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Jun 27, 2005

The Eighth Doctor

He's back.  And it's about time ...Mcgann_1

I can't really understand what it was like for Doctor Who fans in 1996 when the television movie was broadcast.  I would imagine the feeling were very different to those of the past few years -- a new television adventure, made by someone else, without the guarantee of a new series afterwards.  Excitement with a slight twing of disappointment.  The discussions must have been heated as some said 'We should be happy with what we got...' and others saying 'But it could be so much more...'  I think the decision had already been made that there wouldn't be a new series even before the erzatz pilot had been broadcast over here and it didn't matter how many viewers it got. 

I don't really know because I wasn't there.  I only returned to Doctor Who relatively recently, after a visit to the late Llangollen exhibition in the late nineties, posing with Bessie and buying a copy of The Keeper of Traken of all things on video.  The really magic moment came in that shop when the clerk put his head forward and as though he was giving me the greatest secret ever said 'It's coming back you know -- they're making a new series.'  To this day I'm not quite sure what this was, but for that moment it was the most exciting thing ever.  I think it was possibly the Big Finish audios and perhaps he'd been reading about them Doctor Who Magazine earlier that day.  But for those few moments I thought I had some hidden knowledge and I decided that I wanted to be there for it.  So I went to WH Smith the next day bought my first issue of the magazine of my adulthood (the one with Tom Baker riding a penny farthing on the cover) and things spiralled happily out of control from there.

The biggest surprise was how active the 'franchise' was.  For a series no longer on television there were audio releases and novels.  It was bewildering really and I wasn't sure were to begin.  I took the necessary step of concentrating on the tv episodes via the UK Gold repeats there were enough of those to tide me over until I could actually afford to follow the new releases.  I eventually started to nibble away at some of the past doctor novels and Virgin New Adventures, listened to some of the audios, such was the random nature of following the show then. 

One thing stuck out -- the BBC Eighth Doctor novels.  This continuation looked exciting and interesting from the odd spoiler I'd picked up -- but this was three or four years in, and there seemed to be far too much continuity to get a handle on.  I borrowed The Space Age from the library and ended up putting it down after about twenty pages.  I had no idea what was happening.  It was going to be a shame to miss a whole incarnation.  Then Big Finish came to rescue and started publishing the Eighth Doctor audios and for me it felt like the first proper series I could experience on a regular basis.  Loved them.  So when the seasonal releases of those ended last year, even though I was excited about the new series they left a void.  The funny thing about Doctor Who fans is that they tend to get quite attached to the one Doctor.  They'll watch, read, listen to anything if it's there, but only Bill, Pat, Jon, Tom, Pete, Col or Sylv is their favourite.  Paul's my favourite, which is why it continues to be odd that I haven't read the novels, especially when I hear they're such an impressive body of work.  It's about time I did that.  So...

I'm going to read the Eighth Doctor's written adventures from the TV Movie novelisation to The Gallifrey Chronicles in order.  Writing here about what I find.  With the apologies to Doctor Who magazine's Time Team for nicking their idea.  I want this to be about discovery, a whole set of stories I don't know and can experience much like this new series, my own trip of a lifetime.  And to add a bit of excitement I'm making a promise that I'll finish them by the time the second series starts on television -- which is interesting because we don't quite know when that will be.  Yes I know it would be an even greater feat to complete by the time of the Christmas special but I'm not as fast a reader as I'd like to be.  I just hope I'm not trying to plough through The Gallifrey Chronicles on the first Saturday of that second series.

It's 1996 again.  He's back.  And it's about time ...

Comments

I just started reading about the Eighth Doctor, myself (though towards the end with Deadstone Memorial). In all honesty, he really did have the potential to become a favorite, and all the right things were in place to be a Doctor, too. Not to mention his newfound charm and sexy vibes.

But, yes. At least for me, Paul definitely ranks up there with Tom, and indeed, Chris.

Let me get this straight - you are going to read all the 8DA's? In nine months!???

Granted, it will take about an hour to read Terry Dick's opening salvo, but the Adventuress of Henrietta Street took me 9 months to finish! ;-)

Well I'm going to have a go. Although if they're all like The Eight Doctors it going to seem like a lot longer ...

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Doctor Who: Series One
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Doctor Who: Series Three
Torchwood: Series One
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The Sarah Jane Adventures: Series One
The Eighth Doctor BBC7 Audios
The Eighth Doctor Novels
The Tenth Doctor Novels
Stripped Down Series 1
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Stripped Down Series 3
Stripped Down Series 4
Stripped Down Series 5
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