Thursday, 26 March 2015

An Adventure in Time & Space! Part Two

Here's a slice of Doctor Who nostalgia from myself. I've lived 26 of Doctor Who's 52. Here's how the show influenced me during every one of those years...

Part One (1989-1998)

This time (to celebrate 10 years since the show returned to TV):
Part Two - 1999 to March 2005
1999: I've been a fan for as long as I can remember. Me and my Dad discuss the show every day, but I've never been a part of the wider Doctor Who fandom. That all changes in my 10th year on the planet - as I buy Doctor Who Magazine for the first time, and devour the entire thing, every month.
It's also the year that I relaunch my writing - taking up stories for both the Seventh and Eighth Doctors. Some examples of various stories are included in this very post - please remember their historical context when reading them back!!
One of my neighbours offers me the chance to read the BBC Book's Eighth Doctor series. I take him up on the offer, and get through The Eight Doctors, Vampire Science, and half of the Bodysnatchers. At the time, they were the most amazing things ever. Reading them back... well, they don't stand up half as well as I'd hoped!
November brings a Doctor Who themed evening on BBC 2 (making up for the one I missed on BBC Choice). To say I was beyond exciting in the days and weeks leading up to it would be an understatement! I stayed up late to watch all of it with Dad. This was the year he built me my own room, as part of a loft conversion in our house - and I watched the Doctor Who Movie uncut, there, surrounded by 80-odd Doctor Who VHS.
2000: I buy Doctor Who Magazine solidly for six months. Nanny Rose prevents me from buying one issue, as the advertised free CD is missing. I stop collecting for a little while when pocket money can no longer stretch to its purchase.

I continue to write - mostly Eighth Doctor adventures, featuring Paul McGann's Doctor and his young companions Sam, Kroton (the friendly Cyberman; stolen from the pages of DWM) and Zuro (a new creation). I try and dabble in Seventh Doctor stories, but they're less successful.

This is an era of borrowing my Dad's videos, and taking them home to watch at Mum's. I have vivid memories of sitting in her bedroom watching The Seeds of Doom, and The Ice Warriors.

Repeats continue on BBC 2. I try and watch where I can.

I start high school. Doctor Who is a decidedly uncool thing to talk about.

2001: My family get Sky for the first time, so I become addicted to lots of American imports like Star Trek and Sliders. My love for Doctor Who isn't diminished, but is certainly buried under other TV commitments!

Saying that, I do start to buy DWM every month. I haven't missed an issue since. I love reading about the show's rich history, and skip to the news pages for updates. Surely the show will return one day? It's a question me and my Dad ask one another endlessly.

I read and write more Doctor Who fiction. I'm sad that I'm not doing more, and think it means I'm not as creative as I once was. Of course, I didn't have regular homework before - preventing me from doing the writing I loved so much! (Also, what time I did have was usually spent writing my own stories and creations).

I get my first Doctor Who DVD (of the TV Movie) for Christmas, alongside my first player.

2002: I create my own Doctor Who spin-off series - Sam & Grace (featuring the 8th Doctor's companions, in San Francisco, solving macabre crimes) and Dalek Empire.

The regular VHS releases continue. I help Dad buy them from catalogues, highlighting what he does or doesn't already own.

I search out and buy as many Eighth Doctor books as I can. It becomes fun trying to locate them in stores. Does this one have what I want? Or this one? Ultimately, I order most through Waterstones - as it's too difficult to find some key releases. I save up my pocket money (£2.50 weekly) for a whole 3 weeks to be able to afford each book, and the bus ride into town to purchase.

(Man, I loved those bus rides alone, solo in to town. I think I grew up a lot doing them - and it was a blast to be out, but free and independent from anybody else. I really was a writer, living in my on head back then!)

Aside from that... the world of Doctor Who and me has entered a routine of Doctor Who Magazine, and VHS/DVD releases, and rewatches, and fiction. At this rate, there's a risk I'll grow out of the show eventually, as the world moves on to new things, and me with it.

