Edinburgh Fringe 2012
A few years ago, Toby Hadoke wrote a love letter to the show that shaped his childhood – Doctor Who. Only, at that time, the sci-fi series wasn’t fondly regarded by a great many people. These days, though? We’re all Doctor Who fans now. Doctor Who fans are cool ..
Hadoke is at pains to point out (as he did before with the previous show, Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf .. ) that this isn’t really a Doctor Who show, more a discussion on how Doctor Who serves as a springboard for him to face, and cope with, various aspects of his life, from an ongoing illness to a burgeoning relationship with a new stepson. He also reminds us of an aspect he brought up in the first show (which is why I feel comfortable repeating it here – you know: spoilers) – that his obsession with this not always respected television programme, this TV show that was never going to get him a job, did in fact (albeit indirectly) provide him with a exciting, amazing life and beautiful family that his 10 year old self would have been over the moon with. Although anyone who knows their Troughton from their Smith knows that Hadoke can never appear on stage with his ten year old self, otherwise the universe would implode.
It’s not necessary to be a Doctor Who obsessive to enjoy the main narrative of the show, although presumably it helps to view things through a space time visualiser. As much as anything, it’s a story about Hadoke’s relationship with his own father, and how that affects his present relationship with his own family. He often finds parallels in the narrative of the series and his own life, and indeed, world at large.
In addition, it’s also about the amount of pedantry programmes like Doctor Who can eliet, which he manages to do very well, while still holding the hands of those people who are not exactly fans: as he points out to the audience, there’s a very distinct difference between those who simply watch every episode again and again, and somebody like himself. He acknowledges that the show isn’t perfect – he moans about a early 80s episode that seems to conform to most non-fans expectations of the show, and makes a sweeping swipe at the musical score of the modern series.
What’s interesting is that Hadoke is about the perfect age to have Tom Baker sitting in his memory as his ‘first’ Doctor, but he actually only started watching the show at around the age of ten, with an anniversary adventure called ‘The Five Doctors’. (and if you think that was a story that starred all five actors, then – actually, due to a series of death and, uh, a Madame Tussards waxwork dummy, you’d be wrong). He therefore began watching the show when it arguably was beginning to lose a great deal of its sheen, so it’s remarkable that he was able to feel (and is able to communicate) such affection for it. It’s also – despite his best efforts to avoid being so – surprisingly moving, particularly in a passage when he speaks about listening to the iconic theme tune.
This isn’t exactly a show for geeks or kids, although both are in evidence in the audience, but it is a show for anyone who’s found solace and comfort in something to get geeky about. Splendid show, all of it.