Saturday, 16 November 2013

Doctor Who - The View From Behind The Sofa


This post needs a soundtrack so please press play on the following You Tube link.




I am not a big fan of seaweed – I may have mentioned this before. In my youth I hated the feel of it and it actually scared me. These days I avoid it.

The source of my fear is a television programme that celebrates 50 years on Saturday 23rd November 2013. I refer, of course, to Dr Who, the tale of a Time Lord who is able to anywhere and anywhen in a spaceship cum time machine that looks like a 1950’s Police Box. Dr Who, or the Doctor as he prefers to be called, is an eccentric alien who travels around the universe and history usually with a human companion, resolving problems, saving entire civilisations and generally protecting people from nasty, marauding and belligerent monsters. When fatally wounded, he can regenerate into a different person, thus allowing different actors to portray this mad alien.

My fear of seaweed stems from an episode when I was about 6 or 7 which involved sentient seaweed coming in through air vents and strangling people to death.

I am sure that if television writers put that idea forward as an idea nowadays, it would be laughed at. However, the reality of the situation is that the programme is now the longest running science fiction programme in the world having been first broadcast on 23rd September 1963, when I was almost one year old.

I have watched most if not all of the episodes in my lifetime. As a young boy, the show actually scared me – not enough to give me nightmares, but enough to make me watch from behind the sofa.
Here in the UK, the show is a national treasure and the lucky actor who plays the part of Dr Who is effectively made for life. Eleven actors have played the character and each of them is revered by a different generation of Whovians (Dr Who fans).

Everybody remembers their first Doctor – for me it was Jon Pertwee the third Doctor Who. My kids, who are also huge fans, will no doubt consider Christopher Ecclestone or David Tennant as the quintessential Doctor. For Mrs PM is was the fourth Doctor – Tom Baker.

Whichever, Doctor is your favourite, few can deny that the show is stitched into the British fabric as an iconic and characteristically British show. The Doctor is a flawed hero, with all of the stereotypical eccentricities of Britishness, as well as the humour, the peculiar behavioural characteristics and the deeply flawed and hidden dark side that we sometimes see.

Even the villains are comical. Who would have thought that a Dalek, a creature living inside a mobile tank that resembles a rather large and strange looking pepper pot, would become a British icon?
The show has not always been popular and in the late 1980’s TV producers all but killed the show by broadcasting it at the worst time possible. There was an outcry when it was subsequently taken off the air, and after a brief reappearance in the 1990’s, Dr Who returned in 2005 and the series has gone from strength to absolute strength.

Modern special effects have replaced the hilarious costumes of the 70’s and 80’s and even the Daleks have taken on a new menacing tone.

On Saturday, the 50th anniversary special will be shown with the current Doctor, Matt Smith, and the previous Doctor, David Tennant combining with John Hurt in a special adventure that will provide a few surprises.

I can’t wait to be honest. Call it sad if you like but I will be ready to watch it and I will be excited, just like I was as a kid sitting down in front of the telly with my dad – who was incidentally also a fan, and whose first Doctor was William Hartnell, the man who started it all.

If you have never seen the show, you have missed out. Here are some highlights from the more recent series.





So, dear reader:

Have you ever heard of Dr Who? 

Who was your first Doctor?

Did the show scare you as a child?

Here is the trailer for the 50th anniversary show:




I will be watching – and I won’t be behind the sofa - honestly.

18 comments:

Grace said...

Tom Baker! My first and only Dr. Who, and I was an adult, so no, didn't scare me. Unfortunately several of my male friends became entranced by his very long scarf and I crocheted far too many six foot long scarves (one would have been too many!)

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Grace,

That was a farily impressive scarf I have to say; I'm surprised he didn't fall over more often.

:-)

Cheers

PM

Big D said...

I grew up with Doctor Who. Essential viewing every Saturday night.

