Rachel Agnew, TV Presenter, Loose Woman, Cashier No 3 please, After Dinner Speaker and Columnist

Note to Self (9)

When the new Doctor Who was announced, I, like many people in the country, was overcome with shock. ‘He’s so young’, I shouted, ‘How can I possibly take the Doctor seriously when he looks so much younger than me?’ (I often think that in real life too) But I’m a nice girl and like to give people a chance, and felt it was only fair to give him the opportunity to prove himself. So I’ve been watching every Saturday and have come to a decision. I love Matt Smith. (Clearly the producers and Matt himself are now heaving a huge sigh of relief at hearing that.) Matt has yet again re-invented the Doctor and brought his own style and eccentricity to the role. I think he will absolutely stand the test of time and will be placed up there alongside the greatest Doctors we’ve known.

Of course everyone has their own idea of who has been the supreme Doctor – it’s an absolutely subjective thing.  And stating one’s favourite Doctor is one of the easiest ways to age someone and to reveal a little about them too. For me it’s Tom Baker: funny, quirky and weirdly attractive in that scarf. But the main reason I prefer Tom (as I like to call him) is that he was the Doctor that I really enjoyed once I was grown up enough to properly watch the programme, (rather than spend most of it cowering in fear behind the sofa). I spent years behind there, terrified of course of the Daleks, and of the many other alien beings so realistic to a small child. The giant man eating slugs have been causing me sleepless nights for years, If I could only watch the original now, I’m confident the underwhelming technology of the time would provide more laughs than terror and the nightmares would surely end.

There are many other TV programmes that can say a lot about what we were like in our childhood, and more worryingly, date-stamp us. I remember huge playground wars between those who watched Swap Shop (deemed a bit nerdy and straight) versus those who preferred Tiswas (anarchic and wild). I liked both actually, so maybe I was an anarchic nerd? Then of course there was Blue Peter versus Magpie (definitely Blue Peter for me – the only thing I can remember about Magpie is the theme tune). Choosing your favourite Blue Peter presenter is of course another clear way to age someone. Do you know there have been 34 presenters so far? And while some get remembered for not necessarily the right reasons (I’m sorry BBC, but Peter Duncan?), for me it was the Singleton/Noakes/Purves triumvirate that reigned supreme.

And don’t get me started on Bond – ok do.  For me, it always has been and always will be Sean Connery, but for my sister, (older but not necessarily wiser) Daniel Craig has firmly replaced Sean in her fickle heart.

I can’t help but wonder whether children nowadays will have such vivid memories of the telly they’ve grown up with? We only had a couple of channels to choose from, so each show we followed was special, an appointment-to-view programme that every child would talk about the next day. Nowadays there’s so much choice in home entertainment, not only the hundreds of TV channels available, but all the other options available to kids: Play Station, Nintendo, Wii et al.

So will programmes like Doctor Who and the actors in them still have the same resonance for our children? In years to come will my 8 year old remember when David Tennant regenerated into Matt Smith, in the same way I vividly remember (and not too happily) when Tom Baker turned into Peter Davidson?  I think so, and I hope so. She watches it avidly, and unlike her mother, isn’t scared of the Daleks or any of the slimy (or not so slimy) aliens, no matter the advent of CGI. I hope it’s here for keeps. Doctor Who has defined many generations, let’s hope it carries on regenerating not only it’s Time Lord but also itself.

NOTE TO SELF: Embrace change and you just might be pleasantly surprised.

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Rachel Agnew

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