31 December, 2005

With Thanks

I'm dotting about a bit, but I've just remembered that I forwarded this email to myself the week I left Sony. I sent this email to a few sympathetic workfriends around the 9th or 10th of May 1997.

Subject: Observation on the death of Terry Nation

When I was about four, I met this lad called John. He watched Doctor Who and we used to play "Time Lords" all the time. When we were fourteen we went to our first convention together and subsequently joined a "local group" in Liverpool. While I was there, I met a few more fans who I kept in touch with for a few years until me and John
[actually a different John, I was obviously simplifying matters for the tale.] decided to run our own group with a wider remit (Gerry Anderson, Blake's 7 etc). During that time I got to know a few people in a group in Blackpool. Then I started work and John started his resits for his A-levels and we both left the groups and the fans behind.

John introduced me to a lad off his course who later became my best friend. Passionate about films and cinema history. He also liked Doctor Who. He gave me a miuch wider social group and led me into loads of adventures, going to parties full of people I didn't know where we pretended to be off-duty policemen. Haha!

I started University and met [my pal] Russell who was/is a fan and who organised the college sci-fi society. When he left college, he handed it over to me and we kept in touch. I, meanwhile, got back in touch with the group I first went to all those years ago. Some of the faces were the same, many were different, and I ended up becoming involved in what would become the biggest, most successful charity Doctor Who convention team IN THE WORLD!

Russell Coburn got me the job at Sony QA. He was also the one who told me that [SCEE copywriter] Martin Pond was leaving and that I should go for his job. I now live in a house where one of the other four people is someone I knew when I first joined the Liverpool Local group. Another writes Doctor Who novels and works at Coronation Street. Another is the ex-girlfriend of another Who novelist mate of ours. The other one's learning slowly ...

It was a cheaply-made, on the whole badly-acted and scripted embarassment for the BBC who resented spending "Drama" budgets on what they saw to be a children's programme. But it's something that has affected my life to such an extent that I can't help but feel slightly saddened at the death of an old, greedy hack writer who, in desperation for work, came up with an idea that saved the show that made the way I enjoy my life possible.

Now, I wrote that back in 1997, when Paul McGann's TV movie was a year old and had failed to resurrect Doctor Who into a new series. It was dead then, but I was still very much a fan. Now, in 2005, it's back, one of the BBC's biggest drama productions of the year and the second-most-watched TV show in Christmas Day (it beat Coronation Street of all things!). Now, everyone's a fan!

Yesterday, I received a Christmas card from an old mate from secondary school. We were friends mainly because he was the only person at the school that I'd met before (he'd been in the Cubs at the same place I was in Scouts, for a very short time when I was 10). But we stayed friends because we both liked Doctor Who. It's his birthday on Monday, so I hope I can remember to give him a call then.

Doctor Who's no longer a thrown-together TV show, but I still like it - and in fact I'm watching the old stuff a lot more now and learning more about it all the time. It's still big in my life. It's still important.

Tonight, I'm spending New Year's Eve with a few friends who are witty, generous and incredibly good company. That they might have become like this as a consequence of watching Warriors of the Deep or Paradise Towers, I can't say. But I won't discount the possibility. Just in case...

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