What with the new series of Dr Who just a few ordinary days away, some people might be wondering just what all the fuss is about. Just who is this Dr Who person anyway? And what should I know about his past that might make all of the show’s constant in-jokes and back-references a bit easier to understand?
Fear not! A quick dip into the TV Cream Dr Who Matrix Databank will answer all such questions and tell you everything you need to know about this long-running (except when it was axed for 16 years) children’s science fiction programme. And if there’s anything you still don’t know, why not email firstname.lastname@example.org, and have it explained in this week’s Dr Who special Creamguide mailout.
In the meantime…
1) WHAT IS DR WHO?
Created by Terry Nation in 1963 when his boiler broke down, Dr Who is the long-running BBCtv children’s serial about a grumpy inventor who travels through time and space. The series originally ran for 26 years on television, latterly being popularised by Ian Levine. Dr Who is both the name of the show and the man himself, a bit like Cannon, MacGyver, ALF and Pob.
2) WHO HAS PLAYED DR WHO?
To date, Dr Who has been played by nine different actors, the role changing from person to person via a process which has become known within the series’ own mythology as ‘re-casting’.
a) THE FIRST DR WHO was Dr Who William Hartnell – a confused old racist with blackened teeth and a penchant for thrashing teenage girls.
b) THE SECOND DR WHO was Dr Who Patrick Troughton – a piccolo playing Clive Dunn in baggy trousers and Tucker Jenkins haircut.
c) THE THIRD DR WHO was the best Dr Who Jon Pertwee – a satin-clad scientist seconded to the Government’s Killing Aliens division where he acted as a kind of Nigel Hawthorne figure spouting nonsense simply to befuddle boss Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart. Later he starred as the unrelated Ailsa Stewart in Australian soap Home and Away.
d) THE FOURTH DR WHO was Dr Who Tom Baker – the cosmic boho. He was known for his enigmatic, wide-eyed, chocolate-voiced companion Adric.
e) THE FIFTH DR WHO was Dr Who Peter Davidson – the pleasant, open-faced, old-young incarnation was regularly demeaned by having to cook supper for The Doctor’s Wife, Sandra Dickinson. Matthew Kelly accompanied him on some of his most memorable adventures.
f) THE SIXTH DR WHO was also the best Dr Who Colin Baker – he brought nostrils to the part and an essential ‘Doctorishness’ that he formulated with Frank Bough on the Breakfast Time sofa.
g) THE SEVENTH DR WHO was Crap Dr Who Sylvester McCoy – a diminutive Scots personality who took the character into uncharted waters by giving him a penchant for Knorr’s stock cubes. Was accompanied by future game show host devotee Sophie Aldred.
h) THE EIGHTH DR WHO was Dr Who Christopher Eccleston – a supply teacher from Salford who got knifed by Robert Carlyle and played in a skiffle band with James Bond in Newcastle.
i) THE NINTH DR WHO is Pet Shop Boy David Tennant – he likes hanging out with divas of yesteryear like Dannii Minogue and Richard off Keeping Up Appearances. Looks a bit like Freddie off Freddie And The Dreamers.
3) UNOFFICAL DR WHOS
Over the years, other actors have taken on the role of the Time Lord from Gallifrey; none of these officially count as proper Dr Whos. All ‘canon’ Whos come into being in the presence of Production Manager Gary Downie who must formally anoint them with the phrase: “Let’s make magic”. As such, Paul McGann, Peter Cushing, Matt Baker, Nicholas Briggs and prematurely balding 27-year-olds in fan-produced videos don’t count.
4) WHAT IS ‘TARDIS’?
Tardis is the telephone box in which Dr Who travels around the south east of England and, latterly, Cardiff. Its name is an acronym, standing for ‘Toward That Point I Guide My Flight!’ Bigger on the inside than the out, this is due to the vehicle being ‘dimensionally transcendental’, a phrase which means it’s bigger on the inside than the out.
5) WHAT’S INSIDE?
Tardis houses two central control rooms, a costume department, a machine dispensing bacon-and-egg cubes and Tegan’s bedroom.
6) WHERE DID IT COME FROM?
Dr Who made it in his own backyard, and then travelled to 1960s London with his friend Susan who wanted to make use of Earth’s hand-held radios and hooped sweater technology.
7) WHO WERE THE ASSISTANTS?
