Saturday, 3 April 2010

WHO'S BACK?

WHO?

Why, DOCTOR Who, of course...

A new series of the legendary TV series begins tonight (BBC One 6:20 pm) with the time-travelling Doctor sporting his latest - and eleventh - physical embodiment in the person of Matt Smith...


How appropriate, bearing in mind the Doctor's celebrated anonymity, that he should, at long last, be played by a man named Smith!

And in case you've forgotten any of Mr Smith's predecessors, I found this tribute on YouTube as a reminder of Who Was Who --- well, at least, all of the legitimate ones because, as all Who-fanatics know, there were also one or two locum doctors such as those who stood in for deceased actors, took on the part for spoof versions or, in the case of Peter Cushing, portrayed the Doctor on the film.

So, with that caveat, here (courtesy of YouTuber, Brian Rimmer) is the Doctor Who first eleven...



I won't pretend that I've been a constant fan and devoted follower of Doctor Who throughout his 47 year-long regeneration process, but I've always checked out each new incarnation of the Doctor if, for no other reason, because of a sentimental attachment to my youthful memories of where it all began...

To be honest, I've never quite got over the fact that I missed the very first appearance of Doctor Who on our black and white telly or the fact that, whenever I mention this, David reminds me that he was watching!

It was teatime - 5:15 in the afternoon of 23 November 1963 (the day after the assassination in Dallas of President John F Kennedy) - when the BBC transmitted episode one of 'An Unearthly Child' with William Hartnell as the enigmatic Doctor.


Come Monday morning, everyone at school was talking about this amazing new TV show about a Time Lord zapping through time and space in a machine called a TARDIS that was disguised as a then commonplace piece of British street furniture - a police telephone box.

The following Saturday, I was on the sofa (I was already too old to be hiding behind it!) ready to watch the next episode and - wonder of wonders! - in response to a phenomenal public reaction to the series' debut and the fact that other hapless youngsters had missed the beginning, the BBC preceded the second episode with a repeat of the first! Brilliant! I was hooked...

It's a truism (but true for all that!) that everyone's favourite Doctor is the one they watched when they were growing up. For me it was first and foremost, the irascible, grandfatherly William Hartnell followed by the quirkily eccentric Patrick Troughton and how utterly, fantastically exciting it was, back then, when one became the other!

Here's the fan picture I wrote for at the time...

Ther Second Doctor
I remained a fairly consistent devotee through the Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker years (two more highly idiosyncratic characterizations) and I quite enjoyed Peter Davison's sojourn as the first really young Doctor although, following on from his appearances in All Creatures Great and Small, I could never quite stop thinking that this doctor was actually only a vet!

Sad to say, I pretty much gave up and lost hope when Colin Baker took over; although I gave Sylvester McCoy a go and still think her deserves credit for trying (against overwhelming odds) to give Who back something of what he had once been.

I was, frankly, optimistic (wrongly so, as it turned out) when Paul McGann made his brief, but quite impressive, foray in the role and - after almost a decade of being lost in space - was engaged by Christopher Eccleston's energised portrayal, despite having quite a few issues with Producer/Writer Russell T Davies' re-birthing of the series.

Davies undeniably rejuvenated Who's popularity with all those spin-offs and, in casting David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor at least ensured the continuation of the character's mercurial personality. Here are those Top Ten Whos as seen by the talented Jon Pinto...

The Ten Doctors by Jon Pinto

Now, as the the Brigadier once famously said, "Here we go again..."

The creative reigns have passed to Steven Moffat, a dedicated Who-fan (and, arguably the man responsible for some of the best of the recent Who scripts), with the mantle of William Hartnell now falling on the slight shoulders of Matt Smith as the eleventh Doctor...



Of course, you all spotted the moment of homage...

Yes, well that's more than enough to get an old Whoster like me, tuning in, I can tell you!

And, look, here's further proof of my loyalty...

The First Doctor

And you can find out What's What on the Doctor Who - The Official Site

Images uploaded via my flickr Photostream.

***

By the way, just before 12:30 am this morning, the hit counter on my blog reached a pleasingly configured number...


Thanks for reading all those pages, folks!

19 comments:

Suzanne said...

So glad the Doctor's back! As a 50-something who was travelling all over the place as a youngster, I missed quite a few of the former doctors, but I do not remember ever hiding behind the sofa! Nowadays I never miss a series - my favourite so far has to be David Tennant; such a brilliant actor!
dnishf: this is actually the Doctor's "Christian" name, which nobody ever knew before, because it's just too unpronounceable!

Boll Weavil said...

