For a long time, the now world-famous TV sci-fi serial Dr Who was a dead duck. It had been broadcast on British television since the 1960s. But by the late 1980s, it seemed to have lost its attraction. It seemed old fashioned. Audience figures were declining and so the BBC decided to retire it. Many people thought that this was the last time we would see the eccentric Time Lord and his time machine, the TARDIS.
But in 2004, the BBC decided to give it another go. It had worked once, so why shouldn’t it work again? Luckily for them, it did work the second time. The success of the new Dr Who is in large part due to the talent of a screenwriter called Steven Moffat.
Moffat was a smart writer of comic TV, but had history writing for children too. Thanks to the talents of the actors who took on the roles in the new series, as well as first-rate scripts from Moffat and others, children started to watch Dr Who again.
And not just children. Adults were now watching it too, in huge numbers. Soon, the popularity of the doctor had spread beyond the UK to the whole planet. The fact that young people now can’t wait to see the new Dr Who series in China proves the point.
On April 15, a new series of the show will begin. These will be the last programs to star Peter Capaldi as the doctor. In the final show he will be “regenerated” into the appearance of a new actor. This time, the new doctor may not be a man. We might be about to see the first ever female Doctor Who.
For those who don’t know Dr Who, the basic idea of the series is quite simple. The doctor himself is of an alien race of aristocratic “time lords” who travel back and forth in time and space between the corners of the universe to stop evil. Along the way, the very old doctor has made some scary enemies.
In fact, the doctor’s enemies are as famous as the doctor himself. The most famous are the “Daleks”. These bad guys look like garbage bins on wheels, except that they’re capable of terrifying people of all ages. They speak in a monotone electronic voice which is quite scary. This season, the second most popular Dr Who “baddies” are set to reappear: the Cybermen.
Many remember being terrified of Dr Who as a child growing up in the 1970s. A generation of British people hid behind the sofa when the theme music began. Now, those adults are less scared but still enjoy the terror that Dr Who inspires in their own kids.