I have a problem. I’m obsessed with Doctor Who. You see, it’s not my fault. It contains possibly the best plot device a audience and indeed writer could ask for. The main character has a magic box, which can take him anywhere, anywhen in the universe. The possibilities are infinite. Every story can be in a new place, a new time, new people.
Even yer main character, The Doctor himself is fair game to change. Originally invented as a clever method of replacing William Hartnell when his health was failing, Regeneration has become a staple of doctor who, and again, another fascinating concept. Complete change of the physical form, and a change in personality that maintains core beliefs and memories whilst changing everything else. The Doctor has been through 13 bodies now, and that’s just the official stories. Each doctor is unique on their own way, different humours and tempers, different personalities and behaviours, but the core identity of The Doctor, of the man who helps people, remains.
Which of course brings me to why I’m writing this. See, I grew up in the wilderness years as it was so called, the gap between 1989 and 2005 when Doctor Who was off the telly. Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Alfred walked away from the camera at the end of survival in 1989, and that’s the last the doctor was seen on telly for 16 years. Well, almost. My first dim memories of the show are of clips of Genesis of The Daleks on repeat, and bits of the TV Movie. For most of the first part of my life, Doctor Who was a past thing, like Polio.
Of course, even if you have been screeching a inhuman scream every time the show is mentioned, you’ll know that it came back in 2005, with Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor. His TARDIS may not have been a Ford Escort up on bricks, as would fit his Manc background, but the show exploded in popularity and now its everywhere, you can’t go a day without seeing Peter Capaldi’s eyebrows glaring out at you from ads, books, dvds, and all kinds of merchandise.
But there is a Doctor who got somewhat forgotten, mainly due to his one television performance being one of two doctor who things that died in america (The other being Jon Pertwee). When the show came back, there was no reference to what had happened to him, and we waited 8 years before we got the answer.
I am, of course, talking about Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor. Like his Doctor’s birth, the TV pilot that created him was unnatural, unusual and too late. By the time it went out in 1996, Who had been off the air for 7 years. It didn’t get the figures, and the Eighth Doctor was cast into the abyss, never to be seen again. His first adventure, his only one.
Or was it?
Because, whilst Doctor Who was not being pumped into the nations front rooms every week, it has by no means gone away. There consisted a hardcore, group of people who refused to let the show die. This originated in the Virgin New Adventures, a book line featuring the Seventh Doctor after the end of the TV series, and was far more full of guns, tits, drugs and death than the main show. It was fantastic.
When they got McCoy in to do his regeneration into his successor, they established that Paul Mcgann was the Eighth Doctor. But with no tv series, we had a resident doctor with no stories.
God Bless Doctor Who fans. A new book series was created, the EDA’S. These books ran from just after the TV Movie til the series was revived. 73, full length novels. And there was the comic strip in The Radio Times, and in Doctor Who Magazine. And then, in 2001, a little indie audio company called Big Finish (stop sniggering at the back there) got the rights to the classic doctors, including Eight. They launched a series starring him and a brand new companion, and have been doing stories for the eighth doctor ever since. He’s had more companions, more adventures, more stories than a fair few of the other doctors, and some of them are not just good Doctor Who stories, but fucking excellent examples of the genre, and interesting takes on the format that they are told in.
McGann’s Doctor is bouncy, fun, curious, romantic and has a passion for life and the universe and everything that it contains that it can bring a smile to your face when he just geeks about historical figures or a yo-yo. He’s soft spoken, with a certain kind of colloquialisms that only fit his doctor. You couldn’t imagine the alien 4th doctor or the buttoned up 3rd doctor using contractions like “gotta” or “huh”. He is the middle ground between the eccentric edwardian gentleman of the old series and the dashing funny young hero from the new series. Just like his TV pilot, he connects the two eras.
And of course, the way it all ends. I’m sure I’ll blab enough about it as we go on but the most human, passionate, sensitive Doctor being broken by a war he wants no part of, til when he and the universe itself is battered and weathered and had enough, he gives up.
So there is alot of stories out there for Mcgann. A whole lot. And, stupid enough as it is, I’ve decided to give myself a goal, a task to get a hold of a physical copy of every story they have put of for him. Every audio story, every book, every comic and cartoon and graphic novel. It’s probably one of the most stupid things I’ll do in my life, but fuck it, why not?
To make it even more challenging, I intend to get the stories of chronological order, as the doctor would have experienced them. From the TV Movie to Night of The Doctor.
Some of the stories are hard to find, some are expensive, some are terrible and some are beautiful. I want to check every single one out, and If you aren’t shaking your head and muttering “twat” at this by now, then I want you to come with me.
This site is a bit of a work in progress at the moment, but I intend to have a complete list up soon enough. I intend to get the stories, give you a bit of a review and thoughts on it as well as any anecdotes on getting the damn thing in my hands.
Stay tuned. We start with the TV Movie. Soon. Honest.