I was planning on blogging today about my experiences at the Hub 4 convention this past weekend. Then I followed a link to “The Changing Face Of Doctor Who” at the BBC Archives and knew I had to blog about this instead.
I make no secrets about the fact that I love Doctor Who. I also love archives and information (hence my decision to apply to study the subject) so this collection seemed built for me. I spent a few hours today poring over each and every document.
The collection is a mixture of features, letters and listings from the Radio Times, internal BBC memos, and audience research reports. The material covers each regeneration up until Paul McGann took the role in 1996. The media today has focused on the comment in a memo describing the character of the Second Doctor that he should appear as if he was experiencing the negative effects of LSD but for me there were far more interesting things to be read.
The Radio Times pieces were fascinating, and I loved seeing how the magazine had evolved. It was great to see that back in 1966 the Daleks were gracing the front cover, just as they are this week.
The most interesting articles though have to be the audience research reports. These summarise the findings of the viewer panels conducted by the Audience Research Department. They provide statistics for how much viewers enjoyed what they were saying, how they rated the stories, the acting, the quality of production, and panels that considered a whole series statistics about how much people wanted there to be another series. They also provide more subjective data, including people’s comments and the views of the children watching. It did strike me at times how similar the things I was reading were to things I have read recently about the contemporary series.
I was, like Matt Smith, a child who grew up without Doctor Who. My introduction to the show came when Russell T Davies brought it back, the love affair was instant and has been growing ever since. I’m trying bit by bit to learn as much as I can about everything that came before shop girls from London and planets having a North. This wonderful collection has allowed me to learn just a little bit more.