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Dec 22, 2005

That Was The Year That Was

As is befitting of this time of hindsight, here’s a (hopefully) humorous look back at what has been a quite incredible year for Who fans. To think, only three years ago we’d have had little more than the latest Bog Findus release or two-day convention (headlining David Gooderson) to look forward to. Now, not only have we had a brand-spanking (and on the whole, quite marvellous) series to talk about, but a Christmas special and a second series will be here oh so very soon (sorry, starting to sound like RTD for a moment there…). I’m sure you’ve all got a million memories to share, but here’s how I saw the trip of a lifetime…

January

New Year’s Day and the first trailer goes out before The Vicar of Dibley. But I’m too hungover following the festivities the night before to notice and am compelled to catch the link between every BBC programme for the next two months just to see it (I know, it had already been online, but this was TV goddammit! And the wait was nearly over…)

Elsewhere, DWM had a makeover that at last made it possible to purchase it without sticking a porn mag around its cover. Apparently WH Smith was even stopping to stock it alongside the kiddies comics and Just Seventeen as well.

February

The last Who-less month until July. But still no trailer. Rumours grow that the show’s debut will be delayed due to overrunning filming and stretched budgets. Who fans across the world collectively shit themselves as the spectre of The Dark Dimension rears its ugly head. I have the chance to go to Denbigh to see the new TARDIS prop, but as usual dilly-dally about too much and miss out on tickets. I try not to think that this is an omen for the year ahead too much…

March

Ground Zero.

Tuesday 1st: Someone called Neil decides to count down the last month to transmission by watching old stories and asking for likeminded addicts to air their views on his web-blog. The rest, as they say, is history.

Sunday 6th: while scouring Outpost Gallifrey I find that a load of fans have already seen ‘Rose’ due to a Canadian leak. Hurriedly reading reviews I come to the conclusion that 1) It’s got a lot of quotable lines in it and 2) It’s a bit shit, with Murray Gold’s drum’n’bass soundtrack receiving particular scorn. I breathe deeply and keep telling myself that it was probably only a rough copy, with much editing, tweaking and improvements yet to be made. And pray extra hard to the Lord God Sutekh that night before bed.

Tuesday 8th: the official press launch. Eccleston, Davies et al on Wales Today and more celeb guests than you can shake a perigosto stick at (although the fact that Charlotte bleeding Church gets to see it before me really irks). Spend the rest of the evening waiting for the first real trailer, only for the BBC to surprise us all with two seconds of Eccleston & Piper standing on the new TARDIS set. Tom Baker underpants across the nation are soiled in excitement in unison.

Tuesday 15th: ‘D’you wanna come with me?’ asks the new Doctor, before a cavalcade of clips (including that Dalek chained up) assaults the senses. ‘Yes’, we all scream back at him. Jesus, this looks good (although I still reckon Eccleston legging it from the ball of flame is a bit too Bruce Willis).

Saturday 19th: Doctor Who Night on BBC2. John Culshaw provides the links between a repeat documentary, a rather unfunny new ‘idiot’s guide’ and a special edition of Doctor Who Mastermind (in which I’d have come third - answering both Who & General Knowledge - had I been given the same questions as the contenders). Eccleston appears to present the winner with a nice cut-glass bowl and immediately avoids questions about his future plans. The fans put it down to nerves…

Tuesday 22nd: Radio Times marks the return with a gatefold cover that absolutely demands two purchases: one to cut up for the scrapbook and one to freeze-dry for posterity so we can one day remind ourselves this all really did happen.

Friday 25th: Twenty-four hours to go: Eccleston appears on Jonathan Ross, avoids questions about the future (again) and looks genuinely disturbed by the miniature walkie-talkie figure of him. More clips of later episodes (‘Father’s Day’ looks different class already…) and even the review over on Newsnight Review after is almost unanimously glowing.

Saturday 26th: The Night He Came Home. Or did he? Following a mouth-watering early-evening documentary that left me practically breathless with anticipation, I waited (along with Graham Norton) for the moment to come. And waited. And waited. Then at 8.15pm I gave up, went out and sang karaoke for the first time in my life (‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’, if you’re interested). Well, it was my thirty-third birthday the next day.

Monday 28th: Overnight figures for ‘Rose’ come in and it’s a hit (a palpable hit, you might say). Feel like an absolute shit for not being able to join in all the delirium, as I’m still in shock as to how bad I thought it all was.

