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Happy Birthday, You-Know-Who! November 23, 2017

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Today is one of those days when something remarkably good and life affirming comes along.

Today is a birthday, but not just of any one person, but of a special tv series.

On this date, November 23rd, 1963, the BBC debuted the first episode of a brand new science fiction television programme called… Doctor Who. Entitled “An Unearthly Child”, that first episode (which aired when I was 8 years old, and the memories I have of it still to this day…) starred William Hartnell as the Doctor (referred to always as Dr. Who or Doctor Who) and introduced the world to this mysterious traveller and his incredible time machine known as the TARDIS.

The episode also featured Carole Ann Ford as Susan (Foreman), Jacqueline Hill as Barbara Wright and William Russell as Ian Chesterton. The story began when two school teachers shared their concerns about one of their pupils – Susan. She’s brilliant in some subjects but bizarrely out of kilter in others. To assuage their curiosity, they follow her home, but discover ‘home’ is a blue police box in an old junk yard. Once they enter the box their lives, and television history, would never be the same.

I still have fond memories of the travels of William Hartnell’s Doctor and his companions – the planet Skaro, and those creatures called Daleks, and then having the Daleks show up on Earth!; visiting with Marco Polo; a terrifying trip in time to visit the Aztecs; the planet Marinus, and its denizens, the Voord; the Doctor and his companions being reduced to tiny versions of themselves and having to survive in a world of giants; a visit to the Crusades, and meeting Richard the Lionheart; the planet of the Menoptera and the Animus; and so many more – and grew up with the series in those early years. I remember being shocked and startled at the regeneration of William Hartnell’s Doctor into the younger Patrick Troughton, but still loved the Doctor, and revelled in the newness and different feel that Troughton brought to the role. So many good memories of the early Doctor Who series. And of the continuing history of the show with different actors taking on the persona of the Doctor over the years. This show pretty much sparked my interests in both history (some time periods more than others!) and time travel, and gave me a different view of how tv and movie science fiction could be (as did Star Trek later on).

What it comes down to is this: Doctor Who has been a part of my life for 54 years (!!), and that battered blue box is still transporting the Time Lord known as the Doctor (who’s been through a few bodies!) and his various companions to worlds of wonder and adventure. And whole new generations of children got to discover the Doctor with the Chris Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, and Peter Capaldi interpretations of the characters. And now, a whole new era for the series begins with the first woman, Jodie Whitaker, about to take on the role of the Doctor. I’m looking forward to it, believe me. But for me, William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton will always be *my* Doctors. So…

Happy Birthday, Doctor, and long may you continue your travels through time and space (regardless of what gender you are in any incarnation of the character)!

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R.I.P. Deborah Watling (1948-2017) July 21, 2017

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Sad news in the world of Doctor Who.

Deborah Watling has died. The actress played companion Victoria Waterfield during the Patrick Troughton era of the show

Deborah Watling, Doctor Who Companion, Dies at 69

I really only knew Deborah Watling through her work on Doctor Who, where she took on the role of Victoria Waterfield from “The Evil of the Daleks” (1967) through “Fury From the Deep” (1968). After leaving the show, she appeared in numerous TV roles including Danger UXB (1979), Rising Damp: Hello Young Lovers (1978), and Doctor in Charge (1972) as well as doing a lot of work in the theatre.

My favourite moment with Victoria from the Second Doctor’s period is this bit from “The Tomb of the Cybermen”:

Rest In Piece, Deborah. Your memory will live on when I close my eyes. Goodbye.

And the New Doctor Is… July 16, 2017

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The BBC and the Doctor Who offices (with Chris Chibnall in charge) have announced who the new, 13th Doctor will be for the Doctor Who tv series.

Jodie Whittaker (or the Wikipedia entry instead) will be the first female Doctor in the history of the show, and I say…good for her! Jodie is a brilliant actress, whose work I first saw in Attack the Block (2011) and she really excelled at the role of Beth Latimer in the three series of Broadchurch (2013-2017), but I’ve also seen her in other roles as well. Chris Chibnall, the incoming showrunner for Doctor Who following the Christmas Special, has made a bold choice and taken a risk in bringing in a female Doctor to the show.

