I remember exactly how I first watched the new reincarnation of Doctor Who back in 2005. I was in Northumberland, aged 13, crouching on a bed with my family in the spare room while a cathode-ray TV sputtered into life. We were visiting my grandparents for Easter, and while we weren’t usually the types to be anti-social guests, I had been told this was a programme that HAD to be watched live.
“We can’t miss this,” my mum said as the opening credits began to roll – “this is like history!”
My mother doesn’t remember this slightly melodramatic conversation, but I do – and perhaps that’s a mark of how much Doctor Who has meant to me. That house in Northumberland may be sold and the flickering old TV long consigned to the scrap heap, but I’m still watching and loving Doctor Who.
I suppose “Rose” wasn’t my first ever Whoniverse experience – as a child I used to half-watch Jon Pertwee repeats on the BBC (not really understanding what was happening), and I vaguely remember The Curse of Fatal Death on Comic Relief. Still, Christopher Eccleston was my first real Doctor, and after a few episodes I couldn’t get enough of my new favourite series.
I loved the adventure, the humour, the brilliantly open central concept – travelling anywhere and anytime, with any possible result – and it’s a love that I’ve kept until this day.
That said, I’m not going to go on and make a moving plea about how the morals of Doctor Who have made me a better person over the last decade, or how it offered me an outlet for an unhappy life, because that’s not true. But that quirky sci-fi show ended up being a constant companion in my formative years, always providing entertainment and new ideas as I grew and changed into the (sort of) adult I am today.
It shaped an interest in TV production, sci-fi, creative writing and – specifically – the amazing Radio Times behind-the-scenes features that popped up every week leading me towards entertainment journalism and all the amazing stuff I get to do for my job today. Basically, Doctor Who made me a nerdy hack and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Years later I must have re-watched “Rose” half a dozen times since its first airing, but while I know exactly how I watched it I couldn’t tell you what I thought of it at the time. Oddly, I really can’t recall my first reaction to this bizarre, hilarious and involving show that’s become such a big part of my life. I blame teenage hormones.
I’m just glad it pulled me in enough to return the next week, and the one after that, years later I can make a living wondering how many times Peter Capaldi can regenerate, or waxing lyrical about my favourite episodes. It’s a very special series we should be proud of, and I’m glad to have been around to see it return from the wilderness.
So thank you Doctor Who – I owe you an awful lot, and I genuinely can’t wait to see what you have to surprise me in the coming years
Hip hip, Who-ray!