We all influence our children, and have a desire to share our passions with them, hoping that some of them at least will become their passions. It didn’t take long to convince Daniel of the merits of watching Star Wars. Its non-stop action, great characters, spaceships and lightsabers was a sure-fire winner. He was hooked, and its something we share. Matthew tolerates it more than really enjoy it, but that’s fine. We all like different things – the world would be dull if we were all the same. Daniel of course demonstrates a classic autistic behaviour – his obsessive behaviour means that he’ll quite happily watch the Star Wars movies several times a day, every day.
But, Matthew, Daniel & I have discovered something that we can all share. Doctor Who. The Doctor is someone I have loved since being a small child in the early 70s. The Doctor ties in with visits to my grandparents after football with my granddad. We would get back to their house just in time for Doctor Who starting. It was amazingly exciting as a child to see that. A weekly fix of sci-fi that left a thrilling cliffhanger you couldn’t wait to see the following week.
When I started watching, the Doctor had just regenerated into the Jon Pertwee Doctor at the beginning of his exile on earth. the next 10 years were a golden age for Doctor Who. The Doctor, Liz Shaw, Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, Harry Sullivan, Sarah-Jane Smith were all such enduring and wonderful characters. The Doctor’s exile on earth – his second home really – probably made it all the more frightening to a small boy. Stories of alien creatures menacing humankind in places we were familiar with. Some point at the wobbly sets and the like, but that was part of its charm. It was thrilling stuff. Its stayed with me for years as a result.
Jon Pertwee was great as the Doctor, but for me, Tom Baker was even better. His journeys with Sarah-Jane and Harry were a peak for Doctor Who – although that’s not at all to say what followed was disappointing in any way, just that the early Tom Baker years were absolutely stellar. The story arc in 1975 starting with Genesis of the Daleks (my favourite Doctor Who story of them all) through Ark in Space, The Sontaran Experiment finishing with Revenge of the Cybermen was wonderful television. A 7 year old boy found the Daleks and Cybermen very frightening indeed!
Even years later, I enjoyed watching the re-runs of the original series Doctor Who. The advent of satellite TV gave us Doctor Who and Blake’s Seven (another favourite of mine from the 70s) on a Sunday morning. What better way for a young (still) guy to spend a Sunday morning than two and a half hours of the Doctor and Roj Blake’s adventures? I stuck with it through its slide in quality. Colin Baker for me was underrated and suffered from slightly disappointing writing. With good writers, he would have been a fantastic Doctor.
The years after its cancellation were eased by the re-runs of the Doctor’s finest hours (of which there were many!) but the announcement the Doctor was coming back was very exciting. Watching Chris Eccleston and Billie Piper in “Rose” reminded me how exciting Doctor Who could be when written well. Russell Davis, and subsequently Steven Moffat more than did the Doctor justice, a fitting tribute to the original series. The first series was excellent, and Chris Eccleston was a terrific Doctor, but the re-jigged series really came alive with the amazing David Tenant. Tenant was THE Doctor. His human side was brought out nicely – his re-union with the greatly missed Lis Sladen’s Sarah-Jane Smith was such a bittersweet moment. I so wanted Sarah-Jane to return to the TARDIS and travel with the Doctor once more. Tenant’s Doctor was a man you feel people would have done anything for.
Matt Smith has brought his own quirks to the role of the Doctor. He’s grown into the role so well, and I now feel he really is the Doctor. The writing is as good as ever, the enemies as devilish, and the Doctor as reliable as ever. But it is Tenant that takes me back to the headline for this post. Blink remains my favourite episode of the new Doctor Who. The Weeping Angels are beyond scary! Matthew was given a copy of the Doctor Who magazine a couple of weeks ago, which had a pic of a WA on the cover. Daniel was curious about that, I had a feeling his obsessive behaviour might lead us to the Doctor as his questioning about the Angels became more incessant. So, despite it being a bit scary, I decided to let the boys watch Blink. They were transfixed by the Angels, and the Doctor of course. Blink has been watched several times this week. Tonight, we decided to take our new shared passion back to the start of series 1 of the new Doctor Who. A great start to a new chapter in the relationship between myself, Matthew and Daniel. And a lovely reminder of my childhood I can share with my sons.
Thank you Doctor, you have two new fans to share your continuing adventures. Happy 50th to you!