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Discovering Who

Confessions of a Doctor Who Fan

By Murray Cramp

My earliest memory of anything even remotely Doctor Who related is strutting robot-like in the school playground chanting "Ex-ter-min-ate" with arms outstretched. I can remember enjoying the feeling of being an invincible killing machine and somehow the idea of eliminating annoying school teachers and bullies appealed greatly. That was sometime back in the mid-Seventies, when the worst insult was being called 'fatty', and the worst thing that could happen to you was being made to wear that purple cardigan your grandmother knitted for you to go with your wide-collared shirt, flares and Charlie Brown shoes. Yes, life was simple, or so it seemed.

It is difficult to remember any detailed information about Doctor Who during this time, although I know I did watch the programme off and on. But Doctor Who was just one of many methods of employing time in a profitless and impractical way. It was of no special significance to me. The school library had a few of the early Who novels, and I remember reading The Daleks, The Abominable Snowmen, The Green Death, and maybe one or two others.

Above all else, it is the general feelings associated with viewing the show that I recall rather than the specific stories. Exciting scenarios, frightening monsters and eager anticipation at the various suspended enigmas are things I remember. Being something of a child with a glorified and distorted notion of militarism I particularly liked the Daleks, Sontarans and Ice Warriors. The Doctor seemed like a wishy-washy do-gooder (Jon Pertwee) and this annoyed me after a while. Stories which were more science or space- based did not appeal anywhere near as much as ones with a more contemporary and terrestrial feel. As a consequence I seem to recall losing interest in Doctor Who many times. But occasionally I might catch an episode here and there and stay tuned in for a few weeks until they moved on to a 'dumb' story - one I didn't like.

When Doctor Who returned to New Zealand screens in 1985, I watched it avidly for some time and began to see it as a unique and interesting piece of television. But I eventually drifted away from it again. My viewing became erratic after The Curse of Peladon, and I slipped into the same pattern as before.

In 1988, for some inexplicable reason, I thought it might be fun to make a home video. It was nothing serious, just an attempt to increase my interest in life. For another equally inexplicable reason it seemed like a Doctor Who spoof would be a pretty neat idea. The fact that none of us who were involved had anything more than a basic knowledge didn't seem to matter. But as a result I began to look at Who in a different way. I became captured by what can only be described as the magic of Doctor Who.

Forget the movie that never happened. But along the way I met Chris Mander (who had been a fan for some time). One thing led to another and pretty soon I knew Jon Preddle and Paul Scoones and became a member of the NZDWFC. Within two years I had all of the Target novels and a stack of videos and other merchandise. Going into Whitcoulls and buying 20 or 30 Doctor Who books is an experience never to be forgotten - "Bit of a Who fan are you?" said an astonished shop assistant. "No," I replied, "They're for a friend."

I openly encourage others to write for this column. Partly because it might help me to understand why I became a fan myself, but mostly because an otherwise blank page entitled 'Discovering Who' would look rather stupid. So send us your memories!

This item appeared in TSV 26 (December 1991).

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