Attics can be wonderful, beautiful things. Sometimes they are repositories of worthless junk, but more often they have such wonderful stories to tell. They are full of boxes. Some contain toys from childhood. Others hold certificates, pictures, and correspondence. Still others contain mementos and heirlooms of events both obscure and infamous. There are such stories to be learned, if one can only gain entry and do some research.
That is how it could be for Doctor Who. With 52 years now passed since the show began production, what stories can its artifacts and ephemera tell us? We know the exoteric truths of the show’s production from its primary artifacts — the episodes produced by and shown on the BBC. Surely, there must be more than that. What were the stories, the images, the ideas that never made it onto those tapes? What did time or budget make impossible? What was merely deemed to be poor creative choice?
These are the motivating themes of a new book, Doctor Who: Impossible Worlds by Stephen Nicholas and Mike Tucker. It proposes to take us into the Doctor Who production design department to show how the core ideas of the series transformed from imagination to television drama for over 50 years. In this, it succeeds more than it fails and provides the reader with some rich visual insight into the history of Doctor Who.
It was on this day, 47 years ago, the British public was first exposed to an eccentric old Time Lord known only as the Doctor in Doctor Who, with William Hartnell being the first man to take on the moniker in the first episode of the series, titled An Unearthly Child.
Initially designed as a science fiction television show for children that would focus on history and science, nobody behind the scenes back in 1963 could have possibly conceived how much of a phenomenon that Doctor Who would become.
In the years since its initial launch, the universe of Doctor Who has expanded significantly, giving rise to a detailed mythos that would form to become the lore and legends of the Time Lords of Gallifrey — a foundation to the Who saga that rivals many other science fiction tales around the world that people have followed.
Over at Teefury, for today only, Doctor Who fans can get their hands on a shirt that plays on some awesome Time Lord traditions. The t-shirt, which is only $9, is labeled Prydon Academy: Teaching Yesterday’s Doctors Tomorrow! Prydon Academy, as the hardcore Who fans might know, is the educational institution on Gallifrey where Time Lords, including the Doctor and many others, went to school.
When I saw the design of the shirt, I was pleasantly surprised — it makes Prydon Academy to Doctor Who what Hogwarts is to Harry Potter. Obviously the time loop humor is a bonus, but the mandatory inclusion of the sonic screwdriver (actually it is specifically the one used by the Tenth Doctor, portrayed by David Tennant, thank you very much) is the highlight for me.
Also, while we’re on this topic, just a reminder that the TARDISblend, a Doctor Who podcast co-hosted by myself and fellow Geek of Doom Tom Cheredar, is now hosted here at GeeksOfDoom.com, and you can check out our most recent episode right here.