Writer and Author

On the Enduring Attraction of Dr Who…

I ended up getting completely distracted yesterday afternoon by the impending announcement about the next actor to be cast in the role of Dr Who.  I ended up in a texting conversation with the brother-in-law trying to guess the name as we both waited for the announcement to be made.

Ever since I can remember I’ve been mad about Dr Who.  The earliest shows I can remember watching were part of that familiar Saturday evening line-up in the seventies…Basil Brush, Star Trek and Dr Who. The doctor was the stand out highlight.  I like science fiction but I’m not a complete sci fi nut but with Dr Who it was different.

As a child of my time, I’m very much in the Tom Baker camp when it comes to naming my favourite Dr.  It’s very much a matter of age since the series has been running for more than 40 years and the role itself has been played by ten different actors.  Matt Smith, the new guy is number 11.  Ask someone who their favourite doctor is or was and they’ll invariably mention the actor who played the part in their childhood so for me it’s Tom Baker, but the husband, being a few years older, leans towards John Pertwee.  My nephews on the other hand, being eight and nine are firmly in the David Tennant camp, though at least their dad has made sure they’re familiar with the old series as well.

Forgive me if I’m sounding geeky, I’ve been a Dr Who geek long before the current hysteria.  It was always the highlight of the week when I was small and I still look forward to the Christmas special with way too much enthusiasm.  I  might not hide behind the sofa these days but still find it easy to suspend disbelief and get into the adventure.

I can remember visiting friends and acting out our own scenarios.  I seem to remember arguing to toss quite heatedly because I never got to play the doctor myself, reluctantly conceding that the doctor had to be a boy (something the show’s producers obviously agree on!).  I remember how I cried when the robot dog K9 was retired for the first time to cheer loudly when Tom Baker wheeled in a large cardboard box stamped K-9 mark II.

The one toy I wanted to quite obsessional levels, and never got, was a battery operated K-9 like this one.

Years later, once the show was revived and the husband finally got me a remote control K9 – it quite made my Christmas – even if it had arrived almost thirty years late.   For some reason the show had a special place in the imagination that no other science fiction show before or since has ever managed to quite match.

When a friend who was also an avid fan and used to act when he was younger got a part in a show with Patrick Troughton.  I was far more jealous that he had got to act with a former Time Lord than over the fact he had a main part in a high profile tv series.

I think my appreciation has changed over the years.  Since the new series started I watch it with as much appreciation for the writing as the whole Time Lord mythos.  When I was a kid I wanted to be in Dr Who.  I wanted to be a companion (once I got my head around the fact I couldn’t be the doctor) and take part in the adventures I watched every Saturday teatime.

These days I’d prefer to write the adventures.  I’ve been known to daydream about how the circumstances might come about (once I’d managed to become a best selling author and media darling etc, etc, etc.).  Well when you’re sitting in your pajamas in front of a blank page struggling to find the words you need for that first paragraph when the deadline’s far too close and you’re wondering why you ever got yourself into this in the first place, you need the odd carrot!

The idea of actually putting dialogue into the mouths of the doctor and his current companion is ludicrously attractive.  To maybe write a classic episode that people remember just as I can still remember episodes that went out in the mid seventies.

But I’ll just have to keep dreaming about that.  It’s not as if I’m even a script writer.  But you never know.  When I was a kid I never really thought I’d be an actual published author.  And a person has to have ambitions!


  1. Rowan

    I’m glad it’s not just me then – Ant and I spent most of Sunday afternoon having that classic ‘who’s your favourite Doctor’ conversation, and reminiscing about particular eras and episodes. Even though I was only six when Tom Baker left the programme, I still have strong memories of him playing the part. Personally, I’d like to have seen a transgender Doctor Who as the incarnation, but I suppose that would be considered too risque for a kids show!

  2. CW

    I’m also in the Tom Baker camp, him forming my earliest memories of the show. I can’t help thinking Matt Smith is a bad choice for the part though. It’s as if the BBC are aiming for a cool character who can get down with the kids. No harm to the boy, I’m sure he’s a decent actor, but he just doesn’t come across to me as Dr Who material.

  3. Abigail

    I must admit I let out a groan when they started saying they’d chosen the youngest doctor ever…it was beginning to sound as if they’d cast some pretty boy and I’ve been getting increasingly disgruntled with the whole Doctor as heart throb thing that’s been going on since the admittedly attractive David Tennant took over.
    Matt Smith looks like he might pull it off though. Seeing him interviewed on the BBC website he looks like he’s approaching the role with the right attitude. If it was Russell T. Davies making the choice I’d be worried, less so now Stephen Moffat’s taken the helm. I’ll wait and see before I make up my mind.
    When you consider the choices they could have made though. Transgendered might have been interesting but the Doctor’s, the Doctor – it’s not Orlando. Also I don’t think the beeb would be able to restrain themselves from going overly PC if they’d gone with the first black or female Doctor. There are some things that just shouldn’t be issue driven!

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