DWM 457 Past and Present
Happy Christmas! (I’m sorry, but in the timey-wimey world of magazine publishing deadlines it’s still Christmas 2012. You could always cut out this greeting and save it for next Christmas and then you’ll feel all efficient and ready for the festivities come October.)
The first window in the Doctor Who Adventures advent calendar (other Doctor Who publications and advent calendars are available) showed Mrs Peace from The Unquiet Dead. Well, that threw us. There’d been seven Christmas Day episodes so far, add The Snowman for eight, 24 windows on the calendar, that divides nicely into three pictures per story, that had been our expectation. Could the unexpected incursion of the Gelth mean that we wouldn’t get any (eagerly anticipated) Snowmen photos, or was our whole hypothesis flawed? Could it even mean (please please please!) that my dream would be fulfilled of seeing Peter Purves behind a window for The Feast of Steven? I tell you, it took will power not to open the whole calendar there and then to check.
I don’t actually enjoy Christmas that much, although hopefully as it’ll be nearer Valentine’s Day when this is published no one will shout at me. (Actually, I can’t bear Valentine’s Day either, how grumpy am I? Although if you really want to send chocolates and flowers, I’m sure DWM will be happy to receive them.) I tried to get in the Christmas mood by singing my own version of Christmas classic ‘I Wanna Spend My Christmas with a Dalek’ (‘I wanna spend my Christmas with a Monoid, and feed him sausage rolls and warm mince pies, and if he’s really good, I’ll add some Christmas pud, and let him watch The Snowmen with his two big eyes’) – but no one I sang it to* appreciated just how clever I was being with the Dalek’s big left toe/two big eyes equivalence so I sulked and cracked open the Quality Street instead. (Mind you, I bet the Dapol Monoid would’ve had two eyes.)
But it turns out having children makes Christmas sort of almost fun. Not just the advent calendars (overall we ended up with six) but the nativity plays and the carol concerts and the excitement and actually now I think about it I should confess to a slight weakness for tinsel and It’s A Wonderful Life (trivia: James Stewart was born just four months after William Hartnell). Then, of course, there are the presents. Now, I absolutely agree with the school of thought that says Christmas isn’t about presents, but the thing is, when you’re six years old, Christmas is pretty much mainly about presents. And when you’re a fan parent, there’s a bit of a risk of overindulging in wish fulfilment. I mean, have you seen how much Doctor Who merchandise there is out there these days? Back in our day we had nought but a Full Circle Viewmaster and a pair of Tom Baker underpants. The temptation to do a Supermarket-Sweep-style run through Forbidden Planet (other shops are available) throwing remote-control Daleks and build-your-own sonic screwdrivers into your shopping trolley can be overwhelming. It is necessary to Stay Strong and Resist. Mind you, it’s not as difficult as it was a few years ago – the birth of our sons coincided with the really HUGE explosion of merchandise that followed the series returning to the air. Back in 2006 you could have witnessed a heavily pregnant woman stocking up on Dalek pyjamas just in case they stopped being produced before she had children old enough to wear them. A bit later, Cybermen lunch boxes were also stockpiled. The idea that Doctor Who products would still be ubiquitous in shops over six years later didn’t really cross our minds! But it’s fab, isn’t it? (Although I will never be truly satisfied until Character Options releases a complete set of Planetarians, complete with all variations.) We did show restraint in the end, but only because we’ve already got almost every Doctor Who toy in the world (or at least that’s what it feels like when you go in the boys’ bedroom. Or, indeed, our bedroom. Or, indeed, any other room in the house).
Christmas telly is much more exciting when you’re watching it with children, too. Settling down to watch The Snowmen as a family was pretty special. Until ten minutes before the end when Non-Fan Twin fell off the back of the sofa (don’t ask) and we were caught up in tears and bruises right up to Clara’s death (which I didn’t see coming at all), and then we were just caught up in tears (me). But it was still, on balance, a lovely experience.
And you know the advent calendar? Five from The End of Time (Parts One and Two) and I’m pretty sure that’s the Tenth Doctor from the BBC One Christmas ident! Now, who would’ve predicted that? But please may I have Peter Purves next year…
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Following the publication of this column, an anonymous reader actually sent me a homemade Peter Purves advent calendar, with a different picture of PP behind every door. Aren’t Doctor Who fans BRILLIANT?! (If the calendar creator is reading this: thank you so much! I really wanted to send big thank-yous but couldn’t cos of not knowing who you are.)