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Hating Adric

August 27, 2015

adric

I don’t hate Adric anymore.

And let’s be clear, Adric was the most hated Doctor Who companion of all time.  That’s a matter of fact, not opinion.  Think of Jar Jar Binks, Wesley Crusher and Scrappy Doo – take an aggregate of the hatred they collectively inspired and multiply it by a very large number and you’re still nowhere close to the hatred Adric generated.  Friends of mine boasted that whooped and laughed and cheered during the silent closing credits of Earthshock.  For younger readers, Adric was Nickelback.

Every single person I knew hated him.

There was another reason why I was so intolerant of Adric.  I was in love with Nyssa.  There was nothing sordid or furtive about this love.  I was merely fixated by Sarah Sutton’s hypnotically beautiful face.

Nyssa

Any screen time devoted to Adric’s face represented a diminution of the time available to spend staring at Nyssa, and I resented Adric accordingly.  Of course, by the same logic, I ought to have resented Tegan and the Doctor himself, but like everyone else I was already committed to hating Adric, so Adric took all the blame for all the non-Nyssa screen time.

If the Peter Davison era had included an episode entitled Let’s Not Have Any Adventures This Week Let’s Just Stare At Nyssa, then the teenage me would have been more than happy.

Hating Adric reminds me of when I was too insecure to feel sympathy (rather than empathy) for a victim of bullying.  It didn’t help of course that Adric did everything he could to attract bullies.  If you can’t bring yourself to take off the badge for mathematical excellence you could at least try to stop talking about it every five minutes.

Now there’s nothing wrong with an unsympathetic companion.  I rather enjoyed Turlough as a companion.  Turlough was someone you were supposed to distrust, someone you were allowed to find creepy, right up to his very belated redemption.

So a big part of the problem is that John Nathan Turner wanted us all to love Adric.  He took the view that we just needed to get to know him better.  So Adric became a bit like that kid who your parents always wanted you to spend a bit more time with.  “Have you heard – Adric’s back from his holidays…  why don’t you pop round to Adric’s house – you should spend more time with Adric” etc. etc. etc. (Note Jane Fairfax from Jane Austen’s Emma.)

I think the slightly scary truth is, that I hated this irritating and pompous adolescent when I was myself an irritating and pompous adolescent.  Now that I’m old enough to be Adric’s dad, I’m far more tolerant of him.  He was lost and confused and didn’t fit in anywhere.  He rebelled against the rule of the Deciders, but the rebels didn’t think much of him either.  He didn’t even belong in our universe.  He died while trying to show off.

This leads me to the conclusion that empathy is not always a good thing.  Empathy is not always the broad highway to tolerance and reconciliation.  Empathy risks exposing identifications that are troubling.  In short, as an annoying and self obsessed teenager, Adric was too close for comfort, so I joined the baying mob.  At an age when you are worried about fitting in, worried that your clothes are wrong, your taste in music is wrong, your every thought and impulse might be wrong – it is perversely comforting to find some point of critical unanimity, some point of common affirmation.  Hating Adric provided that one solid assurance of consensus.

I will never love Adric.  But I no longer love the version of me that hated him.  This might be the closest thing to spiritual growth that I’ve ever achieved of the past few decades.

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