Now, it shouldn’t surprise my regular readers (as I’m fairly certain you’re my close friends and family) that I am, and have always been, a HUGE fan of Doctor Who. This is why I’m dedicating this week’s blog post to wishing it a Happy Birthday.
As I’ve often said, I’m such a Doctor Who fan I know who Frobisher is! And I blame him for my love of intelligent penguins. Well, him and Mr Flibble from Red Dwarf – ‘we can’t do that! Who would clean up the mess?’
Okay, so I am digressing to yet another sci-fi show I am a fan of… and exposing my odd attraction to penguins. Let’s get back to Doctor Who.
Yes, I have loved and, when younger, feared this show for as long as I can remember. When I grew up in Darwin it only had two TV channels. One called ‘Channel 8’ that was all other Australian commercial channels blended together and the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission – for my overseas readers). And the ABC has always been a blend of both Australian and British shows and the channel we watched the most in my house. The ABC of the 80’s had no Giggle and Hoot or In the Night Garden to amuse we small kiddies. Oh no, 6pm weeknights we got The Goodies (with the nudey bits edited out – mostly) and then 6:30pm was Doctor Who. That ‘dun da dun, dun da dun’ sound which summoned me and my siblings from our furthest reaches of house and yard (if we hadn’t been watching The Goodies) and there he was. Either that dapper white haired chap with the frilly shirt and red velvet coat, or that fellow who was all teeth and curls with the really long scarf and jelly babies. They were my first memories of Doctor Who. Even though, by that time, they were already making the episodes with the guy in the cricket outfit and that nasal Aussie airline host. And oh the hue and cry, from my big sister, when Tristan from All Creatures Great and Small became the Doctor! It just wasn’t right, wasn’t natural and ‘He is too young!’ There you go Matt Smith; you aren’t the only one that complaint was raised about!
And in an era when I had the three Star Wars movies fresh, new and unruined by over editing, I had Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T, Blake 7 and so many more great movies and shows to re-enact… I was the Third Doctor (the companions were too weak willed and screamed too much and so I made my friend – Damien – play them instead) as I hooned about on my bike (suddenly a yellow modified roadster called Bessie) fighting evil. Sontaran, when they were still ‘Sultana Men’ to us as that’s what their heads looked like. The Zygons, the Daleks and those damned blasted Cybermen, who I still blame Adric’s death on to this day!
Then there was the next Doctor and that scarf! Oh that scarf! Growing up in the tropics when, as a child I felt clothes in general an optional extra, that scarf was an amazing item. I had no idea what a scarf was really for and so assumed they were all long, measured metric on one side and imperial on the other, and that you were pretty special to get to wear one. Anything was possible, right?
I guess the other love/attraction to Doctor Who was that my father worked at the local university in Darwin (it has had many names) and Building eighteen was my second home. This was where all the scientists worked and, as I have mentioned before, also let me play and learn with them. So when I saw similar labs on Doctor Who and watched them playing with robots and satellite dishes… this was all perfectly natural behaviour, right? I did that with my father and his friends and the Doctor did similar with his friends. I just didn’t deal with as much death, destruction and monsters. And, for a very long time I just assumed everyone grew up with that sort of background in science… the Doctor did after all!
Changing subjects slightly, is it me… or were those giant maggots with cat-like teeth from ‘The Green Death’ just the scariest thing? Yes, that was a ‘hide in the fortress made out of couch cushions’ moment if there ever was one. We children of Who did things like that. Around the world, we hid together and had mixed emotions about what we would do if we ever heard that wheezing grind of someone keeping the handbrake on as he landed. (River isn’t the first to mention this, by the way!)
