Our intern, Alina is a die-hard Dr. Who fan and we asked her to write a blog about her love for this Sci Fi TV series which is marking its 50th year on television! Wow!
Definition of Whovian in English:
Whovian NOUN informal
A fan of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who: a fan from way back, Barrowman is well aware of just how passionate Whovians are about everything ‘Who’
This was pretty much my reaction when I realised there were no more online episodes to watch and I actually had to wait for season 8 to air on BBC like everyone else. It felt like emerging from a world far beyond anything else I ever knew: my head was full of Daleks, creepy angels and breathtaking plot twists while the pillows were full of tears. But before you take a ride on this emotional rollercoaster let me tell you first, what Doctor Who is all about:
Doctor Who is a British science-fiction television programme produced by the BBC since 1963. The programme depicts the adventures of the Doctor, a Time Lord—a space and time-travelling humanoid alien. He explores the universe in his TARDIS, a sentient time-travelling space ship.
TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) appears as a blue British police box, which was a common sight in Britain in 1963 when the series first aired.
Accompanied by companions, the Doctor combats a variety of foes while working to save civilisations and help people in need.
Doctor Who was originally intended to be an educational series, with the TARDIS taking the form of an object from that particular episode’s time period (a column in Ancient Greece, a sarcophagus in Egypt, etc.). When the show’s budget was calculated, however, it was discovered that it was prohibitively expensive to re-dress the TARDIS model for each episode; instead, the TARDIS’s “Chameleon Circuit” was said to be malfunctioning, giving the prop its characteristic ‘police-box’ appearance.
The show ran continuously from 1963, but was cancelled in 1989. Like the Doctor himself, though, the show proved resilient, finally beginning anew in 2005.
The rebooted series has proved to be a remarkable success – it’s still going strong, and also managed to accomplish what the “classic” Doctor Who series never did – building a huge fanbase in America, Russia and most European countries. It even managed to become the number one show on BBC America, and its viewership is growing.
But how does one explain the longevity of the series?
I think what it really comes down to is the fact that it’s pretty much limitless. It can go anywhere. The Doctor can go and meet Vincent Van Gogh back in the 19th century, battle alien races in 2020, travel to the Waters of Mars in the distant future, and so on. The possibilities are endless.
And it can be almost any genre. Horror, sci-fi, comedy, drama, western or fantasy. One minute you’ll be screaming in terror (them angels be damned), the next you’ll be roaring with laughter, before leaving you sitting there chewing your fingernails of. The show also is remarkably creative. There have been easily over a hundred different aliens created for the show, many with very clever, unique concepts behind them.
It is nevertheless clear that a show that is over 50 years old cannot be played by a single actor. The writers came up with an intriguing way of writing the Doctor out – as he was an alien being, they decided that he would have the power to change his body when it became worn out or seriously injured, a process that was called “renewal” but would later become known within the mythology of the series as “regeneration”. The intriguing part: every single Doctor not only has a different face, but also a different personality.
“The character is helped because he can be played by a limitless number of actors. The longevity of the character is assured because it thrives on the basis of character, even as popular culture changes. That idea of change – being able to reinvent itself – is central to Doctor Who.” – Dael Kingsmill-
Like The Doctor himself, the show is able to constantly reinvent itself. It’s not limited by time, or genre, or even cast, so it never gets old, but at the same time, it manages to hold onto that wibbly wobbly which people know and love.
Another aspect of the show that may turn out to be a surprising aspect of its appeal to audiences is its quintessential Britishness. Ben Aaronovitch, a British author best known for his series of novels which depict a very realistic day-to-day London, often mentions the Doctor as a part of British culture. Especially on Christmas when families would gather to watch the newest Doctor Who Christmas Special.
But do not expect a simple Christmas. With the Doctor and his companions, it is never simple.
As you can imagine I could go on for hours. Perhaps the best way to explain the appeal of Doctor Who, though, comes from The Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson. In a 2011 episode that featured a guest appearance by the actor currently playing the Doctor, Matt Smith, Ferguson wrote a song celebrating Doctor Who, in which he said that “It’s all about the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism.”
As a long-time fan of the show myself, I think that sums it up best. But still, please go on and watch it for yourself. I would love to hear what you have to say about it. As for me, I have only one thing to say:
“This show has lasted 50 years for a very good reason”.