The tenth anniversary of the show’s return brings with it the commemoration of another landmark moment in the show’s return here at May Towers, namely my disgust at the announcement that Doctor Who was coming back and the actor they had chosen to play the lead role.
It was a Saturday morning, after one of those Friday evenings where the usual suspects had retired to the local after work for ‘just the one before getting the train home’. This usually ended up more a case of ‘getting the train home just before one’ (I couldn’t do it now…). But I digress. I have woken, blearily, to my good lady entering the room to tell me that Doctor Who is coming back and guess who’s playing him…?
Here’s where the adverse reaction kicked in. Owing to the early hour, the recent conspicuous consumption and, interestingly, memories of watching ITV’s The Bill when I should have been doing my homework, I thought that the BBC had, in their madness, cast the show’s legendary DI Frank ‘Bang ‘em up’ Burnside as ‘Dr Who’- or ‘Dr Oo’, as he would have become. And I thought Doctor Who: The Movie had been bad.
Obviously my reaction was not what my other half had been expecting, after (then) two-and-a-bit years of living with a Who fan:
“Not good news then?”
I remember genuinely struggling with my feelings on the subject. It’s something I’d dearly wanted for a long time (a bit like in 1996), but the offer on the table seemed to have come up short again. And bald.
“It’s OK, they could have got a better actor, that’s all…”
But then came the Eureka moment:
“It’s my little policeman!”
For the sake of clarity and propriety, I should point out that a) both parties were fully covered up and b) this was Mel’s nickname for an actor whose name she could never remember, an actor she’d fancied since he’d been in Cracker. Suddenly all was clear.
So: not Christopher Ellison. Christopher Eccleston. Phew. It’s worth pointing out a few years later we went to see a murder mystery at our local theatre in which Christopher Ellison was supposed to be appearing. He pulled out early in the run and was replaced by a bloke who’d been in Emmerdale and apparently thought the best way to deliver his lines was. In the style of. William. Shatner. Whilst standing with his legs unnaturally far apart. In either case, the BBC made the right choice with Eccleston.
Burnside might have made an interesting War Doctor, though…