Published on February 13th, 2005 | by Christian Cawley
Doctor Who – Quintessentially British
Doctor Who is a program steeped in many traditions â€“ the TARDIS, Gallifrey, regeneration, the Time Lords, and a slightly eccentric old buffer with a questionable taste in clothes. Itâ€™s also as British as the Beatles, clotted cream and scones, “Coronation Street”, Charles Dickens, “The Rocky Horror Show”, Sir Richard Attenborough, my uncleâ€™s greyhound, my late grandfatherâ€™s cloth cap, Barbara Windsor and Queen. And the Queen.
What weâ€™re talking about here naturally transcends casting â€“ claiming the Doctor is British just because a few actors trained in RP before being cast is just silly. Nor are we dismissing the showâ€™s roots, the talents of the people such as Verity Lambert, Waris Hussein and Sydney Newman who were all there at the beginning and came from very diverse backgrounds. We are talking about is the very concept of Doctor Who as a representation of the culture which spawned it. In this sense, the one used by fans and press alike worldwide, Doctor Who is British.
“Great Britain”, a term interchangeable to most of us with “United Kingdom” was once an extremely powerful country, commanding a massive worldwide Empire. Sadly many of the worldâ€™s current problems stem from this time, and when the Empire collapsed after World War Two, the raping and pillaging of many foreign lands was complete. Being “British” or “from the UK” doesnâ€™t automatically infer on anyone the tag of “expansionist” or “nationalist”. It does however automatically infer on them the tag “from the country that produces Doctor Who“. As Britons, Ukâ€™ers, Welsh, Scots and Englishmen the world over know we are immensely proud of our country and our culture.
So, why is Doctor Who British? How do I back up my absurd claims? (Oh! You donâ€™t think theyâ€™re absurd? Well me neither, but one or two chaps out there do. They thinkâ€¦ well, weâ€™ll come to that laterâ€¦) The original concept for the character of the Doctor suggested an alien from the future; is it that absurd to suggest he might have at first been intended as a futuristic Englishman? The clothing of the First Doctor (which might be of Victorian or Edwardian extraction), suggests that of an English gentleman, possibly a little down at heel but English nevertheless. The same goes for the clothing of the Second Doctor. The TARDIS is a point all on its own. Why did the chameleon circuit break on Earth, in London? Why not on Skaro, or middle-ages China? Why not look like a Dalek or a pagoda? Why did the Third Doctor choose to work for the British arm of UNIT? Why did the Eighth Doctor respond to the exclamation “Heâ€™s British!” with the words “I suppose I am”?
Now I know that this is all narrative. I know that these things occurred for a variety of reasons, such as budget. But I also know that they happened to a television program created in Britain. A television program that everyone reading this enjoys immensely, maybe even considers the best EVER â€“ I know I do.
Denying Doctor Whoâ€™s heritage is pointless, and also insulting to the people that created it and worked on it over the last 41 years. Embracing the showâ€™s unique, quintessential Britishness and accepting it for its faults is what Doctor Who fans the world over do. Not only that, but it is a core aim of Kasterborous.com to promote Doctor Who and the related, thriving fan community, wherever in the world they live. Doctor Who is all about exploration and expedition â€“ two more thoroughly British concepts. It is also about peace and love, a concept practised most recently by sub-culture dwelling Californians in the 1960s.
Kasterborous.com is a home for quality comment, opinion, important Doctor Who-related news and review for fans and by fans all over the World. Doctor Who reaches out and appeals to man and woman alike all over the World. Like other British contributions to our planet and our species culture, Doctor Who is sold and translated, repackaged and remade. This isnâ€™t unusual â€“ other British cultural exports are EastEnders and the works of Dickens. Where Doctor Who is different is that it is the one surviving television-based contribution to Earth culture that has spread its wings and become as much a worldwide phenomenon as the Beatles.
I guess what Iâ€™m saying is that as a Briton, and Englishman, I have a particular grip on Doctor Who. I donâ€™t own Doctor Who, and Iâ€™m not claiming any rights to it just because of the unique way in which the British fund the BBC. What Iâ€™m saying is that we all possess a part of Doctor Who, whether we have written a script or novel, created a piece of artwork, bought DWM, a DVD or just watched it at some point in our lives.
Doctor Who is Quintessentially British. He has a Sonic Screwdriver, an item that in our less innocent times looks like an adult toy. Only a British television program could have got away with this â€“ like Morecambe and Wise sharing a bed, it is taken at face value, not for the adult connotations. Doctor Who also wears bad clothes and doesnâ€™t always have very good teeth. Now thereâ€™s nothing more British than that, is there?
Disclaimer: The UK’s Premier Doctor Who Webzine now comes with added irony!