I Love... 1984
by Simon Hart
1983 had ended excitingly with the Radio Times special, The Five Doctors and the announcement that we had a new Doctor on the way. Its funny. I don't remember ever being terribly excited by Peter Davison's Doctor. At the time, he was just the Doctor, nothing more, nothing less. Tom was always the one I did in drawings at school and the one who was highest in my affections. I never disliked Davsion, and I always loved the show as much as ever, but he was never the one, if you know what I mean. These days I can see his worth and he's one of my favourites. There's great comfort in watching his era now for me, with his lovely hat and those star-field titles... it reminds me of happy times in my childhood.
The first glimpse we had of Colin Baker's Doctor came one day at the end of John Craven's Newsround. A rather camp looking photo of the new Doctor appeared before him and John informed us that Colin said we could expect "a few surprises" with his Doctor. How right that was! His costume was quickly dismissed by my friends at school as being like a clown's, but I was sure it was going to be OK. I was always an optimist!
There was a an exciting trailer for most of the season that was shown during the children's programmes in the Christmas holidays before the new season began. It showed loads of amazing things from the first few stories of the season. Sea Devils! Silurians! The Malus! The Tractators! And best of all the Daleks crashing through an exploding door! Wow! This was looking like being a great set of stories and indeed, for the most part it was too. We had monsters and gripping stories and even Warriors of the Deep doesn't seem so bad when you're 8!
Mum and Dad had allowed me to keep the Five Doctors on video after its broadcast and this year they said I could have a three hour tape to keep two stories from the series. The choice was easy. Resurrection because it had Daleks in it and Caves because it was a regeneration story and was therefore bound to be great. While now I might prefer Frontios to either of those stories, at the time I was right. Resurrection was epic and had extra long episodes which made it seem extra special and Caves was good. I think its a story you grow into. For ages I dismissed it as dull and didn't watch nearly as often as Resurrection, but I was wrong about that. I still have that video which Mum labelled for me, with its chopped together episodes (I missed a large chunk of the start of part 2 of Androzani, which I only learnt of later!) and the start of The Awakening at the beginning. Somehow it'd be wrong to part with it.
My first real glimpse of Colin was being interviewed by Janet Ellis on Blue Peter. They showed all the regenerations at the start of the interview "and it all began with Doctor number 1: William Hartnell". I videoed that too, and it was amazing to see all the changeovers, especially the well remembered Logopolis one. Shamefully Peter Davison was totally overlooked in the montage, but there were some clips from The Twin Dilemma. Colin himself was rather subdued in the interview, certainly compared to later interviews, but I always liked the way he sent Jack the cat through time, even if they got the TARDIS background hum wrong!
So the season finished with me a little unsure about this new Doctor, but his smile at the end won me over. I can remember watching his titles for the first time and crying out "Look Mum! The new Doctor smiled!" which seemed really amazing at the time! Even then I was a title sequence lover!
There was the usual batch of Target books bought and read this year and DWM was as important as ever, especially when the sixth Doctor started his strip adventures. I loved the comic strip a great deal, but Colin's stories immediately seemed better drawn and more imaginative than the Davison ones had. I mean there'd never been a cliffhanger quite as great as the one where the Shape Shifter eyes are revealed in the Time Rotor! Wonderful stuff!
That summer we stayed at Grandma and Granddad's house in Weston-Super-Mare, and as a special treat we went to Longleat. I'd been in 1980 and could sort of remember it, but this year it was really special. I can't remember now what the exhibits were, but there was definitely a trundling K9 telling us where each version of him was and Cybermen, Daleks and the console in the middle of the exhibition. There was the usual photo taken outside the police box doors and I bought a mug with the neon logo on it from the shop. Its still sitting on my bookshelf today, and its still never been drunk out of, but it remains a reminder of more innocent days.