Today’s The Day!

At last!  Today is the 50th Anniversary Special of Doctor Who and I for one have been completely drawn in by all the hype, and I can’t wait.

It will start with that fabulously recognisable theme tune which gives me a little thrill of nostalgia taking me back over decades, every time I hear it. I think it’s the woo-oo-ooo bits that do it!

I’m really quite sensible and not one of those superfans who dresses up and knows everything about Doctor Who.  It has a very special place in my heart though, as I grew up watching it and it has been around for as long as I can remember.  It defines British television and is most definitely a national treasure.

For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, it’s all very hard to describe.  Basically, Doctor Who is a Time Lord who is well over a thousand years old.  He comes from Gallifrey, has two hearts and he is best described as a weird, scientific explorer of different times and galaxies with a tremendous sense of justice.  After half a century of time travel, we still don’t know his real name but his victories are always total and when I was little, that made him the perfect father-like protector.

So far, there have been 11 Doctors.  I have no memory of watching William Hartnell or Patrick Troughton but credit has to be given for how differently they both approached the role, leading the way for all the actors that followed to play the Doctor their way.

I started watching when I was about seven or eight and Jon Pertwee was the Doctor.  That gives him a special place in my own personal ranking of the eleven.  He was a proper Dandy with his frilly shirts, posh voice and general flamboyance.  I saw him as a rather lovely eccentric granddad. In those days, each episode ended with a cliff hanger and I often had to wait until the following week in a state of anxiety as to whether he would be all right!

And then Tom Baker took over.  He was the one I grew up with and loved. Such a complete weirdo with that voice, the wide eyes, that slightly childlike but mesmerising nature, the jelly babies and that long, long scarf.  He was brilliant.

By the time Peter Davison took over, I was a teenager/young woman and Saturday evenings were more about going out and finding my own hero rather than watching TV, so I missed quite a lot of episodes …. but I do remember thinking he was really quite cute, in a jolly nice chap way.

I had no time for Colin Baker and his ridiculous technicolour coat and so I stopped watching and then gave up on it totally when Sylvester McCoy took over.  I guess others felt the same as the BBC pulled the plug in 1989.

In 1996, I remember being really excited about the prospect of Paul McGann playing the Doctor in a one-off film but I suspect I was probably a little disappointed, as I have no memory of it or how I felt about it.

But in 2005, the Doctor’s return really set my world alight.  Christopher Eccleston was so cool and rather sexy and I loved him straight away.  Rather disturbingly, my daughter who was entering her teens felt the same! He was such a great Doctor.  He gave the series back the huge success it deserved and he thoroughly owned the role.

However almost as soon as he started, he left.  I was distraught and I didn’t think that I could forgive David Tennant for well, not being Christopher Eccleston.  However, that lasted about an episode!  Halfway through that first series with him, he was my favourite, my absolute favourite, and not just because I fancy him rotten but because it was clear that he genuinely loved being the Doctor.  He was gorgeous, cool, cheeky and as far as I’m concerned, he was the Doctor.  At the end of the Tennant reign, there were goodbyes to all the characters that had been key in his episodes – Martha, Mickey, Captain Jack, Sarah Jane, Donna and finally Rose.  It was absolutely heartbreaking and I sobbed for hours.

I have to admit that it’s only now as Matt Smith is about to end his reign as the Doctor, that I finally appreciate how good he has been.  A cross between a boffin, action man and alien and probably the best physical actor of the lot.  His problem, as far as I was concerned, was that he wasn’t David Tennant.  But I realise now that I didn’t dislike him as much as I thought.  Although I moaned about him, I watched every one of his episodes.  I gave him a hard time.  I was wrong.

Matt Smith, I apologise.  You are up there as one of the best.

