"Oh, the blossomiest blossom!" exclaims the Thirteenth Doctor. She is just about to regenerate. Her last will and testament, at least until Big Finish get started on the licensed spin-offs.
In March, 1994, legendary TV playwright Dennis Potter was interviewed by very-nearly-as-legendary journalist and broadcaster Melvin Bragg. It would be Potter's last interview: he had advanced pancreatic cancer, and had asked his doctors to come up with a regimen which would give him the best chance of completing his last two plays (as opposed to necessarily prolonging his life). During the interview, he famously said that his awareness of mortality made ordinary things seem hyper-real.
"At this season, the blossom is out in full now … and instead of saying 'Oh that's nice blossom' … last week looking at it through the window when I'm writing, I see it is the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom that there ever could be, and I can see it."
So. The Time Lord and the Playwright both independently had the same thought. Blossom is a common enough symbol of mortality, after all. A.E Housman famously decided to go on more frequent woodland rambles when he realised he would probably be dead in only fifty years or so. But can it be coincidence that the Doctor and Dennis Potter should have expressed the same thought in nearly the same words?
It is fairly normal in informal English to turn nouns into adjectives by adding the suffix -y. If something is catty, it has the qualities of a cat. This is a recurrent gag in the pun rounds of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.
Similarly, you can generally make a superlative by adding -est to an adjective. "Good-est", "evil-est" and "Republican-est" may not be strictly grammatical, but we understand what they mean. And it is fairly common to do both together: turn a noun into an adjective and then turn the adjective into a superlative. Andrew writes a very bloggy blog; Andrew's blog is the bloggy-est blog you've ever come across. The cheesiest cheese; the creamiest cream; and the chocolateyest chocolate are fairly common advertising formulations.
But directly adding -est to a noun is relatively unusual. Dennis Potter coined "blossom-est" as a nonce-word; the Thirteenth Doctor uses the much more conventional "blossomy-est".
"Well, the colours were deeper and richer than you could possibly imagine. Yes, that was the daisiest daisy I'd ever seen....So, later, I got up and I ran down that mountain and I found that the rocks weren't grey at all, but they were red, brown and purple and gold. And those pathetic little patches of sludgy snow, they were shining white."
As a matter of fact, the word "daisy" is a corruption of "day's eye", but the word could be understood as an adjective, referring to an object with the quality of "dais". Robert Sloman (who wrote the Time Monster) has punningly imagined that if a flower can be "daisy" it could also be "daisy-er" and "daisy-est". (It's the same kind of joke as the one which says that since there is one actor called Tom Holland and another actor called Tom Hollander, there must logically be a third actor somewhere called Tom Hollandest.) It may have originally just been a matter of convenience. It would have been easy enough for Jon Pertwee to say "the buttercuppy-est buttercup" or "tulipy-est tulip" but "daisy-ey-est daisy" would have been quite a mouthful. But we have up with is a striking image of an object which has the quality of being itself to the greatest possible degree: the idea of a state in which reality becomes more real. The idea of an object possessing its own attributes to the greatest possible degree.
There is no reason on earth that Dennis Potter and Robert Sloman could not independently have observed that intense emotional states make the world seem more vivid; and no particular reason that they might not both have chosen to describe that experience in terms of flowers. But it is quite a coincidence that Potter chose to say "blossom-est" when he could quite easily have said "blossomey-est".
But Chibnall has remembered the scene incorrectly. I think that he thinks that the Third Doctor told Jo that what Cho-Je showed him was "the blossom-est blossom". He thinks he is quoting Jon Pertwee, but he is actually quoting Dennis Potter -- and he hasn't even remembered Potter's quite correctly.
So. Power of the Doctor. A story made up of memories. Quotations. Motifs. References. Fan fiction. Fan service. Celebration. Reunion. One last bow before the final curtain. One half of fandom is cross because Tom Baker (88) didn't show up. The other half is cross because William Russell (98) did.
A long dead TV series, as remembered by a middle-aged man; vague actors vaguely repeating decades old catch phrases, ending with a confused centenarian expressing surprise about what the series has become.
Doctor Who is inseparable from our memory of Doctor Who. If everyone remembers that The First Doctor was grumpy then The First Doctor was grumpy. If everyone remembers that the sets wobbled, then the sets wobbled. If the first thing you think of when someone mentions Gregor Rasputin is that Boney M song, then that Boney M Song is the most important thing about Gregor Rasputin.
I am trying very hard to be a semi-professional writer and have taken the leap of faith of down-sizing my day job.
If you have enjoyed this essay, please consider backing me on Patreon (pledging £1 each time I publish an article.)
Please do not feed the troll.