Why We love Doctor Who
Guest contributor Pauline Russett ponders the most important question.
According to various articles here and comments everywhere, our fandom appears to be having a bit of a crisis of late. I’m quite over the arguing. I think we need to look back for a minute at why we watch this wonderful show in the first place and what it tells us. This is a very simplistic retelling of my journey of how I came to love Doctor Who. The first day I watched a Doctor Who episode, I had no idea how pivotal that moment would be in my life. My Dad used to watch Star Trek episodes by himself until one day (I was probably five or something) I thought he looked a little lonely and sat with him. That was the day I became the only little girl I knew (at least then) that adored science-fiction.
About two or three years later he was very excited about some other sci-fi show – one he said hadn’t been made in a long time but he had loved as a little boy. In Australia, the air date of Rose would have been later than what you lucky ducks got in the UK. I watched it and immediately liked Rose. The Doctor seemed a strange man and I didn’t understand why his ship was a police box but the idea of travelling in time and space- that was pretty cool!
As the first new series aired I began to love Doctor Who not for just spending time with Dad but for the amazing new worlds I saw and how the Doctor with the occasional cry of Fantastic! saved the innocent from such terrible monsters. When I discovered that three kids my age were also Whovians I was beyond excited. Then came the regeneration.
Dad explained why there was a new, younger man that was the Doctor but it didn’t feel right to me. I liked the old Doctor. Why would the show change the main actor for someone who’s babbling about new teeth? The Christmas Invasion I watched with arms crossed. When the Doctor was half asleep for most of it I was set that I wouldn’t like him when he woke up. Then he quoted The Lion King, grew a new hand and had won Rose’s trust again all in his pyjamas. Suddenly he wasn’t so bad.
Eventually I grew to be a HUGE David Tennant fan. He’s still my favourite Doctor today and always will be for his charm, wit, quirks and overwhelming desire to do and be the best he can. Number 10 is responsible for my love of Converse shoes, desire to just live in the moment being myself and habit to talk at a million miles an hour when I’m excited about a brilliant idea (why public speaking isn’t a forte).
Through each of his companions, I saw the Doctor in a new light and began to understand that Doctor Who is always changing and evolving; allowing it to examine new notions about humanity and life that keep it fresh. I started writing stories about the Doctor being in Australia and theorised with my ever-growing number of Whovian friends how the series would end, who River Song was etc. While the new series weren’t airing Dad and I would watch the old series- particularly Tom Baker’s and Peter Davidson’s eras- and I began to see just how big and wonderful Doctor Who really was.
Then The End of Time aired. I balled my eyes out like you wouldn’t believe. I was in a state of mourning for… well, my memory is hazy there. They were dark days. My mind kept on replaying his, “I don’t want to go” and I just wanted to shout at David Tennant, “Then why DID you!?”
I was still raw when we sat down to watch The Eleventh Hour. When I saw that the theme tune had been altered, the logo and another young man in my Doctor’s suit I was furious. Dad wasn’t too fussed. While he liked 10 (though his favourite will always be Tom Baker) he was able to come to terms with the change. As a big Whovian, he knew that the show is meant to grow and fundamentally, doesn’t really change. I came around in the end, to the point that whenever I see someone wearing a bow tie I tell them it’s cool (yes, even to strangers), buy fish fingers and custard as a snack occasionally and taught myself how to play I Am the Doctor on the piano for a laugh.
Now at 17 years of age I watched Matt Smith regenerate with tears in my eyes but my excitement to see Peter Capaldi’s era and how Clara’s character will grow outweighs my grief. Peter (probably) won’t be amused by a fez, say, “Allons-y!”, wear a ridiculously long scarf or maybe even like cricket and I know that’s okay. It’s how I want it to be because he’ll teach me in his own way how to see life differently.
While this article might seem self-indulgent, what I’m trying to share with you is the evolution in my love of Doctor Who. It’s all about the little changes but the important things don’t change. That means that no matter who the writers are, how old the actors are or any other myriad of arguments Whovians seem to be having at the moment, true Doctor Who fans must come to realise that change is inevitable.
Without these differences over time Doctor Who wouldn’t have survived 50 years. Sure, you may not like Peter Capaldi’s Doctor at all, but that doesn’t mean that you should tell others they shouldn’t either or complain about the writers. Can you imagine writing a TV show for millions of people of all different ages and cultures? As if you would be able to please everyone! It’s just not possible. But boy did The Day of the Doctor come close!
If there is anything fans like you and me need to say to Steven Moffat, Peter Capaldi and all the other writers, producers, make-up artists, novelists, directors, stunt-doubles, grips, caterers, voices of the Daleks, actors in monster costumes, set designers, the BBC and all the people we never hear of who are involved, it’s thank you. Even the people who run Doctor Who TV, the Doctor Who Magazine and Doctor Who fan clubs across the globe deserve a salute.
Doctor Who celebrates difference. It includes different sexualities and cultures (though I would suggest an episode set in Australia… just saying) and the Doctor himself strives for harmony. What would he say about our fandom’s current state of events? Simple: NO MORE.