Something else that After Life brought to my attention: the Eleventh Doctor’s kindness.
After their initial brief and chaotic meeting, the Doctor returns to Alice because he thought she looked sad. She is sad, terribly sad; he makes her a cup of tea, and in her words:
“He didn’t make silly remarks, or condescend, or judge, or pity, or act like he was the most important one in the room. He just listened.”
Of the modern Doctors at least, only the Eleventh Doctor ever listened. Only Eleven ever hugged a sobbing companion and offered words of comfort (‘Vincent and the Doctor’). Mostly the Doctor has no time for human feeling; only Eleven ever put aside his own self-importance to make room for another’s grief. It’s a trait he shares with his strongest influence, the Second Doctor.
From ‘Tomb of the Cybermen:’
- Doctor: You miss [your father] very much, don’t you?
Victoria: It’s only when I close my eyes. I can still see him standing there, before those horrible Dalek creatures came to the house. He was a very kind man, I shall never forget him. Never.
Doctor: No, of course you won’t. But, you know, the memory of him won’t always be a sad one.
Victoria: I think it will. You can’t understand, being so ancient… You probably can’t remember your family.
Doctor: Oh yes, I can when I want to. And that’s the point, really. I have to really want to, to bring them back in front of my eyes. The rest of the time they… they sleep in my mind and I forget. And so will you. Oh yes, you will. You’ll find there’s so much else to think about. To remember. Our lives are different to anybody else’s. That’s the exciting thing, that nobody in the universe can do what we’re doing.
No wonder Twelve was such a shock.