On Saturday 26th March 2005, an eight year old boy in Wakefield, West Yorkshire sat down in front of his TV to watch this new but old show on BBC One. Thirteen years later, on the 26th March 2018, a twenty-one year old man from Wakefield, West Yorkshire sat down in front of his laptop and wrote this article. This is a reflection of Series One of Doctor Who.
I wasn’t an eight year old Doctor Who fan for long; my birthday is at the back end of April, but even then, by the age of nine, I was hooked. My parents weren’t Doctor Who fans particularly before the revival, the only knowledge I was given by my dad before Rose aired was that he liked Jon Pertwee and there were these things called Daleks that couldn’t do stairs. (Of course, the latter half of this was inaccurate, but my Dad stopped watching after Pertwee, so didn’t realise that the Daleks could, indeed, do stairs in Remembrance of The Daleks.) Then, Rose started.
I’ll be honest, the first few minutes didn’t really do anything for me; here’s a teenager living a rather humdrum life. Wow. But I kept watching as I was told dribs and drabs about this remarkable man known as the Doctor. I didn’t go into the series completely blind, the BBC did a fantastic job at promoting the series. “Do you wanna come with me?” asked this strange man, who sounded somewhat like me (being from the north) and had somewhat obnoxious ears. Yes. Yes, I do want to come with you, you’re running away from a giant fireball. OF COURSE I WANT TO COME WITH YOU. I’M AN EIGHT YEAR OLD BOY, THIS IS THE COOLEST THING EVER. I’m still running with that Time Lord to this day.
My next vivid memory of the show, after the farting aliens, which I don’t think would work at all today, although young Daniel loved it, was undoubtedly Dalek. Christ that’s a good episode. It took skill to make you sympathise with the most deadly creature in the universe, and it gave us some great lore as to the events between the Eighth Doctor’s adventures and that of the Ninth. The Time War, although lightly hinted at beforehand, was really fleshed out. I remember thinking that this was brilliant. I’ve not started this at the beginning. There’s so much to explore already. The Doctor and the Daleks have history. So off I went to do my research on the internet of 2005. What a different place it was.
Speaking of the internet, I remember every Thursday, looking at the Doctor Who website with their preview of the next episode; I’ve mentioned this in a previous article I wrote, but the image for The Empty Child is one of the few distinctive images that will forever be burned into my brain. The Monday after that episode aired, the entire playground seemed to be filled with cries of “Are you my mummy?” and arguments over who’s going to be the Doctor and who’s going to be Captain Jack. Doctor Who was everywhere.
Roll on a few weeks, and the Daleks were back, and what a force they were. One Dalek will always be the most terrifying concept, in my opinion, but this armada was impressive. This was like a movie; people died, Captain Jack died! Rose was abandoned and the Doctor had the opportunity to find some closure. We’ve seen this tormented man come to terms of the horrors that were the Time War, and now it’s back; but this time, the only man that’s left to save the universe, is the man that shirked that responsibility. The fact that the Doctor proclaimed he’d rather be seen as a coward rather than a killer really struck a chord with nine year old me. I’ll be honest, I was a really gentle child. I didn’t do sports, I did theatre (and still do), I didn’t climb trees, I read books. If there was an argument that was going to result in fisticuffs, I would always back down and try to find a peaceful solution. I saw a lot of myself in the Doctor. It would have been easy to just blow all the Daleks up, but that would have made me as bad as them. I wanted to prove that I could be better. The Doctor was the embodiment of that for me.
Words, intelligence and compassion may not always give you the instant victory, but it meant you were morally always the champion.
Then, the Doctor, almost as an act of defiance, decided to save one single human, whom he loved, and sacrificed himself for her. Rose, of course, unknowingly nearly sacrificed herself to save the Doctor. It’s a sci-fi Romeo and Juliet situation if you really think about it. The best part was, the Doctor didn’t die, he did this extraordinary thing that he called regeneration. He may have changed face, but I was confident that, at his core, it was the same Time Lord I had been on adventures with for the past thirteen glorious weeks. My life would never have been the same again…