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Timeless - why I Love Doctor Who

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  • Publication: The Age
  • Date: 2006-12-28
  • Author: Tim Hunter
  • Page: Green Guide, p. 21
  • Language: English

ONE of the surprising success stories for 2005 was the return of Doctor Who after a 16-year hiatus. Produced by BBC Wales as 13 45-minute episodes, it was a hit with critics and audiences everywhere, and has continued with a second series already broadcast and a third in production.

As a long-term (and slightly obsessed) fan of the original series in all its cardboard-acting and tinfoil-set glory, I was truly excited by this new series. UKTV is screening the whole first series back-to-back on New Year's Eve - that's about 10 hours of continuous Doctor Who! So, as a reminder of how good this new series was, here are 10 reasons why I love the new Doctor Who:

1. Russell T. Davies

One of British television's freshest writer-producers, Davies already had what it took to bring Doctor Who back, rejigged and rewired for a 21st-century audience. While his previous work, which includes the original Queer As Folk and Casanova, demonstrates his fearlessness and creativity, his love of the original program ensured that the show's core values and appeal were kept very firmly in place.

2. Christopher Eccleston

In a surprisingly strong casting decision, Eccleston was perfect as the new Doctor: brooding, dark, flippant, compassionate, alien and strangely contemporary, all in a battered leather jacket that made him look like an ordinary guy. Whether it's his joy at Rose's sense of wonder, or meeting Charles Dickens, or his initial terror upon meeting a lone captive Dalek, Eccleston had plenty to work with. It also imbued the Doctor with definite character and emotional development. The only real shame: he was only in the role for one series.

3. Billie Piper

Having a strong actor as the Doctor is only half the battle. The other crucial casting is the companion, and while Piper may have been a tricky choice for Rose Tyler, with her teenage pop career behind her, and only beginning to make a name for herself as an actress, it's hard to imagine anyone else in the role. Here's someone we can identify with; someone who dumps her home life to travel with the Doctor but who also loves chips, has a sense of justice and courage, and teaches the Doctor a thing or two about being human.

4. Budget

One of the things that the original series was often derided for was its cheap effects and flimsy sets. In 2005, with the quality of prosthetics, models, computer-generated effects and a decent budget, Doctor Who has thrown the polystyrene rocks and disco-glitter spacesuits out the window, and now looks shmick, slick and sexy. From bitchy trampoline villains such as Cassandra, through to a spaceship crashing into Big Ben, and an army of Daleks swarming through space, Doctor Who has never looked so good.

5. Reinvention

Rather than get bogged down in tedious continuity, Davies swept aside the baggage the show had accumulated, and killed off the Time Lords, making the Doctor homeless and alone. He also injected a more down-to-earth approach with recurring characters from Rose's home life, her mum Jackie and boyfriend Mickey, as well as something approaching an emotional attachment between the Doctor and Rose. In all of the far-fetched nonsense of the show, there was some real human drama.

6. 21st-century Daleks

Another reinvention was updating Doctor Who's most famous enemy, the Daleks. In the 1980s, the Daleks lost much of their menace but this time around, not only can they elevate up stairs but they can fly through space and are completely ruthless. Once again, kids - and adults - were terrified of the Daleks, and they loved it!

7. Decent aliens

It's not just the Daleks that worked. New alien races, such as the Slitheen, green and baby-faced with a penchant for farting, the Moxx of Balhoon, and the bat-like Reapers all look great, and have some sinister and scary moments.

8. Captain Jack

What an inspired idea: a charming and handsome Time Agent from the 51st century stuck on Earth with no knowledge of the past two years of his life and a very fluid sexuality. Gay actor John Barrowman plays him perfectly. Who'd have thought that a bisexual character in a family TV show would be as easily accepted and with nary a peep of protest from anyone? He's such a popular character, he has his own series, Torchwood.

9. Really scary bits

One of Doctor Who's strengths was its cliffhangers, and while we don't get one every week, we get some spectacular ones - like the Slitheen shedding their human skins, and the Dalek army revealed - and some really scary moments. How creepy is that little kid in the gasmask wandering about Blitz London asking "Are you my mummy?"

10. And it all worked!

The most amazing thing is that it may have not worked at all - but it did. The mix of horror, fantasy, humour, satire and daft aliens hit the right note - and audiences loved it. Old fans were lapping it up, while a new generation learned the terror of the word exterminate and adult Who virgins embraced it.

Doctor Who Series 1 screens Sunday, December 31, from noon to 11pm on UKTV.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Hunter, Tim (2006-12-28). Timeless - why I Love Doctor Who. The Age p. Green Guide, p. 21.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Hunter, Tim. "Timeless - why I Love Doctor Who." The Age [add city] 2006-12-28, Green Guide, p. 21. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Hunter, Tim. "Timeless - why I Love Doctor Who." The Age, edition, sec., 2006-12-28
  • Turabian: Hunter, Tim. "Timeless - why I Love Doctor Who." The Age, 2006-12-28, section, Green Guide, p. 21 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Timeless - why I Love Doctor Who | url= | work=The Age | pages=Green Guide, p. 21 | date=2006-12-28 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=25 July 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Timeless - why I Love Doctor Who | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=25 July 2024}}</ref>