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Dec 31, 2005

Happy Who Year

I'm sorry, but somebody had to use that pun...

In the last three years that I've been running a blog, I've always attempted to summarise the year as a whole as we plummet towards a new one. As we reach the end of 2005 this is the only blog I've got left, so you'll have to put up my ramblings instead; luckily, 2005 is crammed with so many Doctor Who related shenanigans I might even stay on-topic for the majority of it.

Dec 31st 2004: I catch my first glimpse of the new Doctor Who teaser trailer which runs immediately after 2004: The Stupid Version on BBC3. I am slightly underwhelmed (I don't like the naff computer text or Billie's voice) but for the very first time I actually believe that the BBC are making a new series and this isn't just some elaborate hoax!

Jan 1st 2005: I start the year with ten resolutions; the idea being that I might actually manage to stick to a couple. Just for the record, I uphold six of them, however, I still fail to give up smoking, start the Running Commentary blog or get published again. Still, 60% ain't too shabby, is it?

Jan 3rd: After months of hassle and incompetence BT finally gives me a stable phone line!

Jan 9th: Paul McGann's Doctor returns to "our" universe in Big Finish's 'The Next Life'. There's a lovely sense of the expanded universe paving the way for the 9th's imminent return...

Jan 14th: I start to worry about exactly how funny this new show is going to be when a shed-load of ex-sitcom actors are suddenly announced.

Jan 18th: I make an observation about how silly Parkouring is and I manage to bring the wrath of an entire subculture down on my head.

Jan 21st: After six and a half months of late starts and false promises we eventually sign the contract for the Barns. Finally, living in a caravan starts to make a modicum of sense...

Feb 7th: Still no sign of a real trailer. I start to watch a lot of prime time BBC1 on the off-chance. At this point, all we have to go on is that silly cat-like pose of Billie (it looks like someone photoshopped a chair out from under her).

Feb 21st: I try Parkouring in a blizzard. I sprain both my ankles.

Feb 25th: I come up with this crazy idea of reviewing some classic Doctor Who episodes in the run-up to the new series. The original plan is to host it on my other blog.

Feb 26th:
Some canny block voting from hardcore Doctor Who fans keep Jon Culshaw in Fame Academy for one more day...

Feb 26th: I decide to start a new (and temporary) blog for the 'Stripped Down' sessions. I come up with the incredibly gay title Waiting for Christopher and I immediately invite regular commenteers from my other blog to join us (like Q, Sean and Paul). It seems to work and this blog is born...

March 1st: Doctor Who Stripped Down kicks off with Spearhead from Space. I'm blown away by the fact that six people review the first episode.

March 6th:
Early reviews of the new series begin to surface - and they are very, very positive, even from broadsheets like The Times and The Observer. Five minutes later Matthew Sawyer emails me with the news that Rose has been leaked onto the Internet - and he's seen it!

March 6th 7pm: I watch Rose for the very first time, and then I immediately pretend that I haven't.

March 8th: It's the official BBC press launch. We get a six second teaser trailer later that evening. Sex seconds, more like.

March 9th: Newsnight runs a piece on the new series. It implies that the BBC is pinning everything on the success of this show. Yeah, right.

March 12th: My daughter sends me a photo of that billboard outside the Sage Theatre in Gateshead. "If people didn't know about it, they do now" she texts with an audible sigh.

March 15th: Our first proper trailer 'Do you Wanna Come With Me?' results in me screaming "Yes! Yes! Yes!" at the telly for, oh, a couple of hours at least.

March 18th: The world has officially gone Doctor Who crazy. You can't move for it - GMTV, Newsnight Review  (poor Bonnie Greer) and The Culture Show all run detailed pieces on it. All of them mention wobbly sets and stair-fearing Daleks - bless 'em. I confidently predict that Rose will garner 11 million viewers.

March 21st: Blue Peter's Doctor Who special airs. Some things never change. Chris appears on Radio 2's Steve Wright show and he sounds tired.

March 22nd: Doctor Who is on the cover of the Radio Times! With a gate-fold sleeve! And a 16-page special! But Q says it best: "(it's) seeing, for the first time in years, a Doctor Who series in the normal TV listings" that really hits home. That night Project Who airs on Radio 2. Chris sounds even more tired than usual.

March 24th: Chris appears on The Jo Wiley Show and sounds knackered. Bookmakers confidently predict that Ant and Dec will wipe the floor with the good Doctor...

