Very few shows last longer than a few years. Some however do last and the reason they do is because they change over the years. That is why Dr Who has lasted for 50 years. This blog post is my way of celebrating the 50th anniversary of Dr Who and my attempt at looking at the part it has played in my life. Like many people I have grown up with the Doctor and his companions battling to save the Universe from the Master, Weeping Angels and Daleks. I have been lucky enough to watch both the early series (which are now referred to as Classic Series) and the modern revival which is a special thing as it makes me despair a little when I hear some people say they have watched from the beginning but what they mean is they have watched from the ninth Doctor or even the tenth. Now don’t get me wrong I don’t claim to have watched all the episodes of Dr Who but I have seen the odd Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker and or Peter Davison episode if they have been shown on a catch up channel. For me though it all started back in the early 80’s with the Sixth Doctor.
Colin Baker (The Sixth Doctor) is not the most popular of Doctors with Whovians. The show was going through some problems and its popularity was declining so much so that Colin Baker is often referred to as the unlikable doctor. I think this is an unfair label as the problem with the show at the time was more to do with funding cuts and bad writing. As a 5-year-old I didn’t know any of this and I didn’t mind I just liked the bright coloured coat he wore and his red-haired companion Mel Bush played by Bonnie Langford. As I was only 5 years old my memories are vague of the series so don’t ask me to much detail. What I do remember though is becoming a fan of Bonnie Langford and to this day I still am and will defend her as a Doctors companion. I think it was because as a child I was ginger (honestly I was) so I felt some sort of connection. Many Whovians do not like her and I am not sure why. She did scream a lot but she was quite a feisty character and I feel wasn’t given the chance to develop. My hope is that one day she may appear in a future Dr Who episode just like Sarah Jane did but I doubt it will happen. The series I started with would have been ‘A Trial of a Time Lord’ so it is possible the first companion I saw was Peri but I have no strong memory of her so in my mind Mel Bush is my first companion. I think it is a big deal who your first Doctor and companion were. They may not become your favourites but they are crucial to your future enjoyment of the show as you will always compare the others to this one. My first big villain was the Master and is one of the baddies I have seen the most. The Sixth Doctor was very 1980’s in the way he dressed. Ht was bright and brash so was quite reflective of society at the time. For a 5/6-year-old it is hard to understand how the hero can die but then come back to life as a different person.I would like to say I remember the regeneration scene as this would have been my first one but once again it is quite vague so not sure about how I reacted to seeing this the first time.
With the arrival of the Seventh Doctor played by Sylvester McCoy I continued to enjoy Doctor Who and meet for the first time the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Brigadier and also meet the Master and the Rani again. Sylvester McCoy did three seasons of the show and for the first season Mel Bush was still his companion until she leaves in the last episode of the season ‘Dragonfire’ and is replaced by Ace. For me Sylvester McCoy is my second favourite Doctor because this is the Doctor I grew up with and remember the most. Although I was sad when Bonnie Langford left the show I was happy with Ace. It is always sad when the Doctor changes his assistant/companion. Even if I wasn’t keen on them there is still something sad about them leaving. Maybe it is because as a fan of the show I care for the character of the Doctor and don’t want him to be alone. The last episode of the classic adventures was a Sylvester McCoy story called ‘Survival’. This story terrified me as a child and it was also sad because this would be the last Dr Who episode for many years. The reason this episode stuck out to me was because of the Cheetah People. As a child at this time I was really into animals and I loved cheetahs so I liked the idea of the creatures in the story even though they terrified me. I have recently bought the story on DVD and look forward to reliving it all over again.
For a long time it looked like that was it for Doctor Who. There was no new series and I started watching other programmes. Then in 1996 some bright spark created a TV movie starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor. This should have been a huge success as Paul McGann is perfect for the role. He was to be become in my eyes the wasted doctor. Paul McGann is a great choice as the Doctor and should have gone on to do more but it was not to be. However this TV movie should never have been made and many Whovians try to forget it ever happened. If you are sat reading this thinking it was alright then rematch now and see if you feel the same. If it wasn’t for the wonderful Paul McGann we probably would have denied it happened but it did. I remember watching it at the time and feeling a bit underwhelmed. A few years ago I rewatched stand it was worse than I remembered. This is the Doctor who equivalent to Star Wars Phantom Menace (Before you say anything I know Phantom Menace was after this episode but wibbly wobbly timey wimey you get the idea). The problems (and there are many) just spoilt this golden opportunity. Paul McGann was certainly not one of the problems. It would be nice if they did do some TV episodes for the Eighth Doctor as I feel that as a fan I have been cheated from a good Doctor. Theres no reason why they can’t do it.
After the horror of the TV movie it looked like that really was the end for Doctor Who. In 2005 Russell T Davies brought the series back with the Ninth Doctor played by Christopher Eccleston. The series was back and felt refreshed and now a whole new generation could discover the Doctor while everyone else could rediscover the Doctor and enjoy his new adventures with his companion Rose. Each regeneration allows the opportunity of a new type of Doctor and it is fair to say Christopher Ecclestone is the most modern Doctor to date. Sadly Christopher Ecclestone only did the one series which is a shame as he was great and really could have taken the show further. This series did have two of the scariest episodes of Dr Who ‘The Empty child and The Doctor Dances’. It was a two-part story written by Steven Moffat and featured a child in a gas mask who just repeated the phrase “Are you my mummy?”. The episodes also introduced the character Captain Jack Harkness played by John Barrowman. These episodes showed what a talented writer Moffat is and I stand by this to this day but I have other concerns which I will get to later.
