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The Doctor and I

With the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary upon us, and my merciless spamming of Who related articles, videos triva and general fangirl squealing, it seems only fitting that I write a blog about what the Doctor means to me. It seemed so simple when I thought of this blog idea, but actually articulating it is much more difficult. For some people Doctor Who is a fun TV show they enjoy, for some, like me it's so much more.

I'm the 'lost generation' of Whovians, the ones who didn't get to hide behind the sofa as children. The ones who didn't play at being Daleks and Cybermen in the playground and who never, as a youngster had to go through the heartbreak of seeing your best friend the Doctor's face change before your eyes and be replaced by someone who just wasn't quite right. Until the next one came along.

That doesn't mean that Doctor Who is any less important or hasn't been any less formative in my life. For me instead of my childhood Doctor Who defines my 20s, and as it enters it's 50th year and I near my 30th that seems a good place for reflection.

Doctor Who started filming in my home town, Cardiff while I was 1000s of miles away living in Canada. (an interesting twist given the Canadian Broadcasting Company's funding of Doctor Who too) so I was oblivious to the excitement surrounding the Timelord's return and the focus on my hometown. I missed it all, I missed 'Lots of planets have a North' and 'Run' and I missed the moment Nine became Ten.

The next year, I was home for Easter Doctor Who was back and all over the BBC. I remember saying 'Shall we watch it Mum, it's supposed to be good?' and then after 'Well that was a bit good' (I was already channeling 10 clearly) From the moment Ten and Rose stepped out of the Tardis onto New New York I was hooked and Doctor Who ingrained itself on my life. It became something Mum and I would talk about, I remember phoning her after 'The Girl in the Fireplace' to talk about it. Then came Christmas and the next special and a new tradition was born. Actually Doctor Who became a big part of Christmas in our house, just when we were rebuilding what Christmas was and what our traditions were, spending them at home alone for the first time after a couple of years abroad,  as we re-wrote Christmas the Doctor was always there re-writing history. The Doctor has become part of my relationship with Mum, we share geekiness about it, or rather she doesn't switch off when I ramble on about it. It's also taken us places, sometimes just on a tour of Cardiff, taking pictures of locations. Sometimes to the Doctor Who Exhibitions that were for a while a Birthday tradition of mine. Doctor Who brought, via David Tennant in Hamlet, my Mum at the age of 60 something to finally enjoy Shakespeare and many more trips to the RSC as a result. Just two weeks ago once again to see the man himself (Tennant not Shakespeare). It's taken us to John Barrowman concerts (I didn't say I was proud of that, ah hell I love a bit of Barrowman) and soon to see Matt Smith on stage too.  Oh and lets not forget our Sunday morning ritual of saying good morning to Russell T Davies while walking the dog. Mostly though it brought us together at a time it could have been easy to drift apart a bit as I grew up out of my teens and towards my 30s.

Doctor Who also brought me friends. When I moved back, when David Tennant's first series was airing I had very few friends in my Uni town. I did a four year degree so everyone had moved on. One day I complained my tv didn't work so I couldn't watch Doctor Who and someone from the production I was in invited me over to watch. Every week I started going to a friend's house to watch Who, and slowly and surely I made friends again. Since then Who has made me friends, from my screensaver in work attracting conversation and friends in an otherwise hostile environment, to bonding with students with a subtle Doctor Who reference in lectures (who am I kidding there was nothing subtle at play!) to my personal favourite in which a friendship was born from the phrase 'He was David Tennant's understudy in Hamlet'. In the digital age, sharing Whovian references have made vague acquaintances good friends or kept bonds with people I no longer see in person. And last and far from least, I met one of my closest friends at a Who event and I don't know what I'd do without her. It's not all Cosplay and arguing on Outpost Gallifrey, it's the real people you meet on the way. A bit like the Doctor himself I suppose.

Doctor Who has also helped put my hometown on the map and I am immensely proud of that. I'm not very patriotic, I consider myself British not Welsh, but I am so proud to say 'Doctor Who we make that here, that's my town, those swings the Doctor is playing on, I played on them as a child' Having the world (well the Whovian world) fixated on a little street just down the road from your office, or wondering where that castle is, or thinking 'wow that's a cool building' when your workplace is on tv is a great feeling. A smug feeling of saying 'that's not an alien planet that's Bute Street' is fun, saying 'I work there' is fun, saying 'I was there' is a thrill. Better than all of that is people saying 'Wow you're from Cardiff? like where they make Doctor Who' is even better. And like many of my geeky interests I have managed to integrate it into my professional life, talking about Cardiff as a location in drama. One of the perks of being a professional nerd.

For me personally, Who has helped shaped me. I think the years between 20 and 30 are vital in shaping who (Who?!) you'll be. It may seem silly to pin importance on a television programme but I really think Who has influenced who I am now. Through general geekery yes, the eternal question of 'what do normal people think about?' I mean if you didn't spend a week wondering who the 12th Doctor would be, or worrying if the 50th is really going to be that good(it will I'm sure) where do you centre your brainwaves to keep sane? More than that though, Doctor Who is such a positive programme.

 Doctor Who made it a bit more okay to be geeky, to want to learn, to want to be clever. The Doctor is the biggest geek in the Universe, he's the cleverest man in the room and everyone wants to be like him. Doctor Who has also given us some great female role models, from Rose the ordinary girl who saved the world to River Song being frankly the coolest lady in any universe (with fabulous hair). Proving that its not just kids who see themselves in the companions, when Donna Noble the useless temp was saving the universe with the Doctor I too was a useless temp, and while I didn't get to save the universe I did have someone on tv who made me feel better about my life, and you're never too old for that. (We'll ignore the day I skived off my temp job to watch them filming Doctor Who though)

Because that's the thing about Doctor Who, however old you are it gives you the sense that adventure really could be just around the corner. If Donna the temp from Chiswick, or Rose the shop assistant or any of the others before or since can do it, if they can be just brilliant, then so might we. In whatever we do. Of course tied in with that is also the idea that maybe, just maybe one day that little blue box might land in your back garden and that mad man with a blue box might just ask you 'where do you want to go?'


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