Doctor Who at Fifty – Well, Eighteen, Really

I thought I would take a break from the usual political and politically correct nonsense to write about something else, albeit, these days it is full of politically correct nonsense itself and I wouldn’t watch it nowadays if you paid me. In fact, I stopped watching it after Tom Baker regenerated into someone who looked far too boring and I was eighteen at the time anyway – the same age as the programme.

Baker left in 1981, so I am really celebrating eighteen years of “The Doctor”. Just a few years late.

Channel 4 began the following year, so the nineteen year-old me was far more interested in the new “alternative” comedy, largely the product of the hallowed halls of Oxbridge University and their right-on, socially-aware (or so they thought) champagne socialist view of the world.

I did team up again with Doctor Who in 2001 (I think) in real life when I helped out a friend in the big film and telly memorabilia exhibition in Glasgow when he came up from London. He had brought the aforementioned Tom Baker to sign autographed photos for £15 a pop (but you got one of his trademark jelly babies absolutely free!).

Baker was really wonderful to the punters. He changed dramatically once they had gone.

According to this: Doctor Who: 50 things you didn’t know,

8. Tom Baker joined a monastery at the age of 15

This I knew. He showed great delight in telling us about it over dinner. In fact, he wanted the whole restaurant to hear and his language was more Channel 4 than CBeebies. It was embarrassing. When I returned to the table after a toilet break, I was asked what had kept me so long. They thought I had left. I must have been in a state of shock or something, wondering if this was really happening. He is a big man and when he talks to you he grips you in his gaze and you feel yourself being drawn in. Fascinating, but never again.

Give me a dalek to deal with any time.

Although, I hadn’t known that he had turned down the role of Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings films because he didn’t want to spend months on end in New Zealand. I guess you wouldn’t want to brag about a misjudgment of that magnitude.

My favourite Doctor was Jon Pertwee. He seemed like a jolly nice chap to a young boy. I remember Patrick Troughton – just, but I was born slightly too late to recall William Hartnell.

Things you didn’t know Number 5 is: The Daleks were based on the Nazis

… by their creator, Terry Nation, who suggested their call of ‘Exterminate!’, their obsession with forcible eugenics and their dedication to total conformity. The BBC designer Raymond Cusick, meanwhile, came up with the distinctive pepper-pot shape and the zapper with its sinister storm trooper salute. In The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1966) the Daleks roll into London and turn Britain’s stout inhabitants into mind-controlled, brainwiped ‘Robomen’ — a stark nod back to the once-real possibility of an Axis invasion of Britain.

According to the Internet Movie Database, the film is called Daleks’ Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. which rings a bell, because I remember seeing it two or three decades ago, and being appalled. (Peter Cushing played the Doctor in the two 60s’ films.) It was supposedly set in London nearly two centuries in the future, yet looked exactly like the London of 1966: when it was made. This van in the film lasted remarkably well…

Dr Who van

The Morris JB van. Sure to make a comeback in time for 2150.

Oh dear!

But talking of turning Britain’s stout inhabitants into mind-controlled, brainwiped ‘Robomen’, that has happened already. Daleks were not to blame. Cybermen need not be rounded up for questioning either.

Number 10 sounds peculiar:

Time Lords exist! Sort of…

Well, OK, they don’t really. But some people experience a rare form of synaesthesia – an involuntary crossover of sensory input – in which they are apparently able to perceive time. Those who experience the phenomenon often describe it as a circular formation, with years shading into one another and longer periods, such as decades, showing up in different colours. Dates, appointments and memories may have a ‘physical’ form and a place in the arrangement. Such time-space synaesthetes, as they’re known, can sometimes even perceive time as a ring encircling them. No word on the regeneration, though, and no one has come calling with a free TARDIS. Yet.

If you say so.

This one I like:

40. The sound of the Tardis was created on the cheap, with a bunch of keys

Necessity was the mother of invention in the early days of Doctor Who, and so it was that the distinctive sound of the Tardis materialising came to be invented using house keys. Brian Hodgson of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop dragged the keys across the bass strings of an old piano, and played the resulting sound backwards.

