Growing Up

I always tend towards the extremes. I rarely ever do things by halves. While this post will centre around Doctor Who, I really want to go back to my obsession with Hollyoaks at the turn of the century. Unsure of exactly what started this obsession but it probably relates to my sisters Samantha & Natalie watching the Hollyoaks Omnibus on Sunday mornings on Channel 4. (Younger readers will be shocked to discover how many hours of repeat programming were dedicated to Sunday afternoon. BBC1 had their Eastenders Ombinus edition. This was in the era before on-demand streaming services became ubiquitous.)

My thought process was simple, why wait to watch almost three hours on the latest adventures in the University village when we could watch them during the week? I believe E4 still do this – screen the following day’s episode at 7pm so we would watch this as well and effectively watch every episode twice. What was the reason behind this? The method in the madness goes as follows. To capture key moments and then be able to record them the following day if I found that particular episode significant. I had a TV tuner card installed in my PC at the time and could record Freeview output. A case in point is spotting a name on a random cardboard box. I doubt any other viewers noticed almost fourteen years ago. The fact that nine posts are tagged with the name of the Channel 4 flagship soap opera perhaps explains how much of a dedicated follower of the show I was. Probably one of the most memorable moments was from 25th January 2006. The episode featured the song – Murder on the Dancefloor by Sophie Ellis-Bextor and the scenes were painfully entertaining. I believe I have the recorded on my desktop machine (which lives over in my parent’s house) but I shall recover it later this year and upload it to YouTube. For now, you will have to settle for the screenshots I took over thirteen years ago. For me personally, this was probably peaked Hollyoaks. Even though technically I was over the true demographic target audience for the show. Suppose Channel 4 had a difficult job when they retired Brookside and made Hollyoaks their single flagship soap opera. ITV have Coronation Street and Emmerdale who happen to co-exist happily although have been running for far longer in both cases than 1995.

So what changed? During one particular episode, I realized I was just far too old to be watching a show aimed at teenagers and those in their early twenties. I was twenty-six when the show dropped off my viewing radar. The storyline covering mental illness (a vital topic) was played out without the due care I believe required for such a sensitive subject but hats off to Hollyoaks for attempting such a storyline almost eleven years ago. This was way before mental health became such a mainstream area for discussion and support.

Based on my date of birth I should be a Doctor Who superfan. Being born on the day the show was born (albeit eighteen years later) was just a pure twist of fate. The saying goes that your favourite Doctor is the one you grew up watching. In my case Sylvester McCoy, but I also did have the biggest crush on companion Ace. To date still the best companion the Doctor ever had. However, Mr Michael Grade, Managing Director Designate of the BBC had other ideas in the late 1980s and the show was ceremonially cancelled in 1989. It would be seven years before Doctor Who would return to our screens and then another nine years for the series to be fully revived. I recall watching the television movie on BBC1 over a Bank Holiday Weekend. We had been in Paris for the weekend and returned in time to catch the film on Monday evening. The revival actually caught me by surprise – I was in my final year at University and decided to watch/listen to the audio stories with Richard E. Grant as the TimeLord and Derek Jacobi as The Master to plug some spare time. (Does anybody remember BBCi?)

When 2005 finally came around I was invested like most of my generation to give the reincarnated show a chance. It was fun and I actually really enjoyed Eccleston as the TimeLord. Plus this was a point in time when my blog had been running for three years so I cover aspects of the show online. Looking back I was highly anticipating the return of the Doctor, just like everybody else. At what point did I fall out of love with the science fiction drama? It is difficult to put a finger on the exact point in time. I enjoyed Tennant and even watched Smith take up the mantle. I suppose as we get older we reflect upon everything we do. We realise that ultimately we are time-poor and need to focus on the most important things. The things that matter to us most. Why was I so obsessed with what is, at its bare bones a children’s television show. Even Torchwood which I enjoyed avidly for the first two series, even felt a little forced ‘adult’ drama to pull off the shackles of the main show. I did not watch Children of Earth or Miracle Day. My love for the Timelord was understandably waining. I believe I watched the penultimate season of Matt Smith and have never seen Thick of It star as the Twelfth Doctor. In fact, I have two episodes still sitting on my PVR unwatched. The Time of Doctor from Christmas 2013 and almost exactly a month earlier, broadcast on my 32nd birthday the epic The Day Of The Doctor celebrates the 50th anniversary of the show.

Ultimately I suppose we grow out of things as we mature as adults. Other things take our focus – I am looking forward to re-watching the show with my son Logan when he is a little older. Although even if we start with the revival series I do wonder how dated and old-fashioned the show will look and feel. Perhaps my love for the show will grow with the passage of time and give me the ability to look back at the sci-fi drama through rose-tinted glasses. 

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