A sample article I wrote recently about Doctor Who. The picture shows my partner (D), Me, and my two sons, Rhys and Frankie (the little dude at the front) in a TARDIS photo booth at The Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff, 27th May 2015.
“Never knowingly be serious.” Great advice from one of the oldest and newest favourite characters of science fiction. The Doctor is an alien. A Time Lord, in fact, from a planet called Gallifrey who travels through time and space in his iconic blue box, the TARDIS.
He hit the nation’s television screens in November 1963, and the first episode was shown again, a week later, immediately before episode 2, due to the breaking news and extended coverage of John F. Kennedy’s assassination being blamed for BBC believing that viewers had missed the introduction to this new show Played by William Hartnell, the First Doctor had a granddaughter, school girl Susan, with whom he travelled.
The Doctor has been played by 12 different actors (although it continues to be debated as to where other versions outside of these 12 fit in). The Doctor is always the same man and is reintroduced with each new actor through regeneration. Instead of dying, a Time Lord’s body replenishes, the same man with the same thoughts, feelings, memories, but with a new body and a different personality. In the episode ‘End of Time (Part One)’, The 10th Doctor (David Tennant) says “Even if I change, it feels like dying. Everything I am dies. Some new man goes sauntering away. And I’m dead.” This is one of the joys of watching Doctor Who, the process of watching the transition and seeing the Doctor develop and learn about himself with each regeneration.
After a hiatus of 7 years, a made for TV film was made starring Paul McGann as the eighth incarnation of the Doctor. The ratings were a success in the UK but not in the US so another series did not go ahead until 9 more years later when, in 2005, Christopher Eccleston became the 9th Doctor, with Billie Piper starring as his companion, Rose Tyler.
53 years later, Doctor Who has its own cult following, has spawned two major spin-offs (Torchwood, with flirty Captain Jack Harkness played by Scottish-American John Barrowman, and The Sarah Jane Adventures which starred the late Elisabeth Sladen as journalist Sarah Jane Smith who had previously travelled with the 3rd and 4th Doctors, played by Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker, respectively) and a short-lived cartoon (K-9, about the Doctor’s robot dog) as well as countless audios and fanfiction. There is a plethora of websites and social media pages dedicated to the show, the characters, monsters, and even the language of the Doctor’s home planet.
The Doctor spends most of his time with a companion or two, traversing time and space, meeting aliens, and visiting new worlds. The intention is for adventure but the Doctor regularly finds himself in trouble, having to save planets, or to make impossible choices.
Many characters are lost but others return, sometimes in mysterious or unexpected ways. Series 10 of the modern era has recently begun filming. Fans are looking forward to finding out what new companion, Bill (Pearl Mackie) can bring and how she fits in with Peter Capaldi’s grumpy old man portrayal of the Doctor in his 12th incarnation. Capaldi has said “I don’t think [the Doctor] was grumpy [in Season 8], he just can’t be bothered with dull human beings and their concerns.” (http://www.cultbox.co.uk)
The Doctor and his companions come face to face with many enemies, such as the Daleks, seen originally in the very first series, a race of mechanical creatures created by elite scientist Davros on the planet Skaro. These aliens, along with Cybermen, Zygons, and The Master, have met the Doctor again in the new Doctor Who era. There have also been many friends and the latest series will see comedian Matt Lucas reprise his role as Nardole, first seen in 2015’s Christmas episode entitled ‘The Husbands of River Song’, which also saw Alex Kingston return as the formidable River Song.
Information as to other characters and stories for the next series is not forthcoming. Michelle Gomez, who plays Missy – a Time Lady, the latest regeneration of Time Lord, The Master – has said that “I can say that I will be doing the next season.” (cultbox) but viewers will have to wait and see who else will return.