What Makes You a Doctor Who Fan?


At PanoptiCon, you cannot fail to be struck by the diverse range of Doctor Who fans - the show appeals to the young and to the old, to men and to women, to Northerners and to Southerners (and one or two people from Australia) and to the rich and to the poor (although after a brief visit to the PanoptiCon Dealers Room, most of the rich have become poor). CHARLES ILLUMINATION tries to identify the common link, that unique something, that makes us all Doctor Who fans:


The obvious first step to determining what makes us all Doctor Who fans was to assume that I am a typical fan (although my unnatural love of condensed milk might make this a rather wild assumption), and to delve into my inner psyche. This was a somewhat uncomfortable experience, but I did find the biro that I lost last week... it was down the side of the couch that I used for my meditations. I constructed the following list of reasons why I personally am a Doctor Who fan, and tried to apply them to fandom as a whole:

A love of the BBC Television series Doctor Who - A rather obvious starting point, you might think, and to be honest I thought I might be on to a winner with this first guess. But then I considered how many fanzines that I had read which were cover-to-cover lists of what is wrong with the programme; packed with long boring reviews of stories that the writer doesn’t like or impenetrable features explaining why so-and-so’s contribution to the programme was a load of mouldy cabbage. And then I relived long evenings in the convention bar with the fan who has the one line put down for each story. First you try him on the classics: Pyramids of Mars you suggest, “A bit dull really” he replies. Caves of Androzani? - “A bland political drama”. Earthshock? - “Lacks tension”. So then you try some of the more “odd-ball” stories, the ones that stretch the show’s format (although your companion argues that they really indicate that they are really the product of a producer who didn’t know what he was doing, or an overworked script editor not doing his job properly or a scene-shifters dispute). You try The Mind Robber - “Lightweight fiction”. The Happiness Patrol? - “Superficial candyfloss”. Ghost Light? - “Darwinian Claptrap”. Finally you try some of the duller stories that even you only remove from your video shelf occasionally. The Web Planet? - “Boring”. The Dominators? - “Boring”. Warriors of the Deep - “Deeply boring”. No, not all Doctor Who fans love Doctor Who.

Identifying with the Doctor as an Outsider - So Doctor Who fans are rebels? Doctor Who fans fight the system? Yes, of course they are, they just choose to do it while waiting patiently in line in autograph queues. The only time that the Doctor Who fan is an outsider is when a group of friends start explaining why they prefer Star Trek, Eastenders or Ready Steady Cook. And what does the average Doctor Who fan do in this situation? Do they leap to the defence of their favourite programme? Or do they change the topic of conversation?

A desire to dress up in silly costumes - Admit it, when you see someone with their Tom Baker scarf around their neck, you think to yourself “I wish I had one of those; I’d be really warm in the Winter”. So why don’t you have one? Each Christmas your great aunt gives you increasingly bad taste sweaters that she knitted herself and which you never wear. You know that if you had a word with her she would knit you a long scarf in any colours you suggested. She probably wouldn’t be content to stop at a mere 18 feet. The truth is that you’re afraid to wear one. So most Doctor Who fans don’t have a desire to dress up in silly costumes, unless jeans and T-shirt constitute a silly costume.

A fascination with the backs of sofas - Initially I was tempted to feel that there was no mileage in this hypothesis, after all when did you ever see someone hiding behind the sofa at PanoptiCon? Equally, when did you ever see a sofa in the main hall at PanoptiCon? In fact the only sofas to be found in the hotel are in the bar... so does this account for why so many Doctor Who fans spend the weekend there? When you see a Doctor Who fan collapsed apparently in a drunken stupor, is he really trying to crawl behind the sofa? I tried one final test to prove this hypothesis, I asked a wide variety of fans what the back of their sofa actually looked like, and not one of them knew!

A deep unshakeable lust for K9 - After a little bit of research, I have come to the conclusion that I am alone in my fantasies. At least if I ever meet K9, I might be in with a chance of a snog.

Kate Bush - A little bit lateral this suggestion, but think it through. How many Doctor Who fans do you know who don’t have a copy of The Hounds of Love or The Whole Story? How many conversations have you had with strange people at conventions who are sure that such-and-such a story is based on Kate Bush lyrics? Try out the theory now; just say to the person sat next to you as you read this “It’s in the trees... It’s coming” and see if they just stare at you as if you’re a mad fool, or see if they just give a nod as if to accept that everybody quotes the introduction to The Hounds of Love all the time. I believe that there are subliminal messages recorded in all Kate Bush’s music that make you want to watch Doctor Who. Further, I intend proving that BBC Television, and more recently BBC Worldwide, paid Kate to put these messages in her music. I believe that the real reason for the delayed release of the Paul McGann video was that Worldwide hadn’t persuaded BBC Radio to play enough Kate Bush songs in the month preceding release and they wanted a week of intensive Bush oldies on the radio to ensure that it would sell. It may be difficult to prove this, but the truth is out there...

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