Frivolous Monsters

Golden Who Celebrations in Four Trips

Thirty years ago I remember anticipating the Doctor Who twentieth anniversary special. I’m just old enough. It was an event. For the fiftieth anniversary they promised it would “take over TV” and I guess it did, but I was keen to celebrate the anniversary to make it just as memorable with four Who-related trips out.50th anniv

It’s was announced that for the week leading up to the fiftieth anniversary that the TARDIS would be doing a tour of Wales, “materialising” overnight at 8 different towns and cities, starting with Holyhead – the @rsehole of Britain, as everything passes through it – and then going on to Llandudno the day after. Tardis Tour of Wales Sadly this missed out my beloved Bangor. I surely would have made the effort and gone back for that, just to take a picture, as its presence on Bangor high street would surely have looked much more picturesque; especially in the early morning quiet as the street-cleaning machine brushes up against it to hoover up the detritus from the revelling students who stumbled home from the Octagon the night before, taking in the KFC on the way. Ah memories.


  • 15 November

First trip out, in a Who-related way, and I got a ticket to go see David Tennant doing his Shakespeare, live, in a wig. I say live, but he was a hundred miles away and beamed into the cinema. David Tennant Richard II It was very good though, the tragedie of King Richard the second, but if you don’t want to know the result, then look away now: Richard II – Henry IV. Look at that a football-themed Shakespeare joke. You’ll have to trust me, though, it is funny.


  • 17 November

Who-related trip number 2, to Manchester, to see the BAFTA Award-winning Waris Hussein – who directed the very first episode of Doctor Who in 1963 – as part of a two-week Manchester festival Who At Fifty.

I queued up outside the FAB Café, with my youth and my flaxen blonde hair, and I eyed up the others: mostly old, mostly greying, mostly balding, and mostly bulging. It was like a horrific vision of what I could become. WarisOnce inside the demographic got a little wider and I grabbed a front row seat two meters away from the action. He’s a very warm guy, Waris, certainly not showing his age, and his most enlightening note was in describing his opening gambit, when he met Doctor Who’s producer Verity Lambert in 1963, as: “What the hell are we supposed to do with this shit?


  • 19 November

They’ve started erecting Christmas sheds in the square outside my Costa Coffee which gives it a festive lively feel. The first one up has turned out to be a sausage bandstand: for all your sausage needs. Unfortunately I have no requirements for sausage.

Who-related trip out number 3, to Manchester again, and I missed out on their Christmas markets and instead, whilst killing time hanging out on the streets of student Manchester, I went to the Spar shop and found them selling the largest bottle of Smirnoff vodka I’ve ever seen. Seventy-seven pounds. I asked the tattooed girl if they sold many. She admitted that they didn’t.

I was there to see the classic film This Sporting Life (1963) projected in a trendy city-centre pub, as part of the festivities, off a fifty year-old 16 mm film print. This was the acting role that got William Hartnell the job of a lifetime, but surely watching black and white cinema in a trendy pub must go some way to making me a hipster. I must buy a new hat. TSLRunning for the last bus home afterwards I discovered, to my horror, that there aren’t any dark alleyways in Manchester City Centre anymore and I ended up having to relieve myself in a likely spot, fully-illuminated, looking up and down, member in hand, wondering from which end I was about to flash someone should they pass by. I imagine being witnessed shaking “it” could have be construed as a provocative act too. I think this must damage my new hipster credentials somewhat. I’ll burn my new hat.


  • 23 November

The Day of the Doctor is finally upon us. And despite it being on TV, for free, it was also being beamed live to cinemas. Although what fool pays to go and see TV at the cinema I do not know?

Who-related trip out number 4. Despite being a curmudgeonly loner, I thought I’d chance my arm for the experience and go and watch it live at the cinema. I imagined it might be me on my own, as what fool… yeah, you get the point. Doctor Who cinema ticketHowever, when I bought my ticket (6 hours after they went on sale) it turned out Vue had already sold tickets for two-thirds of the room. Since then they’ve SOLD OUT both their satellite-linked screens and put on THREE encore screenings. It looks like there was a party going on and I was invited.