March 25th: I spend most of my time on the Outpost Gallifrey forums explaining to people that it doesn't matter how many TV sets they leave on in their house if they aren't a member of the BARB panel. Start to panic a little bit. Chris appears on Jonathan Ross and appears both tired and slightly annoyed.

March 26th: Rose is transmitted. Badly. Five minutes before transmission I post a thread about 'Strictly Graham Norton', failing to realise that I am tempting fate. I watch Rose whilst simultaneously visiting the OG chatroom (having seen the episode 12 times already by this point!). When I report the cock-up no one believes me - I can't imagine why! JP Green posts the words "So Graham Auton" and I kick myself for not coming up with that pun myself!

I somehow manage to title my first new season review with the show's soon-to-be infamous catchphrase: 'Fantastic'. I describe the episode thus: "It isn't perfect but it comes pretty damn close at times". As the reviews pour into the blog the sense of collective relief is almost palpable.

March 27th: Doctor Who beats Ant and Dec with an amazing 10.6 million viewers! To quote Paul Hayes: "Back of the Net!"

March 28th: Sean posts his controversial review of Rose. He has the temerity to suggest that it isn't TV's equivalent to Citizen Kane! "A bitter disappointment" is his verdict. I feel sorry for him and the pain he must be going through. When Rose finally ends up near the bottom of every season poll going he will be vindicated!

March 29th: The blog is renamed Behind the Sofa Again. There is much rejoicing. Paul Songer gives us the strangest post yet.

March 30th: The BBC commissions another series and a Christmas special. Doctor Who fans around the world pinch themselves. Surely it's too good to be true?

March 30/31st: Just around midnight the news breaks - Chris is shagged out beyond repair. Paul sums it up nicely: "Just devastating". Q sums it up with: "Condo no like pain. Pain bad". I try to calm everyone down with 10 Reasons to be Cheerful.

April 1st: Andrew Merkelbach is the 10th Doctor. Probably.

April 2nd: End of the World airs. I describe it as "an enjoyable romp" and even Sean likes it: "Oh thank you, God - this is so much better!"

April 3rd: Viewing figures "slump" to 7.7 million. It's an unmitigated disaster. That's only 3 million more than Battlefield! But then everyone remembers it's the 21st century and we still kicked arse.

April 9th: The Unquiet Dead airs. Charlie Brooker of The Guardian calls it "The single best piece of family-oriented entertainment the BBC has broadcast in its entire history", I call it "Perfect", while Lawrence Miles calls it an advert for the BNP!

April 10th: Doctor Who 3 - Ant and Dec 0

April 11th: Kevin Jordan starts piecing together the Bad Wolf meme...

April 15th: David Tennant is announced as the 10th Doctor. No one is even remotely surprised, although some Paul McGann fans were reportedly still holding out hope.

April 16th Aliens of London airs. Oh dear. "Leave the playground humour in the Star Wars prequels where it doesn't belong either," said Matthew Sawyer at the time.

April 22nd: The University PR department force me to pose with a Dalek for an in-house magazine after somebody tips them off that a member of staff had a short story published in a book with a TARDIS on the cover.

April 24th: World War 3 airs. It's so bad I can't even bring myself to review it.

April 25th: Tachyon TV - the satirical sci-fi news source - is relaunched in blog form. Nobody much likes it.

April 26th: Another Radio Times cover! In the same week as the General Election? What the hell happened there?

April 28th: That bloody photo-shoot comes back to haunt me when some incredibly embarrassing photos of me posing with a special weapons Dalek suddenly turn up in all the local papers and the BBC North East News site.

April 30th: Dalek airs. I watch it with my best mate; his girlfriend baked us a Dalek cake (just like the one Valerie Singleton made on Blue Peter).

It's a veritable love fest on the blog: "FANTASTIC!" (Kevin Jordan); "hugely entertaining" (Paul Hayes); "the best of the series so far" (Stuart Ian Burns); "Simply magnificent" (Sean Alexander); "the best episode of Doctor Who I've ever seen" (me) and "File under marvellous. Or something beginning with 'M'" (Q). I think we quite enjoyed it.

May 4th: Thomas Winwood posts a topic about Bad Wolf that eventually generates 134 replies. An official record.

May 5th: We are joined by the lovely 'e'.

May 7th: The Long Game airs. No one is very impressed but we all love Simon Pegg to death, so that's alright then. Adam falls into one of two camps: "tiresome gimp" (Q) or "sexy" (Billie Piper's sister).

