Doctor Who

I know I am a bit late to this 50th anniversary party — but here is a brief note on one of my most favourite TV characters. And I say “character” not “show” because I wasn’t so much enamoured with the stories — I was thoroughly more inspired by the entity of The Doctor.  And it was Tom Baker’s version of course that mesmerised me. Even though Peter Davison came close — he being The Doctor that was the most contemporary when I became a fan. But Tom was a revelation. He had a swagger. A humour and a voice (and intonation) that was hopelessly hypnotic.

And ALL that stuff in his pockets. It was like his coat was “bigger on the inside” just like the TARDIS.

Here are some shots of TOM.

Here he is with Leila (who was my second favourite of his “ASSISTANTS”)

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Here’s Tom with Elisabeth Sladen — who sadly died last year. I really liked Sarah, but she wasn’t quite my type of woman. She was framed as being a modern 1970s woman — but she still seemed a bit too delicate. A bit too wholesome and a bit too asexual if I dare say so. She felt like she would be an awesome baby-sitter rather than someone to revere. But in saying that I was horribly sad when she wanted to go home and The Doctor attempted to drop her home at South Croyden. But maybe I was more sad cause after she saw the TARDIS dematerialise for the final time Sarah immediately noticed that it wasn’t even South Croyden. Maybe not even 1976. The Doctor was an alien after all. It was almost like he had Aspergers. 

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Tom and Leila — his second assistant.

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EARLIEST MEMORY

i am only certain of one of my earliest memories of Doctor Who. And it was in grade 3. 1983. Mr Rhody was my teacher and it was about 2:30pm. Maybe in the dead of winter where the light was suddenly failing. I was itching to go home and I remember thinking, “What was the climax of the most recent Doctor Who episode?” And then I remembered and got all excited for the imminent revelation of how The Doctor would escape the certain death he had just faced the day before.

In those days Doctor Who was broadcast on the ABC four times a week – not Fridays – at about 6pm. And luckily my Dad only watched the ABC news at 7 so I had the TV to myself. in fact Dad was also a fan of Doctor Who and had indeed watched the first episode (1963) back in England where he was born and grew up until coming here as a 12 year old. 

Looking back I think that episode I was thinking about was in fact a Jon Pertwee story. His first and best: Spearhead from Space. It fucking terrified me. You cannot imagine. Even on our black and white TV.

When i was a kid it was a very big deal to go to the City. I had been there maybe 2 or 3 times. (In those days there were a lot more mannequins in shop windows.) But after that episode and I was forced to walk past all those manniquins in the windows I watched them like a hawk convinced one would come alive any second. Fuckin hell. I almost wet myself. Horrific, but insanely blissful to my imagination.

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INSPIRATION

And this gets to my point. When I was a kid — maybe up until my late teens — I played a lot by myself. I would go to a friend’s house and be eventually quite bored. I was desperate to visit my imaginative world where I would act out (in my head) the adventures of my favourite TV or movies or books. And they would always be new adventures that I would invent on the fly. Normally I would do it underneath the house or in my bedroom but I tried it once at school in big lunch in this section underneath the library that I thought was well out of the way — but soon I got caught and teased like I was a freak. I remember what I was doing right at that point. I was imagining the CONSOLE ROOM VIDEO SCREEN opening. 

THE MUSIC

I think I need to talk a little about Delia. Delia Derbyshire

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Ron Grainger — an Australian it should be noted — wrote the Doctor Who theme but Delia transformed it into arguably the first ever piece of electronic rock music. No wonder pretty much every single electronic artist would rate the theme as an influence and dare I say it — a turning point. I have no evidence of this apart from Orbital and the KLF doing covers — but trust me on this. To this day the theme agitates something in me. It literally makes my spine tingle and I have to fight off tears of beautiful memory. 

REFLECTIONS:

For the record: my favourite CONTROL ROOM:

This new set was commissioned for the 20th Anniversary special: THE FIVE DOCTORS. To this day I think this CONSOLE looks thoroughly modern — apart from the TV screens.

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My Favourite “ASSISTANT” — Romana 2

(She was married to Tom Baker briefly and is now married to Richard Dawkins)

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CLOSE SECOND: ADRIC

I literally cried when Adric died. The credits were also so horribly poignant. They had a special sequence that was silent and just showed the his broken star — a gold star he had been awarded for mathematics and he used it to thwart the Cybermen and then crashed the ship into Earth circa 70 million years ago which happened to be the event that destroyed the Dinosaurs. (It wasn’t an asteroid after all!)

Below is a pic of ADRIC avec star and sans star.

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PETER DAVISON

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MARY TAMM

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