As I queued to get in I again weighed up the demographic: there was the young, there was the very old, and then there was me hitting the average and seemingly towering a foot and half over all of them.

I spent the next ten minutes smiling at hipster girls wearing fezzes, and bow ties. I felt that, today of all days, in that time and place, I was entitled. Although more accurately it was smartly-dressed hipster girls in fezzes, and bow ties, and short skirts, and I think that might be where the problem comes in.

I couldn’t help but grin like a loon at one, as I passed her on the way into the screen, however I don’t think she felt the love as I heard myself referred to as: “…something-something, even a guy in a trench coat, something-something…” I kept on walking and didn’t look back.

Ironically it was the hipster girls, about four rows directly behind me, that I was paying for. They gasped in (almost) all the right places, and they screamed in (almost) all the right places, and that crowd experience was what I was hoping for.

I was touched at the youth of today. The finally tally was one girl in retro seventies 3D glasses, one guy with a fez, four girls dressed in bow ties, and the two moody hipster girls dressed smartly in fezzes, bow ties, and short skirts. It’s a winning look.

So that’s the celebrations over for another fifty years and the Guinness Book of World Records have been quick to recognise the party on the 23rd as the World’s largest-ever simulcast of a TV drama.

1916 saw the greatest stunt of Charlie Chaplin’s life when he “performed” over eight-hundred appearances across America, simultaneously, as recorded by the Boston Society for Psychical Research.

They described it as: “An extraordinary psychopathological phenomenon that obsessed the country from Atlantic to Pacific, and from the Canadian boundary to the Gulf, on November 12th.

But knocking that into a coked hat the next print un of the Guinness Book of World Records will record that Doctor Who simultaneously appeared in 94 countries, in fifteen different languages, and screened in 1,500 cinemas throughout the globe. It was certainly some celebrations.

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15 thoughts on “Golden Who Celebrations in Four Trips

  1. Honourable mentions must also go to Metan who decided to put on her own themed viewing party for her kids in the wee Australian hours ( and Richard Guest who normally photographs the ordinary fashionable of London town and just occasionally he happens across a celebrity… and then last week he bumped into Harry Potter’s David Bradley, who recently portrayed William Hartnell in ‘An Adventure in Space and Time’ ( and he certainly looks like a hipster in real life!

  2. Alas didn’t get to see it at the cinema… I was too busy in another cinema watching National Theatre Live’s “Frankenstein”. :) But I did watch it on TV that night.

    • I have seen that. I chose to see it with Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Frankenstein as I was more interested in him as an actor and thought that this would be the more vocal part. I loved the production, but I’m not too thrilled about the Frankenstein story and how it gets a bit odd towards the end with the story bestriding the world, which you imagine wasn’t easy when it was set.

      And I watched the special again on TV that night too!

  3. Pleased to hear the viewers in the cinema weren’t the same bulgy lot you had encountered earlier! Never before have fezzes been so in demand. :)

    On the way to school this morning the boys were discussing the next season of Doctor Who, and how long it will take to make it to our screens, and decided that we all should be wearing fezzes in honour of the occasion. I think I’d better start looking for some now…..

    It’s a pity they gave out the itinerary of the TARDIS’s appearances, surely it would have been far more exciting if it just appeared in towns without notice.

    • Yes, it definitely wasn’t the same crowd. For some reason the kids just don’t want to turn up to a remembrance of sixties Who held in a bar. I did feel that there must be a lot of shrinking to come seeing as, in the cinema queue, I towered over the kids and the grannies in equal measure.

      I hope you get the Christmas Who. Surely you will. Then they’re shooting in January so I should expect it in the Autumn. I may have mentioned this before, probably on a long-deleted post, but I have a genuine Egyptian Fez from when my Mum went off to Egypt. It was all I asked for. This was in the Pre-Matt Smith days, before they were cool, and it seems the tourists are targeted with a one-size fits all mantra. Not my big head. I was quite disappointed how it seems cheap material too. The “kids” in the cinema had better ones than me!