When the BBC announced that David Tennant (Tenth Doctor) would be taking over the role of the Doctor I was pleased. I had seen him in a few things such as Casanova and thought he would be a good choice. For the next few years he went on to prove me right. What was obvious from the beginning was his love for the show and that to me was important because ‘he got it’. He knew what the fans wanted because he is one. His partnership with Rose was strong and although I wasn’t keen on the so-called romance I did like the connection they had and I am not ashamed to admit I shed an odd tear in her last episode. David Tennant had a lot of companions and even saw the return of an old companion. We were introduced to Martha, Wilfred, Donna Astrid (Kylie Minogue) and River Song. As well as these new companions Russell T Davies reintroduced Sarah Jane Smith and K9. Sarah Jane was the companion to the Third and Fourth Doctors. This was done with in the episode ‘School Reunion’ and it is impossible for me to watch this episode and not cry (I know I cry at anything). Bringing back Sarah Jane was a great idea to connect the original episodes with the new and it worked. Although I didn’t see any of the original episodes with her I know how popular she is and in my opinion is the number 1 companion. She has met 4 of the doctors (Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, David Tennant and Matt Smith)which is more than any other companion and it also shows that she is the one he needed the most. My favourite scene with her is in ‘Journeys End’ when she meets Davros again and threatens to use a warp star. All the David Tennant episodes have the theme of the importance of his companions and how the Doctor needs them. This is a great message for the viewer as we all need ‘companions’ in our lives. Each of our friends who have entered our lives have made us see things differently. This is the same with the Doctors companions they bring something he needs at that time. In his last episode there is the touching sequence where he says goodbye to all of the companions before he regenerates. As well as saying goodbye or maybe even thank you it is as if he is checking that they will be OK. The regeneration scene is very sad and you must have a heart of stone not too be moved when he says “I don’t want to go”. I remember screaming at the television set saying “then don’t”. But that is the thing with the Doctor he is always changing. For me this was the end of the golden years of the new series as not only did David Tennant leave but also Russell T Davies left and was replaced by Steven Moffat.
When Matt Smith was announced as the Eleventh Doctor I thought it was a good choice. He had the quirky look and is great actor so I was hopeful for the new series with him. Steven Moffat is also a brilliant writer so I was hopeful that this talent would also work with him producing the show. However I was a bit underwhelmed. Matt Smith was good but something for me was lacking, that special magic for me was missing. It is probably the same as what some fans felt during the Colin Baker years. I really disliked the character of Amy Pond and how she literally throws herself at the Doctor. I did however like the character of Rory and was pleased how his relationship with Amy settled down but still something wasn’t right. Then it dawned on me, the problem for me and I know this is controversial is Steven Moffat. how come I hear you ask. I know I have just talked about how talented a writer he is and I still think this but he just ‘doesn’t get it’. He has worked magic on Sherlock and has written some fantastic episodes of Dr Who but he can’t produce and write together when it comes to Doctor Who, it loses something. The strong character or River Song even becomes a bit watered down and less feisty. I know I am in a minority here but as all fans of the show know we all have our own ideas of the show and for me Moffat is off course. There have still been some great episodes though such as ‘Vincent and the Doctor’, ‘The Doctors Wife’ and ‘The Rings of Akhaten’. I will of course be sad to see Matt Smith go and for the first time I am not sure about the choice of the next Doctor and wondering what my future relationship with the Doctor will be. I have always been happy to give another person a try but this time I don’t think it will work out between us. It’s definitely ‘it’s me not you’ but do I end the relationship?
Before you all start saying it I know Peter Capaldi is great actor but as I have mentioned a few time in this post we all have expectations of what we want the Doctor to be and I am not sure he is right for the role. I will give him the Christmas special but I am going to need some convincing to watch as regular as I do. The chances are I probably will watch as at the end of the day it is hard to walk away from a show that has been there almost always and I am confident it will continue to be. I know there is the rule of only 13 regenerations but no fan really wants to see it end and after all wibbly wobbly timey wimey can explain anything you want it to. So with that thought in mind I believe and hope there will be more than 13 regenerations.
So that brings us right up to date and tonight’s special 50th anniversary show which I am sure will be great and have us hiding behind the sofa again and possibly shedding the odd tear or two. Being a fan of the show is like being the Doctors companion you go on amazing adventures each week and that is why I love the show and whatever happens I will continue to love the show.
To end this blog post I thought I would do some Top 5 lists for the show. All the answers are only my opinion so please don’t get too angry but do feel to leave comments or tell what your top 5’s are.
Top 5 Doctors
Top 5 Doctors Companions
1)Sarah Jane Smith
4)Captain Jack Harkness
Top 5 Doctor Who Monsters/Aliens
1) The Master
2)The Cheetah People
Top 5 Doctor Who Episodes
3)The Stolen Earth
4)The Empty Child
5)Silence in the Library
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and I hope you enjoy/enjoyed the Anniversary episode and with that as the Tenth Doctor would say “Allons-y”.