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May 05, 2006

Life is just better with Doctor Who

Several people have pointed out to me the irony that just as soon as my favourite thing, Doctor Who, became the biggest thing again since sliced bread, I left the country and missed it.

Actually, as it turns out, it couldn't have been a better time for me to leave. I may not be able to record and meticulously catalogue meta-TV-about-TV spin-offs like "Totally Doctor Who" and "Doctor Who Confidential", but thanks to some amazingly kind friends and the advent of DVD recorders, plus a liberal dose of peer-to-peer file sharing, I am currently up-to-date with the series as it transmits in the UK. That wouldn't have been so easy a couple of years ago.

Only yesterday I was happily watching the episode "School Reunion" on the laptop. Of course, I say happily...apart from the tear-jerking nostalgia for Sarah-Jane Smith being the first assistant I remember, and I was devastated as a child when Tom Baker dropped her off in Croydon and didn't come back to pick her up, and I loved that little tin dog, and it reminded me that I never got to snog that Sarah girl in the year below me, and all of the other hideous melancholic childhood nostalgia that came flooding back.

Of course, if I had access to a time machine myself, I think the thing I would be most interested in travelling back in time to witness is, well, how I became so fixated on 'Doctor Who' as a child in the first place.

I'm fairly certain that the first story I can remember seeing was "The Ark In Space", as I mentioned when our neighbour at the Ifigenia apartments was washing her fuzzy green rugs. It was transmitted in January 1975 - which would make me a very young and impressionable 3-and-a-ΒΌ years old. With no DVDs (or even VHS) in those days, the only other chance I would have had to see it was when it was repeated in August 1975, when I would have closer to 4 - perhaps a more plausible occassion for me to have viewed and remembered it?

But I know I must have been watching in early 1975 - as the Cybermen didn't appear on screen in the UK between April 1975's "Revenge of the Cybermen", and 1982's "Earthshock", and I definitely saw them on television when I was a child, and remember the Cybermats shooting along the space station set.

I also guess I must have started watching Doctor Who in black and white - as I have a nagging suspicion that the first time my parents rented a colour TV was in time for the 1978 World Cup finals. Yes, that's right young whippersnappers, people used to rent televisions because they were too expensive to buy. And, check this out, there even used to be televisions that didn't show colour! And one day you'll be older and talking about when TVs weren't HD/3D/someotherD/available on prescription.

Of course, when I was young I also avidly borrowed a rotating sequence of the Target Doctor Who books from Walthamstow Central library, which is how I knew the major Hartnell, Troughton and Pertwee stories transmitted before my time, and knew about the fact that occasionally the Doctor 'changed'.

Going back in time would not only clear up exactly when I first saw Doctor Who, but would also give me the opportunity to ask exactly what my parents were thinking of when they sat their impressionable young son down in front of geeky sci-fi scariness at such a young age ;-)

Still, get 'em while they are young, that's what I say. Our friend's 3 year old daughter ran around the house saying "And the boy said 'Are you my mummy?'" for ages after last year's "The Empty Child" episode.

Secretly, of course, I hoped she had actually become a Doctor Who monster.

I can't help it now, of course, I'm hooked. Somehow, life's just better with new Doctor Who being made.

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