Letter from the UK: Doctor Who, the Technical Communicator

by Ellis Pratt on 20 December 2013

It’s almost Christmas and, in the UK, that means it’s not long until the Doctor Who Christmas episode will be on TV.

Doctor Who is a British science-fiction television programme that is today popular throughout the world. Since the show began in 1963, the Doctor has been exploring the universe in his TARDIS, a sentient time-travelling space ship.

Travelling with him have been a number of companions (mostly from Britain), who have often needed the Doctor to explain what they are experiencing and what they should be doing.

The TARDIS Instruction Manual

According to the TARDIS Data Core wiki, the Doctor’s TARDIS has an instruction manual. Although it’s been used to escape from various dangers, the Doctor’s failure to heed the instructions led to numerous attempts to work the TARDIS controls properly backfiring on him. This was sometimes because the Doctor disagreed with the manual. The Fourth Doctor tore out one of its pages and the Eleventh Doctor even threw it into a supernova.

Doctor Who, the Technical Communicator?

As a technical communicator, I’m afraid the Doctor has a mixed track record. Let me illustrate.

Sometimes, he’s given the impression the subject matter is too complex for our small brains:

At other times, it seems he’s not sure exactly how to explain what’s going on:

In his defence, the concepts can be really quite hard for anyone to understand:

Maybe it’s an activity that’s impossible even for the Doctor?

However, there’s one instruction he’s very good at giving:

What do you think?

Would the Doctor make a good technical communicator? Would you like to write an instruction guide for the TARDIS?

And Happy Christmas!

Ellis Pratt is director at Cherryleaf, a UK technical writing services company. Ranked the most the influential blogger on technical communication in Europe, Ellis is a specialist in the field of creating clear and simple information users will love.

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