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Weird — but Doctor Who prom was perfect for our geeky times

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2008-07-28 Daily Telegraph 2.jpg

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Prom

Dr Who

ROYAL ALBERT HALL

LEAVING the Hammersmith Apollo two years ago, I was convinced I'd seen the geekiest event of my life.

Throughout the evening, the orchestra of English National Ballet had applied themselves with consummate professionalism to a programme of theme tunes from video games, as a full house of T-shirted twentysomethings yelled approval.

Yesterday, the Doctor Who Prom at the Royal Albert Hall in London surpassed even that. There were massed choirs, disco-dancing Cybermen, celebrity cameos, and a specially written skit in which the Doctor, played by David Tennant, revealed that he had not only attended the first ever Prom, but had helped out by playing the tuba.

In purely musical terms, it was probably a mistake to leaven the music from the series with a few classics. Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries, Tchaikovsky's Montagues and Capulets and Hoist's Jupiter pointed up the lack of subtlety and shade in composer Murray Gold's Doctor Who work. But that was for listeners to Radio 3 to worry about. It wasn't a concert so much as a celebration — hundreds of families, there to affirm their allegiance to the Doctor and his cult.

Throughout, on the stage next to the famous bust of Sir Henry Wood, stood the Tardis. Near the end, as the strings swelled and the crowd rose to applaud, you half-expected it to come to life.

What struck me most, however, about the prom and the event two years ago was how unapologetic the audiences were. Once, a video-gamer or a Doctor Who fan was looked down upon: now they have conquered the commanding heights of our culture. It's not just in the concert halls, either. The hottest ticket is for Tennant's sold-out run in Stratford-upon-Avon as Hamlet. In cinemas, costumed superheroes rule the box office. Last week The Dark Knight set a US record for an opening weekend, eclipsing Spider-Man 3.

So why have we gone crazy for science fiction? Partly, it's because of the spectacle — this kind of thing has always been popular, but now we've got the special effects skills to get it right. It is also because the internet allows geeks to realise that they're not alone. There's something more at work here, though.

The internet made us more vulnerable to anything going wrong. "Every single one of us," says the author Neal Stephenson, "is as dependent on science and technology — and, by extension, on the geeks who make it work — as a patient in intensive care."

In such a complex, insecure world, we want to be reminded that technology is a force for good. Which makes characters such as Doctor Who and Batman, with their endless supply of gadgets, the perfect heroes for our times.


Caption: Dancing Cybermen, Daleks and David Tennant as Doctor Who brought science fiction to the proms at the Royal Albert Hall

Caption: A creature interrupts the conductor

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  • APA 6th ed.: Colvile, Robert (2008-07-28). Weird — but Doctor Who prom was perfect for our geeky times. The Daily Telegraph .
  • MLA 7th ed.: Colvile, Robert. "Weird — but Doctor Who prom was perfect for our geeky times." The Daily Telegraph [add city] 2008-07-28. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Colvile, Robert. "Weird — but Doctor Who prom was perfect for our geeky times." The Daily Telegraph, edition, sec., 2008-07-28
  • Turabian: Colvile, Robert. "Weird — but Doctor Who prom was perfect for our geeky times." The Daily Telegraph, 2008-07-28, section, edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Weird — but Doctor Who prom was perfect for our geeky times | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Weird_%E2%80%94_but_Doctor_Who_prom_was_perfect_for_our_geeky_times | work=The Daily Telegraph | pages= | date=2008-07-28 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=7 February 2023 }}</ref>
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