Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Happy birthday, Doctor Who!

Happy birthday to Who, Happy birthday to Who, Happy birthday Doctor Who-oo, Happy birthday to Who!

(cue one of those things that squawk when you blow it)

Yes, it's 23rd November 2011 meaning its been 48 years to the day since Doctor Who first appeared on the nation's - and later the world's - screens with an adventure titled 'The Unearthly Child'; two school teachers follow their unusual pupil home to discover she lives in a Police Box in a junkyard...
The first episode is wonderfully eerie with its hazy black and white look and William Hartnell is positively chilling as the Doctor. Far removed from his predecessors such as Tennant's chirpy Doctor and Smith's bumbler, Hartnell here (he later mellowed into a sweet old gent) is a cold standoffish figure, locking the two teachers inside his TARDIS so they won't tell his secret. And off they go into time and space.

It's hard for us now, so familiar with the concept, to think how ground-breaking and gripping that episode must have been - a Police Box as a spaceship! And it's bigger on the inside! And it travels in time! For those like Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat who saw this as young children, the sheer originality of the show captured their imaginations and hasn't let them go their whole lives.

I, however, was born a mere 30 years to late to see this episode live so my first Doctor Who memory was on a Saturday evening on 9th April 2005; of the TARDIS arriving in Victorian Cardiff meeting Dickens and ghosts...

I remember knowing what Doctor Who was before it came back - my dad had watched it through the first three Doctors (Troughton was his favourite) - but I had never seen any. I know I was annoyed when I accidentally missed the first couple of episodes; 'Rose' - my family switched over in time just to see Rose run into the TARDIS at the end - and 'The End of the World' so I made sure I watched the next one.

Needless to say, I loved it. I was instantly hooked on Who and haven't looked back since.

Gatiss' Victorian horror is still one of my all-time favourites - partially due to the fact he's one of my favourite writers (if you haven't already go check out his Lucifer Box novel series) and my love of Victorian-set fiction. To my 12-year old self, it was just the best; a friendly alien who cavorts about the universe in a bigger-on-the-inside phonebox and meets ghosts, big green monsters and metal pepperpots - how could I not love it!

Here's to the next 48 years!

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