Doctor Who’s five best and most bonkers musical moments, from Spice Girls to The Goblin Song
Doctor Who has long been known for its chaotic camp energy and nothing encapsulates this better than the musical numbers scattered throughout the iconic BBC sci-fi series.
Returning showrunner Russell T Davies certainly seems to love ensure that a banging soundtrack accompanies the hit British TV favourite: That was made clear early on in the season one reboot when “Toxic” by Britney Spears and Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” played as “traditional Earth ballads” while the planet burned in “The End of the World”, set in the year five billion.
In recent years the show has had a particular penchant for including needle drops, dance breaks and powerhouse musical scenes for its characters, especially the villains. At this point, it’s amazing that there hasn’t been a dedicated musical episode as some sci-fi fantasy shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer – have famously done.
In a recent interview, Davies explained why he loved giving his Doctor Who antagonists a spectacular musical number as they enact their evil plans.
“In all great pop music, there’s a savagery to it… It’s like in the middle of a song, people are being slaughtered. It’s pure Doctor Who, isn’t it?” he said during the episode commentary for “The Giggle”, the third of three 60th anniversary specials.
“I’m always using pop music like that. There’s a darkness in there somewhere. The relentlessness, that’s the word. There’s a ruthlessness to pop music.”
So, count us in as we celebrate rank the five best musical Doctor Who moments…
5. ‘My Angel Put the Devil in Me’ from ‘Daleks in Manhattan’ (2007)
We feel bad putting the only musical number not performed by one of The Doctor’s enemies at the bottom of this list, but it falls just short in the face of some truly stellar – and villainous – competition.
We also apologise because Tallulah Francis’ dazzling cabaret performance of “My Angel Put the Devil in Me” is a standout moment from the season three episode “Daleks in Manhattan”.
The glittering outfits, the sultry (and gorgeously synchronised) choreography and dreamy encapsulation of 1930s New York all blend together to make this a performance to remember.
Kind-hearted, devilishly smart and supremely talented on stage, is there anything Tallulah “Three ‘l’s and an ‘H'” Francis, played by Miranda Raison, can’t do? We think not. Well, aside from topping this ranking, of course.
4. ‘Ra Ra Rasputin’ from ‘The Power of the Doctor’ (2022)
Sacha Dhawan brought an undeniable charm and delicious madness to his version of The Master opposite the 13th Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), and we saw him in all his unhinged glory during his show-stopping dance break to Boney M’s “Rasputin” in the epic season finale “The Power of the Doctor” in October 2022.
Fitted with limb-bending choreography, terrifying shrieking, sick beat drops and an evil plan to top it all off, it’s top-tier entertainment and intrinsically Doctor Who, through and through.
3. ‘The Goblin Song’ from ‘The Church on Ruby Road’ (2023)
Now, admittedly the Disney-assisted budget and production value bolsters this musical number but we have to give credit where credit’s due for the original lyrics and live singing.
There are plenty of soon-to-be-legendary moments, from the ‘mother’ with the microphone serving badass vocals on stage to the gag-worthy line, “He can eat me, he makes me swoon” that one of the thirsty creatures sings about the Goblin King.
However, although it may have climbed to the top of the iTunes chart (seriously, it even beat Mariah Carey), it will have to do a lot more than that to break into our final two.
2. ‘Spice Up Your Life’ from ‘The Giggle’ (2023)
Placing Neil Patrick Harris’ musical number as The Toymaker in “The Giggle” as runner-up was not an easy choice given that his performance is truly spectacular, high-camp and unnerving in equal measures.
The Toymaker was lip-syncing for his (and everyone in the building’s) life as he went on a tyrannical rampage while dancing to 90s classic “Spice Up Your Life” by the Spice Girls, dressed in a classic toy soldier’s uniform. A murderous musical number for the ages.
1. ‘I Can’t Decide’ from ‘Last of the Time Lords’ (2007)
A controversial pick for the win, but just forcing its way to victory is John Simm’s inspired performance to Scissor Sisters hit “I Can’t Decide” in the season four finale “Last of the Time Lords”.
Put simply, “I Can’t Decide” walked so “Spice Up Your Life” could run, and we would be nowhere without it. The song perfectly captures Simm’s maniacal take on The Master opposite David Tennant’s (aged-up) 10th Doctor.
He’s a Teletubbies lover, king of needle drops (who can forget the moment he blasted Rogue Traders’ “Voodoo Child” while the Earth is being ravaged), and the true embodiment of a crazed villain.
It’s camp and crazy, and, tragically, many Whovians have been criminally deprived of the full scene over the years after it was left out of certain streaming versions. Some may think it is dispensable, but we certainly don’t. This is a John Simm stan page only.
All seasons of Doctor Who are available to stream on BBC iPlayer. The Christmas special airs on BBC One on 25 December from 5.55pm and streams globally on Disney+.
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