You see, not only did I live it and love it, I read it. Any Doctor Who book or magazine I could get my hands on was read and cherished. My sister scored massive brownie points the year she gave me her collection of Doctor Who books and magazine for Christmas. She had maybe eighty issues of the official Doctor Who Magazine and maybe sixty five percent of the novels. I had coveted it for years and suddenly it was mine! I do admit to stroking that huge box and whispering ‘My precious’. I think I was about fifteen at the time. And the thing about Doctor Who is you really should read them as well as watch them as, with any book, you get so much more out of the story and the Doctor himself. And read the cartoon series within the Magazine! The things they did – brilliant! My grandfather gave me about two hundred dollars one Christmas and, yes, I spent it on a couple of Star Trek magazine and the majority of it (plus another eighty dollars) on Doctor Who Magazines. I own about the first two hundred and fifty of them now… and then some. Add to that the fact I now own about ninety percent of the original series books… Heaven. 🙂 Sadly, growing up, moving and having kids has meant my precious collection is now somewhere out in the shed lost but not forgotten. I pray it isn’t one of the boxes the rodents and bugs have found and I think of them daily, mourning my loss of something so dear now metres away but a life time ago.
In the great gap between ‘Old Who’ and ‘New Who’ I kept on reading. There really are some good ‘Missing Adventures’ and ‘Further Adventures’ of Doctor Who out there. Yeah, but can I suggest you avoid the ones with Temperance, the female companion who is also his new TARDIS. I could never understand those and was glad it was deemed a ‘parallel’ version rather than real Who!
As to ‘New Who’… well, I was very dubious about hearing it was coming back and in two minds about it all. Still, being the massive addict I was, I had to see what it was all about. Eccleston – brilliant! When they explained the time wars and all that had gone on, this new, broken and shattered Doctor was done very well. Wasn’t too happy on some of the stories for the new Doctors or the sudden need for every companion falling in love with him… but it had been there in the ‘Old Who’, in some ways. Back then, though, he was more a father figure than someone you want to jump into bed with. I blame Paul McGann for that sudden urge and change but forgive him as I can see the desire. 😀
I won’t go through all ‘New Who’ and give my review on them all, but will say some were good, some were bad and some really made me sad as I suddenly felt I had outgrown Doctor Who as it was far too childish for me at times. Blending it into modern views and values sometimes worked, but to me it had lost something. Somehow the more cheaply made, wobbly sets, monsters with zippers showing at times and plain white console room with white, stark roundels was just more Who to me. New Who is okay and has some amazing stories – Don’t. Blink. – and I can feel the connection to the past… but something has been lost and it may just be something in me. My inner child, who wants to chant ‘I believe in faeries’ and listen for Santa, has become tarnished and coated in my outer adult’s cynical nature. Perhaps you really need to be a child to love it? As I still love watching Old Who in its shabbier manner compared to bright and fizzy New Who. And I somehow find it even more heart breaking that my six year old sees Tennant as the Doctor and my four year old (two out of my three kids Doctor Who fans, I can’t win them all) sees Smith as the Doctor. Show them a picture of Pertwee, either Baker or any of the others and they stare at me blankly. Even if the man is standing in front of the bloody TARDIS. ‘Is that his daddy or uncle?’ oh children of mine, stop talking!
As for Capaldi? I’m looking forward to it. I watched ‘Volcano Day’ again recently and that moment Tennant holds out his hand to rescue Capaldi’s Roman character… oh I got tingles! Don’t let me down Mr Capaldi! From one massive fan to another, please help bring back that part of Who I seem to have lost. If you do I will share my rhubarb bread and butter pudding recipe with Ann to make for you. 😉
So yes, I am a massive fan and being a fan of anything is something I don’t usually admit to as who wants to be fanatical? The love is still for Old Who more than New Who. Show me an actor who has been in Old Who and I can tell you who they played, show me a still image of an Old Who episode, and I can tell you which one it is… Call it the hidden savant to my idiot. Heck in The Night of the Doctor who else immediately knew he was back on the planet Brain of Morbius was set on? I am, and always will be a fan… even if that sounds more like I’m paraphrasing something Old Spock would say. 😉
And so Happy Birthday Doctor Who and all those who have made you happen over the years. You’ve meant a lot to us mere fans and what you did with Clara was just a-maz-ing! Seeing them all again as she moved through their lives… wow.
I remember the 30th anniversary like it was yesterday and hope to see many more decades of celebration to come.
To end with, I’ll give my favourite quote from Doctor Who. If I had to choose New Who, that would be – ‘Run you clever boy, and remember!’
But really, Old Who says it best with – ‘Would you like a jelly baby?’
Until next time,