It's the 23rd of November, and Doctor Who is 49.
Happy Birthday, Doctor. You've been a part of my life now for thirty-three years, and with you I have experienced childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Through you I have made and lost and remade friends, met some brilliant and interesting people, developed critical faculties, a writing and illustrating style (two of those, if I'm honest), created a fanzine and been professionally published, paid and pulped. If I were to be cut in two you'd be in there, somewhere. Perhaps not right at the core, but running a wavy line almost my length, occasionally nearing the centre.
Occasionally of course you've reached the outer of me too, Doctor, because like most things in life I've drifted in and out of love for you. I was a late adopter, mainly due to my parents (and as a parent now I applaud them for their common sense), and then just into my teens watched all of the classic series I could manage without dodging school, study, sunshine and friends. You've never really been that essential you see. And being a 'mature fan' of the series I have the added and slightly ironic experience of being at the height of my fan enthusiasm during the years you weren't on the telly at all - the years from 1990 through to 2004 (with a significant interruption in 1996) to which fandom refers as 'The Wilderness Years'. When you returned in 2005 I was excited, trepidatious, and stoical when I quickly realised you weren't my show anymore, and that was an okay thing, because it looked like you were being made by my generation of fans and had found a new, massive audience. You were in safe hands. But I never really warmed to you in the same way. And that's okay, too.
The great thing about being a Doctor Who fan of a certain age at this point in time is that all of the series' history (except the bits that got destroyed by misguided institutional archiving policy, of course) is open to me. And the Doctor's past - the bits now branded 'The Classic Series' are still where it's at for me.I quite like Matt Smith, I occasionally miss David Tennant, and I barely got to know Christopher Eccleston's Time Lord, but collectively and for reasons beyond some of my fathoming I've found this new stuff doesn't hold a candle to the range and breadth of the early years, which, thanks be praised, lives on as full cast audio dramas, in many cases better, wittier, and more adventurous than their small screen versions.
The new TV stuff? I can almost do without. One day I probably will; it's healthy living and as noted above, I have past form. What endures is the more important to me - the friends, the contacts, and the side interests to where being a fan of the original series took me. So cheers and many happy returns, Doctor Who. You've been, if nothing else, a good mixer.
Yours (for the mean-time)