Today marks the 46th anniversary of Doctor Who’s premiere on British television, so I thought I’d chronicle for you my introduction into its fandom.
Though I’ve watched Doctor Who on and off for many years, and I was completely excited when it came back on Sci-Fi Channel, I wasn’t involved in any fandom activities at all. In fact, I didn’t know there WAS a Doctor Who fandom, really. The only people I knew who liked it were my siblings and my mom. My biggest exposure to other people liking the show was during pledge breaks on PBS during Sci-Fi Saturday Nights on WXEL back in the day.
Buying my ipod last autumn really marked my entry into a huge world that I never knew was there. While I was discovering podcasts of radio shows I liked, I stumbled across The Whocast. They were the entry drug. The discovery that not only were there other people out there who knew about and liked Doctor Who, but there were A Lot of them, was pretty astonding. After listening to the back catalog of Whocast, I found that I most enjoyed the episodes with Tony, so I then back-tracked to Staggering Stories, and then on their recommendations, over to Tin Dog Podcast and Radio Free Skaro. I was introduced to Big Finish. I was now well and truely hooked. Now The Flashing Blade, The Minute Doctor Who podcast, the Two-Minute Timelord, and Bridging the Rift make the regular rounds on my itunes each week. There are many, many more people all over the world who contribute their own unique talents and perspectives to the discussion– and how awesome is that!
The really great thing about learning about Doctor Who fandom is finding that it was composed of groups of intelligent, erudite, and entertaining people who use their mutual understanding of the show’s 46 years to frame discussions about literature, art, philosophy, morality, history, politics, and more [If you ask them, they will deny this, but it is true].
Sooner or later, of course, I wanted to be a part of the discussion. I sent in feedback and began writing my own episode reviews, and that’s when I learned another important part of this fandom– it’s collaborative. This isn’t some clique of uber-fans who set themselves high above the plebs– far from it. They actively encourage more people to come to the party and to play on their playground, and they embrace new fans and old alike. It’s this inclusive joy that makes being a fan fun.
I worked up the bravery last weekend to attend my first real fan-event– a Hurricane Who viewing party of “Waters of Mars” over in Orlando. I had a fantastic time, and much like the fans I’d met on the podcasts, the people were intelligent, fun, and welcoming. It was a wonderful experience.
So, today on Doctor Who’s anniversary, I raise a glass to the fans– Thanks for being fan-tastic!