Steven Moffat, an esteemed and critically acclaimed writer, has stated on various occasions that Doctor Who is the greatest show in the galaxy. Now, Moffat is the showrunner, so he may be saying this for publicity reasons. But he’s right. It’s a show where a blue police box can travel anywhere. Anywhere! Even a budget can’t stop the production team from making beautiful visuals come from script to screen, whether it’s Versailles in the 18th century or Mars in the near future. This is a show where absolutely anything is possible.
2004. I distinctly remember being at my best friend’s house, ready to leave after our play date. We had just played the video game adaptation of Prisoner of Azkaban and I was still jittery from seeing the Dementors. When I grabbed my coat to wait for my parents to pick me up, my best friend’s mum gave me with some sweets in an attempt to calm me down. She then handed me a DVD to give to my mother as an early birthday present. I looked at the cover. A burning orange on the lower half and various shades of gray at the top with the title in a striking black: Doctor Who: The Five Doctors (25th Anniversary Edition, mind you).
The Five Doctors? Who are these men? What’s this all about? My mind boggled for days before my mum decided, okay, fine, if it will stop you from asking over and over, we’ll just sit down now and watch it thankyouverymuch.
So we watched it. And for 90 minutes, this show gained the extraordinary capability of keeping my attention. And it was great. Daleks! Cybermen! Who are those people? They’re all the same person?! Who’s the Master? Is he the Doctor’s brother? And wait, was that a robot dog? Can we get a robot dog? I love robot dogs.
Fast-forward to March 26, 2005. The first episode of the new series, “Rose“, is premiering on BBC One. I watch the first 20-ish minutes before being terrified by someone getting consumed by a bin. I decide that, no, Doctor Who is simply too scary for me to have any sort of relationship with. As well as bins.
But I kept watching. How could I not? The end of the world, Charles Dickens, fart monsters, and a gold Dalek! It wasn’t long before I was begging for action figures of the Doctor and all the strange, strange creatures that showed up on his adventures, as I made up stories of my own. With dreams of becoming the Doctor someday, I continued to watch the show, allowing myself to be consumed by all the merchandise. Doctor Who magazines, posters, toys, the lot. I was deeply in love with the magical premise of the show, promising adventure and new worlds at every corner.
The greatest irony of the Doctor Who fandom is that, for a show that essentially survives through change, its fans largely detest change. I often disagree with new episodes and their ideas of who the Doctor is or what the true origins of the Daleks are. I grew up with the show, as did many of my peers. And as we grew up and made our own stories with the Doctor travelling in his box, the show became ours. While some may take this to the extremes, it’s only natural that we’ll be vocal when we see something we don’t like. But, being British, many of us will simply mutter quietly about how “the Doctor wouldn’t do something like that” before rushing away in a hurry, in case someone actually heard our bitter whispers.
But here’s the big truth that Doctor Who fans don’t usually want to hear you say. They’ll grab their pitchforks and come straight for me if they hear this. But I’ll tell you anyway. Are you ready? Okay, here goes:
Doctor Who is a kid’s show.
It taught me how to be brave, how to choose friends, and how love can win against anything. So many beautiful life lessons that helped shape me into who I am now. But it’s a kid’s show. It doesn’t grow up with you – and it shouldn’t.
As I grew up, I struggled with the show. And sometimes – don’t tell anyone – I do think it can get too silly and I should stop watching. It’s now been over a decade and I can’t stop watching now; that would be absolute nonsense. Because who could stop watching the greatest show in the galaxy?