How Will Future Fans Keep Up?

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Guest contributor Lewis Christian wonders how long the show will continue and how future fans will keep up.


Montage by Leda74

As Doctor Who reaches its 50th anniversary milestone, I’ve already started wondering about the future… and not just the next few years. In another five, ten years time when the show is still going (in whatever medium), I have to say I’ll be feeling sorry for the new fans.

I look on various sites now – forums, Tumblr, Twitter – and there are many ‘new series’ fans who bemoan the fact they may never find the time to catch up with all of Who’s history. There’s just so much of it. We may be in the age of DVDs and Blu-Ray and repeats, but the sheer amount of this one TV show is enough to make any newcomer go insane.

The series as it stands now, made by Steven Moffat and co., is generally produced with the intention of allowing new viewers to jump on-board at pretty much any point; Rose, The Christmas Invasion, New Earth, Smith and Jones, Partners in Crime, The Next Doctor, The Eleventh Hour… and those are just series openers and specials. Even if you start with Rose, you could probably catch up over a couple of weekends. The point is, you don’t need to begin with An Unearthly Child in order to enjoy the show.

However, 2005 is now speedily becoming a distant blur. Even The Eleventh Hour, 2010, seems like an eternity ago. In five or ten years time, we’ll perhaps have another two or three Doctors, another six or seven series… and then countless spin-offs, tie-in media, prequels, mini scenes, charity sketches, the works.

I have no doubt that, come the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Doctors, the show will still be made with the ‘jump on at any point’ approach, but the history will still be racking up and my worry is: will any fan even want to try and catch up? Since Russell and Moffat alone, there’s just so much stuff to devour – nearly 100 episodes, TARDISodes, prequels, Night and the Doctor, bonus scenes.

I know if I were a fan coming fresh to the show in 2015 or 2020, I’d be wanting to at least get a taste of the overall history of this epic programme. DVDs and Blu-Rays will be available, but we’ll need a planet the size of The Library to hold them all. Even if you miss out all the extras, books and audios and stick solely to the televised main series, Hartnell will be ancient history and, dare I even speculate, more or less forgotten.

I know of many fans now who are undertaking marathon viewings, from An Unearthly Child to the present, and that’s taking a hefty amount of time and dedication. Let’s congratulate them, and the show for surviving so long… but let’s also spare a thought for Fans: The Next Generations who will potentially have to suspend themselves in cryonic chambers just to find the time to catch up on the 55, 60, 70, 80… 100 year history of Doctor Who.