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This former fangirl is in a state of suspense as X Files returns.


Am I excited about the return of The X Files? Hell yes. About as excited as someone with a miniature alien autopsy table, that highly collectible Rolling Stone magazine featuring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson under the duvet on the cover, and an 18-year-old cat called Scully can be.

The supernatural sleuthing series, which gained a global cult following in the 1990s, returns to production for six episodes this summer. The news of its revival has prompted an internet frenzy in the past fortnight - particularly when Gillian Anderson tweeted her erstwhile on-screen FBI partner thus: "Are you ready, Mulder?" The fans are certainly ready but can The X Files really recapture its glory days? It is possibly the only television series I have been sufficiently obsessed with to buy accompanying merchandise. Not to mention name a kitten in homage to its female protagonist. (It seemed a good fit. Like the human Scully, the feline one was ginger and endlessly inquisitive.) When Cerys Matthew trilled "This could be a case for Mulder and Sculleeeeeee!" on the single which featured a UFO hovering over Cardiff City Hall, closet X-Philes like myself could wear our anoraks with pride. The truth was by here - Wales' trendiest pop star had endorsed our pair of paranormal protagonists.

Yet by this stage friends had begun to worry about my fixation with the world's greatest cult TV series.

Visitors to my study were greeted with the detritus of the true fan - The Official Map of The X Files; The X Files Trivia Video Game; a 3ft framed poster of Mulder and Scully; a fantastically expensive and probably fake autographed portrait of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson; a pair of alien head salt'n'pepper pots; and a Dana Scully FBI badge which came in handy when I'd forgotten my ID pass for work.

It was only with the purchase of a miniature alien autopsy table that it occurred to me perhaps I was teetering on the precipice.

One more themed knick-knack and I'd be dressing up as an extraterrestrial at a sci-fi convention in Wolverhampton.

But were we X-Philes really tragic sci-fi geeks? No. the beauty of being an X-Phile was you didn't even have to like sci-fi. It wasn't as if we were - yikes - Trekkies.

People who wore Metallica T-shirts, clutched comics in shadowy corners of Forbidden Planet-esque retail outlets and took evening classes in Klingon were a galaxy away from those of us who watched The X Files in the simple hope that Mulder and Scully would finally snog.

The latter were known as "Shippers". Forget all that paranormal rubbish, we were just interested in the relationship aspect of the show.

Shippers looked for moments of UST - Unresolved Sexual Tension - between Scully the sceptic and Mulder the believer, a hand-holding here, a smouldering glance there.

The frisson of simmering but unconsummated passion was the lifeblood of The X Files. Star Trek was never this seductive.

You wouldn't kick David Duchovny out of bed if he brought an alien entity with him - no-one ever felt the same about Chekov or Bones. And Captain Kirk's sex-symbol credentials were always tainted by his visible efforts to hold his beer gut in.

So The X Files had two vital ingredients - sexual chemistry and supernatural suspense.

Mulder and Scully were in the tradition of the great will-they-won'tthey relationships. Think Beatrice and Benedict in Much Ado About Nothing, Bruce and Cybil in Moonlighting or even Penny and Vince when they became more than Just Good Friends - and throw in the occasional hybrid life-form with black oil oozing from the back of its neck.

Rolling Stone magazine teased fans with a cover picture of Duchovny and Anderson entwined beneath the bedclothes. It became one of their bestselling editions of all time and still does the rounds on eBay.

The speculation surrounding Mulder and Scully's potential as a hot couple peaked ahead of the release of the first X Files movie in 1998. I managed to blag my way into a preview screening held for cinema staff, with plans to pay sartorial respect to my heroes.

"If you wear a mac and carry a Maglite torch into the UCI, I will never speak to you again," said my then boyfriend, in a tone of voice even more ominous than that of Mulder's fag-breathed nemesis Cancer Man.

So I made do with my Dana Scully FBI badge. The boyfriend was morti-fied but the bloke on the pick'n'mix counter looked quite impressed.

X Files creator Chris Carter had vowed Scully and Mulder would never get it together. But there was a moment in the X-Files movie when the Shippers' ultimate fantasy looked as if it might come true.

After years of Unresolved Sexual Tension, Mulder cupped Scully's face in his hands, their eyes locked, their mouths moved closer... and the boyfriend hissed at me as I moved to the edge of my seat: "For goodness sake, stop pursing your lips!" They didn't get it together. It was probably for the best. With the possible exception of the Gold Blend Couple, some of the most entertaining fictional relationships have been ruined by platonic friends finally falling for each other.

And some of the greatest television series have been similarly spoiled by resurrecting a format which had run its natural course.

Some critics have already mused that dragging The X Files from its telly mausoleum will be not so much Mulder and Scully and Mouldy and Smelly.

It is, after all, 13 years since The X Files was last seen on our screens. By the end it had seeped away like the oozing black oil that frequented its final episodes.

Duchovny quit the show to pursue a Hollywood career that didn't involve alien abductions. Anderson remained but with a new partner, the yawnsome John Doggett.

And as the sexual chemistry vanished and the conspiracy theories became ever more labyrinthine, I became an ex-X-Phile.

But its creator is confident the X Files will still have the X factor.

"I think of it as a 13-year commercial break," Chris Carter said.

"The good news is the world has only gotten that much stranger, a perfect time to tell these six stories."

For we Shippers, meanwhile, there is only one narrative we're interested in. Forget the fleeting glimpses of hairy monsters in the woods, the alien autopsies in top-secret military bases and the moonlight meetings with the man with the fag. All we want to know is have Mulder and Scully snogged yet? The Truth is Out There.


Anderson as special agent Dana Scully and David Duchovny as special agent Fox Mulder in The X Files
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 6, 2015
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