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The who, what and why of the Doctor
by Nick Walters
20 February 2003 1049 GMT

Bristol Doctor Who author Nick Walters's guide to the Doctor - past, present and future and his new book: Reckless Engineering.
Nick grew up watching the programme during its heyday in the 1970s
Read about Reckless Engineering, and then browse Nick's guide to Doctor Who.
> Introduction
> Guide part 1
> Guide part 2
> Guide part 3
> Guide part 4
> Guide part 5
:: This story
> Internet links:

The BBC's official Doctor Who site

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites

Why be a Doctor Who Fan?

There are as many reasons as there are bumps on a Dalek, but I think it all stems from childhood.

I grew up watching the Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker stories, and caught the programme at the top of its game in the mid-70s.

Everyone remembers ‘the one with the maggots’, everyone remembers the Daleks’ creator Davros, everyone remembers K-9.

The most enduring public image of the Doctor is the boggle-eyed, curly-haired affable loon in the floppy hat and long scarf – the Doctor as played by Tom Baker.

Scary monsters and super creeps

To a kid of six he was a slightly scary figure, and you never quite knew if he would beat the monsters (actually, in Genesis of the Daleks he didn’t).

Sometimes the Doctor was even scarier than the monsters.

I remember watching Doctor Who as a kid, and there was nothing remotely reassuring about it – that howling, screaming music, and the incredible title sequence which made you feel like you were falling into the television.

And the pure horror of the monsters, especially:

Davros - half Dalek, half evil, wizened old lady

The Wirrn - giant wasps who lay their eggs inside you. Yep, just like the film Alien - only five years earlier.

The Krynoid - starts off as a tiny shoot, which, if it touches you, turns you into a walking carnivorous plant-man, then a giant tentacled turnip the size of St Paul’s Cathedral.

The Morbius monster – the mind of an insane Time Lord dictator inside a glass bowl atop a body which comprised insectoid vertebrae, an unfeasibly huge claw and perhaps most horrible of all, a human arm. Truly the stuff of nightmares.

Davros - looks like a wizened old lady, but has supreme power over all his subjects, and the scariest voice ever.

'Terror and thrills'

Watching Doctor Who was like daring yourself to walk to the top of the stairs in the dark. Enjoyably scary.

It was that mixture of terror and thrills which kept me coming back.

Even when all the scares had gone, replaced by a more humorous (but no less successful) approach in the late 1970s.

Even when I’d grown up and presumably out of a ‘kid’s programme’ like Doctor Who.

Well, I’m in my mid-30s now and I still haven’t grown out of it - it’s a part of me, and though I love all eras of Doctor Who it is those early Tom Baker stories which have the most personal resonance.

>> Continue Nick's Doctor Who guide

I remember watching Doctor Who as a kid, and there was nothing remotely reassuring about it.
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