This weekend is quite special for me, as it marks the 50thanniversary of Doctor Who.
For uninitiated, the show is about an exiled Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who ventures through time, space and history seeing off evil doers who’d otherwise destroy the universe or leave a dent at the very least. The Doctor is around a thousand years old and possesses the ability to regenerate—essentially reincarnate/rejuvenate himself. We’re on the verge of his 12thincarnation.
He is without qualification the greatest superhero to have ever existed. Sorry Batman and suck it Superman.
I’m a lifelong Whovian. I’ve been watching the show since I was two years old and I’m still hooked. Just hearing the mention of the show brings a smile to my face. I grew up watching it at its height during the Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker eras, and their exploits are indelibly etched in my mind.
So what drew me to this TV show? I suppose the appeal for me about the Doctor was the endless possibilities. He could visit any place in the universe, at any time, so he could be any where and when he wanted. He could rewrite history and the universe. What other character can boast those kinds of credentials?
My wife doesn’t understand my love (and possibly my obsession) with the show, but that’s fine. She wasn’t me growing up. She didn’t get to see the imaginative might that couldn’t help but brand its fans for a lifetime. I wasn’t bothered by the cheap sets, over the top actors or the naff special effects. All these shortcomings faded into the background. The brilliance shone in the stories.
For many years the show came under attack for its violent content and if I’m being honest the show did scare me. I remember being petrified of passing my local department store because of the mannequins in shop windows.
The reason for this was because aliens had come to earth and invented intelligent plastic and could bring it to life and have them shoot guns from inside their hands. I was so convinced that all mannequins were creatures waiting to invade that at age three I managed to summon up the courage to go up to one to see if they dummies or
I gingerly tapped a hand to see if it would flinch. Imagine my shock when the hand fell off exposing a metal spike. Doctor Who was right!
They were monsters!!
My scream could be heard from a mile away.
I remember the monsters in CARNIVAL OF MONSTERS being so scary that I couldn’t eat my dinner. Because my Doctor Who privileges were subject to removal if I admitted I was scared, when my mum asked me why I hadn’t eaten my dinner, I told her it was because her food was horrible. Yes, I was affected by the show, but I was never harmed. The scares that Doctor Who conjured were in the roller coaster and carnival ride vein. The stereotype was that children (and some adults) watched Doctor Who from behind the sofa and I was no different. My sister and I usually took up residence behind the sofa, watched it from behind our fingers. The usual conversation between my mum, the sofa and us went like this:
“Are you scared?”
“If you’re scared, I’m turning it off.”
“No, you can’t do that.”
“Okay.” Sigh. “So you’re not scared?”
“So do you want to come out from there?”
I’m not sure what kind of front my sister and I put on for my parents. At the time, I thought it was pretty convincing—but in retrospect I’m not so sure.
The show has broken my heart over the years. Regeneration is the key to the show’s longevity, without it, it would never have lasted this long. But when I saw Jon Pertwee regenerate into Tom Baker, I thought I’d never recover. At that point, Jon Pertwee was someone I admired and I couldn’t see anyone being able to replace him. But the BBC was very good at casting the Doctors. Tom Baker was a more than worthy replacement, as was Peter Davidson & Sylvester McCoy—Colin Baker is probably the only exception in my opinion. I think I was most shocked when Adric was killed in EARTHSHOCK. The doctor and pals were pretty indestructible and it seemed to break a cardinal rule when they did that. That story remains one of my favorites, partly because of that reason. I believe Adric is only one of two companions to die.
Speaking of companions, I know many have come under considerable ridicule. Can I just say for the record that I grew up with feelings (and in later years, urges) for every female companion the Doctor ever had. They all had something. Liz Smith had brains. Jo had bubble-headed charm and a mini-skirt. Sarah Jane had vulnerability. Leela had few clothes and was mad keen on killing people (what wasn’t there to love about a girl like that when as a nine year old boy?). The first Romana had class and timeless beauty. Perry had cleavage. And Melanie had red hair.
The show has made me very happy over the years and my only wish is that I’ll get to write an official novel or an episode for the Doctor. I have one of two up my sleeve. I also have the story for the Doctor ultimate destiny but I’ll only reveal it to a BBC executive. It’s that awesome. 😀
So fifty years down the time stream where are we? On the verge of a new Doctor. A great reveal of the Doctor’s past. And the kick off for another fifty years of travels. Come this November 23rd, I’ll be watching—from behind the sofa. I hope you’ll join me. Anyway, here’s forty years of my life in sixty seconds.