Every now and then I read, or am told, that the show is coming back with x, y or z in the starring role. Even if I don't understand the phrase at the time, I get the sentiment: what a load of bollocks.

2003: It's announced it's coming back! Yes, there's been rumours before, but I'd learnt to take them with a pinch of salt after the first didn't come true. But now... dare I believe?

Suddenly my love and interest in the show is renewed. Soon it will be back! I ask myself, pretty much every waking hour, what will it be like? Ooh, the countdown to the series launch threatens to kill me! Why can't time skip ahead, I ask myself repeatedly.

Before the announcement I spend all summer reading Doctor Who fiction, trying to catch up on the Eighth Doctor adventures. The closest I ever get to being 'caught up' is something like 20 books behind. Ultimately, once summer ends, and I'm back at school, the regular reading stops... and I fall behind by as many as 40 books!!!!

It's the 40th anniversary. After reading about how huge previous birthdays were, I expect this to be the same... Ultimately, not a lot happens, and it's a bit of a let down. I get to watch the Story of Doctor Who on TV with Dad over Christmas. It's stuff I've seen before, and the interviews are fluff, but I treat it as brand new Doctor Who. In a way, it is. But the best is yet to come!!

2004: I spend the year preparing for Doctor Who's return. I write a diary on the subject. Oh yes! I'm mortified when my sister finds it, and reads extracts of it out to me "Doctor Who is coming back. Yessssssss! The best news ever...." Etc etc.

Dad takes us to Blackpool, and we visit the Doctor Who exhibition there. See below!

I await each new Doctor Who Magazine with baited breath each month, especially after Russell T Davies' Production Notes column begins. I decide that man is a genius, and his article the best thing ever.

Christopher Eccleston is cast as the Ninth Doctor. I've never heard of him, but Dad says he's great, and was in Cracker. I search out his performance in The Second Coming to check up on him (and RTD's writing). I decide the show is in good hands.

Mostly though, I'm bored. Of waiting. I want too see those Autons that fans have captured on set for the first story. Or the Moxx of Balhoon. Why can't the show just be on already?!

My writing slows down, as I move away from writing one page stories, and onto scripts. I still do the occasional piece, but the imagination I need isn't quite there, and sometimes these new adventures come across as fairly flat, and predictable. I like to reuse old monsters, and tend to over complicate the plots. Some things never change, huh?!

2005: New Years Day, and I'd heard that the show would premiere this day. So, I decide I'm not going to my aunt's 50th birthday just in case. Turns out, the show wasn't on that day - but I look foolish saying I now want to go to the party, so stay at home and miss out on the fun.

It becomes fairly obvious that the show will be airing Easter. I start to wrap up my stories, to coincide with this new series. I end my Radio Times Doctor Who stories (based off the comic strips I read in the TV listings magazine in 1996/7) and my Eighth Doctor prose adventures.

I slow down on my reading of the EDA novels, maybe reading one or two in the year.

Meanwhile, I step up my DVD purchases; buying every other release.

As March nears, we hit an explosion of advertising - Doctor Who is about to launch and it's EVERYWHERE. As a young fan, I'm not use to it getting anywhere near this level of attention. It's on the sides of buses, and billboards. Every other trailer on the BBC is about it. It takes over Blue Peter, and the news. It's hard to avoid.

I read my new look DWM with pride, and take it into school. People start to ask me about it; curious about this new show they're hearing about. Being a famous fan across school, I become the show's ambassador to the other kids. And, yes, I'm cool because of it.

Saturday 26th March finally hits. Launch day! Time drags, as you would expect. We go out in the daytime to kill time, but it doesn't really work. Then we return home, and sit through two or three really mediocre TV. I'm paranoid my step-mum won't let Dad and me watch it (she threatens to hide the remote, or cut the plug!). Ultimately, I need not have worried. The time eventually comes, and at last...

Doctor Who is back on TV.
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