November 19th, 2008

Ceci n'est pas une Tardis

"My goodness, there's a man in there, and isn't he playing the part well?"

I notice that the BBC Archive project, which sticks interesting bits of old material online for people to gawp at, is celebrating the 45th anniversary of Doctor Who by publishing a fascinating collection of documents relating to the birth of the series.

I found it particularly amusing to read what viewers thought of the first ever episode, mainly because it proves that not a lot has changed in 45 years. Early fannish opinions ranged from "at times, quite thrilling" and "all good, clean fun" (this last from a "retired Naval Officer", who should know fun when he sees it, frankly), through "I presume it is meant for the kiddies" and "something of a disappointment", right down to "altogether too far-fetched and ludicrous" and "what claptrap!". So there you go: not only is it impossible to please all of the people all of the time today, but it was already impossible back in 1963. Plus ça change, as they say in the Cave of Skulls.

In fact the only common Whoish opinion that is NOT expressed is the one about the series not being as good as it used to be. Surely this was the last time in Doctor Who history that this ever occurred? Admittedly, nobody mentioned shipping either: unless of course, the reference to "the nice Doctor's planetary friends" is some sort of wink-wink euphemism.

So take note, Steven Moffat: you might want to make sure that retired naval officers are well represented in any future focus groups. They can clearly recognize quality entertainment when they see it...