Doctor Who: I Remember...
50 Years of Doctor Who
By Scott Fuller
Ah Doctor Who. A lifetime’s obsession for me and one massive headache for the rest of my family.
“Scott, will you stop sticking Doctor Who posters on your new wallpaper!”
“Scott, for heavens sake, will you please let your brothers and sister use the tele now?”
“Scott there is some graffiti on the underside of the children’s slide in the park, round the corner, that looks suspiciously like a cyberman. Wouldn’t happen to know anything about this?”
But in all fairness though, it’s all Dad’s fault, not mine!
On the 7th on November 1987 I was 7 years and 352 days old, and I was in trouble. Nothing too bad you understand I was just being a pain in the neck (as usual). A little too noisy and a little too annoying, at least for my Brother and Father.
“Scott for crying out loud, stop annoying your brother! Sit over there and be quiet”.
This was slightly unexpected coming from the world’s most patient father.
After nearly a whole 30 seconds of sitting down quietly I was bored stiff. My brother had run off upstairs laughing at me and I was stuck there watching adverts on TV, but then something strange happened. Completely unprepared I saw a blue box being battered with lazers, falling through space. Then this box landed amongst a load of rocks surrounded by a pink sky. Once inside the box a sleeping clown was approached by a pair of really hairy legs. Then the clowns face exploded. I didn’t have a clue what was going on, but it was unlike anything I’d seen before. Of course, in hindsight we all know that this was ‘Time and the Rani’ but back then it was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen. I was never much of a Star Wars fan when I was young and Star Trek was just an old TV show my Dad knew about. But Doctor Who was current and brand new. People often forget how series 24 must have seemed to young children – Kangs, dragons, bat men, killer robots and Ken Dodd. Everything you need really. Series 24 gripped me all the way to the end. Skip forwards a year to my first encounter with the Daleks. Not just any Daleks but Daleks lurking about in a school basement, controlling the headmaster. Episode one’s cliff-hanger was the talk of the lunch hall the next day. Everyone offering their theories as to how the Doctor was going to get himself out of that one. That was the moment I became a fan. The sense that I was part of a bigger group, all excited by the same thing. From that moment on I knew I had to see every adventure and collect,,,well everything. Every book, every video, every magazine and every action figure, I had to have it all!
The show drove me in many ways during my childhood. My spelling and speech improved. Instead of drawing my favourite cartoons I was now trying to draw live action or from photographs. I’m sure I’m not the only one who tried to draw a scene from their favourite story by leaving the video player on pause. Then scribbling as much as you could before the pause released itself and you had to go back through the footage frame by frame until you found the exactly the same place (okay it may have just been me). Eventually even the drawing would become obsessive. I’d skip writing a story in English simply to draw the images in my head with only a paragraph of text to back it up. At one point even my school report said “He’s a keen drawer but I know he can do more than just Daleks!”. There was even one incident where I convinced my parents to replace my shabby wallpaper by drawing the entire consol room across all four walls.
I wasn’t alone either, I had friends, ‘Who’ friends. Friends that were probably a little embarrassed by how much of a fan I was. I knew no shame. As far as I was concerned, if people knew, then there was a chance that they would start a conversation about it. Even the lesser fans ventured out of their closets when the school got to go to the exhibition at the ‘Museum of the Moving Image’ as part of media studies. An exhibition I attended five times I’ll have you know.
The best Christmas for Doctor Who was 1989. At that point the show was hanging in the balance, caught in limbo with very a uncertain future. But for me it meant presents! A Christmas of books, toys and videos. Despite usually being the first awake on Christmas morning I was beaten to it this time, by my 3 year old brother at around 5:30am. Terrified, he burst in to my room screaming “Scott Nates! There’s Nates under my bed!”. On inspection I discovered four Dapol daleks, which I assumed must have been intended for me. However on returning to my room I found four identical duplicates. I should explain at this point that Orran thought that Daleks were called Exterminates, but he couldn’t pronounce it, so Nates it was. To prevent my younger siblings from breaking my new Daleks my parents had bought two of each so that one batch would act as a diversionary set. Warning – this does not work. Eventually all Dapol daleks fall apart. But I have to give my Mum & Dad full credit for trying. I remember my Dad saying to me “What you should do Scott, is save your videos for a rainy day. Those days when you’re bored or can’t go and play outside”. Good advice. But he soon came to regret it. Especially when, a couple days later the heavens opened and I forced him to stop watching his film as he promised that the moment it started raining I should watch all my videos. I took things very literally back then. But I won the argument and together we sat and watched ‘The Dead Planet VHS.
More importantly ‘Doctor Who’ provided me with a hero. Someone I could look up too that wasn’t interested in the same things as other blokes - like girls and football and beer. Butch stuff like that which was no use to me. My hero was only interested in doing the right thing (well mostly) and travelling about the universe with his mates.
Years later towards the end of my teens my friend decided he was going to start running smaller Doctor Who events in Crawley. These very quickly became Wine & Dine events, which were up to 30 people in a tiny house with one or two guests. It was hard work and took every spare minute of our lives. Planning, tidying, painting, gardening, writing the newsletter, artwork and comic strips for the newsletter. Not to mention a full roast dinner for 30 plus people each time. All this with a full time job! But it was worth it. If I hadn’t have done it I would have had the experience of sitting down and eating Sunday dinner with Deborah Watling and her parents. I miss those days. I hope they remember me. It’s tempting to fill the rest of this page with the memories of all those events but I shall save them for another time.
Towards the end of the run we moved to a different venue in Leicester. Mainly to make the events accessible to people who weren’t local. Some people (Fraser Hines included) travelled all the way down from the north to attend! In Leicester I made more ‘Who’ friends and travelled up to visit them regularly. It was on one such visit that I attended the open night of the recently refurbished ‘Dover Castle’. A pub in the City centre. There I met a guy Darren, another Sci-Fi fan (but still somewhat in the closet). We’ve been together ever since, almost 14 years.
Looking back at what I’ve just written even I’m shocked at how much the show has influenced my life, and it continues to this day. How else would I have met Staggering Stories? So here’s to another 50 years. Happy Anniversary Doctor Who. Happy Anniversary everyone!