Everyone has their own guide; someone who took them by the hand, like the Doctor, and showed them something that couldn’t possible exist – a whole new world that you couldn’t have imagined but suddenly knew had to exist because you couldn’t imagine the world without it now.
Makes sense, right?
Well nothing is ever perfect.
These things tend to happen by accident; there’s no grand design.
Take the almost too-good-to-be-true tale of Artemis Fowl and now Doctor Who author Eoin Colfer, then a young boy who was first introduced to the Doctor, not though diligent absorption of culture, but by a cousin called Kevin.
Kevin, who came from Liverpool complete with a mountain of books including Doctor Who Novelisation, the dance moves to Stayin’ Alive and The Undertones 1980 single ‘My Favourite Cousin’ – a song that features as its opening line; ‘Now, I’ve got a cousin called Kevin.’
Told you it was almost too good to be true.
I remember the initial conversation well:
Me: “What’s that book?”
Kevin: “Ah, ah, ah, ah, stayin’ aliiiiiiiiive.”
Me: “Kevin. Give the Bee Gees a rest. What’s that book?”
Kevin: (stroking the book as though it were Blofeld’s cat) “This is the Doctor.”
Me: “Doctor who?”
Me: “Doctor Exactly?”
Kevin: “No, dipstick. Doctor Who.”
Me: “That’s what I said. Doctor who?”
Coming to the series through the novelisations first gave the writer a keen sense of what made Doctor Who stand apart from other sci-fi shows:
The first was the Doctor’s regeneration. I don’t know if this was invented through necessity or if it was a brainwave of the show’s writers, but I bet every other TV producer in London who had lost their star kicked a random assistant in the back seat for not thinking of this genius way of flipping a series’s potential extinction event into something for which the show’s fans actually clamoured.
The second, and the most important element in the modern version of show, was the companion and looking back at his childhood memories, there’s one companion that became inseparable from both:
So when I was asked to write one of the 11 e-shorts for the Doctor’s 50th anniversary it was like being whisked away by my own Tardis back to the 1970s when Kevin, my brother Paul and I were three science-fictioneers immersing ourselves in the lore of Doctor Who in the sunny south-east of Ireland. I chose the First Doctor because I always imagined him to be a crank who was jaded by the Universe’s cruelty rather than amazed by its wonders.
There was no naivety about him whatsoever. He had seen far more in his life than he ever wanted to, and his fight against evil‑doers was dogged and not punctuated by repartee. The First Doctor’s companion was his granddaughter Susan and her love for her granddad was perhaps the purest thing in his world, and something he was prepared to protect fiercely.
There’s nothing more fiercely protected than the Doctor himself; so how does he think the lessons of the past will help him with the reception of his own Doctor Who novel:
I know that there are legions of Whovians who will pore over every sentence, alert for any quantum balls-up on my part. I know that’s what I’ll be doing with the other stories. In my defence, I would argue that my Doctor is the Doctor of novels and sunset-tinted nostalgia spectacles, so be gentle. As for the other writers, they have no defence so be as rough on them as you like.
The e-short A Big Hand for the Doctor by Eoin Colfer is published on 23 January at £1.99 on Kindleand in the iBookstore.
(via The Guardian)