Daily Archives: February 21, 2009

Doctor Who Versus Robert Mugabe

Robert Mugabe is in trouble now. Sure, Zimbabwe’s president has never been very popular among the international community – and no wonder, given his despicable human rights violations and a leadership that has brought his country to its knees, wrecking its economy.

Inflation is currently estimated by some experts to be running at an astonishing 10 sextillion per cent (the Choob studied maths at university and still had to look that one up – it’s a 1 followed by 22 zeroes, apparently).

Mugabe has proved to be exceptionally resilient since taking control of the country following the fall of the then Rhodesia’s minority white-ruled government in 1980, despite repeated attempts in his own country and internationally to remove him from power.

But he may finally have met his match.

Because now the 85-year-old is facing the wrath of a fanatical and highly-organised group of people who believe Zimbabwe holds the key to realising one of their long-held goals and will stop at nothing to achieve it – Doctor Who fans.

And I’m talking about the hardcore, old-school fans of the show’s original run, not the lightweight, johnny-come-lately, casual fans of the new version.

How did Mugabe provoke Whovians‘ ire? Well, it turns out that Zimbabwe may be in possession of some of the episodes of Doctor Who missing from the BBC’s archives. As most people know, thousands of episodes of old TV shows were dumped by Beeb in the 60s and 70s to make room on the shelves for more recent shows, as they did not consider at that time there was any value in hanging on to them.

Since they realised the error of their ways, they have managed to recover some of the missing episodes, some from fans and former BBC employees who had acquired copies, and some from overseas TV broadcasters who had screened the show.

Which is where Zimbabwe comes in to the story. There are still 108 of the 253 episodes missing from Doctor Who’s first six seasons (the William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton eras). British tabloid newspaper The Sun reports that the then Rhodesia bought and screened the shows early episodes and may still hold copies in their archives.

Unfortunately, relations between Zimbabwe and Britain are strained, to put it mildly, and one of the results is that Mugabe has  banned the BBC from entering the country. So there is currently no way to check for any missing Who episodes.

Mugabe may be about to find out that hell hath no fury like a Doctor Who fan who thinks he (and the fanatical ones are all hes) is being deprived of his holy grail. He should expect an invasion by men wearing really long scarfs, sticks of celery on their lapels or silver jumpsuits any day now.

Wouldn’t it be funny if, after all the sanctions and international condemnation and pressure, Mugabe is finally toppled by a Time Lord?

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