2005 is a bit of a haze for me. I’ve vague recollections of bits and pieces from the television, the odd scene from Supermarket Sweep, The National Lottery and part of a Star Wars film I had to endure because there was something on afterwards. All I can remember is the Star Wars characters fighting in a desert. Never having been a fan of Star Wars, when I tell my friends the bit I have seen, they tell me it could have been any of them!
But some of my biggest memories come from the endings of some quaint little show that had just come back. I’d seen the posters around London on some school trips but had no real idea of what Doctor Who was, just that my mum said she remembered Tom Baker and Lalla Ward and that it used to be scary. It wasn’t that I wasn’t allowed to watch it, I was eight or nine and my mind was on other things. The only time it used to be on our screens was when Mum used to change the channel from ITV to BBC to watch the lottery, apparently you really did have to be in it to win it!
Everyone made jokes about Daleks not being able to climb stairs but all that changed with Dalek and while I missed the ground-breaking, or not as the Dalek had climbed the stairs in Remembrance, scene where the Dalek followed Rose and Adam up the staircase, I remember the final scene, where it blows itself up. I wonder if back then I had thought Doctor Who would become such a big part of my life in the future?
“Are you my mummy?” was my next meeting with the universe of Doctor Who, or rather the trailer for the episode. I remember seeing the gas-mask child and Rose falling from the barrage balloon and vowing to watch it, though I had to watch it in my bedroom. I never did, something about that little boy in the mask freaked me out and still does. Weeks passed and then the Daleks were back and the Doctor told Rose he was coming to get her. Then the Doctor changed, literally exploded in a ball of light and turned into someone new! I hadn’t really delved into the world of Who but even I knew that Christopher Eccleston was the Doctor, how could he change? How could he be rambling something about Barcelona? Needless to say, I was very confused.
Days, weeks and months passed, children were talking about the show in the playground and although I knew what a Dalek was, I didn’t really pay much attention. But then one day in July, my life changed forever.
In my junior school, year 6 always went away for a week to Fairthorne and those of us in years 3-5 would have to endure some themed week-long project. In 2005, it was Egypt Week. We learnt how to read hieroglyphics, the names of their gods and the history of Ancient Egypt. I really don’t remember much from this week, except that towards the end I walked into my classroom to see the video-player hooked up to the projector. I’m sure everyone will agree when you saw one of these in school, you knew you would have a good day!
My teacher at the time was a massive Doctor Who fan and really knew a lot on the subject, being old enough to have grown up with it as a child. (He had a massive Dalek on his keyrings!) Now, I will admit, I’m not sure what the selected Doctor Who story was supposed to tell us about Egypt, I think it was just an excuse for him to watch his favourite show at work but I’m glad he did it. After explaining to us that he wouldn’t be teaching us how to make perfect cardboard pyramids using maths, he pulled out his VHS copy of Pyramids of Mars and turned off the lights.
I remember looking out of the windows at the other classes, all the other students fussing over their perfect pyramids as the familiar BBC logo filled the projector screen. There was a sense in the air, some of the slightly older students knew what Doctor Who was and even though I had heard of it and seen bits, I had no idea what it really was. As the slightly warn tape began to play and the theme tune, slightly out of tune, started to play I was transported to another world.
In those opening minutes, I knew exactly who the Doctor was, he was a time-lord and he walked through eternity. Sarah Jane was his faithful companion, who travelled with him. I didn’t know that Victoria had been his companion or the priory they arrived in was one day to be the UNIT base, I had no idea what all that meant but it didn’t matter, the character of the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane had really captured my attention. Then the Egyptian housekeeper shoots Scarman’s friend, and brings a mummy to life. I was blown away.
When the mummy lumbers into the woods and Sarah Jane looks out from where she is hiding, our teacher paused the video and asked us to write down what we thought she had seen. I can’t remember what people said, all I remember is thinking it must have been something horrid coming towards her. At my tender age I really felt her terror as the mummy lurched towards her, felt her fear as she ducked down and hoped she hadn’t been seen. I was so pleased when she got away.
By the time episode one was over and the re-animated corpse of Marcus Scarman promised to bring Sutekh’s gift of death to all human life, I knew mine wouldn’t be the same ever again. The second episode rattled along, Sarah Jane explains she is a journalist and the poacher shoots Scarman, strong stuff but then the bullet comes back out in a puff of smoke! I loved it!
I remember the bit where Marcus’s friend is strangled by the mummy and it scared a bit, he screamed at the top of his voice as the monster throttled the life of him. He was disturbed when Sarah fell on his body and how she seemed to bounce off him. And when the mummy’s crushed the poacher, I remember some mature individual shouted out, “Boobie Attack!”
As the day came to an end, other classes finished up with their pyramids and put away their maths skills, something I still haven’t developed, I saw the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane banish Sutekh from our world. Everyone else just made pyramids but I actually got to travel to one, on Mars!
From then my love for this show grew, I watched David Tennant’s first full adventure on Christmas Day in 2005 and every episode since. I’ve seen Ian and Barbara follow Susan to a junkyard where they meet a grumpy old man and a battered blue box. I’ve seen the Doctor first encounter the Daleks, his first regeneration, Cybermen, Yeti, Ice Warriors, the Master, Missy, the quest for the Key to Time, the Doctor put on trial, creepy clowns, robots, androids and Norse Gods. I’ve seen the Cybermen and Daleks battle it out in Canary Warf, a hospital transported to the moon, living suns, vampires and cat-nuns. Sarah Jane and K-9 even came back! It’s been one brilliant ride and it all started one morning in July 2005…