Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Dum De Dum, Dum De Dum, Dum De Dum, Diddly Dum

If I'd been relatively more aware of time and space, dimensionally speaking, I'd have posted this blog three days ago on his actual birthday. But I wasn't. So I didn't. And here it is now instead. Today's blog carries with it a warning - if you are not of an extremely geeky disposition then this may not be the blog for you. Consider yourself warned...

He's just turned 45 years old but is also somewhere in the region of 900-odd years old. He travels around with assorted young people yet is never investigated by the authorities. He'll save the world and be back in time for tea and we don't even know his real name. He's the Doctor and here are my top reasons why Doctor Who is the brilliantest and everything else is just bobbins (by Nick, aged 6 and a half).

Regeneration - Quite simply, one of the greatest concepts in television ever. Lead actor getting a bit too ill carry on with the role? Well, then why not have him simply change into someone else? He's an alien, they do weird alien things, why not change his body and entire personality? The second part's the key thing. For our generation, used to soap operas recasting characters and forty-odd years of Doctor Who, it's no big deal. But imagine this:- It's 1966. England are doing quite well in the football*. For the last three years, you've been watching a crochety, white haired old man with a tendency to fluff his lines as he gads about the universe with his young friends. Suddenly, he falls down and changes into a younger, dark-haired cheeky cosmic hobo, yet somehow it's the same man. Wha-? It's a brilliant concept for bringing in fresh viewers. Don't like the current Doctor? Well, sit it out for the next couple of years, maybe you'll like the next one.

Blue Box - Of course, it's not just the Doctor that's been knocking around our TV screens for several decades. His one constant companion has been a blue box that's bigger on the inside than... well, we all know the drill with this one. Yes, it's the TARDIS.** Back in the days when I used to work for the Big British Castle, I stumbled across the original TARDIS prop just left lying around in the prop stores. It was old, battered, somehow small-looking, had peeling paint and smelt faintly of cat wee. It was a little bit like seeing a childhood toy lying broken at the side of the road.

Doctor, I've Fallen And I Can't Get Up - There have been many different companions down through the years and they've made their impressions on lecherous dads and impressionable young boys who are starting to work out that girls aren't the enemy. For me, it was Peri (played by Nicola Bryant) and Ace (played by Sophie Aldred) - the less said about Bonnie Langford, the better... Oh, and naturally, Billie Piper in the new series - the less said about Catherine Tate...well, you get the idea with that one.

The Nation's Favourite - Oh sure, its had its times where it's been, shall we say, less than cherished (sounds better than saying generally ridiculed for a year and a half) but it always swings back round to popularity in the end. Four years down the line in the current incarnation and it doesn't show any sign of waning in popularity - the last episode of the last series got it's highest ratings ever and speculation is rife as to who will be the next Doctor once David Tenant hands in his English accent.

Monsters, Monsters, Monsters - Some of them were great, some of them were just an embarrassed extra in a rubbish rubber suit but at least they were always trying to do as much as they could with the minuscule BBC budgets. In the brand shiny new world, of course, the money is not so much of an object and we get some great monsters (anyone who claims they weren't creeped out by the Weeping Angels - statues that creep up on you when you're not looking at them - is talking tosh).Which leads us on to the greatest monsters of them all...

Exterminate - Sure, the Master is a classic arch-enemy, all evil schemes and melodramatic mustache-twiddling. Yes, the Cybermen pack a visual punch when hordes of them take to the streets. OK, so Davros was the one who kick-started it all and is the epitome of the ranting mad scientist. But it's his creations that are the ones that everyone wants to see. They can be much much-ridiculed - pepperpots, sink plungers, getting up stairs*** - but their appeal has endured for forty-five years which means they obviously strike a chord. It does the heart good to know that yet another generation of children are running around playgrounds shouting exterminate at each other. Some things never change...

So there you have it. Doctor Who. Basically it's great. And here's to another 45 years.

* I read about that in a book somewhere

** We all know what this stands for, right? Good, good, just checking...

*** Although I think that last one's done and dusted these days as they fly about all over the place.

No comments: