The religious cult featured in False Gods came from two sources. First, a programme I happened to catch on TV late one evening with a title like ‘FBI Files’ or ‘FBI True Crimes’ or something of that nature, which featured a man who claimed to be a Messiah and was in fact little more than a charismatic thug who had those who opposed him murdered. Second, a slightly less deadly but no less sinister cult running in the North-East of England which a friend of mine investigated for his final year journalism degree thesis. The latter, believed, along with the usual extremist ideas that sex before marriage, homosexuality, and just about every other kind of freedom of personal choice was evil, held that the media was the work of the devil, and all forms of media technology such as TV, radio, computers, should be avoided. My response to that was to ask where these so-called Christians would be if there was a disaster like the Indonesian tsunami, in which Christian’s and non-Christians alike worked to relieve suffering. Without access to the TV, radio or internet, how would they even KNOW of such disasters. The response was that they believed such things to be God’s judgement on the victims for wickedness and they therefore didn’t DESERVE help. I also put forward my belief that TV was not as bad as they made out. For all the rubbish that is on it, it IS possible to find truly inspirational things there, too. For example, Doctor Who.

So, with those examples of disturbing cults in mind, I created the Children of Ephraim and their leader, Abba. Apart from the Swedish Eurovision reference, Abba DOES mean father in Aramaic, the language that Jesus Christ would have spoken in daily life. It is used in the bible with that meaning. The disciples of Jesus used it to address Him. ‘Abba’ taking the name is making a statement about himself from the start.

Then there are the Goth friends who Susan comes to visit, only to find that one of her dearest friends has been killed by Abba or his followers. Now, Goth people tend to have a bad press. They are perceived as depressive self-harmers obsessed with the macabre. But that is far from the truth. Goths deserve a better deal than they get as a “sub-culture”.

Dressing The Doctor ‘Goth’ was an idea that came from a total stranger who passed me in the street one day. He was about David Tennant’s height and size, and wearing a full length leather coat ornately tooled with geometric symbols. It must have been a VERY expensive coat and the wearer looked proud of it. And I just had a perfect vision of The Doctor with a little eyeliner to create the ‘look’ dressed just that way.

Chas’s death – obviously, it was not suicide. What The Doctor knew within a minute of looking at the body didn’t need a Time Lord to work out. Any trainee in a hospital mortuary could have determined that cuts like that were not self inflicted for the reasons I detailed in the story. That made it clear that this was something more sinister from the beginning.

The Doctor’s neat trick with the Molotov cocktail just served to emphasise that he is something a bit special, before he went off to find out what was going on with the Children of Ephraim, and just who Abba was.

And the truth was right up his alley. A bodiless alien entity called a Miridannan whose object was to take over Human bodies as carriers for its own kind. Abba’s real Human name is Reugene Pratt. Reugene is, allegedly, a customer service operative at MSN. He is one of the people who writes meaningless excuses when the MSN system isn’t working properly. There is a body of opinion that there are no such people at all and the names are made up. But just in case they aren’t, I decided to eviscerate them in fiction, as the character of ‘Chaucer’ says of his enemies in the film A Knight’s Tale. Reugene gets his come uppance here. Shiony is a minor civil servant on Gallifrey, Alvin gets his in another place. Hext is another, but he actually becomes a bit of a hero in Theta Sigma because everyone liked his character enough to let him stop being a villain and reform. But the rest of them get no such chance of redemption.

And nor does Reugene in this story. Although his body was taken over he was a willing accomplice to the alien, and The Doctor punishes both with the same kind of cool, unbending sense of justice he is seen using in the end of Family of Blood, where the aliens regret their taste of The Doctor’s ‘kindness’ to them.

The song The Doctor quotes when they're getting ready to go out of the TARDIS is by The Dead Can Dance, a Goth group.

Dont fade away
My brown-eyed girl
Come walk with me
Ill fill your heart with joy
And well dance through our isolation
Seeking solace in the wisdom we bestow
Turning thoughts to the here and everafter
Consuming fears in our fiery halos

Say what you mean
Mean what you say
Ive heard that innocence
Has led us all astray

But dont let them make you and break you
The world is filled with their broken empty
Silence is their only virtue
Locked away inside their silent screams

But for now
Let us dance away
This starry night
Filled with the glow of fiery stars
And with the dawn
Our sun will rise
Bringing a symphony of bird cries

Dont bring me down now
Let me stay here for awhile
You know lifes too short
Let me bathe here in your smile
Im transcending
The fall from the garden