I was planning to write a post yesterday to mark the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who (as in, the anniversary of the broadcast of the first episode – as noted in my post this time last year). In the end, however, I was so busy celebrating this auspicious event by reading and watching Doctor Who stories that I didn’t get round to writing anything. In the absence of a TARDIS of my own, I’ve had to settle for writing today instead.
As I mentioned a year ago yesterday, on that day I embarked on a project to re-read my entire collection of Doctor Who books, which currently includes the novelisations of almost the entire canon of TV Doctor Who stories from the classic series (with the exception of most of the “Trial of a Timelord” season and one or two of Sylvester MacCoy’s stories) as well as quite a few novels from the same era – I currently don’t have any “New Who” novels and don’t particularly plan to get any. This project is ongoing and, due to all the other stuff I’ve been reading (or otherwise doing) as well, is progressing rather slowly. I’ve just reached the end of the Jon Pertwee era and am ready to embark on the Tom Baker stories as soon as I’ve finished reading the novelisation of The Evil of the Daleks, which I eventually managed to get hold of sometime after reaching that point in the series chronology, at which time I only had a copy of the audiobook).
In addition to reading a fair chunk of this book, I watched a selection of Doctor Who episodes from my somewhat less extensive but still not too small DVD collection. I started with a new series episode – The Doctor’s Daughter, from series 4, which is one of my favourites (and one I was discussing with some friends the other day; my absolute favourite from the new series is almost certainly Blink, from series 3, which I watched fairly recently). After this, at roughly 5:15pm (which as I recall is about the time it was first broadcast) I watched An Unearthly Child, the very first episode of the classic series. Later in the evening I watched The Five Doctors, which was originally broadcast to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Doctor Who (and which I remember watching when it was first shown, only a couple of years after I’d started watching the programme). Since I’d watched that not too long ago, I took the opportunity to watch it this time with a commentary audio track recorded by several of the actors who played the Doctor’s companions (including one of my favourites – Elisabeth Sladen, who played Sarah Jane).
To round out the celebrations I watched the 50th anniversary special episode, The Day of the Doctor, on BBC iPlayer. I don’t have a TV license and therefore am not allowed to watch programmes as they are being broadcast live (even though I think it is technically possible to do so), so I waited until later in the evening to watch it. I was very impressed with it, and particularly enjoyed watching David Tennant and Matt Smith on screen together, along with John Hurt playing the mysterious “missing” incarnation of the Doctor who was involved in the Time War and brought about its end through the destruction of both the daleks and the Time Lords (or so we thought – though I’ll say no more for fear of spoilers). It was also nice to see a cameo by Tom Baker, who opted out of taking direct part in the Five Doctors (though they used some old footage of him to ensure that his Doctor appeared briefly in that story) and apparently regretted it ever since. I gather there was also a brief cameo by Peter Capaldi, who is due to step into Matt Smith’s shoes as the Doctor in this year’s Christmas special, although he wasn’t clearly shown on screen.
It occurs to me that, while I wasn’t around for the start of Doctor Who, I have now been enjoying the series (ok, I’ll say it, I’ve been a fan) for over 30 years. I wonder if both the Doctor and I will still be going strong when the centenary is reached in 2063.