The Pan-Galactic Song Contest


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1. Chapter 1

NOVEMBER 2007:

 

“That was ‘Surfin’ USA’ by the Beach Boys. In a few moments I’ll be handing over to Ken Bruce but don’t forget Children in Need tonight. Seven Thirty PM, BBC1. Remember every penny you give goes to help desperate children. Now I’ll leave you with this year’s charity single ‘Hope for Children’.” Broadcasting legend Terry Wogan removed his headphones and prepared to leave the studio. As he did so, a large filing cabinet suddenly materialised behind him. A man and a woman climbed out of it, pulled Wogan back into his chair and dragged him, kicking and yelling back into the cabinet, which disappeared as suddenly as it had arrived.

 

  Martha Jones sat in her living room, the stereo on full blast. The Doctor had told her he needed to go away and do something by himself. Martha had wanted to come too, but he had refused. “Fine,” she’d replied. “I don’t need your rotten TARDIS anyway.”

Now  she wished she hadn’t been so hasty. She’d only known him for what – a few weeks? Hundreds of years? She hadn’t realised she could miss him so much. If only he was back. “Doctor!” she yelled, above the noise of the stereo. “Doctor!”

  Almost on cue, the familiar blue telephone box materialised in front of the television, and the Doctor stepped out.

  “You called, my lady.”

  “Doctor!” Martha ran to him and hugged him. “I’ve missed you so much.”

  “I’ve finished what I needed to do,” the Doctor replied. “So I thought you’d be glad of my company again.” He paused for a moment and listened to the stereo. “Do you call this music?”

  “Of course,” replied Martha, offended. “Don’t you have anything like this in outer space?”

  “Actually, we do,” replied the Doctor. “The PanGalactic Song Contest.”

  “Wow,” commented Martha. “Sounds impressive.”

  “I’ll take you there,” suggested the Doctor. “Pick a year. Any after 29437 AD will do.”

 

  The TARDIS appeared in a large television studio. An audience was made up of aliens, some of which Martha recognised, but most she did not. “Look,” said the Doctor. “There are two seats over there.” Martha glanced across.

  “Ugh!” she said, noticing a large orange creature with at least fourteen pairs of arms. “I’m not sitting next to that.”

  “Don’t worry,” replied the Doctor. “It’s an Alcatharnian Quadtridecapod. They’re harmless – but definitely not armless.” He laughed at his own joke, then continued. “In my first life I went to school with one called Zark Klisserdork. In fact, could it be, yes…. Zark …. Long time no see.”

   The Quadtridecapod turned towards him. “Ah, Doctor,” he commented in an oily voice. “I didn’t recognise you for a minute, regeneration and all that, but then I noticed your TARDIS over there. I see you’ve still not fixed the camouflage circuit.”

   “Zark, may I introduce my companion. Martha Jones, human.”

   “Human, we don’t see many of you in these parts. Pleased to meet you.” Zark extended his hands one at a time to let Martha shake them all. They had barely finished this ritual when the lights dimmed.

    “Gathered galactic races, we welcome you to the Pan Galactic Song Contest 29778 AD. Please welcome your host, Terence Wogan.”

     To the applause of the audience, a white, coffin-like box rose up out of the floor. A cloud of nitrogen spread out from the box as its lid was opened, revealing the man himself lying there. As the mist cleared, he stood up, the box disappearing back into the stage.

      “Brings a whole new meaning to ‘Wake up with Wogan’,” giggled Martha as an alien led Wogan to a lectern covered in sheets of paper. “But what’s he doing here?”

      “Here we are again for another evening of the universe’s greatest music,” began Wogan in a sarcastic tone that was lost on the entire audience. “And what a range of music we have for you tonight, if indeed music is the right word. And so to our first act. Kliv from the planet Skarow.”

      A Dalek rolled on to the stage to great applause, an orchestra struck up and the Dalek began what passed for singing on its planet.

 

            “Ex-ter-min-a-tions

            To-all-the-na-tions

            I-want-the-earth-to-know-how-dead-they’re-gonna-be.

