diamond geezer

 Tuesday, November 18, 2003

An A-Z of Who (f-j)

F is for Fans: Can there be any other TV show with as many devoted, nay obsessed, fans as Doctor Who. Anyone aged between 25 and 50 will probably remember growing up with 'their' Doctor, but many it seems never quite shake off that initial interest. There are fan clubs, conventions where middle-aged blokes dress up as their favourite monsters, a regular series of novels and audio stories and now, in the internet age, more websites than you can shake a sonic screwdriver at. The show may have been cancelled 14 years ago but Doctor Who still tops polls of the nation's favourite sci-fi show. Anyone would think the BBC would bring it back...

G is for Gallifrey: Gallifrey is the home planet of the Time Lords, a race of beings with absolutely no fashion sense. It's an ancient world with ancient inhabitants, many over 800 years old (although Barbara Cartland never knowingly lived here) and everybody has two hearts (see, she'd never have fitted in). Every now and again the Doctor returns to Gallifrey to wreak havoc, or to save the universe, or to meet Lynda Bellingham (the Oxo Mum) for a good roasting.

H is for Hiding behind the sofa: The Doctor has always faced the very scariest monsters that the BBC props department could throw at him. Men in oversize furry costumes or ill-fitting silver boilersuits, small plastic things with teeth, giant gelatinous blobs or hermaphrodite wobbly diplomats with one eye. These are the creatures that kept us cowering behind the furniture in our childhood, but which in the adult light of day appear rather less scary. The only frightening thing on TV nowadays involving a sofa is Linda Barker's series of adverts for DFS. I wonder if modern children have nightmares involving giant pairs of scissors... snip snip!

I is for Interactive: The advent of broadband has given birth to a new set of Doctor Who adventures, this time animated online on the BBC website. They've pitted Colin Baker (and Lee and Herring) against the Cybermen and they've brought to life a classic Douglas Adams-penned story that was cancelled back in 1980 due to strike action. This month there's a brand new webcast story - Scream of the Shalka - featuring Richard E Grant as the Doctor battling subterranean forces in darkest Lancashire. They're releasing one new 20 minute episode every Thursday, the first was last week and, what do you know, it's actually rather good. Recommended.

J is for Jellybaby: Ah, those little quirks that made every Doctor different. Patrick Troughton was renowned for whipping out his recorder, while Jon Pertwee had a penchant for fast cars and gadgets. Tom Baker would always offer any oncoming foe a jellybaby, or try to trip them up with his giant scarf. Peter Davison had a sprig of celery on his lapel and a cricket ball in his pocket, while Sylvester McCoy went nowhere without his trademark brolly. Obviously they were all insane, but we loved them for it.

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