There has been a very large backlash about the hiring of a female Doctor, mostly from fanboys who don’t have positive, future thinking or who are still living in the past. But Doctor Who has to evolve, has to stay fresh, and to be honest the ground has been laid for a female Doctor, even before the Master became Missy.

I don’t know what to expect from Jodie Whittaker in the role, to be honest, but I’ll give it a chance regardless. She’s a great actor, and will excel in the role as long as Chris Chibnall has a firm grip on the series and the writing on the show excels. Because it was the latter that plagued Peter Capaldi’s entire run of Doctor Who, and if Jodie doesn’t get some good writing, well…

In the meantime, Doctor Who fandom, give her a chance. We have a new Doctor. And it’s lucky 13. 🙂

On This Day… May 20, 2017

Posted by jkahane in history, tv hut.
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On this day in 1932, Amelia Earhart took off and became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Also on this date in 1996, Jon Pertwee, the British actor best known for his roles as the third Doctor on the series Doctor Who and Worzel Gummidge, died at the age of 79.

Happy Birthday, Peter Capaldi! April 14, 2017

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For those who might be interested, or who are just plain Doctor Who fans…

Peter Capaldi, the actor who is portraying the current, Twelfth (or Thirteenth, depending) Doctor in the Doctor Who series celebrates his birthday today.

While I can’t say that I’m a great fan of New Who, I’ve absolutely adored Mr. Capaldi’s acting in everything I’ve seen him in. I’ve actually come to like him in the role of the Doctor so far, and find him to have elements of my favourite Doctors over the Classic years of the show. Sad to say, the forthcoming series of the show (which starts tomorrow) will be Mr. Capaldi’s last.

So here’s wishing Peter Capaldi a happy 58th! 🙂

Happy Birthday, Patrick Troughton! March 25, 2017

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For those who are fans of Doctor Who, today is the anniversary of the birth of actor Patrick Troughton.

Born March 25th, 1920, Patrick Troughton was the Second Doctor on the acclaimed tv series, and the first actor to replace the original Doctor, William Hartnell, and is thus the first regeneration of the Time Lord. It was a bold move on the part of the production team to replace the actor in the title role, and Doctor Who could have been a disaster from that point on. But it wasn’t, and Patrick Troughton was the reason. His Doctor was unofficially known later on as “the cosmic hobo” due to the mannerisms that Troughton imbued the character with, but he could be as serious as needed when called upon. And when Troughton’s Doctor was being serious, you knew that serious trouble was afoot.

Patrick Troughton’s Doctor was my favourite in the role, though I also loved the William Hartnell Doctor. Sadly, much of Troughton’s serials from the series no longer exist, and he is the most under-represented of the incarnations of the Time Lord on DVD.

So raise a glass today for the Second Doctor and the man who portrayed him so brilliantly, Patrick Troughton.

Remembering Roger Delgado March 1, 2017

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Today would have been the birthday of Roger Delgado.

For the fans of the Doctor Who… the Doctor has faced many foes over the years – Daleks (and their creator Davros), Cybermen, Sontarans, Ice Warriors, to name a few – but only one foe has stood the test of time as his equal. If the Doctor had gone the other route, followed the dark path… That was the premise for the character of The Master, the renegade Time Lord who was first portrayed by the late (and great) Roger Delgado.

Delgado begat the role of The Master, making his debut appearance in 1971 in the Doctor Who serial “Terror of the Autons”, which also saw the first appearance of Katy Manning as Jo Grant. Delgado reappeared in a good number of subsequent serials during the Jon Pertwee years, and originally, it had been planned that the story of The Master would end and be tied up in one last serial, “The Final Game”. However, in 1973 while filming another project, Delgado was sadly involved in a car accident and passed away at the age of 55. Thus, “The Final Game” never saw the light of day.