May 10th: Celebrity Wrestling is moved from its Saturday time-slot. I laugh so hard I actually damage my spleen.

May 14th: Father's Day airs. Everybody cries.

May 16th: Work colleagues confess to me that they cried too. This is too surreal for words.

May 17th: James (who has seen a review copy of the next episode) texts me this message: "Captain Jack is the WORST character in the entire history of Doctor Who". I start to panic.

May 21st: The Empty Child airs. Captain Jack is the BEST character in the history of Doctor Who so I can only assume that there's something wrong with James' phone. I immediately pronounce it the best episode of the whole series (and it is).

May 23rd: Billie Piper Quits! Honest!

May 28th: The Doctor Dances airs. I liken it to "a pole-dance routine so stunning, so liberating, so unashamedly unique, that even if the next three acts are comprised of the reanimated corpses of The Roly Polys, you'll still leave the establishment with a big, fat smile on your face." Paul Hayes is too young to understand what a pole dance is.

June 3rd: Q makes a fatal mistake and gives in to the vanilla DVDs! Stupid boy!

June 4th: Boom Town airs. The Master isn't in it. Oh well.

June 11th: I miss the initial transmission of Bad Wolf because I'm at Shepherd's Bush Empire waiting for Tangerine Dream. At 7:05pm the wife texts: "Good start". At 7:45pm, just as TD's first track is going pearhaped thanks to an hilarious technical glitch, the wife texts again: "7/10". I am gutted. She gave AOL 8!

June 12th: Thanks to the power of Bit Torrent I manage to watch the episode at 4am with Matthew Sawyer on a TV the size of a cornflake packet. It's strangely disappointing experience and I can't get my head around the dating of the story, so much so I actually lose sleep over it.

June 15th: The BBC commission a third series and another Christmas special. At midnight I expect to hear the news that David Tennant has been fired...

June 18th: The Parting of the Ways airs and there isn't a dry eye in the house. The blog has to be towelled off later that night: "WOW!" (Paul Songer); "I'm a cynical sausage really, but this is something else. This is about piling all your hopes and dreams into something and for once it actually works" (Stuart Ian Burns); "I simply lost it when Eccleston gasped his last, in what was remarkably the most uplifting death scene I think I’ve ever seen" (Sean); "And whilst the world of the future burns, the chickens turn" (Q); "Roll on the Christmas Invasion" (Paul Hayes); "Bad Wolf? Bad Russell!" (Me).

Oh, and Snow Patrol's 'Run' is etched into the minds of Doctor Who fans forever. In fact, I think I'll put it on now and have a quick cry...

June 21st: Michael Grade likes Doctor Who! We're doomed, I tell ye! Doomed!

June 27th: I propose Stripped Down Too for an early September start. The initial running order was even more insane than the one we eventually ended up with!

June 28th: Stuart begins his 8th Doctor novel reviews which keeps the blog going through the long summer months. And very good they are too.

June 30th: I open a Meet The Authors section so you can see us as the sad bunch of freaks we really are. The blog undergoes a slight redesign and the world is literally stunned into silence.

July 1st: Q has a weird experience in WH Smiths

July 15th: The BBC Cult site passes over. RIP.

July 25th: Our first look at David in his geek chic get-up. Fans immediately look for an excuse to buy some Converse trainers.

July 30th: Thousands - OK, hundreds - OK, dozens - of new Doctor Who merchandise ranges are announced. All with Eccleston's head on them! Best of the bunch has to the be the new RC Dalek...

Aug 17th: The Abzorbaloff wins the Blue Peter 'Design a Monster' competition. Alas, over here at the blog we're still waiting for Darth to announce the winner of his version of the very same competition...

Aug 24th: The Tachyon TV Hub is launched: an impressive list of websites that will either a) be closed down or b) never materialise. At the same time I send my last post to my other blog, Watching Too Much Telly.

August 26th: I head to New York for a holiday and I miss Q in Newcastle airport by a matter of seconds.

Sept 1st: Michael Sheard passes away. Conventions will never be the same again.

Sept 2nd: I officially begin my PhD. It has the words 'Doctor' and 'Who' in the title.

Sept 10th: Shaun Lyon's Back to the Vortex is released. It includes some quotes from this very blog. Which is nice.

Sept 11th: The BBC accidentally find some missing bits from The Power of the Daleks. Oh joy.

