I couldn’t help it. When I see the word, the first doctor I think of is the Doctor. “Doctor who?”, you ask.
People all around the world now know this British sci-fi show. It originally began in 1963 and I am old enough to remember the First Doctor, played by William Hartnell, his granddaughter Susan and her teachers Ian and Barbara who became curious about her and followed her home one day only to see her disappear into an old Police Call Box.
The original program was made for children’s television and by today’s standards, it looks very cheap and corny with model space ships and costumes that could have come from a theatre prop box. However, I know I was not the only six year old to be found hiding behind the couch when the Daleks appeared. They were so scary, not so much the way they looked but they were so damn mean! They hated everybody and everything that was not a Dalek. I didn’t know the word xenophobic back then but that’s what they were. When they exterminated someone it looked horrible, the poor victim was transformed into a negative image.
When the decision to replace William Hartnell was made the show’s writers came up with an idea that I think was quite unique at the time. Regeneration. It cleared the way for many different actors to play the same character but keep continuity. Each Doctor’s personality and look was different but he was still the same Doctor. As we left England around the time that this happened and I didn’t see Doctor Who again for a long time I was unaware of this and simply didn’t understand what had happened. That was not the proper Doctor Who as far as I was concerned. I didn’t see the Patrick Troughton episodes until I was an adult and never did see them all. I wish I had now.
I started to watch the show regularly during the seven-year run of the Fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker. I still enjoy those old episodes. I managed to see most of his predecessor’s episodes. The Third Doctor was Jon Pertwee whose episodes were largely earth-based. I guess the BBC was trying to keep the budget down. A lot of stories were based around UNIT with regular characters Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, Doctor Harry Sullivan, Captain Mike Yates and the then Corporal John Benton as well as the Doctors companions Jo Grant and Sarah Jane Smith.
After Tom Baker’s departure the Fifth Doctor, played by Peter Davison took over. I liked him but I did not care for the Sixth Doctor played by Colin Baker, so after a few episodes, I stopped watching the show and didn’t bother with the Seventh Doctor, played by Sylvester McCoy. At the end of 1989 Doctor Who was cancelled, seemingly never to return.
I should mention that two Doctor Who films were made in the 1960s starring Peter Cushing as Doctor Who. They were “Doctor Who and the Daleks” 1965 and “Dalek’s Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.” Daleks were huge in 1965. These films are not considered part of the Doctor Who backstory and that’s why I was dubious about the Doctor Who film of 1996 that featured Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor. Movie Doctors are not the real thing to me.
Then in 2009 the reboot series arrived, now aimed more at adults although not so adult-themed as it’s spin-off Torchwood was to become. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it but after watching Christopher Ecclestone for about ten minutes I decided that I did. I notoriously dislike having to get used to a new Doctor but after getting used to them I did like Doctors Ten, Eleven and Twelve. David Tennant (Ten) will probably always be my favourite. Matt Smith I initially thought seemed too young and Peter Capaldi too old but his Scottish accent won me over.
I am currently on hiatus from watching Doctor Who though. I thought that as he is only supposed to regenerate 12 times Peter Capaldi might be the last Doctor but when he left the showrunners decided to cast Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor. There have been Time Ladies in Doctor Who in the past but I didn’t see why they needed to make the Doctor a woman. I had seen it coming with The Master/Missy and had not liked that character. It seemed as if the writers were just casting a woman to be PC to me and I decided that I would skip the unlucky Thirteenth Doctor and if there is a Fourteen maybe I’ll watch again.