I’ve just been watching Matt Smith debut as Doctor Who on BBC 3. Not for the first time, but it has been a while. What strikes me is the absolute assurance of the performance. There is not a second in that hour where I am not 100% convinced that he is The Doctor. He is absolutely magnificent! I never really, truly warmed to David Tennant; he struck me as being too anodyne and far too much a of demographers dream. There was no edge. After the tour de force of Chris Eccleston’s performance, this was lightweight and bland and it never really took off until Donna arrived, despite there being a couple of excellent episodes amongst the dross.
Now, it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan and always have been, but my life is kind of marked by Doctor Who. My earliest conscious memory is of Patrick Troughton’s swan song in ‘War Games’ and even earlier than that, my subconscious recalled something that haunted me for years.
Let me explain. For as long as I could remember, I had been plagued by a nightmare in which someones dies in a very specific way. The person stretches and warps be for falling like a rag doll. It terrified me. I’d got this damned dream two or three times a year and always woke up terrified and sweating; I’d be unable to sleep again and would pace until daybreak.
That is, until we bought the DVD of The Seeds of Death, another Patrick Troughton Story featuring the Ice Warriors. The guns they used, kills people in exactly the way that haunted me for around 40 years. As soon as I saw it, the realisation effectively stopped the dreams. I’ve not had it since seeing the DVD. I don’t remember seeing it on TV, but I guess I must have.
It doesn’t make me feel stupid or anything; it doesn’t make me hate Doctor Who. I just gives me a deeper appreciation of something that has, quite literally, affected me deeply and emotionally and for as long as I can remember.
I can remember every regeneration and where I was and what I was doing at the time. Doctor Who marks my life.
Even my relationship with Andy was cemented by a realisation of our love of Doctor Who.
Way back when Marvel UK was publishing Doctor Who Weekly, there was a story about a Cyberman with emotions whose desire to fix a fault in a time loop resulted in killing off the entire crew and passengers of a cruise ship – The Cyberman was called Kroton and the story entitled ‘Ship of Fools’. When our relationship was in it’s early stages, Andy had stayed over at my flat and had to get up for work. The alarm hadn’t gone off for some reason and when when we woke, he asked what the time was, I said ‘7:17’.
Now the thing about this story was that being stuck in a timeloop, the time had stayed static and the passengers where stuck in happy hour and stayed happily drunk. The conceit being that it was always cocktail time. Cocktail time was 7:17. It was always 7:17 and so always cocktail time. So when, on saying “7:17”, Andy and I both said ‘Cocktail time’, we both knew . . . we’d kept our respective geekinesses quiet and not mentioned our love of Sci-fi/who, etc as at the time we met, it was not what gay blokes admitted to (any interests other than Madonna and Keanu Reeves was frowned on!)!
But that phrase, that tiny piece of Doctor arcana, spoke more about our similarities than pretty much anything else could. In those few words, we revealed more about each other than we had done in the previous few weeks…
15 years on….we’re still together…
Doctor Who did that.