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Feature: Doctor Who

Who spread

As rumours fly about the return of Doctor Who, we take an anniversary look at the show’s past, present and future

And so he’s back. From Outer Space. And all the fans are walking round with that daft look upon their face: ‘They shouldn’t change our precious show!’, ‘They should leave it up to me!’, ‘We’re going to make this the best thing to ever be on BBC!’ And so on... To say the message boards and communities are busy is an understatement. But do these euphoric people have any relevance to the show they love? Here’s a question for you, 'How many Doctor Who fans does it take to change a lightbulb?' Four: one to say they want the old one back, one to say they should give the new one a chance, one to ask if the new one is Canon, and then one to observe that it should be a ‘tall lightbulb that glitters’.

The announcement via BBC controller Lorraine Heggessey on 25th September 2003 that Doctor Who was returning to TV screens has somewhat disrupted what would otherwise be a normal anniversary for the show: lots of dreamy ‘Wouldn’t it be good if it came back one day?’ conjecture, a cash-in book, a low-quality audio-visual project – Dimensions in Time, anyone? – and maybe a convention, where the opening topic is ‘Wouldn’t it be good if it came back one day, here’s a glimpse of the new project, and by the way, the book stall’s open’. Heggessey pre-empted an announcement originally scheduled for November, intended to mark the 40th anniversary and steer clear of spoiling advance word on web-project ‘Doctor Dracula visits South Park’ (or Scream of the Shalka as it’s being known), which for a period of about two months was the New Hope for Doctor Who. But forget all that Internet stuff (which to a fickle following was only the way forward while TV remained a closed avenue): Doctor Who is back! Fans rejoice!


What’s going to become apparent very soon is that while the fans have been the cash cow which has kept the show in the minds of BBC execs since 1989, their opinions and desires must be the last thing to be listened to as the new show is put together if that show is to survive beyond the currently proposed first season of six episodes.

by Ian Atkins

What other conclusions has Cult Times come to?
Where does it see the series going?
What needs to keep the series going?
These questions and more are answered in:
Cult Times #98

Image © Visual Imagination, Doctor Who © BBCtv
Feature © Visual Imagination 2003. Not for reproduction

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Cult Times #98, see below for ordering options
Cult Times #98
November 2003
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