Saturday, 20 December 2014

Calling the good Doctor

Today is one of those days when I feel like delving back into my history.

I'm thinking about way back when I was a kid, and we had regular visits from a good Doctor. And just who was that Doctor, I hear you ask. The answer is easy to find when you swap the words around. I'm talking about Doctor Who.

I loved Doctor Who when I was a kid. I loved all the monsters - the Cybermen and Sontarans and Zygons and especially the Daleks (exterminate, exterminate!) I loved the resourcefulness of the Doctor, and how he was always able to beat the monsters using his brains and wits. I loved the imagination and creativity. I loved the cliffhanger endings, and how you always had to go back the next night to see how everything turned out.

It didn't matter that the costumes were pretty shonky and the sets looked like they were about to fall apart. The stories were so strong and the characters so great that you could easily suspend disbelief and get completely sucked into whichever amazing environment the TARDIS had taken the Doctor into.

I find it kind of amazing and more than a little bit amusing to think that these days Doctor Who is a huge international success. Back then, it seemed like something a bit special. Something for us British Commonwealth people to enjoy. Sure, the Yanks had Star Trek and Star Wars and Lost in Space and all those others. But we had Doctor Who and that was the best show of the lot. It was our own special little secret.

For a long time, the good Doctor disappeared from our screens, but he remained in my memory and my heart. And then he came back, bigger and better than ever. More complicated stories and a way bigger special effects budget. Suddenly, it wasn't just a local thing. Doctor Who became a big international hit.

I still like watching the new Doctor Who on and off, though I can't say I'm dedicated like I was as a kid. People can have their David Tennant or Matt Smith but I'm still a Tom Baker kind of person. And I like to think that a bit of the creativity and ingenuity of the episodes I used to watch rubbed off on my writing in some way.

On top of my computer at work, I have a little Dalek and a little TARDIS, just to remind me about that person I used to be, and maybe still am - just a little bit.

1 comment:

  1. I still remember clearly as a child sitting down in from of the telly and watching ‘An Unearthly Child’ in November 1963. I have a similar memory when it comes to first episode of Stingray. There won’t be many episodes of Doctor Who I’ve missed since then. I lost interest a bit once Peter Davison took over the role—he seemed so young and that’s the main criticism I’ve had with the last two Doctors—but I’ve caught up on most of the later series on repeat. I can see why it was cancelled but the fault certainly doesn’t lie with any of the actors who played the title role. They all had their quirks but they were all the Doctor. I was so disappointed when McCann didn’t get a crack at the job and loved, absolutely loved the short ‘The Night of the Doctor’ where we got to see him regenerate into the War Doctor as he’s being called. Why McCann’s never been asked to reprise the role in the series proper is a complete mystery to me because he’s said he was up for it.

    Favourite Doctor? Toughie that. If I had to pick one I’d probably go with Tom Baker but they all had their moments. I watch the new shows faithfully—about the only live TV I still watch in fact—and, yes, the production values are through the roof and the guest stars (and guest writers) are second to none but it keeps trying to best itself. The show was great when Eccleston took over the role (an inspired casting decision there); it didn’t need to get any greater; it simply needed to maintain that level. Some of the storylines in recent years—the Tardis towing the Earth—have just been plain silly but there have also been some great stories like ‘Blink’, ‘Turn Left’ (I know a few people sniffed when Catherine Tate got cast as Donna Noble but she was another inspired casting decision), ‘School Reunion’ (wonderful to see Sarah Jane back) and ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ (only Neil Gaiman would’ve thought to squeeze the Tardis inside Suranne Jones—okay maybe Grant Morrison would’ve thought of it too and possibly Peter Milligan).

    I have several Daleks around my office plus a Cyberman, K-9, a Tardis and tiny models of eleven doctors. Why did no one realise how much money could be made out of marketing when the show was in its prime the first time? Wouldn’t you have died to get your hands on a sonic screwdriver? Oh, and I’ve got one of them too.