I came to Doctor Who fairly late in life. I saw some Tom Baker episodes as a kid, but it wasn’t until the reboot in 2005, when I was 32, that I really fell in love with the show.
In 2013, I got a job answering phones in a car dealership. I sat at a counter and had very little to do. My bosses said as long as I answered the phones, greeted the customers, and topped up the coffee pot, I could do whatever else I wanted the rest of the time.
This seemed like a perfect opportunity to watch all of classic Who, and that’s just what I did. I watched every episode, even the shows that are nothing but still photographs with a soundtrack.
Before I finished, the 50th anniversary of the show rolled around, and thus my first exposure to Paul McGann, whose turn as the 8th Doctor in the TV movie I hadn’t reached yet. McGann starred in a short episode call Night Of The Doctor, and he was brilliant. Emotions right on the surface, McGann’s Doctor commanded every second of the episode in a way that left me desperate for more. Eventually I got to the TV movie, and while McGann was certainly good in that, the film as a whole wasn’t as strong as he was.
Big Finish started making fully dramatized Doctor Who audio adventures during the years that the show was off the air. They’re fabulous at it. Smart scripts, great acting (including by many members of the cast of the TV show), and wonderful effects and music.
Big Finish have finally given McGann a canvas worthy of his skills. The Eighth Doctor Adventures, and the shows in Big Finish’s Main Range that preceded them, are completely engaging. McGann’s Doctor is in many ways the epitome of “New Who” — a moral, determined adventurer with a glint of the puckish spirit of many of his classic predecessors.
Whether you’re a fan of the current TV show, a devotee of classic Who, or just a fan of audio drama, you can’t do better than falling in love with the Eighth Doctor. And if you’re a completist, like I am, here’s a post that gives you the complete listening order. Enjoy!
An essay written by Hicks shortly before he died. Published after his death by his parents.
I was born William Melvin Hicks on December 16, 1961 in Valdosta, Georgia. Ugh. Melvin Hicks from Georgia. Yee Har! I already had gotten off to life on the wrong foot. I was always “awake,” I guess you’d say. Some part of me clamoring for new insights and new ways to make the world a better place. All of this came out years down the line, in my multitude of creative interests that are the tools I now bring to the Party. Writing, acting, music, comedy. A deep love of literature and books. Thank God for all the artists who’ve helped me. I’d read these words and off I went – dreaming my own imaginative dreams. Exercising them at will, eventually to form bands, comedy, more bands, movies, anything creative. This is the coin of the realm I use in my words – Vision. On June 16, 1993 I was diagnosed with having “liver cancer that had spread from the pancreas.” One of life’s weirdest and worst jokes imaginable. I’d been making such progress recently in my attitude, my career and realizing my dreams that it just stood me on my head for a while. “Why me!?” I would cry out, and “Why now!?” Well, I know now there may never be any answers to those particular questions, but maybe in telling a little about myself, we can find some other answers to other questions. That might help our way down our own particular paths, towards realizing my dream of New Hope and New Happiness. Amen. I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit.
the surprise was
that the door opened
when I pulled the handle
so few do these days
as a kid pretending to be
a hero in a game
I remember we could run
into a church
when the monsters got too close
I need it now more than
my fictional self did then
I need a door to be open
the soft light through
the quiet only holy places bring