Post review on Tachyon. Wait for people to agree with me as to how bad it was. And wait. Finally start getting narked with people being so enthusiastic just for the sake of it being something new and lose my rag with Neil a bit (who later reveals to me that he seriously considered deleting my posting rights as a result…)

Wednesday 30th: Some bloke called Christopher Eccleston announces he’s quit as a result of my negative review of ‘Rose’. Finally I get some recognition…

April

Saturday 2nd: ‘The End of the World’, but the beginning of mine. Thank you God, this is so much better. That opening scene, that end scene and that single tear makes me want to strip naked and shout ‘He’s Back and it’s about bloody time ‘n’ all’ to anyone who’ll listen.

Saturday 9th: Weird experience. Am in Leicester for my Godson’s Christening and have decided to avoid ‘The Unquiet Dead’ there as I will catch the recording when I get home. However, other Christening guests insist on watching it and I am compelled to share the experience of a new episode with a bunch of relative strangers. Comparable to being caught masturbating by one of your parents.

Saturday 16th: ‘Aliens of London’ makes me wonder whether the new dawn of the past two weeks was really a false dawn instead. Someone called ‘Pat Spacek’ takes offence at my suggestions that RTD is ruining new Who with too much domesticity (and thus begins a beautiful (!) friendship).

In other news, some bloke called David Tennant will replace Eccleston for series two - given his only-recent breakthrough in Casanova, I suggest it smacks of ‘flavour of the month’ casting to anyone who’ll listen…

Saturday 23rd: ‘World War Three’: wish it had been. Ho hum! Still, that trailer for next week’s episode looks good.

Tuesday 26th: Radio Times comes to the rescue again. Another freeze-dried copy goes in the attic. I confidently predict 10-million plus viewers come Saturday.

Saturday 30th: Kiss my arse, this is the Dog’s Bollocks! Another moment when I’ve been more proud to be a fan I’m not sure I can remember. Down the pub later, it’s all I can do to stop myself kissing strangers and inviting them to join the blog.

May

Sunday 1st: My uncle (with whom I live) flies out to Romania to meet some woman he’s met on the Internet for a holiday. This apparently spurious incident will come to have grave repercussions for me in the not-too-distant future…

Saturday 7th: a case of ‘After the Lord Mayor’s Show’. ‘The Long Game’ isn’t bad as such, just ordinary. And I upset Pat Spacek again saying so. Still, Simon Pegg’s good and (seven months later) I can now at last say ‘The Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe’ without pausing for breath…

Saturday 14th: ‘Father’s Day’ and arguably the moment when this show came of age. Poignant, sad and Billie Piper’s finest forty-five minutes. Also the most rewarding reply to one of my reviews, when the lovely ‘E’ simply wrote ‘Beautiful Post. Thank You’ in the comments…

Saturday 21st: United lose on penalties to Arsenal, to leave the just taken-over club potless this season (well, I cared). Eurovision means ‘The Empty Child’ is brought forward half-an-hour and it’s another cracker (though the art of the cliff-hanger has still yet to be mastered this term). Captain Jack raises optimism - not to mention eyebrows - that three-in-the-TARDIS can work.

Saturday 28th: ‘The Doctor Dances’ and so do the fans. Feel-good TV in spades. Eternal apologies to Steven Moffatt for doubting that the Coupling-scribe could do the show justice. Do karaoke again in celebration (‘Irish Blood, English Heart’ by Morrissey, if you’re still interested…)

June

The month of reckoning.

Saturday 4th: ‘Boom Town’ breaks a million hearts who thought this was the one with the Master in it. Not as bad as some would have you believe (but still a shameless cost-cutting exercise given what was to come).

Saturday 11th: All those fears of a reality TV-infested in-joke at the show’s expense are annihilated by RTD’s best script of the season. Real edge of the seat stuff for the last fifteen minutes (although the sound mix means I have to watch it three times to get all the crucial dialogue). I warn fellow posters to ‘buckle up’ for next week’s season finale. And mean it.

Wednesday 15th: The press screening for ‘Parting of the Ways’ and even the official site warns viewers to avoid spoilers. The show will also be back for a third series and a second Christmas special. As MacMillan may have said, ‘You’ve never had it so good’. Unfortunately for me, a routine PC health check results in me being without Internet access for three days. It’s gonna be tight for Saturday…

Saturday 18th: the end of a (brief) era. Internet back on line, hankies on standby. Anticipation - just as in March - at fever pitch. I genuinely cry three times during the episode (surely some record). Tennant’s teeth make a good first impression. Sit in stunned disbelief that - after thirteen Saturdays - I’ve got to wait six months for the next fix.