While Roger continues to be missed from the world of Doctor Who, his influence on the tv show will never be forgotten. The Master may have regenerated countless times since that time, but Roger Delgado’s legacy as the *first* Master is available for all to see. Personally, I adored Roger’s performance as The Master, and have felt that none of the actors who’ve since taken the role on ever did it justice (though Anthony Ainley had his moments). I still love going back and watching some of the Delgado serials/episodes of Doctor Who, and watching his sophisticated and refined performances.

So lift a glass today in memory of Roger Delgado, the first and best Master, who would have turned 99 years old today.

Remembering Elisabeth Sladen February 1, 2017

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Today would have been Elisabeth Sladen‘s birthday. She would have turned 71 years old today.

For those who don’t know (which means you’re not a Doctor Who fan), Elisabeth Sladen played the Doctor’s companion Sarah Jane Smith during the late Jon Pertwee and early Tom Baker years, went on to a couple of specials featuring K-9 and her own series, The Sarah Jane Adventures, and then appeared during the David Tennant years in New Who.

One of the favourite companions of the series among the fans, her loss is still felt in the Doctor Who community (and the British tv and film industry, of course). And we miss her very much.

Happy Birthday, Tom Baker! January 20, 2017

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For those who might be interested, or who are just plain Doctor Who fans…

Tom Baker, the actor who portrayed the Fourth Doctor in the Doctor Who series celebrates his 83rd birthday today.

While I will always remember William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton as the Doctor in the series (I grew up with the series, after all), Tom Baker was, for many, the definitive Doctor in the series, due to the length of time that he played the role.

And now, here’s some Trivia about Tom Baker on the occasion of his birthday:

1. An image of him appeared on the episode of The Simpsons (1989) shown on 26 November 1995.

2. He is the longest-serving actor to have portrayed the Doctor in Doctor Who, having played the role for seven seasons from 1974 to 1981. In second place is his immediate predecessor, Jon Pertwee, who played the Third Doctor for five seasons from 1970 to 1974.

3. With the death of Jon Pertwee on May 20, 1996, he is both the oldest and earliest surviving Doctor from the series.

4. Tom was a largely unknown, unemployed actor who had actually written to the BBC seeking work shortly before he was cast in his most famous role, as the star of Doctor Who. His appointment as Jon Pertwee’s successor came after series producer Barry Letts had already considered for the role more famous actors Jim Dale, Richard Hearne, Michael Bentine, Graham Crowden, and Fulton Mackay, all of whom had been discounted for various reasons.

5. He has performed with the National Theatre, the Bristol Old Vic, and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

6. He has two children with his wife, Anna Wheatcroft, Daniel and Piers.

7. He is a voice-over artist for television commercials in the UK.

8. He has been mistaken by members of the public for Jon Pertwee.

9. Trained at Rose Bruford Drama School, Sidcup, Kent, UK alongside Freddie Jones. Later members include actors Ray Fearon, Gary Oldman and Stephen Armourae.

10. His mother, Mary Jane Fleming Baker, was Irish.

11. He was a monk for six years before becoming an actor.

12. After Jon Pertwee, he is the second longest-lived actor to have played the Doctor in Doctor Who.

13. At 6’3″ tall, he is the tallest actor, along with Jon Pertwee, to have played the Doctor in the series.

14. Documented in books about the Doors rock group, Tom Baker was a friend of and used to “hang out” with Jim Morrison prior to his career as the Doctor.

15. In one of the most recent Christmas specials of Doctor Who, “The Time of the Doctor”, he played the role of the librarian and archive keeper, and hints that this may be the Doctor’s final incarnation as well.

16. He is a voracious reader of books.

Lest Hartnell Be Forgot January 8, 2017

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For those who are fans of the Doctor Who tv series, and those who were fans of the actor…

William Hartnell, the first actor to play the Doctor on the Doctor Who series, was born on this day in 1908.

For me, Hartnell will always be the definitive version of the Doctor in the series, as I grew up with him as a kid back in the early and mid-1960’s. When I got older, I finally caught some of Hartnell’s performances in other things he had done over the years, and came to truly appreciate his acting abilities.

William Hartnell was a superb actor, and he will never be forgotten by folks who loved and admired his acting abilities, and who came to know him as the *First* Doctor on the tv series that we have all come to know and love.