If only I could be that four-year old boy hiding behind the couch again and start to live my life differently. Imagine living from that age with 46 years of hindsight? I used to be heavily into horseracing and the history of it, so I remember who won some of the big races over several decades. I would never have to do a day’s work in my life! Although I would also be trying to remember the dates and places of the big disasters so as to make an effort to avert them, so the responsibilities could outweigh the easy ride financially. But, there is no Tardis. The past fifty years have gone for the Doctor(s) and for me. I can only hope and pray and strive for a more significant next fifty years, or as long as the Almighty has in store for me.

I need to spice up my life? Any ideas? I don’t mean naughty ones – anyone can do them?

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6 Responses to Doctor Who at Fifty – Well, Eighteen, Really

  1. Radical Rodent says:

    I have been a fan of the Doctor since the first programme, and have enjoyed each and every incarnation – and (perhaps oddly) think that Matt Smith has been one of the best.

    What made my blood boil was the BBC – as usual. After a very good ending, we are treated to the closing music and all of the incarnations, to have a chirpy BBC twit utterly ruining the moment with the voice-over on the end credits. Can’t these idiots ever shut up? Why do they think that the viewer is unable to read or enjoy the music? One can only be thankful that they kept it merely to terrestrial TV in the UK; the rest of the world missed it. Lucky them.

  2. Stewart Cowan says:

    I’m nearly nine years without broadcast telly. It’s become prolefeed. Maybe it always was. Although, I’m watching the first series of Hart to Hart on DVD at the moment, so people in glass houses….

    I’m guessing that the announcer is using the precious time the music is playing to advertise the wonderful offerings yet to come on the BBC?

    They’ll never get another penny piece of my money. That’s for sure.

  3. Leg-iron says:

    I watched it on the iPlayer after the broadcast was finished. It’s the only TV programme left worth watching so why buy a licence?

    I have the first William Hartnell episodes on DVD and noticed something I couldn’t have noticed when I was three (when it started). They only had three Daleks in the first Dalek episode. The rest were painted on the wall!

    Something that has been glossed over since then is… the Daleks were originally confined to one city on one planet. What alerted them to the possibility of time and space travel was… the arrival of the Doctor!

    It was all his fault. The war he ended would never have happened if he hadn’t lied about the ‘fluid link’ in order to make his companions allow him to expore that city.

    I wonder when that’s going to come back to haunt him?

    It was nice to see Tom Baker in that episode. He was a hard act to follow. Somewhere I still have the scarf that won me a fancy dress competition that I didn’t know was happening, and wasn’t in fancy dress.

    Yeah, life is still like that for me.

  4. Stewart Cowan says:

    The BBC were so tight with money at some stages. They literally threw out hundreds or thousands of programmes rather than store them. I have a DVD of the “Likely Lads” (1964-66), but just the “surviving episodes”. Before my video collection turned mouldy I had a Jon Pertwee Dr Who series where one of the colour episodes had been lost and they ‘rescued’ it by melding a black and white TV recording for definition and I think an 8mm or 16mm colour film version for erm, colour. If only they had foreseen the appearance of a) videos and DVDs and b) cult followers of TV progs.

    But I like the idea of winning a fancy dress competition when you’re wearing your normal clothes. Did you also have brown curly hair in those days or swear a lot?

  5. Luke says:

    As you know Stewie, Dr. Who is one of my favourite TV shows going and has been for a very long time! I will be writing a blog about the show soon me thinks! Also, you should have a look at your banner plugin Stew, or perhaps just un install it, its broken and causing a permanent error on the footer of your site :P

  6. Stewart Cowan says:

    I know you like a lot of things I don’t, Luke – and some things I like, like spag bol and George and Mildred (just recently finished watching the entire box set again).

    Yes, someone else commented on the error. The person was absolutely furious with what I’d written, but (I think he was in web design) was even more outraged about the fatal error.

    I’ll be switching web hosts in the next month and changing things around, so hopefully that will disappear. I did actually pay somebody to install the WP, but didn’t notice that at the time. But thanks for mentioning it.

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