Doctor Who Memories

This column was published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 26th November 2013.

After decades of adventures in time and space, Doctor Who celebrated its 50th anniversary this past weekend. With a special episode entitled, The Day of the Doctor, broadcast simultaneously worldwide alongside 3D screenings at cinemas, interest in all things Who is at an all time high. In today’s fickle television market, it is hard to believe that a franchise has lasted so long (albeit with a break from 1989 to 2005).

Growing up in the eighties, Doctor Who meant it was almost teatime. Broadcast almost perpetually on the ABC at 5:30pm, it usually followed a Japanese animated show such as Star Blazers, Voltron or Astro Boy. For the next thirty minutes, I’d witness the Doctor battle Daleks or Cybermen through my fingers or from behind the couch. Once the end credits rolled with the familiar theme tune playing, Peter Russell-Clarke’s Come and Get It would be on for 5 minutes and then mum would call us for dinner.

The Tom Baker years always seemed to be on endless repeats. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen The Ark in Space. That’s the story with the killer sleeping bag. Sure, it was meant to be an alien caterpillar called the Wirrn, but even at as a youngster I knew it was a guy in a sleeping bag painted green.

One of my friends at high school, Stu, was a huge fan and collected the Doctor Who novelizations published by Target. I’m pretty sure he had all 156 of them. Before I developed other interests (girls), he’d happily lend them to me. They were short reads and every couple of days I’d swap a consumed book for a new adventure. I wonder if he still has them all. I’m sure they would be worth a fortune in mint condition. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure Stu’s collection is not in mint condition. After all, they have all been in my school bag and I caught the bus and then walked home.

They say that your favourite Doctor is the one you grew up watching. Arguably that was Tom Baker, but in terms of new episodes, Sylvester McCoy is my Doctor. Not the most popular amongst hardcore fans, McCoy’s Doctor was a dark and slightly sinister character. I really liked his chemistry with companion Ace (the foxy Sophie Aldred) and was bitterly disappointed when the show was cancelled in 1989 by budget conscious BBC management.

A few years ago, McCoy and Colin Baker (the 6th Doctor) came to Australia for a fan event and I was lucky enough to meet them and get their autographs. They were both very pleasant and seemed well adjusted to their geek icon status. I will never forget when some idiot in the Q & A session challenged them to fight each other. That was never going to happen. After all, Time Lords are a peaceful race.

Congratulations Doctor Who. Here’s to another half century of dodgy alien costumes, shaky sets and wonderful memories.

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Published in: on January 7, 2014 at 16:23  Comments (1)  
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  1. Never quite had all of them, and many were sourced from second hand bookshops (particularly one at Blacktown station) so were far from mint even when I got them! I think they’re probably still in a cupboard at my parents’ house.


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