‘Doctor Who’: Our hopes for the 50th anniversary

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Okay, we admit it. We have the fan gene.

To some people – people who don’t ‘get’ cult TV – speculating about the content of a few hours of television, 22 months before it is likely to be screened, is the behaviour of the obsessive, the antisocial or the insane.

These people know nothing.

Because, as of a few weeks ago, we can officially say that Doctor Who’s fiftieth anniversary is now next year. Next year!

Of course we’re obsessing about the anniversary! Frankly, we’re waking up covered in fan drool at the prospect of a regenerating McGann, battle-scarred by the Time War, uttering those immortal words: ‘So you’re my replacements, hmmm? A mardy Northerner, a Mockney with a god complex and a student Physics teacher?’

Where Doctor Who’s Golden Jubilee is concerned, we want the BBC to go mad.

The trouble is: we’re not in 1973 any more. The Who of the 21st century is in the habit of remembering and celebrating its past often, and has already ticked off many of the stories that might previously have been the reserve of milestone birthdays.

You want a great big jolly with all the Doctor’s recent companions returning? Watch Journey’s End. A new insight into the Doctor’s departure from Gallifrey, all those years ago? The Doctor’s Wife. Glimpses of the Time War? The End of Time.

These days, online and onscreen, the past is all around us. So Steven Moffat and his team have a choice. Either make this anniversary a step up or, more controversially, make it a sidestep.

A subtle sideways take on the anniversary is a possibility, but…

Oh, who are we kidding? We want Doctor Who to be more over-indulged on its birthday than a kid, off his face on blancmange and throwing up into a magician’s hat. That means the show needs to be everywhere: Tom Baker as BBC voiceover man… Raston Robots invading the Newsnight studio… Alex Jones and Aliens of London star, Matt Baker, dematerialising off the One Show sofa at the end of an ‘hilarious’ segment on the show…

And that’s not all. Oh no. Dear BBC, we also have the following wish list.

1. Go mad with the repeats

Like a universe without the Doctor, an anniversary without a repeat season scarcely bears thinking about. But, in the age of additional extra content, why limit yourselves to just screening episodes as originally transmitted?

With so much material from the past couple of years having ended up on the cutting room floor, why not produce a few extended Director’s Cuts for screening? For some fans, even a second more of Victory of the Daleks may be unwelcome. But they are churlish and wrong. All new Who is exciting – regardless of its provenance.

2. Back to the Sixties

As a child of the 1960s, Doctor Who wears the decade’s influences on its sleeve: whether it’s the vaguely pop art design of the Daleks, the liberal pacifist philosophy of the Doctor, or the kooky, Carnaby Street allure of Amy Pond.

But aside from the Day of the Moon two-parter, and moments in Blink, it’s surprising how little modern Doctor Who has gone back to the decade that made it.

We don’t need to return to Totter’s Lane – Group Captain Gilmore has already been there, done that. But it would certainly be in the spirit of Moffat’s time-hopping adventures for the Doctor to take time out from mourning C. S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley to listen to a gig by John Smith and the Common Men, before narrowly avoiding bumping into his Ninth incarnation in the Dallas Book Depository. Corny? Contrived? Quite possibly. But potentially an exhilarating nostalgia rush, too.

3. Kisses to the Past

Did we mention we love Raston Warrior Robots? We do. And the Hartnell TARDIS set as well – ormolu clock and all.

And Bonnie Longford. Especially Bonnie Langford. But then we never said we weren’t contrary…

4. Other Doctors

Okay, this is the big one. The only question that we fanboys really care about. Will any past Doctors be returning to celebrate the Big 5-0, and, if so, which Doctors and in what capacity?

Whichever way you look at it, it’s a certain truth that, for most viewers – fan and public alike, if we are even able to distinguish between the two any more – the anniversary will feel like a letdown if a few past Doctors don’t show their faces (even those who ‘never bathe in the same river twice’).

For many fans, the pressing issue is how to legitimise the older appearance of Doctors 4 to 7. (Us: we’d like the next Christmas special to be The Picture of Dorium Maldovar, where the picture has stayed young and Tom Baker has got old.) But consider an alternative possibility…

If everyone’s favourite beheaded black marketeer, Dorium Maldovar, is right, the Doctor is now en route to the Fields of Trenzalore and the Fall of the Eleventh.

A twelfth incarnation can only be waiting in the wings. So why not take advantage of the impending transition by, for the first time ever, writing an anniversary special which sees the Doctor teaming up with a future, rather than a past, incarnation – his twelfth self?

It would give a new spin on the multi-Doctor anniversary story, and could succeed in offering both a ‘step up’ and a ‘sidestep’ celebration at the same time. Throw in a few Raston Robots as well, and we’ll be really happy.

Well, us fanboys can always dream…

What are your hopes for Doctor Who‘s 50th anniversary? Let us know below…

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