Of course, it’s not just the Doctor that has made this programme brilliant.  Where the companion has been great, Doctor Who has been at its most magical.  Sarah Jane Smith arrived soon after I started watching and it may have been her that kept me hooked with her guttural “Doct-err” every time she was in danger.  Even at my very young age back then, I think I had a bit of a girly crush on her!  In the modern era, she returned in one of my favourite episodes, sparking off much jealousy from Rose.   Sarah Jane was brilliant.  RIP Elisabeth Sladen.

I should have liked Leela as she had my mother’s name but she was too overtly sexual for my young mind.  In fact, lots of the companions wore hardly any clothes after that which was very annoying and quite unnecessary!

With the brand new Doctor Who, came Rose.  I was so sceptical when I heard Billy Piper was to be in the new series but she was brilliant from the start.  I adored her.  Every episode was brilliant.  And the relationship between the Doctor and Rose was so beautiful.  I’ll never forget their heart-wrenching goodbye when he disappeared before actually telling her he loved her.

But just as beautiful, was the Doctor’s relationship with Donna Noble.  I never thought in a million years that casting Catherine Tate could work and at the start it really did just seem as one of her sketch show characters had pitched up on the show.  But soon, I LOVED her.  Really loved her.  And when it ended with the Doctor having to erase her memory so she didn’t even know who he was, it was even more upsetting than the ending with Rose.

Amy Pond was far too knowing and I never really liked her.  Was she in love with Rory or the Doctor?   Until that final episode, I never thought she was worthy of Rory’s love but I may just have been jealous of how incredibly beautiful she is!

That the Doctor constantly regenerates is a neat trick that has kept it going all these years.  The unveiling of the new Doctor is always kept under wraps until the big reveal which is now a separate major TV event in itself.

And so we await Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor. I know he will be brilliant and may possibly give us more of a traditional doctor than the romantic figure we have become used to…. but who knows?

And tonight, we find out what the fabulous John Hurt’s involvement is.

I really can’t wait!

It won’t be a letdown.  I just know it will be amazing because it is written by Steven Moffat who is, quite frankly, a genius.

Oh my, only a few hours to go now.  Woo-oo-ooo…..

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A World Of Drama

This week, I will be going to Liverpool again.  I know it is only a month since I left my son at university there and this is already my second visit since leaving him, but this time I am taking the whole family as ……it’s his birthday!  

I can’t believe my baby boy is now twenty.

He’s loving university life and although I was worried that he might struggle a bit with the academic side, he is really enjoying studying Drama because unlike at school, he can now focus on the subject he loves and so he is naturally keen, enthusiastic and motivated.

I’m very proud of him.  

I know I am his mother and admit to (maybe!) being a bit pushy when he was younger, but he does have great musical and dramatic talents.  He has already written, composed and directed three musicals, starting his first when he was just sixteen, which raised well over £3,000 for our Church’s redevelopment project.  He’s done stand up comedy, compered big events and lights up the stage in every production that I’ve ever seen him in.  And that’s not just Mum talk…. really!

I should have realised he’d enter the world of drama as the way he entered the world was pretty dramatic!  Back in August, I wrote about how my daughter arrived so it’s only fair that I share his birth story too.  I remember it as if it were yesterday…..

If you remember, my daughter had taken a good 27 hours to make her entry into the world.  This time round, just a year later, I was determined to wait as long as possible before going into hospital. So when the contractions started at two in the afternoon, I decided that I would just ignore them as I assumed there would be no baby before the following afternoon at the earliest. I called the husband at work to warn him not to take on any new projects but not to rush home. And then I spent the rest of the day playing with my gorgeous baby girl, rolling around on the floor with her and letting her clamber all over me, and all the time trying to take no notice of the worsening pain that was coming at increasingly shorter intervals. I did start to worry at about four-thirty that maybe the baby’s arrival was not far off when suddenly, everything just stopped. No contractions, nothing. 

I felt extremely smug then that I had been clever enough to stay at home and ride out the pain and spent the early part of the evening giving my daughter her bath and dinner and putting her to bed with an extra special kiss and cuddle as I knew it was the last time I would have just one baby to look after. It was as I lowered her into her cot that the pains started again….but I wasn’t going to be fooled into going to hospital too early.