Sept 12th: England win the Ashes! As Paul Hayes said at the time: "The 5th Doctor would be proud".

September 19th: Stripped Down Too kicks off with The Dalek Invasion of Earth Part One. Staggeringly, seven people review that opening episode. We lose a few along the way; some of them may even have died.

October 6th: I turned 36, my daughter passed her driving test and I saw the best film of the year by a country mile (Serenity, as if you couldn't guess).

October 15th: We hit a bandwidth problem as we start to average over 1000 hits a day. And some of them aren't even me! Q solves the problem with some lateral thinking. On the very same day we hatch a plan to release The Bumper Book of Made-Up Doctor Who Facts onto an unsuspecting public.

October 17th: Torchwood (a post-watershed spin-off) is announced. That settles it - I'm in a coma.

October 25th: The 10th Doctor will make his debut in a (shudder) Children in Need special. I spiral into a wild, confused panic.

October 26th: Doctor Who sweeps the board at the NTA's. Billie Piper blows out Chris Evans on air.

October 31st: Q deconstructs the title sequence to K9 and Company, which has to be the funniest post on this blog yet.

Nov 7-14th: Darth Marsden reviews the entire classic series (1963-1989) in just seven days. I think.

Nov 10th: The new-look Cybermen are revealed. Their feet are far too big.

Nov 11th: I see The League of Gentlemen Are Behind You panto at the Sunderland Empire. There is a Cyberman joke in it. I miss Q again by just a few seconds!

Nov 12th: Billie Piper Quits! Again!

Nov 12-14th: I'm pretty sure something significant happened that weekend...

Nov 18th: Pudsey Cutaway airs. Talk about coitus interuptus.

Nov 21st: Finally, the Season 1 DVD boxset is released. It's a bit rubbish, really...

Dec 1st: I hatch yet another insane plan: Tachyon TV's Doctor Who Podcasts. The world waits with baited breath.

Dec 2nd: The first 10 second teaser trailer for The Christmas Invasion airs. It's worryingly naff.

Dec 19th: A 30 second trailer airs. It's worryingly fantastic!

Dec 22nd: Rob Shearman drops by to wish us a Merry Christmas. Bless him.

Dec 24th: Tennant appears on the Jonathan Ross show and he looks knackered. However, unlike Chris, he promises not to quit. Yet.

Dec 25th: The Christmas Invasion airs. As if you didn't know.

Dec 28th: The blog is redesigned yet again. Nobody notices.

Dec 29th: Our first podcast is snowed off.

And here we all are: at the end of what has to be one the most amazing and eventful years a Doctor Who fan could ever hope to live through. It's been one hell of a ride, and 2006 could be even better, what with another 14 episodes, an obligatory Comic Relief sketch (probably) and a whole new (sex mad) spin-off to look forward to.

Part of what has made this year so much fun has been sharing it all with you (the lurkers) and especially you (the contributors). Even when things got a bit grim (and trust me, they did for a little while) I couldn't imagine 2005 without you.

So I'll see you all next year. I'm sure it's going to be "fantastic".

PS: In the meantime, do yourselves a favour and check out Battlestar Galactica!


For the record...

I got ONE entry for that Design A Monster competition. ONE. Don't you all feel ashamed now? You said you would, and yet you never did. The sole entry was by Elise Bianchi, and at some point I'll upload them somewhere so you can all look at it and think 'Why didn't I get around to doing one of those?'

Okay, here we are. The Black & White version is:
and the Colour version is:
They're pretty big, just to warn you, but they're pretty damned inpressive.

And I'm just starting that "reviews the entire classic series (1963-1989)" now. My review of An Unearthly Child is up at http://www.isontheweb.co.uk/TalesOfTheDarkSide/2252/ and I'm aiming at a rate of two a week. If I can get my hands on the episodes in time, that is.

Great stuff - I wonder where you got the idea from?

All the best people!

Hang on a second -

36 and you've got a daughter who's passed her driving test???

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Doctor Who: Series One
Doctor Who: Series Two
Doctor Who: Series Three
Torchwood: Series One
Torchwood: Series Two
The Sarah Jane Adventures: Series One
The Eighth Doctor BBC7 Audios
The Eighth Doctor Novels
The Tenth Doctor Novels
Stripped Down Series 1
Stripped Down Series 2
Stripped Down Series 3
Stripped Down Series 4
Stripped Down Series 5
Stripped Down Series 6