When I was growing up, most of the Kids’ TV shows I was allowed to watch were pretty harmless – Blue Peter, Magpie, John Craven’s Newsround, Crackerjack – not much there to set the pulse racing, to be fair.
But there was one notable exception that stood out like a scary colossus in the generally bland landscape of British kids’ TV shows. And that show was Doctor Who.
Many a Saturday evening during my childhood was spent holding my breath or looking away as the opening music announced it was time once again for the Doctor to do battle with the Master, the Cybermen, or of course, his nemeses, the Daleks.
It was all pretty unmissable stuff and if we’d had a water cooler at school in those days, I dare say Dr Who would have dominated conversation as we gathered around it the following Monday morning . It was a show you simply had to watch.
One rather curious aspect of the show that certainly helped ensure its longevity was its ability to change Doctors in midstream without missing a beat. Or a TV rating.
Indeed, up until now, there have been eleven Doctors beginning with William Hartnell, way back in 1963 and taking us right up to 2013 where Matt Smith has been the incumbent timelord for the last couple of years.
I dare say the memories of generations of schoolkids in Britain and even around the world, have been shaped by the era in which they first encountered the show and that in turn may have been shaped by ‘their’ doctor. For me, Doctor Who is forever associated with the Jon Pertwee/Tom Baker axis.
Then of course, there was the Doctor’s assistant who would, for some unexplained reason, join him in the Tardis for his next bit of time travel. Here again, Sarah-Jane Smith was the good Doctor’s assistant during my formative years where they seemed to enjoy a good working relationship without even a frisson of sexual tension. To my eyes, anyway.
The reason for all this reminiscing is that the tenure of the eleventh Doctor has recently come to an end and the twelfth Doctor has just been announced.
Back in the day, I seem to recall the changing of the Doctors as being a relatively low key affair – the old one goes into the Tardis, there is some smoke and a new one walks out.
It was almost as if the producers didn’t want to draw too much attention to the changeover in the vague hope that no-one would notice.
Not so today. The unveiling of a new Doctor is a big media event. Bookies take bets on who will be the next Doctor and this time around there was even a BBC TV show specifically to announce the identity of the new Doctor.
Well, after much speculation, the new Doctor Who was announced this evening and we discovered it is to be Scottish actor Peter Capaldi, an intriguing choice given he is best known as Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It.
In that particular role – which was brilliant, incidentally – his language was, let’s say a little too ‘ribald’ for a more junior audience, but hey, maybe it could be a stroke of genius.
If all else fails, he can switch on that thick Scottish brogue and tell the Daleks to F*** off.
Now that would get the schoolkids talking on Monday.