One of my very first memories is a recurring nightmare about a scary green man with tentacles running into a hut in the snow. The hut blows up and I wake up terrified. Years and years later a friend lent me the video (remember them?) of The Seeds of Doom and there was my nightmare, on screen at the end of part two. Yikes. That was quite a surprise. It seems therefore that I have been watching Doctor Who since before I can remember, but perhaps that is how it should be. Kids love a good story and that is what Doctor Who is.
Doctor Who challenged my imagination and the way I think about the world. It was a big influence for me. Tom Baker grinning at an adversary and offering them a jelly baby was such a unique way of dealing with trouble that you couldn’t help but love it. The series inspired me to become an actor, work in telly, the media, anything really that would get me making programmes like Who. If I may be deep for a moment it fed into my ideas of what is right and wrong and the challenges of the bits between the two.
Well this is so hard these days. A few years back that was such an easy question. The answer was Tom Baker. But these days how do you choose between Tom and David Tennant? Tennant has really got it nailed now. He’s angry, he’s lonely, he’s an old, old man in a young man’s body. He can be brilliantly funny too. Full of compassion, never allowing the end justify the means but making the means fit the end (is that an oo-er?). And, I’m told by countless women who watch it becasue he’s in it, rather hot… Doctor Who? Hot? Who’d have thought it.
I grew up with Tom’s Doctor so choosing David would be like disowning an uncle or something. Tom was sooo alien. Dangerous and surprising. Wildly funny; ‘You know, you’re the classic example of the inverse ratio between the size of the mouth and the size of the brain!’. Deadly serious; ‘When I say I’m afraid, Sarah, I’m not making jokes’. (Actually are there any really good quotes like that in the new series?) Amazing company, the best friend you could want and the worst enemy.
Hmmm, you can’t compare the two. But David may have the edge at the mo. Never before has there been a Doctor you can feel for, and that dimension is something the new series does really well. We felt his loss at the end of The Girl in the Fireplace and when the Master died. Goodness I had something in my eye on both occasions. Tennant is such a good actor that those big character pieces can really hit you between the eyes. But to be fair to Tom that happened in his time too. That bit in Logopolis where he spots the Watcher for the first time is surprisingly disarming and likewise when Sarah Jane leaves at the end of The Hand of Fear (my first Who memory). He draws his coat up around his shoulders and looks sooo alone.
That’s an impossible question! Come on this is Doctor Who! Oh, all right. If you must! Hmmmmm. No. Well. I guess. At a push, if I really must.
It would be City of Death. I suppose it has something to do with being on at the time when I was just getting into Doc Who, but it is brilliant. It’s all there really. An audacious and fascinating plot which is all to do with the Jagoroth wanting to survive (can’t blame him for that) but at the cost of humanity never having existed. A great monster/villain. Tom Baker at the height of his performance and one of the greatest Doctor / companion relationships with Romana (my first TV crush!). A sparkling script by Douglas Adams that gives Steven Moffat a run for his money. Some really scary bits (end of parts one and three – they were really scary to a kid). Julian Glover, Catherine Schell and Tom Chadbon amongst others. And John Cleese!! And Paris!!
Well again there are so many. The Daleks though I have always found rather dull. Creepy yes and unquestionably a design classic. But they are just a bit slow. For me it is the Cybermen. When I was a boy you couldn’t put a scratch on them, not like today (what WAS Russell T Davies thinking of?). They were impassive, invulnerable, totally remorseless and really chilling. Somehow they are really tragic, but of course they’d not understand the word. Watch Earthshock, it still holds up!
But the monster that had the biggest impact on me was Kroll. Terrifying. Yeah, I know the story is dull, but this thing was a mile across. And that wasn’t including it’s tentacles. It could cut through marsh land like a hot knife through butter and pick off anyone at will. Watch those scenes where it attacks the refinery and you will see what I mean. I had nightmares for weeks and wouldn’t go anywhere near the deep end of a swimming pool. It was my one truly behind the sofa moment, and I found to my horror that it was too close to the wall. So I hung onto my dad for dear life.
Which companion did you either want to be or fancy:
Lalla Ward!! Yum!
If I’d been born a few years earlier I suspect it would have been Elisabeth Sladen or, indeed, Katy Manning. Then of course Nicola Bryant. How DID they get away with Planet of Fire part one?? Billie Piper too. I saw her play in the West End last year and got her autograph, she’s really nice 🙂
I sort of wanted to be Adric. Looking back he’s not the greatest of the bunch, but because he was a kid it was like wow, he’s getting to travel with the Doctor. His moral dilemmas made me think a bit and he was often getting it wrong and I identified with that – I just knew that I would mess things up in such extraordinary circumstances. Nothing prepared us for when he stays on the freighter to stop it hitting the Earth. Then the escape pod detaches, and the cyberleader blows up the console in the TARDIS, and the cyberman blows up the computer on the freighter, and it’s getting closer and closer to the Earth. Just stop a moment and consider how all that looked to a nine year old who had no idea whatsoever which way it was going to go. This was really, really jaw dropping. Then the muffled bang as the freighter blows up. I think there was a national stunned silence. Yeah it’s only a tv show but that was extraordinary. A needless death among so many made even more tragic by the fact that it was poor hapless Adric. We sat there and turned the volume up to full on the tv cos we couldn’t work out why there was no end music. Then it dawned on us. He was really dead. Goodness.
What are you looking forward to:
18.20, Saturday, BBC1. And Catherine Tate. I think she’s gonna be rather good.
I’m rather worried about episode six. I won’t spoil it if you don’t know the title… but as the Doc said in series one ‘I don’t do domestic’.