Ahh…Doctor Who: you had me before I was born.
This is not as odd as it sounds. I was lucky enough to have an older brother who was totally smitten with the show. Some of my first memories involve riding my tricycle down stairs (painful!) and of a strange little man being menaced by scary silver giants.
For me the story truly begins with Spearhead from Space. A new Doctor and a new colour television; my life was complete. I remember waiting patiently each week to see the latest instalment. Time seemed to go on forever back then and the good Doctor seemed to be a Televisual constant. Oh, if I could tell you of my love of young Jo Grant. How I cried at the end of the Green Death.
Along came the spiders and my first truly remembered regeneration began. I vowed to myself that no one would ever replace the dashing dandy in my affections.
Needless to say I fell head over heels in love with Mr Tom Baker. For me the golden years will forever be the Doctor, Sarah and dear sweet Harry.
Around this time I remember the Blackpool Doctor Who exhibition…a wonderland of surprises. Thanks to my brothers near stalkerish devotion we became friendly with the owners and spent most weekends running around screaming. Sometimes back stage…touching the props themselves. It was also around now that the man himself came to WHSmiths in Blackpool for a book signing. Target books clasped in hand I can still recall the giant of a man, the spilt water jug and the pressing throng of bewitched children…
Target books…do you remember them? VHS before it was created. Wonderful cheap slabs of memory. I bought them religiously. My love remained undiminished.
Suddenly my brother began receiving mystical letters and magazines of untold interest. D.W.A.S, Celestial Toyroom, TARDIS…I remember you all. Soon my pocket money was wasted on subscriptions of my own.
Now a quick word of the past, in these days of paid signing sessions its strange to recall that back then you could actually write to your heroes and get this, they would write back. My time was spent mailing the delightful Liz Sladen and the great man himself. Autographs and hand written letters piled high. Tom was well known for this, many a time an unsolicited letter would arrive. A photo, grinning loon, and a quick note “Only me Neil!”
My brother was leaving School and for his Art Project he built a plywood K.9. The BBC supplied diagrams for him. Inch perfect. John Leeson recorded a tape of K.9 dialogue for him….great days.
Times change. Hair grows and Rock music arrives. Still my love remained. Doctors changed again and Blackpool itself hosted a number of mini conventions. Much fun was had. At one particular meeting a certain young Gary Russell and friends were attendees. Unaware of future events I spent too long menacing him with a ‘monster’ constructed of a bar towel and an ice cube holder. Cries of “Timmy the dog” may have been uttered. If only I had known…
Years passed and a slew of conventions flew by. The coat of many garish colours arrived and my love took a downward turn. It was nothing to do with the actor, indeed I have since rediscovered him via the delights of Big Finnish audio and adore his portrayal but you could sense something was in the air. Around this time I can remember a journalist friend and I dressing as the Doctor and Shockeye and descending on the local Italian restaurant. What must they have thought?
My love was reignited by the dark turn of the final days but then abruptly the end came. The show became a memory and, despite the regular reading of the monthly, it slipped away onto the back burner. Family and work took over. New shows came but never quite achieved that same adoration. The movie arrived in a flash of bright colours and mistimed steps. The Doctor I loved…the story not so much.
And then…the show was coming back? For real? Ahh..Mr Davies how I love thee. It can be quite trendy to sniff at the RTD days. Not here, not from me. The perfect blend of actors and tone launched our show onto millions of screens and into millions of hearts.
A joyride commenced, broken only by my decision to move to Menorca. I had no TV by choice but by careful manipulation I talked my local Italian bar owner to forgo the joys of football and instead play the good Doctor’s adventures every Saturday. A strange thing happened and before we knew it there was soon a group of gnarled old Menorcans coming every week to watch the show. Hours were spent explaining in broken Spanish the shows history. I like to think that even now, all these years later the Saturday ritual still continues.
Back home now and yet more changes. The show goes on. Mr Smith has wormed his way into my heart and the future looks ever brighter.
Doctor Who…my journey. Who goes where? Just about everywhere really.
By Kneel Downe