Monday 20th: Write up my final review for Tachyon before the summer break. Following the last Confidential on Saturday, I’m somehow compelled to go out and buy the ‘Snow Patrol’ album (like, no doubt, a thousand others…)

Thursday 23rd: my uncle reveals he’s marrying the Romanian woman and I have less than a month to get out. Feels like ‘Rose’ all over again…

July

My days of Who-less existence are now filled with frantically finding somewhere else to live. My best option seems to be my Mother and Stepfather’s. Feel like I must have done some bad shit in a previous life for this to happen.

Wednesday 20th: leave my home of six-and-a-half years to go and live with my Mother. Try vainly to cheer myself up by recapturing that Saturday-night-feeling with the new BBC Ninth Doctor novels. Elsewhere that week, Season 2 starts filming.

Tuesday 26th: first pictures of Tennant and Piper in costume and the ‘geek chic’ suit looks just perfect. Never liked that bloody leather jacket, anyway.

August

Spend every hour God sends me working so that I don’t have to be reminded where I live now.

The press start printing pictures of Season 2 filming and I feel my spirits rise slightly. Even a rusty K-9 looks somehow okay. Rumours of Stephen Fry writing an episode sound too good to be true.

September

My uncle gets married and I’m best man. No arguments there.

Monday 19th: Stripped Down 2 starts with ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’, which almost single-handedly puts all but the hardcore off.

Neil and Q announce they’re off to Stockton in November and ask if anyone’s interested in tagging along. Well, you did ask…

Go for some much needed R&R to the south coast to stay with my great aunt (the fact the Brighton exhibition is close by is, of course, coincidental…)

October

Work, blog, work, blog, work, blog. Try not to look at the state of the kitchen.

November

The month when some names on a web-blog became a group of wonderful people. Where do you begin in describing the Stockton experience (how about ‘bloody expensive’)?

Simply the most fun I’d had in months, if not years. Davids Gooderson and Brierly lying through their teeth; meeting (and kissing) Nicola Bryant (shame about the arm around the shoulder moment, though). Meeting Peter ‘now you see him, now you don’t’ Davison. And the enigma that is Lightsabre Man.

Then there was being mistaken for one of the guests by Bernard Holley (he even gave me a ‘I know you from something’ kinda look until I put him out of his misery). And talking to Fraser Hines in the lift as though we’d known each other years.

And of course Q, John and Neil. Brothers-in-arms (and similar lost souls) who I genuinely came to regard as friends over the short space of a weekend.

But the moment that will always stay with me is going back to Neil’s infamous caravan (steady now) and watching ‘The Parting of the Ways’ whilst doing a DVD-style commentary. And both of us being struck silent during the hologram scene. Have a fantastic blog…

Friday 18th: Children In Need: Tennant makes a suitably manic mini-entrance (although the hopping made me cringe a bit). And it was a country mile better than running around Albert Square in the name of charity.

Saturday 19th: My season one boxset arrives two days early from play.com. The trip of a lifetime is off again…

December

Paul Hayes kindly alerts us to the Radio Times double-issue cover. Did we all dream this year, or what?

The Christmas Invasion trailers start. Pretty ho-hum, until last Sunday’s with the TARDIS spectacularly crash-landing gets my pulse racing

Friday 23rd: (dipping into the future here) I move into my new home, thus ending five months of sheer unadulterated hell. Two days later, Doctor Who is on Christmas Day, prime time and backed by all the covers of the Yuletide TV guides. What a perfect way to end a perfect Who year…

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Comments

Hope the move goes well Sean. What a year - I hope 2006 is as good if not better in DW terms, and that your abode stays more resolutely fixed. I hope and expect to see you in Stockton again for Star One, and later in the year for Dimensions. It was a great weekend.

Merry Christmas.

Don't you understand? No-one knows where Star One is.

That review brought a wee tear to my eye, Sean.

However, I *never* threatened to remove your posting rights :-)

It has indeed been an amazing year and, I suspect, it can only get better. Well, it will for me - I'm getting the DVD Boxset AND a Remote Controlled Dalek for Christmas. The 6 year old in me is screaming like... well, a 6 year old. Anyone else got hold of the Dalek?

it strikes true fear into the heart of my 4 year old

No, but did anyone else have hysterics watching Dead Ringers last night? poor david tennant, it actually made me feel sorry forr him. it's a dilema when one of your favourite shows take the mick out pf your absolute fav

Yeah, it wasn't a bad year, was it?

Merry Christmas, all.

Damn, missed Dead Ringers.

But isn't it a bit odd that a show would be parodying someone in a role when they've only had about four minutes broadcasting time?

I caught the last half of Dead Ringers and so did, in fact, see that sketch. Very funny. Always great to see their Tom Baker again.

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