Sunday, 24 November 2013

Who's turning 50: Part Two

It's here at last, but the moment has been prepared for

Thursday 21 November
The anniversary celebrations really began for me this afternoon at the Embassy theatre.  Doctor Who was up there on the big screen, but it wasn’t some time-paradoxical screening of The Day of the Doctor from the near future.  It was part of a show reel of the very best which New Zealand television’s greatest television channel is offering next year.
The Prime new season launch in Wellington is an annual event which I always look forward to. In some ways, it feels like the very first stirrings of the festive season with bubbles and gifts, and it’s always great to catch up with these lovely people who do so much promote Doctor Who in New Zealand.
I found myself in a ‘your sad teenage self would never have believed this’ situation, being engaged in conversation by two beautiful women who only wanted to talk about how exciting the Doctor Who anniversary special was.  I know it’s their job and I know our acquaintance is purely a business one, but all the same it was in equal parts bizarre and utterly delightful. 

Friday 22 November
Then the following morning this charming graphic and apparently very addictive game was brought to my attention by a variety of friends and colleagues throughout the day. 

 Even my sister texted me updates of her progress through the game.

Workmates who had no real interest in the programme took breaks to pitch themselves against a lone obstreperous Dalek, and ask me various questions about the history and anniversary of Doctor Who during the day. An editor asking me who Catherine Tate played and how to spell ‘Noble’, and asking for a copy of the infographic at the top of this post to put on-line made it seem as if Doctor Who was seeping into all aspects of every-day life.
To my surprise the fiftieth anniversary was indeed starting to feel like a global celebration, or at least the eve of one.

Saturday 23 November
The big day dawned hot and sunny, a further reminder that it may be the half-centennial here, but in the wintry northern hemisphere the anniversary special, wouldn’t screen until 8.50am the next day, our time.
I passed the day very happily, doing odd jobs outside while enjoying the boundless generosity of my friends Peter and Dave, firmly plugged into my ipod and listening to some ‘aural Who’.   

Under the banner of Destiny of the Doctor, Audio Go and Big Finish have collaborated this year to release an audio story for each Doctor, each month, culminating with the eleventh Doctor adventure which I listened to today.  Wrapping up the previous ten month’s stories and telling a great yarn in its own right, listening to this proved to be a perfect way to quietly celebrate this special date, in anticipation of the main event tomorrow.

Sunday 24 November
The line between tragedy and comedy became even finer than usual this morning.  Tomorrow night we are going to see The Day of the Doctor at a packed cinema, in 3-D, but I wanted to see it today so as not to be ‘spoilered’ as soon as I went anywhere near the internet or a newspaper.  And if I’m to be entirely honest, I also wanted some reassurance that I wasn’t setting up others seeing it with me for a less than memorable night out.
So, as arranged, I called around at a neighbour’s home to watch, only to discover that in the recent digital change-over, they had somehow lost Prime – the channel exclusively screening the anniversary special.
At least half an hour was spent, flicking between all the other channels, trying a busy helpline and scouring an incomprehensible manual, before I concluded that fate was telling me to get outside and enjoy the sun instead.
Walking home, I gave in to last-minute temptation and called in on another neighbour, who made me a cup of tea and watched the remaining last half of the special with me – in a perfect state of incomprehension.  Bless you Brian, I don’t think you’ll ever know what it meant to me and I only hope the experience of me alternating between whooping with surprise and joy and shedding nostalgic tears hasn’t traumatised you too much.

Having only seen the last half, I can’t even begin to review this story, and indeed, most likely won’t, as three posts on the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who are probably enough.
But I will say that what I saw certainly ticked all the boxes for me, and then drew some more boxes and ticked those too.  I eventually left to shovel sheep poo in sweltering heat for a couple of hours, with a grin on my face and still-moist eyes, feeling completely satisfied and very fortunate.  Not only do I now know how it ends, but I still have forty-odd minutes to look forward to tomorrow night which I haven’t seen yet.
Many happy returns, Doctor!

With final apologies to The Radio Times

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