Neil Patrick Harris as the Toymaker in Doctor Who's "The Giggle"

I’d Like To Thank ‘Doctor Who’ for Recognizing One of the Spice Girls’ Best Songs

I love a good Doctor Who needle drop. Most of the time, they come out of nowhere, remind you of a song you haven’t heard in ages, and add just the right amount of camp to any given scene or episode. They are a joy to behold, and the one included in “The Giggle,” the last of Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary specials, is no exception.

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Now, the Toymaker, perhaps better identified as the Celestial Toymaker, is a terrifying villain. He’s essentially unstoppable. His powers are unknown but seemingly limitless, the Timelords had no idea where he came from, and yet, despite all this potential, all he really likes to do is ensnare and torture his targets by playing silly little games. So, naturally, to make Neil Patrick Harris’ horrifying version of the Toymaker even scarier, his grand entrance in UNIT’s headquarters involved him dancing and lip-synching along to the Spice Girls’ iconic number “Spice Up Your Life.”

I mean, really, what else was he expected to do?

Of course, this isn’t the first time a Doctor Who villain has brightened up our lives while performing a choreographed routine to a popular song, or used music to destroy the world. The Master, especially, is a big fan of pop music. Who can forget the time he used “Voodoo Child” by the Rogue Traders to rain destruction down on Earth? Or, just after that, when he danced to the Scissor Sisters’ “I Can’t Decide” just to torment his captives? (Though, sadly, this sequence seems to have been removed from the streaming version of the show in the U.S.) Of course, one can’t ignore the Master’s iconic dance to Boney M.’s “Rasputin” during Jodie Whittaker’s run as the Doctor, either. There’s just something so deliciously twisted and messy about a villain dancing along to pop music that gets me every time.

And, before anyone thinks I’ve forgotten, a special mention must go out to Doctor Who’s use of “Toxic” by Britney Spears in the first season of NuWho. I’m still not sure the show will ever be able to top that moment, though it’s certainly come close.

The song choice is what makes the scene—and “Spice Up Your Life” was definitely the right choice for “The Giggle.” The Spice Girls are a British institution, and any song by them is bound to fit in with Doctor Who, but “Spice Up Your Life” has long been a personal favorite of mine. Like millions of others, I was obsessed with the Spice Girls when I was a kid. As a five-year-old, “Wannabe” was, predictably, my favorite. But now, as a somewhat wiser adult woman, I can recognize that “Spice Up Your Life” is just so much fun. Despite some rough lyrics, the song’s energy is unmatched, and it immediately makes you want to dance. The Toymaker clearly agrees with me.

I just love the idea that this all-powerful being enjoys the Spice Girls as much as the rest of the world; enough to know the lyrics and choreograph a violent dance to one of their songs. He has good taste and a great sense of rhythm. Who knew you could twirl someone into a wall with enough force to practically knock them out and time it perfectly? This was the best way to showcase the Toymaker’s astounding abilities and his unnerving personality. An excellent performance, to be sure.

Now, if Russell T. Davies ever wants to include another Spice Girls song in a future episode—perhaps when the Master makes their inevitable return—might I suggest “Who Do You Think You Are”? That disco-inspired bop is sure to make any scene with a Doctor Who villain just as memorable as the one in “The Giggle.”

(featured image: BBC)


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El Kuiper
El (she/her) is The Mary Sue's U.K. editor and has been working as a freelance entertainment journalist for over two years, ever since she completed her Ph.D. in Creative Writing. El's primary focus is television and movie coverage for The Mary Sue, including British TV (she's seen every episode of Midsomer Murders ever made) and franchises like Marvel and Pokémon. As much as she enjoys analyzing other people's stories, her biggest dream is to one day publish an original fantasy novel of her own.