Something strange happened to me on Sunday evening: I found myself caring who the next Doctor in Doctor Who was going to be. Okay, caring might be too strong. But I was interested.
This is strange because – and I can hear the Whovians hunting me down as I type this – I don’t watch Doctor Who. I just don’t get it. Never have. Probably never will.
It doesn’t appeal to me – mainly because I don’t have time for science fiction or fantasy. Basically anything that involves time travel, or space, or elves and hobbits. So don’t ask me to sit through Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings (unless it’s the musical, which I strangely rather enjoyed). And forget anything that has the word star or stars in the title. So, Star Trek, Star Wars, Stars in their Eyes – wait, that wasn’t one of them. But you get the picture.
Whether you like Doctor Who or not, there’s no denying the iconic nature of the role
So why did I find myself sitting in front of the television on Sunday night, along with the rest of the country, keen to know who would replace Matt Smith to become the 12th Doctor?
First, it meant for just one Sunday Antiques Roadshow wasn’t in the schedules. Hooray!
Second, it’s because producers at the BBC were masters at creating an event around the whole announcement – an entire 35-minute live programme that basically challenged you not to tune in. It played trails and adverts all week that pointed to this moment. It generated a feeling of if you’re not watching, you’ll be the only person not at the party. And no one likes that feeling, do they?
On top of that, whether you like Doctor Who or not, there’s no denying the iconic nature of the role. Everyone knows the part and can name at least three actors who have played it in the past. Look, I’ll prove it: Matt Smith, Christopher Eccleston, and erm..Sylvester McCoy. Get in! Bring me my trophy Tardis now.
Then, of course, Twitter played its part. Moments like this are what Twitter was made for – when your timeline is swamped with people making guesses as to who the new Doctor might be, and then the “I knew it” tweets when it was finally revealed that Peter Capaldi was the man. Again, it made you feel like you were part of something significant.
As it turned out, we had to wait a good 30 minutes before Capaldi was announced as the new keeper of the sonic screwdriver (yes, even I know there is one). To my mind, this was 30-minutes too long. Okay, that’s too harsh. But everything in the live show could have been done in half the time. Plus, there wasn’t really any surprise when the reveal came, as Capaldi had been the favourite for some time.
For what it’s worth, I think Capaldi is a fine actor, and will make a great Doctor. And as I don’t watch the series, I’m not sure I am entitled to say that it would be lovely to see a woman play the Doctor, or a black actor, as others have said. Of course, I think that would be welcome.
In the meantime, dear Whovians, enjoy your time with Capaldi. Long may he reign over you. And I’ll see you all again when the 13th Doctor is revealed.