Why “D.I.Y” (Do-it-yourself, for those not in the know)? Well, despite this being the biggest year in the show’s history, for fans here in the UK at least, there seems to have been a rather underwhelming push by the BBC to highlight and celebrate one of it’s biggest successes.
We are less than 2 months away from the actual anniversary date of 23rd November, and what have we had so far on BBC TV? An (admittedly interesting) radio show about the beginnings of the series (The Reunion, Radio 4), a Doctor Who Proms (clip, another clip), an announcement show for the new twelfth doctor, and a couple of very brief idents, or “stings“. Not even a proper trailer yet for the anniversary episode. A schedule of events has been released but I would have liked much more throughout the year on BBC TV.
I would have liked to see many more classic episodes getting an airing throughout the year (as has occurred in other territories). The BBC is sitting on a goldmine of classic Doctor Who adventures dating back to 1963 and we are seeing none of it!
There are a number of other events/products that are properly celebrating the full heritage of Doctor Who (going right back to the start; this is a 50 year anniversary after all, not a celebration of just the last decade). I am presenting here a guide as to how you can celebrate the show in the manner that it deserves.
1. Hunt down and watch some classic episodes.
Which ones? Well that is a whole debate! The old ones from the “classic” era might be difficult for some people who only know Who from it’s 2005 revival. The actors will all be unfamiliar, and the slower pace and lower production values from decades gone by might be a bit off-putting. But there are some great moments, and of course a lot of history. Try my guide at this post. It contains links to several other sources and suggestions of which classics to seek out.
Where to find them? Well, either buy them on DVD, or visit one of the many “unofficial” online sources. Try Dailymotion. Search for users “greendude33“, “matrixarchive“, “WHOat50“, “f630475257“. Alternatively if you are in the States I believe Netflix has some Classic Who .
First episode of “Genesis of the Daleks” at Daily Motion:
(Lost episodes) – There are many episodes of Doctor Who that unfortunately no longer exist as video recordings. However they can be experienced in other ways, and should not be discounted if you really want to get a feel of the history of the show. See my separate blog post for further details.
2. Listen to The Reunion
A BBC radio show bringing together some of the creators and actors of the very first Doctor Who story, “An Unearthly Child”. (Non-UK users, if you cannot access, use a proxy service like Tunnelbear)
3. Check out The Guardian (UK newspaper) series of features on 50 Years of Doctor Who.
4. The Doctors Revisited.
BBC America commisioned a series of 30 minutes documentaries, one for each doctor, starting from William Hartnell, and have been broadcasting them monthly since the beginning of the year, each accompanied by a showing of a classic serial featuring that doctor. A little lightweight but with a few nices nuggets of information and clips nonetheless, they are worth watching. You can see a list of which stories were shown for each Doctor here.
But, how can you see them? Well in another massive FAIL by the BBC, they are not being shown in the UK on BBC TV, but only on a pay TV satellite channel! So, again, internet to the rescue. Try this playlist at DailyMotion from user Tardis_Central. You should be able to find the other episodes by a quick search. They can also be found in the usual torrent places. Currently I am working through these with the accompanying stories.
Trailer for Doctors Revisited (Second Doctor)
5. BFI Doctor Who 50th Anniversary events.
The British Film Institute has, throughout the year, been hosting a series of special screenings of serials from each era of Doctor Who. They have of course been incredibly popular, and nigh on impossible to get tickets for. At each show there has been a panel Q&A session with many guest stars, ranging from actors (including doctors, companions, and guests) and writers, directors and other notable related people. Luckily the BFI has recorded these sessions and you can view them at the BFI YouTube channel. The most recent of these events was held last night (4th October) and focussed on the eighth doctor Paul McGann. Paul himself was a guest, along with Daphne Ashbrook (who played the companion in the TV Movie), writer and script editor Andrew Cartmel, and Nicholas Briggs provider of many alien voices in the current revived series.
Tom Baker talking at the Fourth Doctor BFI Q&A Event:
6. Big Finish
Big Finish is a company that has been producing original audio adventures related to Doctor Who for many years, and was instrumental in keeping interest in the show alive in the years when it was off our TV screens. Personally I have not really listened to many of these, but the special that has been commissioned for the 50th Anniversary has piqued my interest. “The Light At The End” is a lavish production starring Doctors 4-8 (all original actors: Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann as well as classic companions Louise Jameson (Leela), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Nicola Bryant (Peri), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa).
Check out the trailer here.
And here is a nice advert detailing the various formats in which the story is being released.
7. IDW Comics series – Prisoners Of Time
For those who like their graphic novels, have a look at IDW’s serial Prisoners Of Time. Again this is a currently running series, featuring all the doctors and many companions, and scheduled to finish in the Anniversary month of November. The series is available as physical media and also digitally at ComiXology.
8. Anniversary books.
Puffin, in conjunction with the BBC are publishing a series of short eBooks each featuring one of the doctors. They are written by well known authors, and each is announced at the start of the month. A list of the books and authors is here. Each of the announcements of a addition to the series is accompanied by a YouTube video of the author giving some insights into their book and why they decided to do it. Example of Richelle Mead talking about her sixth Doctor book here.
9. Fan blogs
Finally, I would like to give a shout out to a couple of fan blogs that I have enjoyed.
First is the Confused Companion. This is a blog by an American Doctor Who fan who chronicles her marathon odyssey from the very first episode of the William Hartnell era, right through to the present day. Although a fan of the genre, she had never seen any Who before starting this and it is fascinating, and fun to see her reaction to these stories for the first time. Her perspective is unusual (if not unique) in being completely new to Who, but watching stories originally made in the 60s from a 21st century perspective, and also in a very compressed time frame. I have enjoyed reliving many classics of my youth vicariously through her blog.
Another different take on the task of watching all the Doctor Who from the beginning is the Doctor Who Mind Robber blog. This is written by an Australian fan who obviously is a big fan with an extensive experience of the show. But as she rewatches from the start she gives some interesting comment on how the show related to fashions and events of the time in which it was made. Here is the first post which explains her plans. Also you get some great Doctor Who news and factoids!
So, although we have the official BBC 50th Anniversary epsiode on the 23rd of November to look forward to, as well Mark Gatiss’s dramatisation of the story behind the series back in the 1960s, there are a lot of other ways to make your own Doctor Who celebration. I hope you enjoy it!