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…..