Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Re-Watching The 5th Doctor - Castrovalva

It is July 2011. I am 37 years old and I’m about to sit down and re-watch my favourite programme. It’s my favourite era too, where it suddenly became strange and dangerous, no longer the comfy pantomime it had become under producer Graham Williams, and only the second year of its exciting ‘reboot’, bathed in the warm glow of childish nostalgia.


I slip the DVD in and…

It is January 1982. I am 8 years old and this is the first time that my favourite programme has gone all strange and scary. I am confused and a little frightened. I’m not big enough to remember when Tom Baker took over from that white haired man. My first memory is of sitting in my Auntie June’s house when I was littler at teatime on a Saturday watching Part Four of Robots of Death. That was a great story, full of deadly robots and people in fancy costumes and Leela’s voice sounding funny, all squeaky because of the gas. The Fourth Doctor was my Doctor, I don’t want him to go. Don’t want anyone else being the Doctor.

“That’s not the Doctor!” I say, turning to my mum as Logopolis ends and that man who plays the vet sits up in the Doctor’s clothes. “I don’t want to watch this anymore.” But I don‘t mean it. Not really.

I see the trailer for Part One of Castrovalva and I’m all excited again. I can’t wait for the new series to begin.

But I’m worried too. You see, since Doctor Who finished I’ve joined the cub scouts, and the meetings are on Monday evenings, that‘s the same day as the new series of Doctor Who.

I’ve decided to not go to cubs, not while Doctor who is on. I don’t want to miss it. I’ve missed four weeks of cubs already and now my mum is saying that I have to choose - Doctor Who or cubs?

It's so difficult. I love them both. Which one do I choose?

As a child I warmed to this new Fifth Doctor immediately and, before the closing credits of Part One had even begun to roll, I was proclaiming him to be my most favourite Doctor ever…a position he’s held to this day, some 29 years later. I still love Castrovalva, more so with each and every viewing, it’s my second favourite Fifth Doctor story after The Visitation.


As we settle down to watch it for the 400th time, my fiancée sums up my feelings about the story perfectly. She says “I was going to ask you if you were in the mood to watch Castrovalva tonight, but that’s a silly question. You’re always in the mood to watch Castrovalva."

Oh yes!

Oh, and…in the end I chose Doctor Who over the cubs, but not before missing an entire episode of...well, we’ll come to that all in good time.

Needless to say I was devastated, and vowed never to miss another episode again.


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