Let’s be honest. 56 isn’t really what you could call a ‘sexy’ number. As far as birthday milestones are concerned, it’s 18, 21, 40, 50… those are the years that really resonate with people and we make a fuss over them. 56 meanwhile seems a bit ‘meh’, doesn’t it? But that’s what Doctor Who turns today… 56. And you know what? It’s still extraordinary to me.
I sit here writing these words on the night of November 23rd in Sydney, watching other countries – notably the UK – just waking up to the same day and making all the customary social media comments about the anniversary. And in an era where genre fandoms are regularly at each other’s throat, having something like this anniversary (or other recent happenings), that everyone can join in with, feels very special to me.
Doctor Who is a series I’ve never lost faith in. Even when I haven’t liked a performer, a story, or even the bulk of a whole series, it’s the kind of program where the overall premise keeps me coming back. I mean, you’d have to be half-dead to not think all of time and space as a playground isn’t compelling. Am I right? And the chameleon-like (or phoenix-like if you want to be dramatic), nature of the series where the main cast never stays too long, nor the production teams, means the show is always in a state of flux and evolving anyway. It’s fascinating.
Indeed, Doctor Who is probably one of the few series in the world actually like this. Even soap operas which by their very nature have a revolving door of characters, still have some actors who will sit in roles for 10, 15, 20 years or more. Doctor Who doesn’t have that.
This is the first lesson, for want of a better word, that I ever try to impart on new fans coming to the show. Even if you hit a period, or performer, you aren’t “down” with, they’re going to change soon enough anyway. Sit them out. Doctor Who is bigger than any one showrunner, actor, theme or any other aspect you care to name. And that makes it bullet-proof. It’s why I firmly believe the series will be with us, in one form or another, 56 years from now. It may get ‘rested’ over that time. It may return to just being novels, or a range of comics. It may end up as a Netflix or Amazon series. Who knows, eh? Unpredictability doesn’t sit well with some, but it’s honestly quite exciting to me. I see it as the key reason that Doctor Who keeps powering on and on.
So here’s to Doctor Who on it’s 56th birthday. I have nothing more profound to say as we sit here, eagerly anticipating a trailer for Series 12 and wondering what it will be like. The greatest series in the world is about to start again and I’m just happy to be here, ready to talk about it on the Doctor Who Show when it does. I can’t think of a more pleasurable genre fandom to think about, or talk about.
Happy birthday to Who.