My New Whovian Journey: How Doctor Who Impacted My Life

Credit: BBC
Credit: BBC

Doctor Who has been a very important part of my life, especially these past ten years. While the Classic series was shown in the States, usually on PBS, it never gained quite the traction that the revival has.

Now I have hazy memories of watching the classic series as a little girl, it wasn’t much an episode here or there in the late nineties. More of the memories came from being curled against my mother, who would read, while I watch the funny man with the curly hair in the long scarf go on adventures. Or sometimes he was played by a guy in a funny white outfit (give me a break I was like six and I didn’t know what cricket was) with a celery stalk.

Even though I still treasures these quiet moments that the Classic series has given me, it never really felt like my show. It was just something my Mom would put on when we spent time together.

In a twisted sense, it is kind of fitting that New Who entered my life about a year or so after her death. Since I live in the States, especially in 2005, it took time for us to get the episodes of the new series. As the show grew more popular, they got better about closer release dates and now even releasing hours later on the same day. But this isn’t then.

At the tender age of thirteen and active in some circles of the fanfiction community, I had heard that Doctor Who was, in fact, getting a revival. I never really pursued too much into it, feeling still new and raw in my grief to think about anything related to my mother. I focused on different things instead.

Then, one day, I saw it.

It was rainy. My Dad was out. I was bored with a snoozing dog sacked out on my leg. I turned on the TV, and it just landed on BBCAmerica.

It was “The Empty Child” and “The Doctor Dancers” two-parter, airing back to back. I even remember the scene I tuned into too, just because the visual just captured me so intensely.

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It was Captain Jack and Rose, dancing together in the middle of the Blitz on a spaceship right in front of Big Ben. And that it was it, I was captured. To quote Welcome To Night Vale, “And I fell in love instantly.”

I settled in, watching with my dog tucked against me, and the blankets over my head. It was scary and fun, dangerous and familiar, new and different. I cried when the girl said, “I am your mummy” and hugged the Gas Mask child.

And as the Doctor cried out in delight, “Everyone lives, Rose! Just this once everyone lives!”

I cried as well. Because I didn’t really realize it, but here was a character who was grieving. Who was raw and angry and grumpy, but still wanted those moments of joy. He still wanted those days where everyone lives and things can have a happy ending.

And as a thirteen-year-old girl who lost her mother to cancer, I wanted those days too. I wanted those good days where for once everything would feel okay again.

I’m not the kind of person who has favorite episodes of TV shows. Instead, I’m the kind who has favorite moments of TV shows, and, outside of a select handful, I cannot really think of anything that has come close to impacting me the way that this moment of Doctor Who has.

In general actually, I never really had a show impact me in quite the way that Doctor Who has. As I got older, it felt like the show grew with me. There was something that just felt so genuinely honest in it as I got older. As I watched as Nine become Ten, so I entered high school.

I’ll be honest. It took me awhile to warm up to Ten. I felt like he was kind of slow to get going, and it was around “School Reunion” that I really took to his character. But I really liked a lot of things about his character after, especially when he and Donna travelled together. Donna Noble was A-MAZ-ING! I loved her so much, and she kept the Tenth Doctor on his toes. They really were best friends and I could feel it.

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I’ll also be honest, the final specials? They weren’t really my thing. I understand why people love Ten like they do. He just wasn’t for me.

Eleven though? Yeah. He was my Doctor.

I was in my senior year of high school, about to go to college, when the Doctors switched. It was A BIG DEAL. Well at least to the geeky people at my school, and I was insanely curious. It was the youngest Doctor! What would he be like? How would he act?

And that transformation scene, which made me cry, from Ten to Eleven was just…amazing. Watching Eleven check to make sure his body parts where in the right places made me laugh through my tears. He charmed me instantly and I was hooked. I wanted to see more of this silly madman.

He didn’t disappoint.

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I’ve proclaimed my love to this Doctor in great detail over the years. I think the reason why I related to him was because of how contradictory he was. Eleven was silly and weird and goofy but he was also mature, confident, and alien. He was young and old. He was physical and restrained. And I really related to that contradictory nature and how Matt Smith portrayed it. It spoke to me. It made me feel like I was wrapped up in a fairy tale, and could have an adventure if I sought it out.

I loved the moments here: Amelia Pond and the Doctor, the Pandorica Speech, anything having to do with River and the Doctor, Rory and Amy’s bond, the Dream Lord, Clara jumping into the time stream, the Doctors meeting, the Doctor’s strange romance with Monroe, him as a monk, the TARDIS becoming a lady, and just so many more.

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I love a good story, and while Moffat’s big picture can get hella convoluted, I liked those little moments that were told. I liked those episodes where I felt just entrenched in what was going on.

All I can really say is that Eleven made me happy. I was happy to see his character. I connected with him.

I was a wreck in his leaving episode.

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“Raggedy man…goodnight.”

Yeah I was done. Total sobs.

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Now, Twelve played by Peter Capaldi who I also adore. He’s not MY Doctor, but he is one that I really like. I like really grumpy, old men characters with hearts of gold. Again, he came in at a transition in my life as I moved from undergrad to grad school. I started to live on my own for the first time. I had to be self-sufficient. I had to be more of an adult.

But Twelve also reminded me of those moments where you can just enjoy yourself. Sure I had to be mature and grown-up, but I could still enjoy those moments of wonder as well. I could be happy to be somewhere, even if I didn’t like the people or whatever.

So why am I writing this? I guess I’m just saying what Doctor Who has meant to me in these past 10 years. It’s a show in flux and in transition, which coincides with my own throughout life. It grew up as I grew up. It became different people as I became a different person, a more realized person. I changed and so did the show, but never in a bad way. It was always different and always special.

It reminded me that I was important, that what I tried to do could matter on some level, that it was okay to have less then perfect moments, and that cleverness can help save the day. It reminded me that it was okay to grieve and to laugh and to live and to break.

Doctor Who also showed me the power of a good story, and how it can unite the world if given a chance. And I always be grateful for that. And without “Rose” airing ten years ago? Without it affecting me life in that way? Who knows where I’ll be?

So happy anniversary New Who.

Bec Heim