This was originally written back in 2005, and offered to a few fanzine and website editors who all replied “um… erm… hmmm… well it’s not quite right for this publication’s audience if you see what I mean, nice though the abbatoir is etc etc”. I did keep hawking it around at every available opportunity, and even considered including it in my book Well At Least It’s Free at one point (also available in super hi-tech Kindle-friendly version!), but never quite managed to find the right vehicle for it and ended up just forgetting about it. Until, that is, The Fan Can published their hilarious The 23 Most Annoying Things About Doctor Who, which inspired me to dig this out, give it a quick once-over, and present it in serialised form for all you lucky Out On Blue Six readers. So, what ten things really get my mountain goat about Doctor Who? See for yourself below…!
Ten Things I Hate About Who
He’s back… and it’s about time. Again. Yes, Doctor Who is back at the top of the televisual tree (however that works exactly), with plaudits aplenty and viewing figures that leave Celebrity Goat-Defrauding On Ice languishing in the doldrums, and everything is how it should be. The new series has critics raving and is depleting stock at awards ceremonies left, right and centre. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, The Ghosts Of N-Space is number one in The Hit Parade, and even scowling curmudgeons can at least join in the jubilations via The Unquiet Dead. Things genuinely haven’t been this good since Sylvester McCoy appeared on But First… This to talk about writing letters to a rock.
But can it really be true? Has Doctor Who – a programme that even at its many and varied zeniths was always surrounded by apathetic BBC ‘top brass’, lunatic fans, pointless merchandise, baffling pop singles by cast members and people at school who thought it was the height of sophisticated wit to mock anyone who watched it by sarcastically and tunelessly yodelling “ah-oooo-weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-ooooooooooooooo” – finally managed to shake off all of its tedious, irritating or just plain pointless baggage in a whirl of CGI Tardises and Billie Piper’s pants?
Of course not. The show itself may well be meeting with its most favourable public reception since the dim and distant days of the UNIT ‘Family’ and badly-done Colour Seperation Overlay, but Doctor Who has always been, and will most likely always be, surrounded by all manner of ridiculousness, whether bafflingly incomprehensible or downright infuriating. From Jon Pertwee’s hilarious mis-spellings of his name that weren’t, to humourless bile-fuelled letters page arguments about which continuity slide was used the most often in 1977, to fan-written and published multi-Doctor ‘reunion stories’, to the still ongoing obsession with how the Cybermen came to have a photo of the Fourth Doctor, this nonsense will insidiously fill your head if you display the merest flicker of interest in Doctor Who, whether you like it or not. And let’s face it, for most people, it’s most definitely ‘not’.
In honour of those selfsame ‘most people’, then, here’s a quick rundown of the ten most loathesome phenomena associated with Doctor Who, which neither time nor an acclaimed relaunch have been able to adequately compensate for. And it doesn’t even mention the ‘Time War’…
#10: Thieving Fans
A bit of clarification; this does not refer to anyone who’s shoplifted the odd Target novel. That’s a matter for their own conscience, and indeed the courts. And, if it was Turlough And The Earthlink Dilemma, their own sense of taste and smell. This refers instead to those shadowy individuals who take it upon themselves to walk off with something that is part of a private collection, or at the very least notionally ‘belongs’ to everyone, and hide it away for their own exclusive enjoyment.
For sheer chutzpah and apparent lack of sanity you have to grudgingly admire whoever it was that broke into the Longleat Doctor Who Exhibition in the late eighties and stole a Sontaran collar; above all else it’s interesting to ponder on why they ignored the more easily removeable helmet and head, and whether they subsequently ran down the street dressed as their hero Weam Styre. Yet the cold hard fact remains that they selfishly stole something that should have been everyone’s to enjoy, even if exactly how a Sontaran collar could be ‘enjoyed’ is a logisitical puzzler best explored another time.
This thoughtlessness is best exemplifed by the back issues of Radio Times in public libraries. Pick a random date between, say, 23rd November 1963 and 19th December 1989, and chances are that you’ll find that certain items in the listings and the odd accompanying article have been surreptitiously removed, often with hamfisted use of a craft knife that leaves big incisions on several surrounding pages as well. There’s a kind of grim humour to be found in this somewhere, especially when chancing on a page where some obsessive Blake’s 7 fan has gone to enormous lengths to extract a microscopic (and indeed fuzzy) publicity photo of Paul Darrow, but this is the same sort of mindset that leads to people also tearing out photocopies of the missing and defaced pages that have been thoughtfully inserted in their place.
Some might argue that Radio Times clippings aren’t really that essential to enjoyment of the series itself, and this is a fair point, but on the other hand it’s just one illustration of the surprising number of fans who will help themselves to anything that isn’t nailed down, all the way from original scripts to Raymond Cusick’s old socks, and who’s to say that a couple of them might not have made off with the odd reel of film or videotape here or there?
Next Episode: why some fans still shout ‘THIEF!!’ at Jason The Cat