Back to school time Iggles! Following our September theme of Fictional Schools, I thought I’d write a little bit about a recurring school in Doctor Who: Coal Hill School.
Now, if you don’t watch Classic Who, then you probably know this school mostly from the past season. However, it has been around for years and the Doctor has had many run ins with it throughout his jaunts through time and space.
The school first appeared in the 1963 story “The Unearthly Child” featuring the first Doctor. His granddaughter Susan was enrolled in the school and her teachers Barbara and Ian take an interest in her after noticing that while her science grades are spectacular, she has some suspicious gaps in her history knowledge. They discover the TARDIS, and end up being whisked along on an adventure back in time.
In the seventh Doctor’s tenure, the timeline was brought back to the same year that it all began at Coal Hill school for the story “Remembrance Of The Daleks”.
The Doctor visited again one regeneration later in the novel The Eight Doctors when his companion Samantha Jones was a student there before taking what I’m going to call the best gap-year ever and traveling with The Doctor for a while.
Coal Hill School appears briefly while Matt Smith played the Doctor, just to establish that Clara was employed there as a teacher. Then in Season 8, Coal Hill School plays a pretty important role. Not only is it the place where Danny and Clara (and later The Doctor) are all employed, but plenty of action takes place inside and around the school.
Why does Coal Hill School keep popping up? I think it’s just a nod to Classic Who. While there are other schools that appear in the TV show, audio books, and novels, Coal Hill seems to be the ideal school. There is enough adventure and danger to be exciting, but unlike Deffry Vale School for example, no one is unknowingly being used in a nefarious secret plan by the Krillitanes. It’s a win-win.
So Iggles, how does Coal Hill School rank in terms of fictional schools for you? Is there another school in Who that you’d rather attend? Would you rather have the Doctor as a teacher, headmaster, or caretaker? And which regeneration would you pick? I personally would have loved to have the Tenth Doctor as a history teacher (since we all know how teaching Physics went for him)!