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16 Doctor Who Comedy Skits

From Comic Relief to Spike Milligan, French and Saunders to Emu, Doctor Who has been fertile ground for comedy sketch writers. Words by Steve O'Brien

The Curse of Fatal Death (1999)

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Eleven years before get got his hands on the real programme, Steven Moffat exhumed the decade-dead show for a brilliantly funny and gleefully self-mocking Comic Relief sketch. Rowan Atkinson was a curiously low-key Doctor whose performance thunder was snatched away by a roll-call of A-list faces playing the rapidly regenerating Doctor at the end. Our favourite is probably Hugh Grant’s effortlessly charming take but Joanna Lumley probably has the best line, looking at her new breasts and exclaiming, “Look! I’ve got etheric beam locators!” Watch it here .

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Victoria Wood: As Seen On TV (1987)

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Now more famous to Doctor Who fans for giving Russell T Davies the insult “ming mong” to lob at the show’s nuttier followers, this Victoria Wood quickie casts Jim Broadbent as the Doctor (he turns up again in “The Curse Of Fatal Death”), clad in a costume stitched together with bits from all ’70s and ’80s Doctors. And it still manages to look less chaotic than Colin Baker’s. Watch it here (terrible quality but you get the idea). .

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French & Saunders (1987)

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This sketch didn’t see the light of day until years later, on the “Curse of Fatal Death” VHS, having been pruned out of their 1987 series. Borrowing “The Trial of a Time-Lord”’s courtroom, it has George Layton as a Fourth Doc attired Doctor and Dawn and Jennifer as extras playing a couple of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Silurian guards. It’s a trifle overlong at seven an half minutes though... Watch it here (there’s a better quality Victoria Wood sketch at the end too).

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The Lenny Henry Show (1985)

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The Doctor gets a Shaft-type makeover in this sketch from 1985 were Lenny Henry and his pimped up TARDIS arrive in the run-down Britain of 2010 to find it run by the Cybermen and their leader, Thatchos. Worth it for seeing Spitting Image ’s resident Thatcher voice man Steve Nallon donning a Cyberman costume with a Maggie wig on top. As a depiction of the future of mass unemployment and social breakdown, it’s really quite prescient... And Henry had the leather jacket before Eccleston! Watch it here .

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Shooting Stars (1997)

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Odd and brilliant, this finds the first four Doctors performing The Who’s “My Generation and My (Re)Generation”. Vic Reeves is Jon Pertwee as Roger Daltrey, Mark Lamarr is Pete Townsend as Tom Baker, Bob Mortimer is William Hartnell as John Entwistle and Matt Lucas is Patrick Troughton as Keith Moon. Shot in black and white on a stage with TARDISy roundels, it’s mad but born of love.

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Dead Ringers (2006)

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Jon Culshaw’s Tenth Doctor shares a family Christmas with his past incarnations in this sketch from a show which frequently plundered Who for inspiration (Nev Fountain, ones of its lead writers, later went on to script stories for Big Finish’s Doctor Who range). While it boasts Culshaw’s always brilliant Tom Baker impersonation, he’s no great shakes as Tennant, and Phil Cornwell never quite captures Chris Eccleston. Full marks to Kevin Connelly though for a spot-on McCoy.

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Friday Night Project (2007)

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David Tennant throws on a slut dress, high heels and a bubble blonde wig as the surprisingly foxy Doctor’s assistant opposite Justin (spit!) Lee (spit!) Collins as they land on the Pink Planet as face off against the most evil Time Lord in the universe – the Gay Lord (Alan Carr – who else did you think?) and the Carr-leks, a race of camp pepper pots with bad teeth. Can’t imagine William Hartnell dragging up for a comedy skit in the 1960s... (Sadly unavailable on YouTube. ( Watch it here .)

