Neil Gaiman reveals the Doctor Who episode that “unpeeled my mind”

Fantasy writer Neil Gaiman has brought huge joy to the creative world with his many works from The Sandman to Stardust and American Good to Good Omens and so it’s fascinating to understand some of the works that have brought similar joy to him.

And although it’s certainly no secret that Gaiman is a fan of the BBC’s long-running science fiction show Doctor Who, we recently found out a little more about the episode that really helped the writer fall in love with the series.

“Doctor Who. The final part of The War Games. It unpeeled my mind and left me in love with the infinite possibilities inherent in the story. 21st of June 1969. I was 8,” wrote Gaiman on Twitter.

Gaiman was replying to a thread that began with a picture stating “into the woods we go because kids won’t remember their best day of television.”

The Twitter thread is largely filled with people disagreeing with the sentiment and adding their own special television memories.

Gaiman’s choice, The War Games, was from season 6 of Doctor Who and starred Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor. The episode tells the story of an unnamed race led by Philip Madoc’s War Lord who kidnap and brainwash soldiers from throughout the history of conflict on Earth and send them to take part in war games on other planets. The Doctor, accompanied by his companions Jamie McCrimmon (played by Frazer Hines and Zoe Heriot (played by Wendy Padbury) for a resistance and attempt to send the soldiers back home.

The episode is notable as being the last regular appearance by Patrick Troughton in the lead role and the final episode of Doctor Who to be filmed in black and white before colour became standard.

Neil Gaiman has written episodes of Doctor Who in the past; The Doctor’s Wife and Nightmare in Silver, both of which were part of Matt Smith’s tenure as the Eleventh Doctor.

Doctor Who will return in November 2023 for three one-hour specials penned by Russell T Davies starring David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor alongside the likes of Catherine Tate as Donna Noble and Yasmin Finney as Rose. There will also be an appearance by Neil Patrick Harris as an unnamed enemy in the specials. They will be the first episodes to be broadcast as part of a new deal between the BBC and Disney to make Disney+ the streaming home of Doctor Who outside of the UK.

The special will proceed with a festive episode starring Ncuti Gatwa as the Fifteenth Doctor and Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday. Season 14 of Doctor Who is expected to play out in 2024.