Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Tale of Four('s) Scarves

Right, now you have your Fourth Doctor hat, it's time for the most famous part of the ensemble: the scarf.

But it's not quite as simple as that.  Did you know there were four different scarves used during Tom Baker's seven-year tenure as the Doctor?  And that one of them was chopped down three successive times, combined with another, and finally rearranged and given patches and new tassels?

(That would be the original scarf, by the way, cut down following the taping of "The Sontaran Experiment" (1975), again following "Revenge of the Cybermen" (1975), and yet again after "The Seeds of Doom" (1976).  A duplicate was made for "The Android Invasion" (1976) for a fight scene between the Doctor and his evil doppelgänger.  That scarf and the original were then combined at the start of Season 16 (1978) to form one enormous scarf.  This was finally rearranged and repaired for the unfinished story "Shada" (1979), made its televised premier in repurposed footage from that story in "The Five Doctors" (1983), and last appeared on the show worn by Ace in "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy" (1988).  I told you it wasn't simple.)

Where can you go to find out exactly which scarf, in exactly what configuration, was used in your favorite Fourth Doctor story?  (And if you say it's "The Talons of Weng-Chiang," where he doesn't wear his scarf, I'm going to slap you.)

You can go to the Doctor Who: The Scarf website, at the conveniently intuitive URL http://www.doctorwhoscarf.com.

The site contains diagrams of the various scarves, in their various guises.  To the left is the original version, seen only in "Robot" and "The Sontaran Experiment."  The numbers represent the number of rows.  (The story in between, "The Ark in Space," was actually taped after "Sontaran," meaning that, as seen on television, the Doctor's scarf lost the grey section marked "44" at left, grew it back, then lost it again.  Maybe the Doctor's wardrobe regenerates, too.  We know his buccaneer boots turned into shoes between "Logopolis" and "Castrovalva."  But I digress.)

For those wanting to create their own scarves, there are also best and alternate choices for wool to match the color and texture of the real thing(s), some knitting instructions regarding stitch, how to change colors, and how to make the tassels.

To see that his instructions are accurate, check out his section of photos of his own work, including one of his Season 16 scarf next to the genuine article (as it were).  And when you're done, your photo can join the gallery of user-created scarves.

If you're like me (and, as always, if you are, I'm so, so sorry), you can wear the scarf your grandmother knitted you in 1983 from the "official" BBC pattern (based on the Season 13 duplicate... although now that I compare my scarf against the chart, either the pattern left out two grey sections, or my grandmother did), or the Season 18 scarf you bought on eBay in 2008, and just revel in all the nerdy informational goodness.

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