Down in London this weekend, I am staying in a house filled with Daleks. Depending on one’s fondness for kitch, this Walthamstow terrace is a fine example of the strangely naff meeting the strangely cool. There is even a lifesized Dalek standing in the corner of the living room. Whatever one’s opinion of foaming-at-the-mouth fandom, one cannot deny that this was the perfect environment in which to enjoy the new episode of Dr. Who airing this evening.
While travelling down on the train, I was sat next to a very interesting South African guy. We mostly talked about alternative energy resources (he being employed in said industry and I having a hippy interest in that sort of thing).
He asked me what I’d got planned in London. “Interviewing some people for a magazine,” I said, “but mostly I’ll end up just watching my friend’s Doctor Who DVDs”.
“What’s Doctor Who?” he asked. He seemed baffled by the titular syntax.
I never really stopped to consider how bizarre an entity this television show actually is. It proved tricky to convey Dr. Who in a casual manner to a stranger who’d never experienced it. I explained the fuzzy nostalgia that the nation may or may not have for the show and the basic premise that its about a guy who travels through time and space in a telephone box, solving mysteries, exploring the universe and defeating alien foes.
The man on the train just about accepted this notion, but then I tacked onto the end “Oh, and he always dies after a few years and sort of… um… regenerates and everyone gets all excited about what the new Doctor will be like. It’s kinda like when you get a new Pope”. Perhaps understandably, the man on the train went back to reading his book.