Lockdown - UNIT on call

Original Airdate: 14 Nov 2020


(A young woman is watching TV during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown. She is a Dr Who Fan and has a UNIT symbol on her bedroom wall.)
DONNA [TV]: Doctor, what is it? What's Bad Wolf?
DOCTOR 10 [TV]: It's the end of the universe.
(Modern Dr Who theme, woman turns the TV off. Now she is using her mobile (i-)phone to make a call.)
WOMAN [OC]: Hello, you're through to UNIT HQ. Your call is important to us. Please hold the line. Someone will be with you shortly.
(Annoyingly cheerful hold music that is so familiar to those of us of a certain age, from the BBC childrens show for the deaf, Vision On. Java played by Bert Kaempfert and his Orchestra.)
WOMAN [OC]: Your call is important to us. Please hold the line. Someone will be with you shortly.
DOCTOR 3: Yes, hello? Hello, thank you for holding. This is the Doctor here. I seem to have become the Brigadier's telephonist, but never mind. What is the nature of your call?
FAN: Well, I'm actually calling from the future.
DOCTOR 3: Ah yes, so you are. I thought I detected some odd signals of interstitial irregularity. My word, quite fascinating.
FAN: I's surprised you're so surprised, Doctor. Isn't this the way you roll? Wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey etc.?
DOCTOR 3: Wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey? Good grief, what bizarre phraseology. I might adopt it one day.
FAN: Maybe you should. Which year am I through to?
DOCTOR 3: Now, let me check. Everything seems bathed in a bronze hue. Yes, must be the 1970s.
FAN: That's a decade, not a year. 1970 what?
DOCTOR 3: It's difficult to be precise. It's a very complicated decade for UNIT. But never mind about that now. Look, telephone calls across the void that circles Time, they're not possible without a great deal of...
FAN: Jiggery pokery?
DOCTOR 3: Precisely. And that is a very technical term. I was first in Jiggery Pokery at the Academy, so you see I know for a fact that that technology is not around until at least the year 3021. From which year are you calling?
FAN: Well, it's 2020.
DOCTOR 3: 2020. Ah yes. Yes, so you are. 2020 indeed.
FAN: Yeah.
DOCTOR 3: Yes, that year's a very fateful one, dominated by that accursed Corona virus disease 2019. COVID-19 as it becomes known.
FAN: And it's a constant threat to Earth, Doctor, locking down our countries and our cities, invading all of our lives. I just don't know how we can carry on like this for much longer.
DOCTOR 3: Yes, yes, I know. I understand you, believe me. Viruses and their hosts have been at war for billions of years. It's like an arms race. It's driven an enormous diversification of viruses, but also a host of immune responses too. Just ask Lavinia Smith.
FAN: All I know is, we need as much help as we can get. I think this is way beyond the government.
BRIGADIER: Quite, but thankfully not beyond UNIT.
DOCTOR 3: Ah, hello, Brigadier.
BRIGADIER: Yes, this is Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart speaking. How can we assist, madam? 2020 you say? Ah, fascinating. Who's in charge of UNIT?
FAN: Well, that's actually kind of the reason for my call. You see, UNIT operations are suspended here.
BRIGADIER: Suspended!
FAN: Sorry. Spoilers.
BRIGADIER: This is outrageous. What the devil happened?
FAN: I'll explain later, but right now we really do need your help.
JO: Oh Doctor, we've got to help them. Somehow we must.
DOCTOR 3: Yes, Jo. Yes, we must, and I think it will be people exactly like you who are going to help make that happen.
JO: Me, Doctor?
DOCTOR 3: Yes, Jo, you. People who take any positivity they have and make something from it.
JO: Well, you taught me to always find the light, even in the darkest situations, so I know there's always something we can find to be cheerful about, even if that something is very, very small. Gosh, look, I know how hard it is when there's so much anger and angst and confusion in the world, but if we focus on that, well, that's just going to make us jittery and nervous. So we have to remember that there are some wonderful things out there too, and that's what we have to focus on. So look up and keep looking around, even if you just sort of - I don't know - poke your head out of the window for a minute and look up at a tree or the magnificence of the vast sky above us. Well, then you start to see that there is still so much beauty in the world. Life is more important than anything else, and where's there's life there is always hope. So stay hopeful, stay strong, and smile as much as you can and as often as you can. I'm sending you all my love.
