In the BBC East TARDIS at work, yesterday evening.
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I am writing and posting this while on a train speeding from Norwich to London, on the first leg of a journey home to spend a couple of days staying with mum and dad back home in West Sussex.
There are several reason for the journey. One is that, after a very busy few weeks at work, I wanted to have a little break from it all, a chance for a bit of rest and relaxation. (This is all relative, obviously – I am well aware that my job, even at its most stressful and difficult, is an absolute walk in the park compared to being a nurse or a teacher or anything else important that actually keeps things going, but anyway…)
The second reason is that it gives me the chance to meet up with some old friends tomorrow and join in with one of their gatherings to watch Formula One, which will be rather nice.
But there is another reason.
Today is, of course, the 23rd of November. Which is a date that means something to people like me. It is the anniversary of the first episode of Doctor Who, and a rather special anniversary this year – the 50th. As you can’t have failed to notice from even a casual look at the rest of this blog, and as you surely already know if you know me at all, I am a Doctor Who fan. Always have been, always will be.
You can’t explain it, not really. It’s just something that I am, a part of who I am. An important part. It’s like being a fan of a football team – pretty much exactly like it, actually. It gets into you when you’re a child, you fall in love with it, passionately and completely, and then it’s there for life. You stick with it through thick and thin, enjoying the good times and staying with it in the bad times in the hope it will be better next week.
I could try and come up with some rational explanation for loving Doctor Who. It may be because it had a mysterious, enigmatic quality to it which greatly appealed to me as a child – the mythic quality it got from there being so much of it, so much history that you could only ever catch glimpses of, on BBC Two repeats. Or the fact that it can go anywhere and do anything, can change so much, and there’s always a completely different story, something new and unknown with the potential for brilliance, waiting just over the hill. Or the fact that, even when it goes away, there’s always the hope, due to the very nature of its format, that it will come back. Indeed, for fans, it never really goes away – someone will always be making professional novel or audio versions.
So I am heading home to stay with mum and dad because I love Doctor Who, and because I want to watch this evening’s 50th anniversary special in the very same living room where I fell in love with the series as a child. The living room where my brother urged us to be quiet because he wanted to record the opening titles of Battlefield on his personal stereo in case the theme tune was different. The living room where he and I mocked our sister for thinking the title sequence had changed that night, when we knew it was the same as last year. The living room where I sat on the floor, huddled in terror, at the first sight of Davros at the end of part one of the Genesis of the Daleks repeat in 1993. Where I ran, thrilled and excited, from the room to tell mum all about it when I actually saw a regeneration for the first time, in the Androzani repeat.
I was there when I saw the TV Movie for the first time at the age of 12, after mum had reluctantly driven us to Worthing and back to get the video on its pre-transmission release. I was there, on an Easter break from university, when the show came back in 2005. And I shall be there tonight.
I don't usually wear anything Doctor Who-related, but as today is a special occasion I wanted to make an exception, and the badges are the only wearable-Doctor Who items I own! (Well, aside from a pair of Dalek cuff links!)
I could have gone to watch it at the cinema, in 3D, at one of the showings happening across the country. But while big screens and 3D are all very nice, mum and dad’s lounge at home is where great events in Doctor Who should be watched.
I’ve had a wonderful anniversary year. I’ve been lucky enough to attend four of the anniversary screenings at the BFI, including the première of An Adventure in Space and Time earlier this month. I’ve been part of Doctor Who News’s series of articles telling the story of the birth of the show. At work I have been incredibly fortunate to have been the one chosen to put together our local Doctor Who anniversary features, meeting and interviewing some fantastic people with some great stories to tell, and some real legends of the show. Our coverage was “mentioned in dispatches” on the main BBC Doctor Who website, and I even rather unexpectedly got a byline on a News Online piece by my colleague Martin today, written by him from one of my interviews. And I even had the "Star Letter" in the anniversary issue of Doctor Who Magazine!
But tonight will be the biggest thrill, as I get to regress to childhood and watch a brand new episode of Doctor Who, back home, in the lounge.
I probably won’t sit on the floor this time, though.