Dr Kerry Gough

Dr Kerry Gough

Dr Kerry Gough, Senior Lecturer in Film and Television Theory at Birmingham City University, reflects on the success of the Doctor Who series.

As a direct result of the series’ longevity as the longest running show in time and relative dimension in space, we are all well-versed in the Whoniverse. Travelling through ‘Time and Relative Dimension in Space’ has become a science fiction phrase that we have taken to our hearts, even if we don’t fully understand it. Doctor Who since its inception in 1963 has proffered engagement with other worlds and other possible existences, extending our conception of scientific possibility and potential futures. In offering us a dialogue relationship through which to explore society’s mores and excesses through the safety of our armchair; the inhabitation of other worlds and lives has been made possible through our engagement with the show, as we live out other existences vicariously through the distinct incarnations of the Doctor and his time-travelling companions.

Much like the Doctor’s regeneration which offers the ability to introduce new characters and a renewal of interest in the series, so too have the series’ writers experienced a long and creative regeneration process. With an extensive line of creative Who progeny, fifty writers have been credited for the creation of the Doctor Whoniverse over the last fifty years; during that time, crafting no less than twelve Doctors. Each of these writers have brought their own unique extensions to the series, renewing interest and reinvigorating storylines and narrative arcs for audiences anew.

With Russell T. Davies’ and Steven Moffat’s most recent incarnations as writers for the series, play has been extended for a brand new generation of Whovians  through the most recent upgrade of the series.

If re-runs and repeats of the original Doctor Who series have been adopted by new fans for its retro-fitted science fiction resilience, Moffat’s re-energisation of the series offers a future-fitted incarnation which plays with the conventions of the format through its extended generic hybridisation and its increasingly intra- and extra-textual storylines. The 50th anniversary celebration episode, ‘The Day of the Doctor’ offered up an immersive experience in which Doctor’s stories met for a moment in time and space that promised to regenerate the Whoniverse as we know it.

The success of the series is largely dependent upon Who’s Doctor Who you are viewing. We each have our own favourites, but in an extended world that spans fifty years in its generation and a narrative story arc that extends in aeons, the Whoniverse has made possible a vast range of engagements. In the series’ capacity to hail an equally divergent audience and to keep them through renewing interest and the investment offered to each new generation of Whovians, Doctor Who offers something for everyone and as such secures its position as a social unifier.  For fans, young and old, the show offers a point over which families can share in the inter-galactic simulcast through which our beloved time-traveller(s) will quite literally stop us is dead in our tracks to mark Whovian history as we unite in a science fiction moment across the Whoniverse.

The good old BBC are quite literally masters of the Whoniverse.

Rethink Media Conference returns to Birmingham on 25 March 2014 and will provide inspiring insights, informed debate and potential solutions to the many challenges facing the fast evolving digital media sector.

Rethink Media is organised by Birmingham City University – a national leader in media education – and aims to support emerging media by showcasing new business models and the tools to improve content creation, maximise distribution and support audience engagement.

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Kerry Gough

Senior Lecturer in Film and Television Theory at Birmingham City University