My first Doctor was Tom Baker and I came in just after he acquired Leela as a companion. I stopped watching just after Colin Baker took over.
Considering the budget, they managed to tell some great, inventive stories.
And yes, that series scared me quite a few times. Remember the one where some bloke ripped off his face to reveal a one-eyed mutant-thing underneath? I had nightmares for a week after that.

Looking forward to Nov 23 immensely.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Big D,

Ah - Leela - one of the better companions.

I certainly do remember the one-eyed mutant thing.

Great inventive stuff but if you have the whole of space and time to play with, the possibilities are endless.

:-)

Cheers

PM

H2B said...

I have only watched 1 episode of Dr Who, it is the one with Billie Piper, about missing children or something. Prefer Star Trek.

River said...

I remember my first Doctor, William Hartnell, I had a crush on his young male assistant who had thick dark hair and wore a kilt. Can't even remember his name now.
I hope we get to see the 50th anniversary show here in Aus.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi H2B,

You've missed out. Dr Who is better than Star Trek (although I love that too).

It seems more human somehow.

:-)

Cheers

PM

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

You mean Jamie, played by Frazer Hines:

http://www.doctorwhotv.co.uk/what-ever-happened-to-jamie-mccrimmon-52730.htm

He was a star in a soap opera called Emmerdale.

I believe that the 50th anniversary episode is being shown worldwide on the same day.

ABC1 at 6:50 am for you I think (repeated at 7:30 pm).

:-)

Cheers

PM

Pandora Behr said...

Dr Who has always scared the bejeesus out of me - Tom Baker was the first doctor I was aware of - and I rather liked David Tennant and watched most of those episodes (still getting scared in places. I have a mate who owns a real dalek...Interested to see how Peter Capaldi goes in the next series, though I can't see him doing the job without an expletive ever second sentence. God bless Malcolm.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pand,

My personal faves from the new era of Dr Who in terms of scaryness are the Weeping Angels and Silence! Creepy - very creepy.

David Tennant was pretty good - but I like Matt Smith too.

Peter Capaldi will be different again thoug I will be a little sad to see the end of Matt Smith if I'm honest.

:-)

Cheers

PM

jeremy north said...

I can vaguely remember William Hartnell, and more so Patrick Troughton. For me though the Doctor was Jon Pertwee. I think while I liked Tom Baker after him, by then I was losing interest.

Yes I was terrified of some stations & enemies. There were some ant creatures called Zarbees or some such thing, who freaked me out. I loved the Daleks but was scared at the same time by their menacing presence.

In later years, I got back into it, David Tennent was the best by far.

Perhaps you should have some comments on the fit sidekicks over the years. Billie Piper and Freema Agyeman were particularly easy on the eye.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Jeremy,

I nearly mentioned companions - not so hot on Billie Piper but Freema Agyeman is lovely - as is the new one - Jenna-Louise Coleman.

From the past, I liked Peri and Leela - and of course Sarah-Jane and Jo Grant.

:-)

Cheers

PM

River said...

It isn't listed in my program guide which goes from Sunday to Saturday, but when you have Saturday, we're usually on Sunday already, so it may be listed in the next guide on the Sunday for us. I've made a note of the times and date and will check ABC1 just in case on the 23rd.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi again River,

Actually - it will be Sunday Oz time because you are at least 10 hours in front of us.

:-)

Cheers

PM

DrB said...

Thanks for checking the time it is going to air in Oz. I have set the alarm to get me up.

jeremy north said...

Yes of course PM, Peri, and J-L Coleman, both hot!!

Amoschini said...

I was introduced to "Doctor Who" a few years ago by a friend and now I'm obsessed with the show's history. I even went to the Doctor Who museum in Cardiff, Wales when we were vacationing over there a few summers ago, it was incredible. I am so excited to see who they are going to choose for the new Doctor. I think Capaldi did a fantastic job, but of course I say that about every Doctor before him as well.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Amoschini,

I think Capaldi's been very good. I'm always intrigued to find out who the knew one is. He'll take some getting used to but I'm sure he'll be fine.

:o)

Cheers

PM