 

            Ex-ter-min-a-tions

            No-hes-i-ta-tions

            The-Doc-tor-will-be-dead-by-half-past-three.”

 

     “Charming,” noted the Doctor, glancing anxiously at his watch, as the Dalek continued to sing. Kliv completed the song and left the stage in a volley of ray gun fire.

      “The word music does not do justice to what we have just heard,” commented Wogan. “It’s surprising what you can do with a sink plunger and an egg whisk. But our next act are ready. Please put however many sets of hands you have together for the Cybermen.” Zark clapped loudly, as could only be expected of someone with seventeen pairs of arms, as a Cyberman entered the stage, arms and legs gyrating wildly.

 

            “You have switched all my circuits around

             Now I can’t do a thi-ing

            Because I am under you-ur control

            Like a robot on a string….”

 

   The acts rolled on, all three hundred and twelve of them. For Zark, the highlight was clearly when his brother Quyg sang a rousing rendition of “You need hands.” At last the performances came to an end. “The ordeal is finally over,” announced Wogan. “After the news the voting will begin, and we will find out who has won the PanGalactic Song Contest 29778, if indeed any of them deserve to, which is doubtful.” The stage lights dimmed and the house lights went up.

    “What do you think of it so far?” asked the Doctor.

    “It’s certainly different,” replied Martha. “Although I’m sure I’ve heard some of the songs before somewhere.”

    A human-looking creature walked over to where the Doctor and Martha were sitting.

    “Doctor. Good to see you again. And your delightful companion.”

    “Producer, this is Martha Jones. Martha, this is The Producer. A Time Lord like myself, he has always had a penchant for entertaining.”

    “Pleased to meet you,” smiled Martha, doubtfully.

    “I visited Earth several times in the late twentieth century,” explained the Producer. “Each time the highlight of my visit was watching the Eurovision Song Contest on television. Eventually I hit on the idea of holding a Pan-Galactic equivalent.”

    “Complete with Terry Wogan. I presume he’s some sort of holographic reproduction.”

    “No, my dear,” replied The Producer. “He is the genuine article. Brought out of cryogenic suspension at the start of each performance.”

    Martha looked puzzled and decided to change the subject.

    “Why were there no human acts?” she asked.

    “My dear,” answered the Producer. “Would you really want the likes of Gemini beamed all across the Universe? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I really must get back to work.” With that he turned and walked away.

    Martha glanced down into the auditorium. During the news break, a long line of tables had been set up, behind which all the singers and Terry Wogan were sat, signing autographs. She grasped her programme.

    “I’m just going to get some autographs, Doctor, I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

 

    Understandably, the queue for Quyg’s autograph was shortest. As well as having seventeen pairs of arms, it appeared he was also ambidextrous so he was able to sign thirty four autographs simultaneously. At the other end of the spectrum, Kliv was discovering that writing did not come easily to a Dalek. Martha decided to get Quyg’s autograph first, a rather unusual loopy signature in green ink. She thanked him and began to turn away.

    “It’s a long time since I saw a human face.” Martha turned again to face the familiar voice. Terry Wogan sat behind the table, next to Quyg, with a long queue of autograph-hunters. “Come here, I’ll sign your programme for you. Stand aside, please, and let the young lady in.” The queue, charmed by the Irish brogue, stepped aside as Martha approached the table and Wogan signed her programme. He seemed to be taking a long time over it. Eventually he passed it back to her. Martha read what he had written and was so shocked she immediately ran back to where the Doctor was sitting.

    “Doctor! Look at this!”

    Martha showed the Doctor what Wogan had written.

    “I have been kidnapped and brought here. Please help me get home. Wogan.”

   

    In the TV control room, the Producer watched the monitors. He noticed Martha running up the steps.

     “What’s she doing that for? Has he said something to her…..What did he write in her programme?” He turned to Zorb, his assistant. “Close in on her programme. I want to see what he wrote…..” He swore under his breath as he saw what Wogan had written, then spoke into his mouthpiece.

    “All performers. The Doctor is in the crowd. He and his assistant must be eliminated.”

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