Friday, 3 October 2008

The real Doctor Who is a Welshman

A little light humour from Wales Online dated: Apr 1 2005, David Williamson, Western Mail.

SCIENCE FICTION fans around the world have been stunned by the revelation Doctor Who's character was based on a real-life Welshman who was a source of brief excitement and notoriety in the 20th century.

Papers released to the Western Mail under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that Gethin Who, a popular doctor from Carmarthen, met with Winston Churchill in 1940 to discuss the use of time travel as a weapon against Nazism.

Sixty-five years ago today, Dr Who had an early morning meeting with the Prime Minister, during which he convinced Mr Churchill an SAS team could be sent back in time to kidnap a young Adolf Hitler.

It had already been suggested that Einstein's theory of relativity could be harnessed to develop an atomic bomb, and time travel did not seem any more far-fetched a notion.

Dr Who was given a modest grant to pursue his research, and he established the TARDIS facility in the Welsh capital. TARDIS stood for Time and Relative Dimensions in Splott and was based in a tiny blue office next to a police station, believed to be the inspiration for the time-travelling police box of the TV series.

His funding was cut off in 1941 when a flawed attempt at time travel resulted in barking noises from his pet Alsatian, Canine, inadvertently interrup-ting a Royal radio broadcast. The dog would enjoy brief post-war fame when he joined the Beach Boys for the recording of Pet Sounds, but Dr Who - ostracised by the scientific community - returned to his home village of Llandaleg.

There, he continued his experiments on a freelance basis, and was often joined by his teenage assistant, Angharad Prilful. Now a retired taxidermist in Las Vegas, she granted a rare interview to the Western Mail.

"The doctor was a lovely man," she said. "But he was very eccentric. During the final decades of his life he insisted on living behind a sofa."

Throughout adulthood he lived in suspicion of rhubarb, and in private conversation confessed he believed the plant's purple produce were the protruding tentacles of an alien which lived at the Earth's centre.

Declassified documents reveal that security at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico was breached in 1957 by an "aged and decrepit Welshman who wanted his ashes to be shot into outer space". The account concludes, "When a security guard declined to accept his plans for a suitable spacecraft he grew angry and declared, 'May your hamburger have gangrene, I'm going to Moscow'."

On October 4 of that year, the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik I. There is no record of Dr Who ever returning to Wales.

There is a suggestion Christopher Eccleston, who portrays the Time Lord in the present series, would have considered wearing a daffodil if he'd known the Doctor was Welsh.

The fact it's BBC Wales which is producing the new series for the national network is believed to be pure co-incidence. There are apparently no plans to give the character the Christian name of Gethin.

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