Sonic Screwdriver #76
This piece ran at the time of the DWCV’s Murder Mystery ‘Who Killed Adric?’ (the first of many — no, not all killing Adric!). I remain a big fan of Season 18 Adric, where I feel he slotted in with Tom Baker beautifully — the openings to Keeper of Traken and Logopolis most clearly demonstrating this. Then came Tegan, and it all went splat! (Literally, in Adric’s case.)
It was once calculated that we all must have, at some point, breathed some infintesimal part of Julius Caesar’s dying gasp. Similarly, it can be seen that, within all of us, there lies a piece of Adric.
Oh, come now. We’ve all wanted to be — or indeed have been — the Artful Dodger at times. Granted, maybe your hero isn’t Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac, the English physicist and Nobel Prize winner in 1933 whose name, when fed through the anagram machine, produced Adric. And everybody has eaten that little bit too much at some stage.
Why Adric is almost universally panned has always confounded me. With the exception of that, er, slight misjudgment of character in Four To Doomsday, he presented an intelligent and amusing companion, whose youth and naïveté was well utilised for both comedic and dramatic effect. To some extent, he took over the role of Romana, but without the grace or experience.
So how did this unthinking rejection of Adric begin? Four To Doomsday certainly didn’t help, with Adric’s foolish belief in Monarch, and Tegan casually knocking him unconscious. Of course, that selective memory does not recall that Adric had been trying to stop Tegan from attempting to use the TARDIS (a foolish action at best, more likely suicidal), or that, when the Doctor was threatened, how his true loyalty showed through, using words to stop Monarch and, later, action to destroy Enlightenment. Even the Doctor gave him a backhand compliment: ‘You’re not so much stupid as idealistic. It must come from your deprived delinquent background.’
It is hardly coincidence that Adric’s better stories were the Tom Baker ones. The young blood of Tegan and Nyssa was yet to come, swamping his individuality and reducing his lines, and the stories of season eighteen suited his character better: tossing a coin in Warrior’s Gate, manipulating the Source in Traken, or experiencing block transfer computations in Logopolis. Perhaps his best story was his second one, State of Decay. In it he outwitted K9, satisfied his appetite, and played the fool to Aukon, realising the danger and simultaneously extracting information with his impertinent ‘What’s in it for me?’. Aukon hypnotised him no more than he did Romana, or, briefly, the Doctor. Later, indeed, he fooled Aukon into releasing his bonds, with his ‘Aah, but they [vampires] don’t die…do they, Lord Aukon?’ — an impressive achievement indeed.
Adric was also a fine source of humour. Always cheeky, and with a charming smile, he even had a walk that gave him a slightly unusual look. Black Orchid, though it largely ignored him, and to a lesser extent Tegan, was enriched (no pun intended) by Adric’s continual consumption of food and his eye for the Bisto sign. It may not have been great scripting, but it certainly was funny.
Season nineteen was less kind for Adric, though the basic character was not changed all that much. Instead, the immature side of his character was presented more than the cheeky, technical one. Kinda showed his tactless side, continually threatening to enrage Hindle, and accusing Tegan of having less control over her mind than certain others, and Four to Doomsday his sexist side: ‘That’s the trouble with women. Mindless, impatient and bossy.’ Mind you, as far as Tegan goes, that’s a pretty good description…
He certainly finished off with a bang (pun intended), however, with Earthshock. His confrontation with the Doctor was far more dramatic, meaningful and significant than Tegan’s whingings ever were (do you get the impression I don’t like the ‘mouth on legs’? Good.). Earthshock marked a strong return to the mathematical side of his character, managing, apparently, to solve the problem of returning to E-Space, something the Doctor had considered impossible. Just in case the viewers hadn’t caught on, he was called on to do calculations quicker than the ship computer. And, of course, he died trying to save the home planet he didn’t have. He had managed to break the three logic codes devised by the Cybermen, but in an event more mathematically unlikely than his solving of those problems, a seriously wounded Cybermen dragged itself as far as the bridge to stop him. And so Adric the homeless youth died, holding the marsh-reed belt of his brother, the badge of the Outlers.
Adric is dead. Long live Adric.
Here’s the list of the Doctor Who articles available here
→ A Bit of Adric in All of Us
→ Ace Timeline
→ Cursed References
→ Doctor Who Collectible Card Game FAQ
→ Doctor Who Collectible Card Game Tips
→ Doctor Who in America
→ History of the Daleks
→ History of Doctor Who
→ History of the fanzine Sonic Screwdriver
→ How I Killed a Fanzine (or, What’s an EFG?)
→ Survival the (Con)vention
→ The Doctor and I (First Memories)
→ The Doctor and I (1985 — Move to the USA)
→ The Doctor and I (Organised Fandom? Huh?)
→ The Doctor and I (Doctorin’ Ithaca)
→ The Doctor and I (Back to Melbourne)
→ The Doctor and I (Whovention)
→ The Doctor and I (David, Meet the DWCV)
→ The Doctor and I (Enlightenment)
→ The Doctor and I (The Blankety Blank Era)
→ The Doctor and I (Q Who)
→ The Doctor and I (DWCV Committee, Meet David)
→ The Doctor and I (Whovention II (Control))
→ The Doctor and I (Sonic Screwdriver, Meet David (and Marco and Matthew))
→ The Relative Confusion of The Curse of Fenric
→ What Makes a Warrior?
→ What’s in a Name?
→ Or just head back to the Doctor Who Index
This page last updated by David J Richardson on Sun, 27 Apr 2003.