I first learned about The Mystery of Edwin Drood on the Doctor Who episode The Unquiet Dead (written by Mark Gatiss). In this episode, the Tardiff takes The Ninth Doctor (played by Christopher Eccleston) and Rose (played by Billie Piper) to Cardiff on December 24th, 1869. This was the show that sparked my interest in this whole Edwin Drood project. It’s been several years since I got the idea to at one point do a Edwin Drood project but I wanted to wait because I wanted to have read a few more of Dickens’ novel before diving into his last. And then the bicentenary came up and it seemed to be the perfect time to do this – and so I am.
In this episode, we find a rather disillusioned Charles Dickens (played by Simon Callow). His imagination has grown stale, he had muddled up his family affairs, and he feels doomed to repeat himself for all eternity, performing A Christmas Carol. A somewhat humble man, concerned with what his legacy will be. But in the audience, there’s something unusual. A dead lady walking, ejecting some kind of blue gaseous substance. Dickens believe it all to be trickery and illusion but of course, the Doctor knows better. And after a while, Dickens comes around too and accepts this brave new world and realize that his rational beliefs are not worth anything, really.
I really like this episode and I’ve watched it several times. I was intrigued by the whole Dickens part of it mostly, but I also like the connection to Torchwood (the servant girl Gwyneth, played by the same actress who play Gwen in Torchwood (Eve Myles)) as well as just the general banter between the Doctor and Rose.
What is particularly interesting in our connection is of course the connection to The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Towards the end of the episode, Dickens go back to London to make amends to his family. He is very much cheered up and is inspired to write about all the new things he has discovered is out there. He wants to go back and finish Edwin Drood and as he says, ‘Perhaps the killer was not the boy’s uncle. Perhaps the killer was not of this world.’ and changes the title to The Mystery of Edwin Drood and the Blue Elementals.
So this was the Doctor Who take on the Edwin Drood mystery – to have aliens be responsible for Edwin’s death. Of course I don’t think this is a real possibility – I just found it necessary to include this episode in my Drood investigations since this was what started my Drood obsession.
- Charles Dickens: The Mystery of Edwin Drood (review)
- Charles Dickens: Hard Times (review)
- Dickens Bicentenary
- Review: David Copperfield