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26 November 2013

Who's There? Tuesday Talk

Saturday 23rd November 2013 was the 50th anniversary of Dr Who. Like many others I clearly remember the very first episode. I was ten, and no, that first episode I didn't hide behind the settee (that came in a later storyline - read on....)

For some reason that first episode, starring William Hartnell must have struck a chord of some
sort - I had never been interested in science-fiction, or even fantasy before. I was very much into ponies and Cliff Richard at ten years old.

We had a black and white TV in the corner of the sitting room. And I remember the line that 'hooked' me. Maybe not word for word but it went something like this (all from memory - not looked up!)...
A young girl, Susan, was at school. I can't remember the male teacher's name, but the woman was Barbara.  The teacher was talking about the three dimensions and Susan said "But what about the fourth - time?" (or she might have said 'space'?) I can't remember the detail but I do remember a chill of excitement zinging down my spine - the whole thing suddenly opening up in my imagination like a door suddenly unlocked.

I think I watched most of those early episodes - the alien monster that sent me scuttling for cover was not a Dalek or Cyberman or Zygon... no idea what it was called, but it looked a bit like a cross between a centipede and a scrubbing brush. And I have no idea why I was terrified of it!

The fascinating thing was the blue police box.  The TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space) They were familiar things in our streets back then! There was one in Chingford, I walked past it every day - and every day was so disappointed that it was still there, it hadn't de-materialised or the Dr didn't step out.
(OK I was 16 by then, I should have known better....)

I did not watch many of the Patrick Troughton or Jon Pertwee series - I think I was too busy playing ponies and attempting to deal with some not very happy teenage years. But then Tom Baker appeared on the scene, and once again I was hooked. I even knitted myself a Dr Who scarf (that great long one that Baker wore) It must have been winter because I wore it walking to work every day.

I worked in the library then, and I recall a young lad (I think his name was Gideon - was that his first or surname?) who was an avid DW fan (I'm not sure the term 'Whovian' had been invented then). His face used to light up when he saw me, in hope that I'd put aside another Dr Who adventure story for him.

Memorable episodes? I adored K9 - my dad even made me a version as a stool for my first bed-sit flat. I wish I still had it! I recall the episode where the Dr (Tom Baker) had a chance to destroy the Daleks and he questioned his right to annihilate a whole species - was it just as wrong to murder something? Did that also make him a monster?  That thought has stayed with me all these years. If we had a chance to destroy something horrid - would  we be right to do so?

And then Dr Who went down hill a little. I quite enjoyed Peter Davison, but not the others (Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and I don't even recall Paul McGann). I was sad when it left our screens, and overjoyed when it came back - although I wasn't sure about Christopher Eccleston as the Dr. Something was missing.... I don't think any of us knew what that 'something' was until the Doctor regenerated into David Tennant.

His blend of humour, adventure, excitement and daring-do - coupled with brilliantly written scripts (and fabulous performances from his companions - especially  Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) were perfect.
And Cpt Jack Harkness appeared. Instant love at first sight. TORCHWOOD (an anagram of Dr Who) was just as fabulous - maybe even more so because it included adult material, but it did not have quite the 'innocent'  charm of Dr Who did it?

Must mention Matt Smith - not quite s charismatic as David T - but still, an excellent Doctor

So the anniversary special edition The Three Doctors had me in my bedroom watching TV on my own (because I wanted to concentrate on it, and my husband isn't a Dr Who fan).
And at the end I cried. Not because of the story (although it was fantastic) but because of the memories - and the knowing that here I was at 60 years old, just as I had been at 10 years old, still being plunged headlong into the world of suspended belief and vivid imagination  - and loving every moment of it.

Time, for me during that special edition had been suspended. Was I 10 or 60? But then as the Dr himself says - Time is a sort of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff...

and to finish - this hilarious sketch from a previous Comic Relief starring David Tennant and Catherine Tate - prepare to laugh...

Full profile of the series on Wikipedia
Dr Who


  1. www.patriciabracewell.comNovember 26, 2013 4:46 pm

    The image of your young mind opening up, like a door unlocking, at the mention of the 4th dimension - time - is especially poignant and revealing, given the many books you have written that are set in the distant past. You absolutely walked through that door! I have never had the opportunity to become a Dr. Who fan, but I watched that anniversary special edition, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Wonderful post, Helen! Long may the Doctor reign!

    1. I'm not sure I walked through - I think I sprinted! And yes, definitely a Timey Wimey connection! LOL

  2. Some things withstand the tooth of time, huh? Love D Tennant,and i'm still hoping to find a real TARDIS.

    1. So sad the old police boxes aren't in use now :-( - used to be fun seeing them .... and wondering.....!

  3. I was doing the wibbly wobbly timey wimey sort of stuff the other night too Helen. And I STILL loathe cybermen. They are terrifying!

  4. Great post Helen... thanks very much.

    I followed Dr Who for as long as you I feel. So many great memories, including meeting four of the Doctors, even worked with two of them - Jon Pertwee and my favourite Tom Baker. Never got to see their TARDIS. Suspect it was hidden like the screwdriver in that last hilarious sketch.

    1. LOl - trouble is each time I cll back to reply to someone I get distracted & watch that sketch again!

  5. I loved Dr Who when I was young. But I much preferred the history stories. Later it become virtually all Science Fiction and gradually I lost interest, although I was in fact also a Sci Fi Fan. The time travel through world history was the original concept with no ‘off-world’ excursions or aliens and, to me, was more interesting.

  6. I like the history ones as well, but I think a nice blend is a.... umm, nice blend! LOL


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