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.