Friday, December 06, 2013

Memories of Doctor Who

I've written a lot on here about my time working in stage management with various theatres around England, but I'm now going to attempt to stretch my memory back a good deal further in time to when I was at school. 2013 has seen the 50th anniversary of 'Doctor Who.' I have been a long-time fan of this show and remain so to this day. I'm not entirely sure whether I actually saw the very first episode on 23rd November 1963, when I imagine I would, at age 13, been the age the show was aimed at.  I think I may not have seen it due to the fact that President Kennedy was assassinated that weekend. I probably started watching with the first Daleks story which followed around five weeks into the run of the show. There was something very intriguing about time travel and the fact that every couple of weeks the Tardis would arrive in a completely different time and place and there was the expectation of discovering a new world, or  different time period. The Daleks, being the first villains to appear in only the second story, had a huge effect because my school friends who would be going around the playground saying 'exterminate! exterminate!' in a sort of monosyllabic voice as a result of seeing these pepper-pot type characters on television. With the revival of the series in 2005 it was quite intriguing to see how the present generation of children would take to the Daleks and it was amazing to see that, a good 50-years after my generation was introduced to them, that they could still produce such a chilling effect on a generation bought up on C.G.I.-generated creatures. I have to say, having viewed the very first episode 'An Unearthly Child' which was shown on BBC Four over the week of the 50th anniversary showed how well it stood up, compared with not only the revived 'Doctor Who' but a lot of current television, considering it was made on a shoe-string budget, with very basic equipment and in black-and-white. I don't honestly remember any 'wobbly sets' but being totally involved in the stories and characters. Probably we didn't in those days. Maybe it was because we only had two television channels in 1963. We didn't bother too much about the 'basics' of television, because it was, let's face it, basic in the extreme. No location filming, sets that were all constructed in a studio in Shepherd's Bush which, although not wobbly, weren't exactly convincing. Lumps of what would have been polystyrene being made to look like rock and a really unconvincing stone-age landscape which looked as if it was made of old bedsheets! Never mind, it was all good fun and we loved it!
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