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Extras (2007)

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Lord knows why David Tennant signed to appear as this scene from Extras ’s Christmas swansong, given that it’s pretty insulting towards Doctor Who . “Reduced” to appearing as a monster in Doctor Who , Ricky Gervais’ Andy Milman appears in an alien body suit that even Captain Zep would have seen as too shit to use.

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Doctor Who Misinformation Guide (2009)

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Compiled by YouTube Doctor Who genius Babelcolour, this gallop through 40-plus years of Who presents a wickedly funny alternate history of the programme, where Billie Whitelaw was the first Doctor Who, followed by Partick Thistle, John PeeWee Herman, Tom Baxter, conjoined twins Peter Davidson and David Peterson, Colon Beaker, Sylvester the Cat, Paul McGubbins, before being brought back a man named RT-D2. Screamingly rib-busting. Give Babelcolour his own TV show, we say.

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The Pitch of Fear (1999)

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( Note – sketch starts three minutes in )

Not only part of three of the funniest Doctor Who related sketches ever, but also the most in-jokey. Written by Mark Gatiss and a pre- Little Britain David Walliams, the sketches formed part of BBC Two’s 1999 Doctor Who themed night. The first, “The Pitch Of Fear”, has Walliams as Who creator Sydney Newman, offering up the series to a skeptical BBC. Full of phrases like “cosmic hobo” and “an old/young face” that eagle-eared Who fans will get, it’s beautifully staged. Gatiss soon had a twinge of guilt though over the line that “any old f**ker with an Equity card” could play the Doctor after Tom Baker and so it was cut out of its future release as one of the Doctor Who DVD extras.

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The Web of Caves (1999)

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Gatiss finally got his chance to play the Doctor in this comic tribute to ’60s Who. David Walliams plays an alien desperate to take on the Doctor and so arranges a day – Wednesday – to drain the planet’s oceans into its core and boil them. Gatiss is a splendidly diffident Doctor and Walliams relishes the “Doc-TOR!”-isms.

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The Kidnappers (1999)

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Gatiss and Walliams again, this time as two obsessive-cum-psychopathic Doctor Who fans who decide to kidnap Peter Davison. Again, full of fan-pleasing references, it feeds into a fantasy most fans have sometimes had, to kidnap Peter Davison and keep him prisoner in your house (no, you mean you haven’t thought that?). “Is it alright if I... kiss Peter?” asks Gatiss. “Yes!” replies Walliams. Funny. And a little bit scary.

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The Real McCoy (1991)

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What would Doctor Who sound like if redubbed in Jamaican patwa. Brilliantly funny, that’s what. It’s only a short clip of “Earthshock”, revoiced by the fictitious Channel 9 (“broadcasting to Kingston and surrounding areas”), but we could easily listen to a whole story this way!

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Emu’s Broadcasting Company (1977)

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Not exactly one of the funniest sketches, but rather more on of the scariest. This mostly silent sketch from Emu’s BBC series stars Emu arm-man Rod Hull as a convincingly odd Doctor, fighting “the deadly dustbins”. Obviously influenced by the Daleks, these dustbins, which gobble people up (a whole 28 years before Mickey Smith was eaten by one in “Rose”), are considerably more terrifying. Watch partly from behind the sofa... ( Watch it here .)

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Q (1975)

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A comedy God he may be, but much of Spike Milligan’s material has a slightly racist stench to modern eyes. In this sketch, a Muslim (or possibly Sikh) Dalek arrives home after a hard day’s exterminating, crashes about the place and order his long-suffering wife to put the family dog in the curry. The funniest bit of the whole sketch is the blowing up of the dog, with a special effect that makes Rentaghost look like Avatar .

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The Corridor Sketch (1991)

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Reeltime was a video production company primarily known for it Myth Makers documentaries about Doctor Who. But the company also created a number of comedy sketches, including this alternate look at the genesis of show, featuring an uncannily realistic Sydney Newman. And yes, that’s Dalek voice man Nicholas Briggs front and centre. It eventually turned up as a DVD extra on one of the official BBC releases (“The Beginning”, logically)

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