewels ... A girl cannot pick and choose for ever ...

Dr Who: With your permission, I shall search the house upstairs.

As he leaves, the girls look at each other meaningfully, for Dr Who is very handsome. But before they can sit again, a small tousled boy with muddy marks on his face enters, holding a letter. It is William.

William: Excuse me, but I'm tryin' to find a Miss Emma to give a letter to. I've walked all round Hadleigh trying to find a girl called Emma, and they're all called Susie and Peggy and silly ol' names like that. I don't know why girls can't have sensible names like Red Hand and Carla the Kidnapper ...

Emma: I am called Emma. From whom is the letter?

William: From my brother Robert. He wants to marry you. I hope you do, so that he can move out of the house and I can have his bedroom. And his bike.

Emma: Marry him ? But I don't even know him!

William: That's all right. I know him a sight better than I would like to. If there's anything you want to know, you can ask me ...

Emma: Well, what is he like? Has he any money?

William: He orders you about the whole time, he hates you goin' in his wardrobe and he's just got pounds 5 because he's sold his airgun.

Emma: And with only that, he wants to be my suitor?

William: I dunno. What's a suitor?

Katie: A suitor is a man who wants your hand in marriage.

Emma: No, actually, a suitor is a sea bird found in Chile which makes a noise like a football crowd.

Caroline: Actually, a suitor is the name that they gave in Victorian times to the device that kept suits well pressed on damp nights.

Enter Dr Who, as chairman of the game.

Dr Who: So there we have "suitor", defined three ways. It's a sea bird, a man who proposes marriage or ... He looks at William for the first time. By heavens! Are you one of the Tarjeets?

Coming soon on the BBC - part two! Well, just as soon as we have repeated part one a few times.