SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains SPOILERS for the Doctor Who Series 11 premiere. Proceed at your own risk.
One of the best things about the Doctor Who Series 11 premiere is Bradley Walsh. Not only is his character, Graham O’Brien – one of three new companions for Jodie Whittaker’s all-new Doctor — likeable, real, hugely sympathetic and ultimately tragic, but also Walsh’s delivery is comedy gold. He’s hilarious – and we’re looking forward to seeing him steal every scene he’s in as the series progresses over the next 10 weeks in its brand new time slot. Bradley Walsh: putting the fun back into S(f)undays since October 7, 2018. Here are the best of Walsh’s lines from the series premiere.
Learning to Ride
It’s established right at the start of the Series 11 premiere that Bradley Walsh’s Graham O’Brien is trying hard to fill the granddad role to Tosin Cole’s Ryan Sinclair. Ryan’s close bond with his nan, Grace (Sharon D. Clarke), means that he struggles to accept his grandmother’s marriage of three years to Graham, much less allow him in as his step-grandfather.
But Graham copes admirably. He clearly cares a lot for Ryan but never tries too hard – which shows he’s genuine and a stand-up guy. Dyspraxic teenager Ryan is still trying to learn to ride a bike. On an outing with Grace and Graham to try and get to grips with cycling, Ryan comes off his bicycle. Frustrated, he hurls the bike off a cliff, and it lands in a tree below.
After, Graham says in classic deadpan Bradley Walsh style, “Anyway, you’re on your own getting that bike. Because our train leaves in 20 minutes.” Still laughing.
On the Train
When Grace and Graham are cosying up to one another on the train (yep, they made it), Grace says of Graham to a fellow passenger: “[He] can’t keep his hands off me”.
To which Graham responds in embarrassment: “Be’ave yourself!” as he looks around, stunned. His smile afterwards is priceless.
After Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor crashes onto the train and starts talking about the electronic/organic hybrid creature that arrived at the same time, which Ryan buys into, Graham says to Ryan: “Don’t be daft, there’s no such thing as aliens. Anyway, even if there was, they ain’t gonna be on a train in Sheffield.”
The Doctor responds, “Why not? I’m alien and I’m here.”
Graham pauses, for the EXACT RIGHT AMOUNT OF TIME, looks at the Doctor, then turns away: “Grace. We’re going.”
Consulting Former Colleagues
After offering to go and ask his former bus driver colleagues whether they’ve seen anything unusual that night – because bus drivers know everything about what’s going on, of course — Graham says, “Seriously, though, aliens? Yeah, maybe I won’t mention that bit.”
Alien Number Two
After the Doctor heads off to pursue a second alien — the episode’s fearsome Predator-like main antagonist — Graham exclaims incredulously, “Why is she running at another alien?!”
Then, as the others follow, he adds, “Now you’re all running at it!”
Fight, Fight, Fight
When the Doctor posits her first theory that the two aliens are here because they’re “two species at war using Earth as a battleground”, Graham translates it hilariously into plain (Cockney) English: “So you’re saying that the creature on the train and the thing that come out of here [indicates alien pod], they’re now looking for each other, spoiling for a scrap?” Classic Walsh.
The Doctor’s Provocation
After the Doctor repeatedly calls the hostile alien Tim Shaw, deliberately, antagonistically, mispronouncing his name, and he becomes increasingly annoyed as he’s trying to communicate what a big deal he is, she says to the human tooth-covered foe: “When you say ‘soon-to-be-leader’, what are you now, the office junior?”
At which point, Graham interjects, “What? Eh? Don’t wind him up!”
As Episode 1 draws to a close, the Doctor makes a concerted effort to find the Tardis. She formulates a plan that incorporates a bit of clever but clunky science to help reunite her with her with her beloved spacecraft. Using her new companions to help, she gives Graham the task of clinging onto a car battery, which she attaches to a microwave.
But Graham brings us — and proceedings — right back down to earth again when he says, “How long have we got to stand here for? I’m getting cramp.”
Basically, Graham is us. He’s the sceptical version of us; the down-to-earth, regular Joe; the incredulous observer we’d all be in his situation. He’s the normal person to whom extraordinary stuff is happening. His role is as the point of identification, and he serves to point out the strangeness and/or ridiculousness of the show’s interstellar phenomena, and in doing so, he acts as the filter through which we see things. He helps the audience to suspend their disbelief, and in drawing attention to the hard-to-believe goings-on taking place within ordinary settings (Sheffield) and among normal people (him, and his fellow companions) he helps us to buy into what’s happening. In this way, he also brings the comedy – ably assisted by his own brilliant delivery. Can’t wait to see more of Graham O’Brien.
Catch Doctor Who Series 11 on Sundays.