Friday, 26 April 2013

W is for Who

David and I and the TARDIS
prop at BBC TV Centre.
In 1996, I discovered what became my favourite television programme of all time. I had always enjoyed some sci-fi programmes such as The X-Files and Red Dwarf and I had read some of Iain M Banks sci-fi books, but I wouldn't have classed myself as a sci-fi nerd by any stretch. However, once I was introduced to the world of Doctor Who, I never looked back!

The world of Doctor Who fandom was in a time of post-movie comedown when I discovered it. The TV show had ended in 1989 and the dedicated fan-base had very much kept series alive through books, magazines and conventions in the intervening years. In 1996, a new film had been made, re-igniting the excitement of fans around the world. Those with much more of a long-term involvement with The Doctor and his adventures than me had mixed opinions about the 'new film' but to me it was all part of the tapestry of the story and I loved it.

The concept of time-travel has always fascinated me, and the potential for storytelling that the simple idea of a mysterious chap in a time-travelling spaceship brings seems just endless. Through the television stories, the TV movie, the books, short-stories and audio recordings of stories I've experienced so many different adventures with The Doctor and his companions and I never seem to tire of it.
The 4th Doctor and his companion, Romana, in my
favourite episode of all time - City of Death.

My favourite incarnation of The Doctor is Tom Baker - the wild-eyed, mad uncle figure, who was the 4th actor to play the role on TV. I love the way he can flip between a grinning, sweetie-proffering, sparkle of a man to the darkest and most threatening individual you can imagine. You really can believe he is an alien - a stranger to any time and place, someone who never quite fits his environs. His Doctor is wonderfully anarchic, whilst at the same time suggesting more than ever before that he is a man on the run, with the weight of responsibility and a troubled past about to grab his flapping coat-tails at any point.

David Tennant's 10th incarnation of The Doctor
with companion, Rose Tyler. 
When the series returned in 2005, it was the first time I had been able to watch the show as it was broadcast, which was wonderfully exciting. I loved the 9th Doctor, Christopher Eccleston, and was thrilled to see that the team who had worked so hard to bring my favourite show back to our screens, had created something so wonderfully new and different, without trampling all over the things I adored so much about the show already. The arrival of David Tennant as the 10th Doctor, during the second of the new seasons added even more to my enjoyment of the show. I loved his manic, elfish Doctor and seeing his relationship with Rose, his first companion, flourish and then end is one of the most heartbreaking stories I have ever witnessed.

The wonderful Sarah-Jane Smith, is definitely my favourite of the Doctor's companions. She was a
"Have you met Miss. Smith, she's my best friend"
The Doctor
headstrong, independent, intelligent and wiley young woman who was a journalist, with a life of her own outside of her adventures with the Doctor. Unlike some of the other companions paired with our hero, the writing of Sarah-Jane, as well as the amazing performance from Elisabeth Sladen, allowed the audience to see someone that you could truly believe was The Doctor's best friend and equal. Sarah-Jane returned to the series, in 2006, in a very touching re-union with her old friend - this time in his new incarnation, with scenes that cannot fail to make me cry. The wonderful Sarah-Jane also got her own spin-off series The Sarah-Jane Adventures, which endeared my beloved bestie to a whole new generation of children. When Elisabeth Sladen died in 2011, there was an overwhelming response from a public who had felt as I did about her most famous role. She is sadly missed.

I'm not overwhelmingly positive about the most recent incarnation of The Doctor, or some of his more recent adventures in the TARDIS, but I remain fascinated by this ever-changing magical series. A new companion, the wonderfully named Clara Oswin, played by the sparkling Jenna Louise Coleman, has bought a new aspect to the series again very recently and I'm very excited about seeing more of this intriguing character. As ever, the series continues to take us to places and times - in a way that no other show can.


  1. I grew up with Tom Baker and he will always have a spot in my heart, even though I find the more recent doctors more compelling.

  2. I've never seen an episode of Dr. Who but have been told I would love it. I keep planning to check it out, but things always seem to get in the way. It's high time this actually happens. Jennifer a.k.a Urban Gypsy Girl