So instead, I settled down to watch “EastEnders” which was a really important and dramatic episode.  I wish I could remember what it was about now, but it probably featured Cindy Beale being a naughty girl and breaking Ian’s heart again or Sharon and Phil getting it on ….or breaking it off …..or getting it back on again!  Either way, it was all far too important to be distracted by mere labour pains!

We were staying with my parents at the time, as we had just sold our flat and were looking for a house, and my dad knew instantly I was in pain because he noticed me clenching my toes every time I had a contraction!! He begged me to go to hospital as he could see they were coming pretty fast but I said I knew better and that they would soon stop again. The poor man started pacing then and kept taking his inhaler as I stubbornly sat and watched the Paul McKenna show! By the end of that though, the pain was pretty intense.

I asked the husband to run me a bath and I calculated that if I had a leisurely soak in warm water, it would help ease the pain and give me a few more hours at home. However, just as I went to step into the tub, my waters broke and from that point on there were no more contractions – just continuous, excruciating pain. I told, no screamed, at my husband to call an ambulance as I needed gas and air but they just laughed and told him it was as easy for him to drive me to hospital himself.

Throughout all of this my mother was very unsympathetic. During the evening, she told me to stop making a noisy fuss and expressed more worry about the state of her bathroom than me, when I told her my waters had broken!  As my husband helped me to get into the car, she shouted from inside the house for me to wait a second.  I was convinced she must have been feeling guilty about being so grumpy with me and wanted to hug me and wish me well as I went off to deliver her second grandchild.  But no!  She came running out with plastic bags that she insisted on putting over the car seats so I didn’t “make a mess” !!!

Fortunately my Dad gave me lots of hugs to send me on my way!

And so we headed off but the pain was horrendous.  We had to get to the maternity hospital which was twenty minutes away but we had only reached the end of our road when suddenly I could feel the baby’s head. I told my husband and he dared to say that he didn’t think that could be right ! So, I grabbed his hand off the steering wheel and let him feel for himself.

I have never seen the colour drain out of someone so fast!

He became like a man possessed, driving on pavements, jumping lights, swearing at pedestrians who dared to use the zebra crossing. This was my lovely, quiet, mild-mannered, even-tempered husband who was, by the way, shouting at me to shut up every time I screamed with pain. He was a totally different man! 

He screeched to a halt outside the maternity hospital where a few midwives were clearly waiting to be collected now that their shifts were over and he jumped out of the car and shouted the immortal line “MY WIFE IS HAVING A BABY” !! One of them pointed to the sign and said sarcastically that he was in the right place then, but he screamed hysterically “NO, SHE’S HAVING IT NOW!”  She sauntered over to the car, took one look at me and then threw her bag on the floor. After a quick feel she shouted, even louder than him, “I NEED SUPPORT HERE….NOWWWWW !!” And somehow a chair appeared from somewhere, the car was left where it was with all the doors open and we were taken up in the lift to the fifth floor.  But as the nurse in the reception area tried to work out which delivery suite was free, the midwife with us shouted there was no time for that and she threw what looked like a red airbed right there on the floor and told me to lie on it and push.  And it was on that, after just three short pushes, that my son was out and in my arms and all I could think was that I didn’t want those lift doors to open, in case anyone saw all my bits !! 

My poor husband saw the whole thing and was in complete and utter shock at the speed of it all….and the knowledge that just one more traffic light and his son would have arrived in the car.  It took him a good couple of weeks to recover from that and even now he doesn’t laugh when I tell the story, which I obviously do with great relish at every opportunity!

He adores his boy though.  So do I … even though we clash sometimes because he is far too much like me ! 

Happy Birthday, my darling son!  When you make it big in Hollywood, remember what drama I went through to bring you into this world, and dedicate that Oscar to me!!