I’ve been eager to get my hands on new Doctor Who documentary Who’s Changing: An Adventure in Time with Fans since I first stumbled upon the Kickstarter for it. And now that I have seen it I can say safely that it is one of the finest documentaries I have seen on the subject of the culture of fans within Doctor Who, and I have to say it was worth the wait.
Directed by Cameron K. McEwan, better known to many as Blogtor Who, one of the web’s foremost authorities on all things Who and author of the book The Who’s Who of Doctor Who this is fun and engaging at all times and I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the show.
Taking us from the earliest days of the first convention in a church hall in London back in 1977 right through to the epic 50th anniversary celebrations last year it is packed with footage from various con’s and a wealth of interviews with stars and fans alike.
My first thought when watching it was that there is no way Neve McIntosh (Madame Vastra) is old enough to remember watching Planet of the Spiders and that really sets the tone for this documentary, its like the best conversations you have had with all your Whovian friends but without them actually being there. More than once I found myself declaring my agreement out loud to statements from various interviewees and proclaiming others to be jammy so-and-so’s (or words to that effect) for being at various events and wooping with glee at the inclusion of clips from Chameleons Circuit’s video for ‘An Awful lot of Running’ and proclaiming to the telly that ‘my mate made that video!’. On top of that the various chapter titles are ingenious and guaranteed to raise a giggle at the very least, personal favourites include ‘Planet of the Conventions’ and ‘The Romance of Doom’.
But it’s not just a casual chat with folks, it’s really quite informative too. It covers the rise of the fan from the beginnings of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society and those early cons to the mega U.S cons that attracted all the big names while simultaneously making things tougher for the U.K con hosts (leaving them to compete with the lager wallets of the American organisers and the steady increase in the level of activity fans would go to including cosplay and cross dressing “crossplay”). It also tackles the sometimes thorny issue of ‘hardcore fans’ those who feel that newer fans aren’t ‘doing it properly’ and the responses of those who aim to dispel the idea. Mention is also given to the gradual shift in fan gender, from the mostly male audience at the earlier cons to the now almost 50/50 split and the reasons for this, including the appeal of “sexier” Doctors such as Tennant and Matt Smith.
The interviews with the stars of the show such as Louise Jameson (Leela), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Simon Fisher-Becker (Dorium Maldovar), Neve McIntosh (Madame Vastra), Catrin Stewart (Jenny Flint), Caitlin Blackwood (Amelia Pond), Dan Starkey (Commander Strax) as well as faces from behind the scenes such as script editors Gary Russell and Eric Saward and scriptwriters Andrew Smith (Doctor Who, Full Circle), Jane Espenson (Torchwood: Miracle Day, Buffy, Battlestar Galactica) and James Moran (Doctor Who, The Fires of Pompeii) are all informative, clever and really show that there is no gap between those involved in the show and the fans, these people are just as besotted as we are and that love really comes across.
Many of the interviews are also available in their full form as extras on the disc, with a run time almost equal to that of the main feature so you get really good value for money with this release.
Overall this release really is a lot of fun and is deserving of a place on any and every Whovian’s shelves. Its well made and never slips into being anorak-y in its devotion or in its portrayal of the fans. Here’s hoping that this will not be the last such production from the good Blogtor and co.
Head to www.whoschanging.co.uk to order the DVD or stream online.