BRIGADIER: Ahem. Yes, well, I think that's quite enough sentimentality for now, Miss Grant, charming though that is. Nevertheless, she does make a rather valid point. These are the actions we must take at such times. No call to arms or military defence operations can defeat a virus of this kind, I'm afraid to say. But you can aid the operation if you all the necessary precautions. Home is where the smart is and all that. Now, Doctor, Miss Grant, we're being called away on urgent business, I'm afraid.
DOCTOR 3: Just a moment, Brigadier. You see, Jo has rather imspired me. Jo, I've often said we might turn you into a scientist one day. Well, there's no need to try and turn you into a very bright light, is there, because you're very much one of those already.
JO: Oh, thank you, Doctor.
BRIGADIER: Yes, all right, Doctor. Do come along as soon as you can, though, please.
DOCTOR 3: Yes, all right, Brigadier. But first, though, I must just say this to anybody feeling lost, fearful, uncertain. Just remember the status quo of a challenging time, it never lasts forever. The tides of Time always shift and move. Now, where you can, let your hardships mature into a kind of wisdom that stays with you, one that makes you feel that bit more invincible, and which gives you the perspective to help advise and give comfort to others when you're ready. And do practice that very valuable art of not allowing yourself to become too consumed by the stupidity and selfishness of some. Heaven knows I've had to do that on many occasions. And don't let them rob you of good spirits while they're about it, eh? Remember, times of difficulty so frequently give rise to many other much greater things. Just watch for the response of your great scientists. Treatments, vaccinations, remedies. That's an arms race predator-prey situation that human intelligence shall always win. Watch for the greatest of all qualities within human beings. That's your ability for kindness, compassion, humour, friendship, generosity, unrestricted access to the wine cellar of Sir Reginald Styles. All affirming things to help you keep going, one boot in front of the other, one step at a time until the next chapter is arrived upon just like the dawn follows the darkness. And there's a great deal to be excited about. The great inspiration of your species very soon returning to the Moon then venturing on to Mars, sending probes to Europa. Yes, those charming creatures beneath the ice of Enceladus around Saturn, the Poldrantiads, part squid part platypus, only two inches long. Charming creatures. Now treat those as Mister Attenborough would see fit. But above all, have great faith. And with all the inventiveness, adaptability and greatness of your human race, well, I for one certainly wouldn't bet against you, even in the most persistent of storms. Allons-y. Geronimo, as er... Actually, who did say that?
FAN: I think that might have been you, Doctor. Or most certainly will be.
DOCTOR 3: Fantastic!
FAN: But never mind the catch phrases. Those inspirational speeches of yours, they really are quite something, you know.
DOCTOR 3: Well, thank you for the compliment. Sort of comes with the territory, but you know, I wouldn't have it any other way.
FAN: Well, thank you, Doctor, for everything.
TERRENCE DICKS [OC]: Hear, hear. Absolutely marvellous. Bravo. Bravo, everybody. I really couldn't have put that better myself. Doctor Who reflecting life as we see it has always been the most wonderful thing, and you know, I do think that many of us in a dilemma or quandry, you see, would often stop and think, you know, what would the Doctor, Jo and the Brigadier do. Absolutely marvellous. Well, I think that performance deserves an afternoon tea break, don't you? I shall crack open the Jammie Dodgers. Who's for a brew? Hang on, who's for a brew, that's a good title for something. Have to write that down and show it to Barry.
(Call ends. After a few moments the fan picks up her Tardis-themed mug of tea, gets the packet of Jammie Dodgers and turns on the TV for a more classic episode of Dr Who.)

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