I imagine that you must have been wondering precisely what subject would be covered in
an article called "A Load of Balls". However, the balls that I refer to here are spherical
coloured objects that currently obsess a large proportion of the population of the United
Kingdom. If you're British and you haven't spent the last few years continually watching
a pre-recorded video of "The Twin Dilemma" then you may have noticed that there is a
national lottery in the UK. This has produced the inevitable hype and exploitative
cash-ins, together with many weird and wonderful methods used by people to choose their
six numbers, with one particularly entertaining example of this being the gentleman who
uses the height, vital statistics and shoe size of Claudia Schiffer. Now this has set me
thinking - what sort of numbers could a Doctor Who fan use?
Now the first thing that we should remember in considering an answer to this question
is that the lottery numbers lie in the range 1 to 49, so it would obviously not be
to one's advantage to choose any outside. This does however preclude a number of obvious
numbers that a fan may like to use, such as the number of transmitted episodes
of Doctor Who and the number of decent scripts written by Pip and Jane Baker, as they
both lie outside the required range, being 696 and 0 respectively.
One nice simple method would be just to choose the numbers of your six favourite
seasons. This is certainly straightforward, but other considerations may come into
effect - namely the amount that you win if your numbers come up. If your favourite
seasons are, for instance, 1,5,7,12,13,14, and these are the numbers that come tumbling
out of Camelot's cement mixer on one Saturday night, there is a good chance that there
may also be a few other Doctor Who fans out there with the same numbers, reducing you
winnings somewhat. Conversely, if you have more...er...unconventional taste
(for instance including the number 24 anywhere in your six numbers) there's a
pretty good chance that you might be keeping that jackpot to yourself.
So perhaps a less orthodox approach would seem to be required, perhaps Katy Manning's
height, vital statistics and shoe size, should you happen to know them. You could take
the transmission dates of three randomly chosen episodes, for instance, 19, 12, 23, 6,
29, 12, representing "Priest of Death", "The Green Death" episode 6 and "The
Horns of Nimon" part 2. Or in a similar vein you use the numbers that make up the
birthdate of someone born before 1950 and has had some involvement in Doctor Who ,
perhaps one of the more senior Doctors, writers or prop men.
Another good method would be to try and find six numbers relating to your favourite
story. For example, my favourite story is "The Aztecs", so I could choose the
||The season that the story takes place in.
||The number of episodes of the story.
||The century that the story takes place in.
||The age of John Lucarotti when he wrote the story.
||The number of times that William Hartnell
fluffs his lines during the story.
||The budget of the story (to the nearest pound).
Alternatively, if you can't think of six numbers to do with your favourite story and
don't happen to possess a copy of the forthcoming BBC in-depth reference
guide to the height, vital statistics and shoe size of all of the companions, it may
be better just to chose six independent Doctor Who related numbers, rather than a set of
six Doctor Who related numbers. There are simply hundreds of possibilities...well,
if you want to win the lottery I suppose that there's only really 49, but there are
hundreds of reasons for choosing them. You could pick the number of a black and white
story ("The War Games" was the 50th story), the number of times that a certain
actor has appeared in Doctor Who (although Lloyd Lamble's zero here doesn't help much)
or perhaps the number of times that you've watched a certain story. Or maybe
the number of copies of the pre-recorded video of "The Twin Dilemma" that
have been sold worldwide (surely it can't be more than 49?), or perhaps the number of
JNT stories that have an old villain or monster in (I think that this one is less
than 49 - just). Or you could even count the number of times that I have used the
word 'or' in this paragraph.
However, all these are just suggestions. I will now just close with what I see as the
ultimate combination of numbers for Doctor Who fans:
||The number of words in the title of "The Massacre"
(although some supposed purists may prefer to use 6).
||The number of times that you normally have to take a Doctor Who
video back to the shops before you get a copy that hasn't got a fault.
||The number of actors to have played the Doctor. If you ignore
Trevor Martin. And Terry Walsh. And Edmund Warwick. And David Banks.
And Joe "Mr Piano" Henderson...
||The number of seasons of Doctor Who that weren't produced by John
||The number of issues to date of a certain fanzine whose
initials are "TT".
||The number of Tom Baker stories, the age of Sylvester McCoy when he
became the Doctor, the Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything
according to one of Doctor Who writers and script editors, the
average number of viewers of Season 26 and the average number of
people to die in each episode written by Eric Saward. Is that
enough reasons for you?
So there you are. If you do try these numbers, then you'll probably end up watching
that awful lottery programme to see how accurate I have been. Assuming of course, that
you are currently in Britain. However, I suppose that that is the price you have to
pay for wanting to become an instant multi-millionaire. If you use any of the suggestions
contained in this article and your numbers do come up, then you will of course remember
who gave you such valuable advice..?
Originally published in Think Tank issue 28 (Summer 1995).