Jon Pertwee is my Dr Who. He comes from a time when to watch BBC drama was to be transported into a world of unbelievable dreaming - Mandog, Survivors,The Long Chase and The Changes - what great series they all were ! For all the lack of filming technique and special effects, its difficult to rival that period because the audience was less sophisticated and we believed exactly what we were told. Not suprising really as Dr Who was frequently spotted driving up and down the streets of the little suburb I grew up in. Pertwee's on-screen car was made and maintained by a garage there and he was a common sight test-driving it around until the police told him to spot because it was distracting other drivers - spoilsports !

EURBALLS : My own personal,unverifiable fact.

Brian Sibley said...

GREAT! You have both selected (different) favourite Doctors! If I claim WH and PT, that only leaves (putting Matt Smith on one side for a moment) six others to go... Any fans of Colin Baker out there??


Yes, SUZANNE, DT is a fine actor, mind you any actor who can raise one eye-brow higher than the other has got (if you'll pardon the pun) a head start.

Actually, I think 'dnishf' started out as an acronym for one of the things the Doctor always needed to remember: 'Diminishing Numbers In Sequence Hold Facts'.


BOLL - Great to have you pop by, this blog always needs a good Weaviling every now and again! And this was definitely a good one!

But how come you didn't flag down JP's car as he drove by and volunteer to be his assistant?

And how tiresome of the Police to stop him - just because he knicked one of their phone boxes and took it all over the galaxy! Very unreasonable!

Anyway, great story! Thanks. Although I have to confess, I thought 'eurballs' was just a new game from the National Lottery...

Ian said...

Like you, I'm cautiously optimistic about the new series of Who, after the drought that's been Russel T Davies' reign. I don't really get all the praise for Tennant - his over-gurning facial effects and shouting very quickly beoome irritating.

Like you, my favourite was Hartnell (how brave to make the "hero" of a kids show an irascible old man!) closely followed by Troughton. I wasn't a big fan of Pertwee (frilly shirts, silly car and desperate desire to be James Bond when he was clearly too old for that role) but Tom Baker put the show back on course before the naffness of a new producer's introduction of silly gimmicks ("the vet", the robot dog...) had me abandoning the series which was suffering from an ever-decreasing budget at the same time as a decline in strong story telling.

I'm sure there will be aspects of Moffat's Who I don't like (he is, after all, the man who introduced a girlfriend for Doctor Who and had him kissing her in his Marie Antoinette story) but I'm confident we won't get anything anywhere near as naff as the stuff RTD brought to the series with his over-reliance on stunt casting, third-rate bingo-hall "jokes" and endless deus ex machina endings.

Brian Sibley said...

Thanks for that IAN - you're obviously having a dull Easter, if you're reading my blog!

Personally, I quite liked the JP's velvet suits and frilly shirts but that's probably just a gay thing! As for Tennant, I suspect that he is capable of much more than simply gurneying and that the blame for that might well be laid at the feet of the writing, directing and producing.

Beyond that, I wouldn't dare to quibble with a man who is almost as irascible as the late Mr Hartnell's Doctor!

But the gauntlet has been thrown down! Davidson supporters to the fore!

Bitter Animator said...

I was a big fan as a kid (Baker/Davidson) but haven't watched all that much of the recent shows. I saw a few and very much enjoyed them but wasn't compelled to watch on a regular basis.

The trailers for this new Doctor look quite interesting. I like the look of him, he's a little otherworldly. And has a pretty sidekick. That's always good, if you're into that sort of thing.

Good Dog said...

I started watching around the end of Pat Troughton’s run, but don’t remember that much about it. So my Doctor was Jon Pertwee and then Tom Baker, although I gave up well before he handed over to Peter Davidson. I think by then I had seen enough.

I’m with Ian on being “cautiously optimistic” about the new series, simply because Mr Moffat has not only proved himself to be a great writer but he also appears to be happy getting on with the job of being the show’s writer/producer and not parade around like “the man on the elephant.”

Brian Sibley said...

BITTER ANIMATOR - I've been told that Matt Smith examined all the earlier Doctor's performances, but was repeatedly drawn back to Patrick Troughton's portrayal, so that may have informed his own interpretation. We'll see...


GOOD DOG - I like the phrase: "the man on the elephant". Just about sums up RTD's celebrity status as the man wasn't Dr Who but who behaved as if he was...

Boll Weavil said...

Further to the doctor debate, one actor who always delivers is Paul McGann. He brought a balance of gravitas and humour to the role. We thought at the time he would be enough to bring it back regularly.

Brian Sibley said...

I thought so, too...

Chuck Munson said...

