Old Paul Rance Articles
46 Years in the TARDIS by Paul Rance
(Originally published on Associated Content on February 23rd, 2009)
The Doctor Who Facts & Figures Page
Doctor Who - an Appreciation
Doctor Who was a cult science fiction TV series in the UK and beyond, but, by the end of the 1980s, the viewing figures in Britain had dwindled to such a degree that the show was axed by the BBC. But now, even the most loyal supporters of Doctor Who must be surprised by just how successful the show has been since its return in 2005.
The original Doctor Who series was remembered fondly for its basic approach to special effects, and the rather wobbly sets. The charismatic Doctors, genuinely fearsome 'baddies' such as the Daleks, Cybermen, and the Master, the strange TARDIS, and Ron Grainer's sinister and futuristic theme tune all helped to hold the rapt attention of its audience of children and adults alike - despite the show's deficiencies.
The new Doctor Who has far superior special effects - as you would expect - but the casting has been inspired, notably with Doctors Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant. The storylines and scripts have been impressive, and departing producer Russell T. Davies leaves behind a classic series in good shape - even if the 2008 series was uneven in quality, and weaker than the series the year before.
The original Doctor Who ran from 1963 (the first episode was shown the day after the assassination of President Kennedy) to 1989, and even before its end, was, by far, the longest running science fiction series in the history of British television. Science fiction has many detractors, but Doctor Who has always been rich in ingenuity, and that helped to keep the series going. Also, that ingenuity was probably forced on the show by cash restrictions. Terry Nation's Dalek design was simple, but very effective, and the Daleks were probably the most impressive non-humanoid villains of any science fiction show. Ron Grainer's theme tune was put together in the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop, but it would be hard to make a more astoundingly different sound even now - despite the huge technical advances in sound recording.
On the reborn series of Doctor Who it seems budgets are more generous, and, despite a plethora of television channels, there are few television shows which has the creative spark and audience appeal of the current Doctor Who series. Possibly, also, is the the nostalgia factor for older viewers, but there is a huge fan base among the young. So, though the old series will celebrate its 46th birthday in 2009, 'Doctor Who' must be doing something right to stay around so long. In this current climate of doom and despondency, a bit of escapism is still good for the soul, and 'Doctor Who' will entertain us for many more years yet, I'm sure.
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