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Air Waves

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1987-08-25 Riverfront Times.jpg


Why were all of those people talking about Who? Because they are fans of Who? Dr. Who, the renegade Time Lord who travels through time and space in the popular, long-running British sci-fi television series of the same name. The program is aired in St. Louis on Channel 9 Sunday nights at 10:30pm.

Recently a "Dr. Who' touring exhibit, featuring Australian actress Janet Fielding, who played Tegan on the show, came to St. Louis. More than a thousand people attended the two-day event at the Sheldon.

At a question-and-answer session, Fielding fielded questions from fans who seemed to see her not as an actress, but as Tegan, the Doctor's companion. They asked what her favorite episodes were, how she liked the Doctor (played by Tom Baker) and whether she was afraid of the monster villains.

Later, I asked Fielding why the rather silly series has such a tremendous U.S. following. She thinks it's because the show is unlike anything else Americans see. "In American television, heroes win through violence," says Fielding. "In 'Dr. Who,' the hero wins through wit. Might is not always right."

Fielding also thinks the high caliber of actors helps the program. "The cast is always made up of quality British actors. You may not know them in the United States, but many of the roles are filled by people with high visibility in England. Even Glenda Jackson wanted to play a role," Fielding says.

As St. Louisans stood in a long line waiting to get Fielding's autograph, fans added some insight into why the show is different.

"It's a cross between 'Star Trek' science fiction and James Bond gadgets," says Brian Turner.

"Tom Baker (the actor currently playing the Doctor on Channel 9) is so charismatic he jumps right off the screen," says Alicia Steinman.

"It's funny but not slapstick silliness. At the same time, it makes you think," says Ed Kraemer.

Coming from Pevely for the exhibit, Ken Whitney says, "It's like entering a unique world. It's an escape."

No canned laughter," says Tom Ruoff.

Besides seeing Fielding, many of the Who-goers snapped up a load of souvenirs featuring ... guess Who? The items on sale included, but were not limited to, Dr. Who T-shirts, scarves, mugs, cups, books, watches, key chains, lighters, hats, buttons, posters, jelly babies (candy) , albums, plates, buttons, videotapes, binoculars, suspenders and even a "Baby on Board" takeoff reading, "Who's on Board."

The popularity of "Dr. Who" is documented by results from Channel 9's pledge drives. Fans promising pledges during "Dr. Who" comprise the largest percentage of donations from any Channel 9 series.

Caption: Janet Fielding signs autographs of Dr. Who fans

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  • APA 6th ed.: Frahlichstein, Tripp (1987-08-25). Air Waves. Riverfront Times .
  • MLA 7th ed.: Frahlichstein, Tripp. "Air Waves." Riverfront Times [add city] 1987-08-25. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Frahlichstein, Tripp. "Air Waves." Riverfront Times, edition, sec., 1987-08-25
  • Turabian: Frahlichstein, Tripp. "Air Waves." Riverfront Times, 1987-08-25, section, edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Air Waves | url= | work=Riverfront Times | pages= | date=1987-08-25 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=28 November 2023 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Air Waves | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=28 November 2023}}</ref>