Throughout his travels, Dr Who was always accompanied by a vulnerable youth with a Dorothy Perkins loyalty card. Dramatically their function revolved around explaining the plot to all the dads looking in and having their name invoked by Dr Who at the end of part one, accompanied either side, by “no!” – eg. “No, Harry, no!”/”No, Victoria, no!”/”No, Peri, nooooOOOOO!” Actress Katy Manning (and she certainly has) is notable for provoking a “Yes, Katy, yes!” from three separate Dr Whos.
8) A GUIDE TO SOME OF THE BEST ASSISTANTS
– KAMELION was a jive-talking android.
– K-9 was a jive-talking android dog.
9) WHO WERE THE FOES?
Dr Who has faced many evil creatures in his time, usually derived from common or garden creatures and implements such as slugs, birds, the late Dave Allen, potatoes and encyclopaedias. They normally display bronchial problems and break Dr Who’s name into its constituent syllables.
10) A GUIDE TO SOME OF THE BEST FOES
a) THE DALEKS were a race of Kit-Kat loving mechanoids who ran off static electricity. In the 22nd century they tried to revitalise Bedfordshire’s mining industry.
b) THE MASTER was Dr Who’s old enemy from school, a complex character who dressed as a gay and enjoyed the works of HG Wells and Oliver Postgate, he was notoriously careless with his Action Man collection.
c) THE ICE WARRIORS had only one directive: to turn Shepherd’s Bush into an Ibiza foam party.
d) THE DRACONIANS were a race of ‘people monsters’ in half-masks created by Jon Pertwee.
e) GAVROCK was an evil Bullman intent on proving Sylvester McCoy couldn’t do confrontation scenes.
f) KOQUILLION was a man in an elaborate hat.
g) THE MALUS is just the evil in all of us, isn’t it?
11) WHAT ARE WHOVIANS?
Whovians is the given name for Dr Who fans. In order to be a true Whovian, enthusiasts must write at least one piece of Dr Who fan fiction in which they subvert the series’ form to deal with a topical issue such as drugs, unemployment, child abuse or who would win out of the Daleks and the Cybermen. Ideally, all Whovians should also:
a) Come up with their own version of the Dr Who logo which they bandy about the internet on crap home-made wallpapers and use as Outpost Gallifrey avatars;
b) Be hugely insulting about anything new in the world of Dr Who (often declaring that they showed it to a ‘non-fan’ friend who also says it’s crap) before re-evaluating their opinion when the next new thing comes along;
c) Display a penchant for hats, glasses, waistcoats, pretentious beards, Matrix-style leather trench coats and middle initials;
d) And attempt to show they possess a broad knowledge of art and culture within which Dr Who is only a small facet whilst drawing all their facts from things they learnt in their pursuit of the programme (which include details of all the BBC1 Controllers up to 1989, the french name for ‘fish soup’, a rudimentary understanding of the notion of entropy, a slight knowledge of Weetabix promotions during the 1970s and a vague grasp of what Cromer might look like).
12) THE SUPER-FANS
Super-fans are those who have reached a senior position within Whovian circles thanks to their knowledge of the programme or direct access to Colin Baker. Although they may occasionally consort with regular Whovians – or ‘mongs’ as they refer to them – they tend to gather in secret internet mailing forums, where they spend their time arranging to meet for drinks, reminding each other of their birthdays and covertly ruling the world of Dr Who with flippancy and genuine skill.
13) A GUIDE TO SOME OF THE BEST SUPER-FANS
a) IAN LEVINE saved early Dr Who video cassettes from being wiped before swearing to get vengeance against one ‘Roger Barratt’ in the early 1990s. As he hasn’t been seen since, it has to be assumed he’s still busying himself with this vendetta, spending his days placing dual telephone calls until he locates his quarry.
b) J JEREMY BENTHAM’s sterling research work was the basis for Whovians’ theories in the mid 1980s that there had been five Dr Whos so far. Later transformed into Andrew Pixley.
c) GARY RUSSELL was the inventor of Russell’s Rateometer, which Whovians everywhere give five Tardises out of five.
d) PETER HAINING was the architect of all modern Dr Who knowledge. His sequel to 25 Glorious Years is keenly awaited.
e) SEBASTIAN J BROOK absolutely isn’t. He really, really is not.
14) WHAT IS THE TV CREAM DR WHO MATRIX DATABANK?
The TV Cream Dr Who Matrix Databank is the internet’s biggest holding bay for Dr Who facts and information, in that it lists all the actors who have played Dr Who and has that “No, I said I travel through space and time. I don’t visit fantasy island” bit on it.
15) WHERE CAN IT BE FOUND?
16) AND FOR FURTHER QUESTIONS?
That address again : email@example.com – or leave a comment below. It’s really up to you.