DWM 462 Girl, Interrupted
Most fans of a certain age will be able to reel you off a list of Doctor Who episodes that they missed. Most parents of fans of a certain age will be able to give you a list of reasons of why missing an episode of Doctor Who did not count as a childhood trauma, whatever their offspring might say. But, you know, at the time it did feel a bit traumatic. A whole chunk of Doctor Who gone, leaving you to wonder forever the delights it may have contained. When I’m grown up, I may have thought to myself as I sulked on a Saturday evening spent in a caravan with no telly, I will never miss an episode of Doctor Who ever. Also, I may have gone on to think, contemplating my taped-off-the-telly audios that featured the phone ringing, my little sister singing and my dad stirring his coffee especially loudly in protest at being asked to keep quiet, I will never, ever interrupt a viewing of Doctor Who.
Now I am grown up (at least in terms of years lived) so all this should be plain sailing. Except it isn’t.
Does this really matter so much nowadays? I hear you say. There are many, many ways to watch Doctor Who if you miss the initial broadcast, not to mention that modern episodes are fairly standalone, so your future watching isn’t impaired by missing a single one. (Actually, I probably don’t hear you say that, as you too are a Doctor Who fan. You understand.) Well, no, I guess. But at the same time… yes. In the hustle and bustle of modern life – school and jobs and homework and being permanently connected to the outside world through landlines and mobiles and email and the web and so on and so on, putting aside just one tiny part of that week to experience something together as a family is rather nice.
After all, it’s only one episode a week – and that’s not even every week, by a long chalk. In fact in 2013, there will be (including the anniversary special) about 450 minutes of Doctor Who out of 525,600 minutes total. So the Doctor Who viewer has to set aside only 0.000856 of a year for uninterrupted viewing. Easy!
The Bells of Saint John.
The boys are with husband at his mum’s, and I’m told the following conversation took place:
Her: Your father says he’s going to ring you between 6 and 7 tonight.
Him: No he’s bloomin’ well not, it’s Doctor Who. I’ll text him and tell him not to.
Her: What if he rings anyway?
Him: Don’t answer the phone!
Her: Do you ever not answer the phone to me?
Him: (pause) No, never.
Husband’s dad rings during The Bells of Saint John. The phone, unlike the one in the TARDIS, goes unanswered.
The Rings of Akhaten. Husband’s dad, having learned from bitter experience, phones before Doctor Who, but the call only finishes 30 seconds before the episode starts. There is some panic.
Cold War. I’m at home with poorly Fan Twin, while husband takes Non-Fan Twin to a birthday party some miles away. Extremely involved contigency plans are readied in case the traffic’s bad and they don’t arrive home in time. Fortunately they don’t have to be implemented.
Hide. No interruptions! But we can hardly see the screen for the sun, which is especially unfortunate as this is the dark, creepy episode. Wish this week’s Doctor Who Adventures free gift had been a pair of blackout curtains. Or a Gravitron.
Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS. Having recently watched the film Journey to the Centre of the Earth, the boys spend some time comparing the two. We are torn between encouraging critical viewing and going SHHHHHHH! We’re trying to watch!
The Crimson Horror. Husband’s dad has come to stay. Both boys spend a lot of the episode explaining to him what’s going on, even though he’s actually reading a book rather than watching it. Much merriment is caused when Non-Fan Twin wonders why Strax is planning an attack using custard buns (actually ‘cluster bombs’), although you probably had to be there. And you probably also need to know that custard buns (as made by Granny) are their favourite cakes. Anyway, we miss a chunk of the episode from laughing and thinking up more baked-goods-related weaponry.
Not a single 100 per cent straightforward viewing experience, although most would be up in the high nineties – we’re not pretending any of these things were actually problems. (And with an adult’s perspective, I do realise that the watching of a TV programme is way down life’s list of priorities, however special it is to you.) But the thing about that short uninterrupted time spent together as a family – well, it can be a big deal. That conversation prior to The Bells of Saint John was hearsay because I wasn’t there, I was home alone, ill in bed, about 125 miles away from the rest of my family and feeling decidedly sorry for myself. But at 6.15 precisely I switched on BBC One, and knew that they’d be doing the same. For 45 minutes we all watched the same thing. Just as the Doctor and Clara were connected across many years, so we were connected across many miles. For 45 minutes, that made me feel a lot better.