Well Brian, you have managed to touch upon another of my favorite things. My best friend introduced the Doctor to me in the middle of the Tom Baker-era, when independent station WOR Channel 9 out of New York City broadcast it on Saturday mornings, before the US public television stations discovered it. It was completely different from any sci-fi we had seen at the time (the original Star Wars had just been released). A hero who disarmed, in one way or another, his friends and foes alike in a manner, that was, to we "colonists" anyway, so terribly British! That is, we couldn't get enough of it!

Quite frankly, I suppose I am quite lenient in saying that I find appealing things about most of the portrayals of the Doctor thus far, with perhaps the exception of Colin Baker. Just never really warmed to him at all; his protrayal came across as annoying to me. And while I thought Sylvester McCoy wasa great improvement, the dark turns of some of the storylines made both my friend Frank and I quite concerned with the consideration that the younger viewers were being left behind. (Of course with the latest shows that concern has simply been left in the dust - it will be a long time still until my seven-year-old Kathryn sees these!) Thought Paul McGann's performance was stellar; a pity that went nowhere. I have actually enjoyed quite well both doctors of the "new era". Was quite surprised that David Tennant only lasted two seasons when I had read an interview with him where he stated how this was a dream job for him, he'd wanted to do this since age 13, etc.

I believe the four specials that made up this last season were shown here on the BBC America cable channel, but I managed to miss them all unfortunately. Hopefully I will catch the advance notice of airing of Season 5 here and be able to settle down with pockets of jelly babies to enjoy the new doctor!

Brian Sibley said...

Thanks for the transatlantic memories, CHUCK!

I hope you get to see the new Dr.

I thought it got off to a rattling good start, with a couple of cavils (SPOILER ALERT!): the dodgy opening sfx, the silly eye-in-a-snowflake alien craft and the intrusive wall-to-wall orchestra and choir.

Matt Smith acquitted himself very well, I thought; zany regeneration process (liberally borrowing, unless I'm much mistaken, from the chapter in A A Milne's The House at Pooh Corner where Tigger arrives in the forest and can't find anything to eat because everything that "tiggers like best" turns out to be precisely what tiggers hate!); good rapport established with the new assistant by having him meet her first when she was a child; and the beginnings of an interesting characterisation with Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) who really isn't ever going to go back and marry that dull male nurse -- is she?

Anyway, I'm going to follow the new Dr, at least for a while, to see where he goes - and certainly until he's met with those vampires in Venice!

Ian said...

Yes I enjoyed it too, although the music IS a nightmare and they've managed to dilute even further the power of the originally scary (now just noisy) theme tune.

Cast were great. I liked the story, although I wondered if the story might be too "adult" for the kids it's aimed at?

If this were my first Who aged 5-10 I suspect it's one that would stay in my memory for quite a while even if I didn't understand all of it - which is what Hartnell -era Who was all about in my book (I discovered Who mid-dalek story and didn't really know what they were but can still remember that first episode very vividly).

At the very least that snarling bloke with the dog will be causing quite a few of the kiddies to wet their beds I suspect - which is part of what Who should be about ;-)

Ian

Brian Sibley said...

IAN - Not to mention the woman and girls with the piranha teeth!!

Let's just hope someone tells them to turn the music down!

Brian Sibley said...

From "A Man Who Knows": the correct nomenclature is NOT Dr Who but Doctor Who. After all these years, I should know that! Anyway, abbreviations within the blog post have been duly corrected, and any remaining ones in comments are amended by this note!

Jon Pinto said...

Wow!! I am blown away that you used my art. I am truly humbled. How on earth did someone of your stature find a starving artist from Florida??

Brian Sibley said...

Stature? Ha! I'm starving, too, quite a lot of the time - I just don't let on!! ;)

I really like your art, Jon. So glad you didn't mind my showing your Doctor Who piece... :)

JJ said...

Sorry to be reviving a dead thread (unintended rhyming there), but I did want to point out that the Fifth Doctor's name is spelled Davison rather than Davidson. It's a common mistake - in fact, I like to say that this Davidson (along with John Pertwee) is quite popular for having never played the Doctor ;)

Chuck Munson, you'll be glad to hear that Tennant actually lasted for three series - the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th - plus the 2009 specials, making his stay 4 years. He was extremely popular, but chose to step down before overstaying his welcome. Myself, I was glad to see him go - while I enjoyed his portrayal, I was getting sick of the cheesiness. And frankly, he was a little too overdramatic and self-pitying for my tastes toward the end... I don't believe any of the other Doctors made such a fuss over regenerating. But then, that may have been more RTD's writing than David's acting.

Brian Sibley said...

Hi, JJ. never too late to correct an error. Done!