Imagine a time when there was no Doctor Who.
It wasn't that long ago.
I’m quite insanely proud to make the leap from a wearer of AbbyShot coats and scarves to being invited to contribute to their blog. Hopefully, if they have me, I’ll be writing more in the future. But, first, there’s something it’s vitally important you understand about me.
Planet of the Spiders Part Six is not my ‘birth episode.’
Lately, there’s been a page doing the rounds on social media which purports to calculate your birth episode, based on the day you were born. That is the episode of Doctor Who, which aired closest to your birth. No matter how many times friends share it on my timeline, and no matter how many times I put in my digits, it doggedly insists on Planet of the Spiders Part Six. Which is ludicrous, obviously.
It’s plainly Robot Part One.
In truth, I was born in the middle of the gulf where the world shuddered and convulsed, momentarily bereft of a Doctor Who. Slightly closer to Pertwee perhaps, but it’s just neater, more fitting to be ushered into the world alongside Tom Baker and the start of the program’s defining era.
I was only a few months old when Robot aired, so I can’t claim to have watched it on transmission. The red-eyed robots of death from only a couple of years later, staggered, arms outstretched, into my nightmares well into adulthood, so I inevitably took to the Doctor at a young age.
Doctor Who became an integral, essential part of my childhood memories. From the amazement and horror when the Fourth Doctor fell to his doom (like the Space Gandalf he was), to the fun and glee of being introduced to the previous Doctors and companions I’d never seen before, united in the Death Zone in a celebratory romp. It was important.
Fast forward just over three decades to 2005. Harry Samwise (what can I say, we’re a very literate family) is eleven months old. His father is sitting in a kind of tense ecstasy, hands digging into his armrests while his mother and grandparents do their best to maintain a respectful silence. A young woman is hemmed in by shop dummies impossibly brought to life. One raises its arm; she closes her eyes, awaiting the blow. “Run,” a voice says. And we’re off.
Little Harry watches the bright colors and the action, takes in the loud and powerful music. Then he goes back to chasing his turtle toy across the floor, trilling happily. But it doesn’t matter. I have a son, and the Doctor is back for him. Just in the nick of time, like always.
We’re ten years on now from Doctor Who’s return – a revival more widespread and enduring than we could ever have imagined at the time. More popular, if anything, than it ever was before. I mean, I’m writing this blog as a guest on a site which sells officially licensed Tom Baker scarves (Original or Series 18, the choice is yours). Alongside a David Tennant Hero coat that satisfyingly swishes and billows behind you as you run down the street (oh, you do it too, admit it) and much more. This would blow my 1970s self’s mind.
My son’s grown into Doctor Who like I did. It was about the time of Voyage of the Damned that he became a truly devoted three-year-old, racing about playing ‘Doctor Who Saves the Ship!' By the time he was five, he loved to hate the Master. Every ad for The End of Time saw him grimly muttering the evil Time Lord wouldn’t find it so “spectacular” when the new Doctor showed up to sort him out. By seven, Matt Smith was his hero, and he was beaming with excitement as "I am the Doctor" was played live in concert. At ten, he’s been to conventions, been inside a Dalek, ran around two different real console room sets and accidentally had breakfast with Carole Ann Ford. And he’s experienced that pang of having the lead actor move on and of liking the new guy well enough but not being his Doctor.
It’s easy to forget there’s an entire lost generation for whom Doctor Who didn’t exist. The children who sat, gobsmacked, as Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant bested alien fart monsters, tried not to blink in the face of alien statues and got up to an ungodly amount of snogging had parents sitting on the couch beside them nostalgically remembering their childhood with the show. Most of the children meeting the series for the first time in 2015, for whom Peter Capaldi will claim the title of their Doctor, have parents who didn’t have the show when they were small. It’s a bizarre and alien thought – a childhood without Doctor Who. It scarcely bears thinking about.
Doctor Who is a gift. And not an anonymous one. There are names attached to the label. So thank you, Russell. Thank you, Julie. Thanks, Phil, Christopher, and Billie.
Thanks for 2005. Thanks for making the past decade possible. Thanks for my son’s childhood.
You’re the best.
Peter Nolan is the first AbbyShot blog contributor. You can check out and like his Facebook Cosplay page here! >> https://www.facebook.com/NuallainCosplay