Doctor Who fans are preparing for the arrival of the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi, in August. The show’s impact on popular culture is still very strong, even 50 years after its first episode.
There’s been plenty of documentaries about the show and its fans, but Doctor Who: Celebrating 50 Years of Fandom is an interesting DVD because it shows how many different people have been affected by the show.
It’s a series of interviews and some clips of a recent Who convention. They include a professor from the University of Sunderland, a YouTube filmmaker who has her own Dalek, a Doctor Who writer, a prop maker, several fans, and actress Louise Jameson, best known as Leela, one of the Doctor’s companions in the 1970’s.
The first segments show how the subjects were introduced to Doctor Who, then how it became part of their lives. John Paul Greene, who teaches media at Sunderland, says he’d seen the show as a kid, and that it influenced his academic career. He also talks about how he wound up being an extra in “Rise of the Cybermen”.
Jameson talks about how her family enjoyed tea while watching the show in the 60s, how she got the role of Leela, and how it opened doors to roles in the theater. She even did a version of Love Letters with Colin Baker, also known as the Sixth Doctor. She also talks about being Leela for the audio dramas, and how it’s better than the TV show.
Richard Shearman, who wrote the 2005 episode “Dalek,” recalled meeting with fans at a 1983 convention, and how that affected his writing career. He went on to write Doctor Who stories for Virgin Publishing and Big Finish before writing for TV.
Michelle Osorio, who produces web shows on YouTube, says that she wasn’t even a Doctor Who fan at first. Once she was, she learned a lot about storytelling. She eventually came up with a show called Dalek Gary, about a stranded Dalek working in an office. She got a lot of help from fans, including finding a Dalek in Arizona.
There’s also some discussion about how Doctor Who fell out of favor after Star Wars and other big-budget sci-fi movies came along. Then, it got new fans through books, Big Finish audio dramas, and the internet before its return to TV in 2005. It’s also argued that the current series is more popular because it’s being produced by fans, like Russell. T. Davies and David Tennant. One person also points out the current series have stronger female characters compared to the original series.
It’s a short documentary at 42 minutes, but still quite enjoyable for new and long-time fans of Doctor Who. Before the feature, there is a short animated piece called “Stone,” about someone who gets trapped by the Weeping Angels.
The documentary is available at FTS Media UK in DVD, blu-ray or digital download. The blu-ray version has an extra hour of special features, including extended interviews with Jameson and Shearman.