50th Anniversary Retrospective: Introduction



Steven Moffat. 22nd November 2013 (at Official 50th Celebration) “[Doctor Who] makes all other television look redundant. Which, let’s be honest about it… it is”


I stood in a queue at the weekend with a bunch of people I’d never met before, and in all likelihood, will never meet again. Complete strangers brought together with a sole purpose: to go and celebrate fifty years of a daft old television show. I stood in many queues at the weekend, some for over an hour, some for less than five minutes but in every one (in Every. Single. One) there was chat, and greetings, and good wishes, and camaraderie. They were full of smiles and laughter and fair amount of fezzes and tweed too. There were fellow queuers who had flown in from New Zealand, the USA, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Scandanavia, and many more places to boot just to be there and say that they were there for the anniversary. I’d never been more proud to be a part of that community.

My relationship with the show started, like so many others when I was a kid. Tom Baker was the earliest Doctor that I remember, although I must’ve seen some later Pertwee episodes when I was five or sixm but for all that, Peter Davison was *my* Doctor. It was a constant in my life ever since then, my interest in the show only dipping a little during the erroneously named ‘Wilderness Years’ when a lack of student finances meant I never bought any merchandise and a lack of interest from the BBC meant they never made any more episodes for the telly. My attention was drawn away by the likes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Babylon 5 for a time, but my heart was always Gallifreyan.

The fiftieth anniversary of the greatest show in the galaxy is an occasion that will live me from now until I shuffle off this mortal coil. If I have the good fortune to make it to the one-hundredth, there will be an annoying 92-year-old in a wheelchair in the corner of whatever celebration is deemed fit, saying “I remember the Fiftieth, you know?!” to anyone willing to listen. Indeed, over the course of the last few days, I spoke with many people who still talk of the “Twenty Years of a Time Lord” event held at Longleat, thirty years ago… There’s probably a few people still in the queue today. However, the anticipation for this birthday party, with its wishes and rumours and hopes, lasted years. I should think that the first time I heard someone ponder what kind of event the Golden Anniversary would be, was probably back in 2006 or so, (once the show was back on television and established as a huge success once more), such is the cultural significance of both this show and its half-century milestone. So, the question as to whether the powers-that-be could deliver something to satiate the appetites of us fans let alone the wider audience, was a challenging one.

Following the success of my personal little anniversary countdown challenge (to watch all 102 twenty-first century episodes in a  102-day period leading up to anniversary), it’s probably only right to spend a little time talking here about the anniversary itself. Over the coming days I will try and make a record of my experience and what it means to me. I’ll take a look at the Celebration Event held at the Excel in London’s Docklands where I was wonderfully fortunate to be in attendance over the whole three days. I’ll post up some comments about the way that Doctor Who took over television, as promised, for the course of a few weeks, with reviews of the myriad shows that I watched and recorded. And, of course, I’ll do my best to review the 799th episode of Doctor Who itself, “The Day of the Doctor”.

So, stepping back a little. As I blogged my way through September, October and November there was lots of talk amongst the fraternity of Whovians. There were issues with the ticketing for the Celebration itself, there were complaints that throughout the anniversary year there were only two episodes of new Doctor Who being made, there was a disgruntlement that a single episode (despite its 75-minute length) was simply not enough to properly recognise the milestone. Despite the naysayers, I remained mostly positive. The Convention held in March 2012 gave me confidence that the Celebration would go with a bang irrespective of the ticketing palaver. I didn’t particularly want wall-to-wall coverage for months in advance because when I celebrate my birthday, I only celebrate for a day: not for the six months leading it up to as well. As for more episodes, well sure, we’d all like more Who on the telly, but I had 102 episodes to enjoy again, and now I am starting to think about a way to go back and watch (or listen to) the 696 earlier episodes too.

So, in addition to this little introduction, over the next few days I hope that Demon’s Run will be bringing you the following…

  • Three Days at Excel – A review of the Official 50th Celebration
  • Taking Over Television – Looking at the Doctor Who-related TV that helped build up the celebration
  • The Day of the Doctor – The definitive Demon’s Run review of the anniversary story
  • The Next Fifty – looking at where Doctor Who goes next

Links will be updated as and when I get around to writing them.

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