Doctor Who is back on TV, which for me is still a weird thing to type. See, even after ten years, huge ratings and a massive cultural impact it just seems wrong.
My son is ten years old. When I was his age Doctor Who had been cancelled after spending the previous few years having it’s budget slashed and being bounced around the TV schedule. There’d be books and that, not to mention the TV movie in ’96 but that would be it for a good decade. Sci-fi in general wasn’t about much in the British TV mainstream. Sure, there was Red Dwarfbut a prime time show with huge ratings? No. Maybe Bugs if you really want to open that pandora’s box. There was Crime Traveller but that lasted one series.
So in the mid 00s when the first trailers started announcing a return of The Doctor I was more than a little taken aback. Doctor Who? With the TARDIS? And they’re showing it at 7pm on a Saturday?
That’ll last one series, I thought.
Which, to me, was a shame. See, back then my son was still a baby so all he was doing was sleeping, poohing and drinking milk. The show would be repeated, I might even get the DVD box set but it wouldn’t quite be the same for my son. It would be something he would watch when he was older but there’d be other shows on at the time that would be capturing his attention so Doctor Who would get lost in the shuffle.
How wrong was I?
Eccleston was The Doctor that established the tone of the show but it was the arrival of Tenant that would push it to the very top of the world. By the time he was getting ready to leave my son was four and began to watch the show properly and began to love it.
Matt Smith was the Eleventh Doctor but more importantly he was my son’s Doctor. The house filled with books, toys and everything else with Smith’s face on.
And still I shook my head and thought, madness. How is this show still on TV? How come everyone likes it? That isn’t how its worked for my entire life. You’d get something on BBC2 well off the beaten track and that’s about it. Look how they treated Buffy when they had it, despite it being a hit in the U.S. You could tie it into the whole rise of Geek-Chic (though that phrase makes me wince) which was great but ended up giving us The Big Bang Theory so there you go.
You can make this same point about the Marvel films: Iron Man is one of the biggest characters in pop culture? Thor? How the hell did this happen?
What an age in which we live.