There’s a t-shirt on ThinkGeek.com which shows a TARDIS with the phrase “You Never Forget Your First Doctor.” This is true for many fans of Doctor Who. Even the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant, held this close to his heart, proclaiming sincerely that Tom Baker was his first.
Let’s rewind back to 2007. The interwebz was buzzing with talk of a revamped Doctor Who and every LJ community featured an image of a smiling, bespectacled man in red Converse shoes, blue suit and brown overcoat. As far as boys go, this was definitely a gorgeous geek man up my alley.
Now, being in Singapore, we are slightly behind the times, so while Ten sent a million fangirl hearts a-flutter, we were still waiting for Nine to make it onto our TV screens. I’ve never shied away from television phenomenons, so when the prospect of a sci-fi television event came looming, I was first in line.
I might not remember the exact date of the pilot, but I remember everything else. It was a weekday. Monday perhaps. 7pm. I rushed home from work, ignored everyone and switched on the television, sitting a foot away from the screen watching as Rose first met the man called The Doctor in a shopping centre, rescuing her from a group of walking mannequins with every intention of ruining Christmas.
At the end of that, I thought, “Well, this show is quite dodgy, with yo-yoing production values — but still endearing and worth a shot.” I loved Nine, with his grumpy self, and his brotherly relationship with Rose, but it was with Ten, the one that I had waited for, that I truly got into the swing of things.
Fast forward four fantastic seasons later, and I am the proud owner of the following: a box set of the complete new series (so far) bought from a dodgy DVD store in Cambodia (the same store where I bought a similarly dodgy Season 3 box set from a year ago), a sonic screwdriver, two Doctor Who postcards, a TARDIS pen I won from a BBC contest, and a mini-replica remote controlled Dalek given as a birthday present. I had two TARDIS cakes (of varying success) presented to me on my 24th birthday, and wear two pairs of Converse in the same shades as Ten’s own.
What makes Doctor Who so important in my life, you say? By all standards, he is a loner — the only survivor of his race — haunted by war and lost loved ones, hiding his sorrow amidst the revolving door of companions and villains that appear week after week after week. He is an alien whose compassion towards humans is so strong, that he’d risk his life again and again to save even one human being.
Sure, he had his off-moments — calling Rose’s then-boyfriend “Mickey the Idiot”, insulting her mum constantly, moping endlessly over her (this one I blame on Russell T. Davies), and at one point in Waters of Mars, considering himself a god. But despite all that, he is a curious man in love with knowledge, brightening up with every new discovery; a smart man able to go toe-to-toe with Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, and even the Queen Mum — yet still treat them with respect due to their histories.
He is like a child constantly in awe of the universe — but at the same time, an old man who knows the value of life, and has learned from the mistakes of time. A teenager, clueless in love. A veteran of a million wars and battles past.
Doctor Who reintroduced me to the wonders of science fiction, something I discarded in my angst-filled teenage emo-punk years, and slowly began to reconnect with as I grew older. The Doctor made me realise that this world that he inhabits was one where I belonged, alongside literature and science, where geeking out and learning was encouraged, and it was all right to not conform to anyone else.
Through The Doctor, I learned about Ian Dury and the Blockheads, the life and achievements of Madame De Pompadour, the physics of time travel, and the awesomeness of tailored suits matched with High-Tops. But most of all, in The Doctor, I found someone that I could look up to, a flawed hero who despite all his efforts, was all too-human; who fell prey to anger, conflict, arrogance, and was ultimately, fearful of losing his identity to death. Yet, each time he regenerated, he started anew, with a different characteristic, reborn to experience the magic of the world once again.
Late last year saw an end to Ten, one of the most memorable Doctors in history, after three brilliant seasons. With each special, my heart broke a little, knowing that for every Doctor fix I got, I would be closer to bidding him goodbye. The two-part special The End of Time was a difficult moment for me, when he was faced with the reality of his death, and earnestly begged not to go, before finally accepting and making peace with his end. It was like losing a friend, but minutes later, with Eleven and his no-eyebrows and manic nature, I felt that there was someone new who would be take over the void in my heart. Not entirely, of course — no one can forget his first Doctor.
So that explains my ink; a tribute to Nine and Ten, who together were my first Doctors, leading me to become the person that I am now. Come spring, we meet Eleven and join him as he continues the swashbuckling adventures through time and space. I hope he brings joy to new viewers the way Nine and Ten did to me.
Down from Heaven comes ELEVEN
and there’s HELL to pay below
shout “GERONIMO!” “GERONIMO!”
It’s a gory road to glory
but we’re ready here we go
shout “GERONIMO!” “GERONIMO!”
Ainah is overworked and has a desk full of trinkets. She watches too much British TV and is devoted to Vyvyan, her iPod. If you like Sean Lock, David Mitchell, Charlie Brooker, Marcus Brigstocke, Jimmy Carr, Dara O’Briain, Frankie Boyle, et al., please talk to her via godiseven.tumblr.com.
(Text is © Ainah)