On moving to London four years ago, I had a good awareness of iconic British characters from television and film. Or so I’d thought. It wasn’t enough to know Mr. Bean, Monty Python, or Sherlock Holmes. It wasn’t enough to know Paddington Bear, Winnie the Pooh, or Peter Rabbit. And apparently not even moving to London was enough to acquaint me with that elusive Time Lord who has so endeared Himself with the masses yet so far evaded my understanding.
Until I greeted a certain visitor at Platform 9 ¾ (seriously) who enlightened me on this focus of her obsession, introducing me to Him via a couple favorite episodes. And then a TARDIS mysteriously appeared in my neighborhood…
Blog readers, meet the Doctor. Doctor, meet our blog readers.
“Doctor who?” you might ask, dear reader.
“Exactly,” I reply.
“No, I mean Doctor who?” you ask again.
“Yes! The very one!” I respond, right before you roll your eyes and huff at me in exasperation, stomping away to continue your important plans for moving to London.
Okay, so if you’re moving to London, you would be remiss not to know the Doctor, a.k.a. Doctor Who. This is all new to me, too, so bear with me if my overview is the cursory explanation of a novice. Perhaps with experience, my future self can journey back in time to this blog article to rewrite it.
Anyway, the signs have shown themselves ever since my moving to London, and now I finally know: Doctor Who looks human but is an alien Time Lord with two hearts who time travels to save Earth from sinister hands. This British sci-fi series began on the BBC in 1963, starring William Hartnell as the Doctor. On Hartnell’s departure in 1963, the public became aware of an oh-so condition convenient the Doctor has—i.e., on being mortally wounded, he can regenerate into another human appearance, maintaining a somewhat consistent personality but adopting some new traits along the way. This regeneration has become an essential and expected aspect of the series now, with each new actor bringing fresh interpretation. There were already eight doctors before the 21-century resurrection of the series, and if you’re moving to London this year, perhaps the 11th Doctor will show up in a police box near you.
Police box? Yes, the blue police box that’s become the Doctor Who icon is his time-traveling vessel. Before wireless communications, these call boxes essentially served as mini-police stations as needed and were all over the city in the ’60s when the TV show was created. Alas, if you’re a die-hard fan moving to London in 2012, though, you’ll be much harder pressed to find one.
Including clueless me who has apparently been walking right by one on my way in and out of Earls Court tube station countless times since moving to London and never realized it until last night! On returning from a powerful West End production of Les Miserables, my houseguest suddenly exclaimed, “A TARDIS!!!” I thought she said “tortoise” and kept scanning the pavement… Anyway, TARDIS is an acronym for Time and Relative Dimension in Space, and even though my local TARDIS has been standing there since the ’90s, it was as though it had materialized out of nowhere.
How strange this should occur within a week of me first dappling in the Doctor through Virgin Media‘s “Ultimate Doctor Who” collection on-demand. Catching some of Season 1 with Chris Eccleston as the Doctor, I wasn’t grabbed, but my fanatic weekend visitor steered me to the David Tennant incarnation that took over for the following three seasons and subsequent specials. The latest (11th) Doctor who took shape just after I was moving to London is portrayed by Matt Smith.
The Doctor’s biggest foes have been the Daleks, Cybermen, and The Master, but so far I find Season 3’s Weeping Angels to be the most creepy (and apparently I’m not alone according to a recent poll). Ah, and now that Dalek survival guide my cousin brought back from a Bath hostel finally makes sense…
If you’re first moving to London this year, you’ve unfortunately missed the one-year Doctor Who Experience on exhibition here that ended in February…, but it’s relocated to Cardiff Bay in Wales, where it just opened this month! Wales also held the first-ever Official Doctor Who Convention in Cardiff last March, so keep an eye out for next year’s. And it seems we have to wait until autumn for the new Season 7 to air, but if you want to do your Doctoral studies prior to moving to London, catch up on episodes and cult news at BBC One’s Doctor Who website. Anglotopia.net is also a trove of Doctor Who devotion and is all-around a great resource anyway for those moving to London or simply loving it!