I Love... 1994

By Lissa Levesque

A lot of important things happened in 1994. For me I mean. The rest of the world more or less pleased itself. Some of the happenings which still resonate today are my discovering Eddie Izzard, me turning 18, taking my A-Levels, going off to University and summer nights spent watching Peter Davison on UK Gold. Interestingly, four of those five happened within one two day period in the very middle of the year.

My A-Levels finished the day before my birthday which was excellent timing. School could be put away in a draw only to be taken out twice more. Once on the day when we donned uniform for the last time to return all our books (and I had a massive row with my first true love and never saw her again) and again when we got the little slips of exam result paper which would determine a good chunk of the rest of our lives. School being over also meant school nights being over. In those days UKGold ran Dr Who every night at around midnight. Not the omnibuses for which the channel would earn tutting from all right thinking fans. These were the episodes as they were meant to be seen. Only with a little logo in one corner of the screen and a break half way through for adverts. Now we could experience Dr Who the way the rest of the world must see it.

My birthday saw me acquire Shada, buy Eddie Izzard’s first live video, miss the "Fifty Thousand Pound Breakfast" – that day’s Avengers episode on Bravo – and start my Summer of Davison. People look at me strangely when I say how fond I am of Four to Doomsday. They think I must be being sarcastic or ironic or post modern or from a weird parallel universe. I suppose I should’ve spent my eighteenth birthday doing newly legal, barely legal and extremely frowned upon things but I spent it watching episode one of Four to Doomsday. Which is in itself an extremely frowned upon thing, just not one that most people would think of doing. I dare say a trained professional would see this as a key event in the development of my fascinating portfolio of psychiatric, social and personality disorders but to me it was fun.

I don’t know whether Four to Doomsday really sounds different from other stories or just that I heard it much more clearly because it was the first time I’d watched television using headphones. Either way, the Urbankan ship came to life as nothing had ever done so in Dr Who before. The recreationals sounded fantastic, those sliding doors were so much more than just another science fiction cliché.

But it wasn’t just FtD – I went through all the Davison stories I didn’t then have on video. Imagine nightly screenings of the last great unexplored era. I’d seen Pertwee and Baker via Sunday morning omnibuses, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy were already well represented on video and the gaps would (mainly) be filled by parents while I was away supposedly studying. But I had little Peter Davison on my shelves. Wait, that sounds as if I had Peter’s Mini Me in my bedroom. I assure you I did not. Whatever dubious things have been done in my boudoir, none of them involved a one eighth replica of the Fifth Doctor.

So the story of the summer of 1994 was a heady mixture of Fifth Doctor adventures and utter terror at the idea of going away to live in Coventry to study something I had no interest in with a bunch of strangers. The summer hols climaxed, appropriately enough, with Peri in a bikini on the Planet of Fire. Many of those reading and writing these silly little pieces have their own memories of watching Dr Who as it actually happened. I, sadly, do not. Even the TV Movie was watched on video as BBC Worldwide cleverly released the tape a few days before transmission. So watching Dr Who actually on television for me means watching it on UKGold. I could be all clever (or try to be at any rate) and say that Davison was the first Doctor I remember seeing as a child and also the Doctor I watched as I officially stopped being a child but that would be too nauseatingly cod for words. So I’ll just stop.