I have been obsessed with ‘Doctor Who’ since I was a kid. I’ve collected various memorabilia, snapped photos with TARDISes and Daleks, and spent Christmas days impatiently waiting for the special.
One of the earliest memories I have is of watching it for the first time. It was the night before my 6th birthday party, and I had been allowed to stay up to help decorate. My mum consistently reminisced on growing up with Classic ‘Doctor Who’ during the 70s and 80s, so once it was announced that the show was going to be revived in the early 2000s, she endeavoured to ensure that I had the same experience. The first episode I watched might not have been the best introduction; ‘Rise of the Cybermen’, for which I spent a significant chunk of the episode hiding behind the sofa – but what is ‘Who’ if not a ‘Children’s programme’ that’s guaranteed to give them nightmares.
It took my mum by surprise how much better the visuals were than the Classic series, and subsequently, how much scarier it was – but the values, principles, and entertainment value of the show remained the same. There have also been parallels in that the show has maintained some of the frequent jokes/references that originated in the older series, such as “I’m the Doctor”/”Doctor Who?” and “It’s bigger on the inside” – although, Clara Oswald, the absolute maverick, quipped “It’s smaller on the outside” in the 2012 Christmas special.
We watched ‘Doctor Who’ as a family throughout David Tennant’s five-year run, and I, with all the sternness that I could muster as a child, would tell you off if you even thought about talking during it. Watching those first few series back now feels like a time machine (excuse the pun) in that it transports me back to being a kid. I think as I have grown older too I’ve been able to appreciate its ability to draw multiple generations in, even if solely for the nostalgia element.
In Summer 2014, I had a flare-up of an injury, and as I was housebound for a while, I decided to re-watch ‘New Who’ from the beginning. We’d stopped watching after Tennant’s run, so this was my first time watching since.
When I got to Matt Smith’s Doctor (did you know he went to UEA?!), I was immediately besotted with his quirky and chaotic portrayal of this well-loved character, and it re-ignited my love for the show. I spent my Tumblr days running a fan account and writing fanfiction on Wattpad about my favourite characters (cringe I know), but the show, particularly Smith’s and Tennant’s episodes, has remained my comfort watch. Admittedly, I am less keen on Peter Capaldi’s portrayal (12th Doctor) but him getting to live out his boyhood dream of playing the Doctor harkens back to that aforementioned nostalgia.
My biggest wish for the show was fulfilled in 2017, when it was announced that a woman would FINALLY be playing the title role, in the form of Jodie Whittaker. It had never failed to annoy me growing up that the Doctor could be played by anyone (the Who universe literally encompasses all of time and space) and it’s been played by thirteen white men in a row (counting the War Doctor) I don’t know much about statistics, but I’m sure the statistical probability of that is quite frankly near impossible. I was surprised it had taken so long to move with the times. But, regardless, I am glad this generation of children get to witness inclusivity and progress on a show that has been adored for generations.