Frank Confession of a Doctor Who Fan

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.

Yes, really.

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…”

The Bill @ 21

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…

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  1. FrancoPabloDiablo says:

    I don’t get it. So, you had a very brief misunderstanding about which actor was going to play the Doctor, then when you realised it was Eccleston and not Ellison everything was fine. Does that qualify as a frank confession? I probably would have had a similar reaction had I briefly made the same mistake – especially first thing after a night out (we all know THAT feeling haha). I certainly wouldn’t feel shame or guilt enough to to make a ‘frank confession’.

    • Dr Moo says:

      I agree. I think the article is just meant to be an amusing anecdote.

      Like how I remember going into the 2005 series in for the first time in 2010 and being surprised to see Christopher Eccleston having believed the modern Doctors began with David Tennant (I wasn’t yet the obsessive fan I am now).

      • FrancoPabloDiablo says:

        Must be a slow news day 🙂

        Still, the headline is a bit misleading.

        Also, I didn’t realise you were such a recent convert! Must have been great for you to have all the rich history to dive into when you first became a fan. I felt like that when I became obsessed in 1992 during the classic series repeats on BBC 2.

        • Dr Moo says:

          Tuned in to see the then-new 11th Doctor as series five started. Never looked back.

        • K Doctor Who News says:

          This isn’t a news post.

          And the “Frank” bit in the headline is a pun. DI Frank Burnside 😉

        • kwijino says:

          Actually, it is a slow news period for the show. Moffat really doesn’t have the hang of keeping the press stirred up like RTD did. And that’s not a knock, just an observation. =)

          • Dr Moo says:

            Do you think that maybe it’s because it is now, more than ever before (including under Davies’ watch), so big internationally that they try to keep everything under wraps? ‘cos spoilers.

          • kwijino says:

            Possibly, but I also think Moffat’s just not the camera hog that Russell the T was.

          • Dr Moo says:

            That’s true. Russell “the T doesn’t stand for anything if you look it up” Davies has a gift for that sort of thing.

  2. TheLazyWomble says:

    Chris Ellison has a stillness that could have given us an interesting portrayal of the Doctor. The only problem (and it is a big-enough problem for me to be glad this never happened) is that we wouldn’t have had Chris Eccleston in the role. Doesn’t bear thinking about!

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