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Errant Nonsense

By Neil Lambess


It's somewhat ironic that I haven't actually seen any of the Prime re-runs. I've got nth generation bootlegs of every episode, the BBC tapes and so on. But, due to the fact that Prime doesn't transmit way up here in Whangarei, I still fell a slight sense of loss at not been able to sit down after tea and join the Doctor on his somewhat (thanks to the junkings) disjointed journey...

So tell me (and yes I am talking to you), what was it like? Were you new to the Hartnell and Troughton stories — or were you revisiting your childhood memories of them? Did they still send a chill up your spine now and then, or did you just laugh at the special effects and wonder what all the fuss was about?

Because, you see, either way I'm jealous of you... especially if you were watching them for the first time.

It's all about recapturing lost childhood memories, I guess.

At the ripe old age of 37 I'm old enough and lucky enough to have seen the Hartnells and Troughtons when they were first run (in NZ) and, like a few of us, certain stories are linked to special occasions and events. Like the plughole scene in Planet of Giants — I used to play with little plastic sea creature musicians that came free in cornflakes packets and for weeks afterwards they became the Doctor and his companions as I tried to wash them down the plughole. At last a Doctor Who adventure I could recreate in my own home. Of course I was sad that I had succeeded in this endeavour when The Underwater Menace screened as the creatures were much better suited to being Atlantean Fish People...

Ah yes, the Doctor and Jamie fighting Zaroff, Cybermen, Daleks and Yeti...

In 1987 I was standing in Auckland airport waiting for my first ever flight in a 737. In the departure lounge I suddenly looked up at the mute television that was screening the news. I still don't know why I looked up at the screen at that precise moment but there was a picture of Patrick Troughton and a clip. I was really pleased until the realisation dawned on me that he had died, and the next thing I knew I had started crying, surprising myself that his death was so affecting to me.

Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines, whatever were you up to, did you know how much your performances connected with that seven-year-old who really did hide behind the sofa when the Yeti were after you? That little kid who wanted more than anything for the TARDIS to materialise in the back garden so I could join you, so that way I could warn you that the Daleks were up to no good, that the Macra was going to get Jamie. Most importantly, I could wink at you when you walked into a serious situation and pretended to be stupid when all along you had the upper hand... You see, Pat, even at seven I was in on the joke.

If a person is the sum of their memories, influences and experiences, then partly I'm the child of the Second Doctor and Jamie. Somehow you guys gave me my sense of right and wrong and a little bit of my creative anarchy as well. I know that one of the reasons I do the work I do is because of the impression you left in my mind all those years ago.

I really, really hope that when the little bit of your adventures that still survived screened on Prime that you guys worked that magical influence once again and that somewhere, somehow a little seven-year-old boy fell in love with the Doctor and Jamie all over again.

This item appeared in TSV 61 (December 2000).

Index nodes: Errant Nonsense