Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Favourite Fictional Characters: The Doctor by Doctor Who fans

Look everyone, it's Christmas! But if you're a Doctor Who fan, this month won't just mean it's coming to the end of another year but that the greatest show on the planet's 50th birthday year is drawing to a close. To celebrate, here's the next entry in this blog's 'Favourite Fictional Characters' series which will focus this time on that oft-mentioned character on this site, the lost Time Lord, the Oncoming Storm, the Threatener of Rabbits, the Doctor. And to help me talk about him, I've got in contact with some people in the know...

Firstly, perhaps the immediate thing that comes to mind when thinking of the Doctor is that he is, first and foremost, a hero, as @Face_4radio quite rightly said on Twitter.
Literature, books, television and  films are full of heroes. We like a good hero. However, what sets the Doctor apart from most is that he chooses to be one. James Bond is employed to stop bad guys, Sherlock Holmes solves crimes as mental stimulation and Batman only prowls Gotham City every night so he doesn't have to mope around Wayne Manor. In contrast to these fellas,  the Doctor grew as a character - beginning as someone tottering around the universe to gain knowledge, by the time of his second incarnation he was proclaiming 'some corners have bred the most terrible things... they must be fought!' Nowadays, the Doctor is a hero through and through, with the Moment in 'The Day of the Doctor' saying that the 'sound [of the TARDIS] brings hope wherever it goes.' As a boiled-down statement of the role the Doctor has in his own show, 'he is there to save the day', is right on the nose.

Although sometimes, he doesn't manage it...
Despite being an alien, there is much humanity to the Doctor. Like the best of us, he is kind and brave and fights for peace but, like all of us, he is flawed. He is often reckless - messing up Amelia Pond's life by promising he'd return in five minutes  - or conversely, manipulative - using Ace as a pawn in a game with an ancient evil. Often, as these examples illustrate, it is the Doctor's closest friends that bear the front of his mistakes. Often embarking on trips in the TARDIS for the time of their lives, in extreme circumstances, while with the Doctor his companions sometimes reach their end of their lives, as Richard George points out above. Katarina and Sara Kingdom met their deaths while fighting the Daleks and, most famously, Adric died trying to destroy the Cybermen.
This is, for me, one of the key reasons he is such an interesting character. While The Doctor is not infallible he always carries on, hoping to make up for those he failed to save. As in 'The Day of the Doctor', sometimes he even changes history just to save the day. He is certainly an imperfect hero, but a hero nonetheless.

As writers and Doctor Who fans Anthony Burdge and Jessica Burke say above, the show is effectively limitless. I would argue that the same is true of the Doctor. While heroes who sometimes fail to save the day do exist, the Doctor is truly unique in that he can be stretched in all directions, he can be entirely different - a wholly different man, even - yet still be the same character. He can be old and crotchety, young and energetic, middle-aged and eccentric and anything in between.

And, finally, to round off:
On this, the eleventh day of the twelfth month, when soon the Eleventh Doctor is about to face his final hour before he becomes the Twelfth, we know very little about the future of the Doctor. But, wherever he's headed, he'll always be a near-immortal (in the narrative of the show and in the public consciousness) children's hero with proper foibles who never stops growing and changing yet will always be the same man. That's why he's our favourite fictional character.

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