The Doctor and I

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Here I detail an account of my journey thus far with the greatest show in the galaxy. Let me briefly introduce myself first, to provide some context. I am a 19-year old male human from Brisbane, Australia. I am a student at Brisbane’s premier university (which is not really saying much, mind) watching Doctor Who to break up the monotony of student life. I count myself as a member of the Millennial Generation (or Gen Y), so I am very much one of the new generation of Who fans of the post-2005 era.

I remember watching Doctor Who with my family when the new series premiered in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston. Both my parents had watched Doctor Who in their youth and had fond memories of the show: they were children of Pertwee and Baker, contemporaries of the golden age of Who. They tell me stories now of being terrified by very naff-looking Daleks and Cybermen from the 1970s. Like them, I have my own “hiding-behind-the-sofa” stories. Well, just one, actually — I was 10 when I watched The Empty Child, that bone-chilling thriller of Steven Moffatt’s; those zombie-like gasmask people moaning “mummy” were too frightening for ten-year-old me. They put me off Doctor Who (and gave me an absurd aversion to gas masks) for years.

But I couldn’t keep away from the show. I became a casual viewer of Doctor Who, as many were (and are), during David Tennant’s tenure, although not yet a fully-fledged fan. I was preoccupied with my newfound love of rock music and Avatar: The Last Airbender at the time (more on both of those in good time, I expect). Nevertheless, my next memory of Doctor Who is watching The End of Time with my family at Christmas (well, Boxing Day for me), aged 14. The power of David Tennant’s performance in his swan song really impressed me, his impassioned exclamation, “So much more!”, and his long regeneration that followed, genuinely affected me, and still does when I watch it. Ironically, I must have been one of the few who had seen Matt Smith before David Tennant regenerated into him, having seen him as Jim Taylor in The Ruby in the Smoke, the novel of which (by Philip Pullman) I had studied in my year 9 English class that year.

Was I a fan yet? Not quite. I continued to be casual viewer, not “keeping up” with the show as such, but watching it as good-value engaging television whenever it happened to be on. It was actually my best friend who made me into a fan. He and I constantly made each other into fans of things we were respectively interested in. I got him into rock music and Monty Python. He got me into Doctor Who. His obvious love for the show, and for the incumbent Eleventh incarnation of the Doctor, rubbed off on me. It helped that the ABC decided to run a daily marathon of all seasons of Doctor Who, which I watched out of curiosity as to what all the fuss was about. By the time I had finished watching all existing episodes of (New) Who, courtesy of ABC2, I was, understandably, hooked. I loved Eleven, I loved the Ponds, I loved River Song, I loved Doctor Who. I had become a Whovian in time for series 6.

I lapped it all up. I enjoyed every moment of the new series, as a born-again convert to the show. It just so happened that series 6 was an outstanding season, in my opinion the second-best season since 2005, after season 4. The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon (one of my all-time favourites), The Doctor’s Wife, The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People, A Good Man Goes to War, Let’s Kill Hitler, The Girl Who Waited, The God Complex, The Wedding of River Song, were all excellent stories from series 6 — my initiation as a new Whovian.

At this I became part of a small elite of Doctor Who enthusiasts in my year at my school. It was something I shared with my best friend and a small clique of Whovians. Whovians will know what it’s like, to have Doctor Who as something you share with others. Series 7 I also enjoyed, although between 7a and 7b I graduated high school, transitioning to university, where I was sundered from my like-minded fellows.

By the time the 50th Anniversary came around, I had all but become a fully-fledged Whovian. I needed only to watch the classics. I woke up at 5:00am to watch The Day of the Doctor with Who fans across the world as it aired simultaneously worldwide. I genuinely enjoyed The Day of the Doctor, although, as testament to how much of a Whovian I had become, I also found a lot to criticise in the writers’ authorial decisions (i.e. in retconning the Doctor’s infamous destruction of Gallifrey). Nevertheless, it was the 50th Anniversary special, and the features that were a product of the 50th Anniversary celebrations, such as An Adventure in Space and Time, that finally prompted me (as all Who fans must, inevitably) to watch the classics.

I decided I owed it to the show to watch all the classics, all the way through, from beginning to end, from Hartnell to McCoy, from Season 1 to Season 26, from An Unearthly Child to Survival. My fifty-year marathon. Having made the decision to familiarise myself with the classics, I wouldn’t have felt I was a proper Who fan if I didn’t eventually get round to watching them all. And so I did. I engrossed myself, following the centuries-long story of the Time Lord, all his faces, all his adventures, all his stories.

And so I’m doing. I’m still diligently getting through my fifty-year marathon, ever becoming more familiar with Doctor Who and the Doctor. It’s a labour of love, for my love for the show only grows as I meet all his faces, all his companions, and witness all his triumphs. Presently I have watched all the Doctors up to the Fifth Doctor, having just finished with Tom Baker’s great era. I’m somewhat surprised to find that I’m more than halfway through Classic Who. There are only eight seasons left for me to watch — how quickly it has all gone! I’d love to have made a blog documenting my journey through Classic Who from beginning to end, but, with only three classic Doctors left to watch, that ship has sailed.

I should also mention that I write this blog at the close of series 8. Series 8 was also another “first” for me, being my first series with a new Doctor. Expectedly, I’ve followed series 8 far more closely than I did series 6 and 7, anticipating the series itself, and each episode of the series, to a greater extent than my experiences with the previous two series (as a genuine fan). I’ve enjoyed the change in tone from Matt Smith to Peter Capaldi, and the quite dramatic change in the Doctor’s character. In any case, series 8 went far too quickly for me — but now the waiting game between series. Oh dear. The last eight seasons of Classic Who aren’t going to last me until September next year (or some other unattainable date in the remote future, as it ever is with Doctor Who).

Thus goes the story of the Doctor and I, just to get the ball rolling on this blog. Regular transmission will not be so me-centred, I promise. I merely thought telling my personal experience as a Doctor Who fan of four years (every Whovian has their own story) would be an appropriate way to begin this blog. And so let it begin.

Oh, and “my Doctor”? Matt Smith. My first and my favourite.

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