UK

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Return of Doctor Who to BBC

Series Which Has Earned Cult Status With Gays Is
as Good as Ever

 

 

Watched by Andy Harley, who was a 'twenty-something'
when the show was first screened in 1963

 

 
 

When Rose Tyler meets a mysterious stranger called the Doctor, her life will never be the same again. Soon, she realises that her mum, her boyfriend, and the whole of Planet Earth are in danger. The only hope for salvation lies inside a strange blue box...

The Doctor has returned.  Not the same Doctor I first got to know many decades ago in flickering black and white when the BBC scared the living daylights out of kids who, pretending not to watch, had their eyes glued to “the box” from behind the nearest sofa.

The new Doctor, which comes from BBC Wales, is in digital widescreen and unlike in the early programmes of last century none of the props appeared to have been made earlier in the “Blue Peter” studio! And I loved every second of it. “Doctor Who” is as good as ever.

Forty years ago, when William Hartnell ruled the TARDIS, it was all very middle-class Home Counties and quite serious – so serious that it was camp.  And how we loved it, no matter what our age was.  And over the years, the programme has also gained cult status in the gay community – there are suspicions about the Doctor who has never made a pass at his always beautiful female “assistants” (but don’t tell Focus on the Family about that).

Arguably, Doctor Who is the most popular series ever devised by the BBC.  No matter where you go in the world, everyone knows about the Doctor.

So it was good news when we learned that the Beeb was planning to revive the series.  And when it was learned that the news series was being written by Russell T. Davies (also the series producer), more than a few eyebrows were raised.

For the good Mr. Davies is probably best known in the gay community as the writer of “Queer as Folk” and “Doctor Who” is essentially kiddies TV that adults adore.

No one needed to have worried!  If the first episode of the new series is anything to go by, the BBC has a hit.  No need for any ‘filler’ between “Grandstand” and “Juke Box Jury” as was the case back in 1963.

Davies’ “Doctor Who”, with Christopher Eccleston in the title role, combines suspense with humour in a wonderful way.  The Davies/Eccleston combination works so well, just as it did in ITV’s “The Second Coming” of two years ago

The basic story-line of the new series is that there is a dastardly plot by the “baddie”, as yet unknown, to make all plastic come alive (environmental message here?) and we saw shop window mannequins and even modern rubbish bins suddenly spring into action. They are the “Autons”.

So we know that Doctor Who is out to protect the planet from plastic … And he has another 12 episodes of 45 minutes each to thwart any plot to exterminate the population.  And he has his beautiful young assistant Rose, played by Billie Piper, not to mention the classic police phone box as the escape route.  The TARDIS and the programme's theme (now remixed) are about the sole remnants of the original, though the main title sequence remains true to the 40 years-old original.

Still the Doctor never made a pass at Rose.  Was there a tiny clue?  It was just one line:  “That won’t last, he’s gay and she’s an alien.”  And the deadpan remark was made by the Doctor about the mannequins!

Perhaps the most poignant visual in the this first episode was when Rose was visiting a “nerd” who was investigating The Doctor and he produced a photo showing Dr. Who in the crowd at Dealey Plaza on that fateful day in Dallas.  The very first episode of “Doctor Who” was broadcast the day after President Kennedy’s assassination.

Doctor Who is screened on Saturdays at 7pm on BBC One, with a repeat screening the following day on BBC THREE, again at 7pm.

The series has already been sold to Canadian television.  It premiers on CBC on Tuesday April 5 at 8pm. 

Got anything to say on Doctor Who and the new series?  Visit our Forum

LINKS

BBC’s Doctor Who website
BBC Wales' Doctor Who site
CBC's Doctor Who website
Doctor Who fan website

 

26 March  2005