How does the Doctor’s experience of intergalactic death care compare with our earthly experiences? What would he think of arrangements in an average high street chain?
In the 1985 Doctor Who episode ‘Revelation of the Daleks’, loosely based on Evelyn Waugh’s ‘The Loved One’, we learn a little about the Doctor’s attitude to funerals. He is an existentialist believing that when you die that’s it.
The story is set in the Tranquil Repose Funeral Home on the planet Necros. Renowned for their funeral arrangements for the galaxy's elite, the deceased are placed into suspended animation until a ‘cure’ for their death is found and they are returned to life. These people are called the ‘Resting Ones’. But all is not well, the Tranquil Repose has been taken over by the evil Davros who is using the deceased in the storage hub to make new Daleks.
What on Earth is this? Well it's not actually from Earth, it's from the Time Lord's own planet Gallifrey. It means 'simple natural beautiful' - our motto - in their language Circular Gallifreyan.
While your body is ‘suspended’ you can opt to have music and information played to you by ‘The DJ’ to keep you abreast of music trends and news. You don’t want to be out of date when you come back do you? For a bit extra the DJ can read messages from your loved ones to you to keep you updated with family events. And then there’s the memorial statue.
In the Garden of Fond Memories is a statue of the Doctor, made of polystyrene but sold as stone. Davros has put it there with the intention of killing the Doctor. The Doctor stares at it and declares “No, no, this is dreadful. Do you realise how much a thing like this would cost …… America doesn’t have the monopoly on bad taste”. He turns his back on the statue and it collapses on top of him. Jobel appears “I am Jobel. I am very important here, I am the Chief Embalmer”. The Doctor replies “Are you touting for business? The Doctor pushes the statue off himself stating “It’s all part of an elaborate theatrical effect”. Tasambeker later stabs Jobel in the heart and is himself killed by a Dalek.
The then Dr Who, Colin Baker, stands in front of his own memorial in the episode ‘Revelation of the Daleks’.
“Planets come and go. Stars perish. Matter disperses, coalesces, forms into other patterns, other worlds. Nothing can be eternal.” – The Sixth Doctor, Colin Baker.
So it’s a natural burial for Doctor Who then, when he stops regenerating.