❉ This documentary is a personal and deep look into the world of Doctor Who fandom, writes Andrew Creak.
“I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this film, but was pleasantly surprised to watch what one could almost describe as a love letter to fandom.”
The Doctor Who TV Movie has a very special place in my heart, so when I was asked if I would be open to reviewing the new documentary film Doctor Who Am I which follows the writer of the 1996 special, I leapt at the chance!
After discovering the joys of Doctor Who in 2005 at the ripe young age of eight, I slowly entered into the world of classic Who, eventually seeing the mysteriously titled ‘The Movie’ on the shelf at HMV. Films are way more exciting to kids than a TV episode, so I was incredibly excited to watch what was contained on this disc, and I fell in love, not even realising that this film was released only a few months before I was born.
I spent hours upon hours watching the behind-the-scenes extras of the TVM on the DVD, and there was never much about the writer of this one-off American adventure for the Doctor, but Doctor Who Am I finally gives us the opportunity to meet and get to know the man behind that script and the Eighth Doctor.
Doctor Who Am I follows the writer of the 1996 Doctor Who TV Movie, Matthew Jacobs, as he re-enters the world of Doctor Who and attends his first convention. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this film, but was pleasantly surprised to watch, what one could almost describe as a love letter to fandom
The documentary opens with Jacobs going through a storage unit full of his belongings, finding books on the TV Movie, drafts of scripts, floppy disks and what I found most interesting as a film graduate, a physical film reel of his graduation film. Then for those who don’t know much about Doctor Who, the film gives us a well written, and performed, info dump about the near 60 years history of this show, going into information about his very own adventure in the Whoniverse.
This film is quite interesting for, while it shadows Jacobs’ personal journey, through a great example of serendipitous film making, the story becomes a personal and deep look into the world of Doctor Who fandom, and specifically the American fandom of this quaint British show.
The idea for Jacobs to go and visit fans at their home for an intimate conversation with people, some of whom don’t hold him in that high of regard, is a brave and brilliant move by the film makers. In these moments we see Jacobs bonding, discussing and slowly understanding the mindset of these fans, for many of whom Doctor Who is their life.
One of the most intimate and beautiful parts of this film is learning of Jacobs’ relationship with his father Anthony Jacobs, who had starred in First Doctor serial The Gunfighters as Doc Holiday. Hearing his memories of his day visiting the set as an episode was being filmed allows us insight into an era of the show which doesn’t often get as much of a detailed behind the scenes conversation as later seasons of the classic era.
Another very notable moment for me, was the reunion of Jacobs with Phillip Segal, the producer of the TV Movie. The pair sit down as adults, discuss their disagreements they have had in the past, as well as their happy memories of working together, and the justification for things they did that many fans took umbrage with.
There is one issue I personally had with the film, and it’s nothing Jacobs or any other member of the team did, but what some of those who have been interviewed at the convention had said. Several of the fans compared their experiences of being a Doctor Who fan with being queer and the feeling of coming out, but comparing being a fan of a TV show to the experiences of those in a marginalised group doesn’t sit right with me. I totally get where they are coming from, when they talk of the bullying they have received for being fans, but as someone who received bullying for being a Whovian, and separate bullying for being visibly queer, while bullying of all forms is horrible and not okay, the two are nowhere near comparable.
After watching this journey, I hope this isn’t the last we see and hear of Jacobs within the world of Doctor Who, the potential of what we could see and learn from him is huge! The opportunity of a new, previously unheard telling of how the TV Movie was made when the Blu-ray ‘Collection’ set finally gets to the Eighth Doctor. In the past we have seen ‘Philip Hinchcliffe Presents’ from Big Finish, now imagine ‘Matthew Jacobs Presents’! A box set of Eighth Doctor adventures penned by the man, who created what has become one of the fan favourite incarnations of the Doctor.
This film is a love letter to Doctor Who and its fans, no matter what era you enjoy. There are relatable and interesting moments throughout, allowing you to feel a plethora of emotions as you view Jacobs’ journey from sceptic to an enjoyer of the Whovian community, and the companionship he discovered at conventions in America.
❉ ‘Doctor Who Am I’ will be coming to UK Cinemas from 27th October & Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Download from 28th November 2022. Distributor: Kaleidoscope Entertainment. Run Time: 80 Mins. SOCIALS: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
❉ Andrew Creak is a freelancer in TV and Film production based in South Wales. As well as this they are a producer director in their own right through their production company Third Time Lucky Productions. Follow them on Twitter: @AndrewCreak