Doctor Who’s Wilderness Years: Coda

❉ Stand-up comic Sam Michael concludes his oddysey as ‘Doctor Who’ returns, becoming a mainstream success.

‘Doctor Who’ was forgotten, it was just that ‘retro kids show’ I enjoyed pre-teen. As far as I could tell, ‘Doctor Who’ wasn’t even mentioned by fans anymore; then again I wouldn’t know seeing as none of my mates ever watched or cared about it.

Friday 26 September, 2003… I hear a voice… “Sam… Sam!”  It was that woman, “Mother”. She was calling from the kitchen (where she lives).  As I came downstairs, she asked “You’ll never guess what I just heard on Radio 1!” – to which I replied “Busted?” I was wrong. “I’ve just heard they’re bringing back Doctor Who”, she said, as if I, the coolest of all the teenagers would care. Having said that I was genuinely shocked and, actually, a little annoyed. I’d waited my whole childhood for that news and now it came, I didn’t care. I was fifteen and more concerned about which girl I was going to finger at the next house party…

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How old does this look now?

I would like to add at this point that one of the girls I went out with (for a week) when I was fifteen was genuinely called Elisabeth Sladen… I feel like I will never escape this fucking show even when I try to escape it!

As I saw bits and bobs on TV about it coming back, I almost laughed it off. “It’s never going to work!” I thought, while being genuinely shocked that they’d cast an incredible actor in Christopher Eccleston… “Maybe it could be good? Nah! They’ve cast  Billie Piper as the companion, she’ll never be liked by the public…”

News articles came and went, most were pessimistic about it returning and all the way through I never thought the return would amount to anything.

In early 2005 I was sat at my desk, on MSN Messenger trying to chat up Lizzie Sladen (not that one) when suddenly from the telly came a noise I had not heard in years, the ‘Doctor Who’ theme tune.  It was the Murray Gold arrangement and it was glorious. I turned round to see The Doctor, not in a Georgian jacket, not with a scarf but in a bad-ass leather jacket and stood next to Billie Piper who was now smoking hot, but nowhere near as fit as that TARDIS console… I’m not, I’m not, going to watch this am I? I’ve grown out of this shit, this isn’t ‘REAL Doctor Who’ anyway… right?

March comes round, the airdate of Rose and, to be honest, even if I’d wanted to miss it, I couldn’t. It was a national event, bigger than any return of the show that I could have wished for as a child.

The show started, the theme played, “RUN!”  The Doctor appeared, the TARDIS materialised and suddenly… The magic of ‘Doctor Who’ returned. I was a fan again, I sat and watched week after week as the Bad Wolf story-arc unravelled and we were treated to 13 weeks of fantastic drama. Of course the series under RTD was brand new but there were so many nods to the now-dubbed “classic series” it made me… Oh, you know what I did. Almost as soon as The Parting of the Ways had ended in the summer of ‘05, I went back to that box in the garage, dug out those tapes (and VHS player) and binged-watched! And you know what… I haven’t stopped bingeing.

I’d like to end my wilderness years tale (and thanks for bearing with me, by the way!) on New Year’s Day 2010…

You see, for anyone born around the same time as me, being a ‘Doctor Who’ fan in the ‘90s was rather a lonely thing. Sure, my mates and I shared interests in football, TV, movies and other such activities. However, ‘Doctor Who’ was something I would only really enjoy alone and at times, without the internet, I felt like the only fan in the world as a child.

Fast-forward to 1 January 2010 and there I was, at university, sat in my living room with eighteen others all around my age, glued to the television (like ten million others around the country) waiting for David Tennant to regenerate into Matt Smith. As they shed a tear on Tennant’s passing, I was nearly shedding one myself to see the show I loved get the attention it well and truly deserved. As much as we moan about the current state of the series or the direction some of the continuity has taken, it really is brilliant to see the show get the millions of viewers, the mainstream success and most importantly, the love it warrants after 50 years.

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See! Hot cosplay girls – this would never have happened in the wilderness years.

The most rewarding part of the show returning following the wilderness years isn’t just the “We fucking told you it was a great show!” gloating we can now shove down people’s throat. But also the realisation now that the wilderness years were a struggle for millions of others, we were never alone…

Which is why it’s important to remember that us wilderness years fans are the worst kind of dickheads you could EVER wish to meet!

No seriously, we’re vile. We didn’t suffer through the hardship of the ‘80s so we act like what’s happening now is some sort of tragedy never seen before by the show. We grew up in a time where we didn’t have to put up with what was televised, we picked and chose what we wanted of ‘Doctor Who’ and thus, we picked the best.

Everything pre nu-Who happened before we were born, yet we claim its ours  in the same way baby boomers claim WW2 was their victory and use it as  an excuse for xenophobia because they remember their dad telling them a story! Our parents told us of how great the ‘70s were, thus our favourites are Pertwee and Baker, they’re OUR Doctors now!

We look down our noses at those who genuinely grew up as children during the Ecclestone/Tennant era and we enjoy telling you how the show SHOULD be run by Big Finish writers, SHOULD be directed like Big Finish and SHOULD BE Big Finish!

You know the best part? We’re the ones who will run the show… The fanboys of of the ‘80s who complained on TV (Chris Chibnall) and complained in fanzines (Gareth Roberts and Russell T Davies) bought back Doctor Who and may run the roost for now, BUT this is only the beginning, we will repair, we will grow stronger. When the time is right, we will emerge and take our rightful place as THE SUPREME POWER OF THE UNIVERRRRRRSE!

Hit it…


❉ Follow Sam Michael on Twitter.

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