      I followed the TARDIS tour via their hashtag on twitter. They never announced where it was going to be in that town/city so they dropped hints on the day. People did travel to find it, I saw, and so some sort of notice was good to get the maximum visitors. It seemed to make a lot of people happy.

  4. How I wish I had watched it in the cinema. Still, I saw it at home with my kids-love how the children love what I loved as a child. Even if it is a different show now, it is still the same, if you see what I mean.
    I love how the new show still celebrates, acknowledges, and references its history. I know, I am a long term nerd. But as a long term nerd, Tom Baker appearing at the end was the icing on the cake. ‘My Doctor’, as they say, I salute you!!

    • I hate to think what it would have cost to take a family to the cinema. Would not have been cheap. It was great though to see the older kids so enthused. I come from a childhood where I unashamedly carried the torch.

      I will say I have been of a belief for a while that effects on TV these days are aimed at modern TVs, an not my old small one, and there was a lot more detail I could see on the screen than I can see on watching it from where I’ve taped it.

      I was a little sad that Christopher Eccleston didn’t put in even a little appearance, but yet it was good to have Tom Baker. That is one of the odd things, as he’s instantly recognisable from his voice, but the “hipsters” behind me didn’t pick up on him until they saw his face. Just an odd little detail.

  5. We went to a cinema showing in Canberra. Many hipster and hippies whovians. It was fun. And while I think it succeeded as a 50th anniversary event, I was disappointed that they had three doctors in the one place at the one time. Very much against the rules, and no real explanation as to how it didn’t cause the universe to implode. But I guess I am being picky … Again

    • I imagine I saw it at a much more reasonable hour than you, unless you had a later screening. I love how lots of people around the World made the effort to watch it at the same time. It does avoid possible spoilers that way in these internet days. Although I can’t think of any other TV programme that could do this and get the same response. I’m not even sure I can think of any other that would even try this.

      The tenth anniversary had (mostly) three Doctors, and the twenties anniversary had (mostly) five Doctors, so it is kind-of traditional. Tom Baker declined to appear in the twentieth anniversary, so it’s only taken him thirty years to come around to the idea. We have to get working on Christopher Eccleston now.

  6. What did you make of it though? Was it worth the wait?

    • I did like it a lot, although it was a very different type of story, and I thought the 3D was done very well. I’ve never seen a 3D film before, but contrasting it with some 3D trailer for an upcoming dinosaur cartoon it was a masterpiece. That was very clumsily made with dinosaurs running into the screen.

      I did think DW had a lot of confusing bits, so not sure I understand it all, or more accurately I think on closer inspection it won’t all add up, but then it was a fun ride and so I’m not going to pick at it. Although I have found out since about the new Doctor numbering, which I think is very confusing, and seeing I (yes, me) needed someone to sit me down and give me a lecture to get it then god help the “normal” people in having any hope to get the gist. Hopefully it’ll be explained away at Christmas.

  7. About Christopher Eccleston – do you have any insider gossip why he didn’t do the 50th?? I’d have liked to see him working with David Tennant. Clash of the Titans, maybe!

    • Honestly I don’t know, and it’s a pity as his performance was my favourite. I would have loved to have seen him in the fiftieth although I think he must really have been dead against it as he wouldn’t even turn up to do his regeneration scene, which made me a little sad.

      He talked about things that happened on the set (during his tenure in 2005) that he would have had to have turned a blind eye to, which he thought was wrong. Not sure what that is. I have wondered if perhaps he just didn’t get on with Billie Piper.

      Before we judge him though we must remember that Tom baker refused to come back for the twentieth anniversary special. He’d just left and was struggling to get other work as he was too associated with the role. And also Paul McGann wanted nothing more to do with us fans, or the role, after the TV Movie which never took off. He’s come around too. At the time I (foolishly) bought a (massive) signed DW poster by McGann for thirty pounds thinking that it must be rare. I think it’s fair to say it was a bad investment.

      • denise on said:

        I don’t even remember Paul Mcann being Dr Who. ! So I think your poster would be rare. I remember Christopher Eccleston quitting after a very short time because he said he didn’t want to get “type cast” and thinking chance would be a fine thing!

        Live Denise

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