This is already and will continue to be quite a year for Doctor Who?
In November, the programme celebrates its 50th anniversary. When I joined the show, it had just reached its 20th year. Who would have predicted that the old warhorse would be even healthier in 2013 than it was three decades ago?
Christopher Ecclestone did the hard job of re-establishing the mercurial time lord in the nation’s televisual heart after more than a decade off our screens. Aided by phenomenally good scripts and greatly improved production values, he did so assertively and excitingly. Then David Tennant charmed a nation and achieved the thitherto impossible task of getting women of all ages to embrace a science fiction programme that had previously been predominantly the domain of the young and the male part of the population. When David left, I was initially concerned when I heard that another young man had been cast in the role, hankering as I was for another Troughton or Pertwee to bring back some senior gravitas to the role. But in an inspirational piece of casting, we got Matt Smith, who enticingly combines youth and vigour with the wisdom of the ancients, the charm of Cary Grant and a wonderful eclectic randomness of the kind we oldies loved so much in Patrick Troughton, whose inspired first regeneration enabled the series to live on when William Hartnell left the show in 1966. Without him, indeed, this would be an empty column today!
Now Matt has announced his departure (is it really four years?) and the speculation begins about the next occupant of the Tardis.
It is beyond doubt that white males have thus far dominated the incarnations and I am one of the seemingly unpopular minority who would be intrigued to learn that the Doctor is in touch, say, with his feminine side. They won’t do it of course. They would fear the probable resultant drop in viewer figures, but I would applaud their bravery – and honesty if they did.
But it is going to be a fascinating year. The anniversary broadcast in November, followed by Matt’s swansong at Christmas and the probable unveiling of his successor, who alas will have missed out on postal fame by not being immortalised on a stamp.
For this year has been the only time that I could truly claim to be first class – along of course with my fellow doctors, bless ‘em!