Life on Mars

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My and my bank buddy

 

We exited the plane and I headed for the EU arrivals whilst my entourage joined the lengthy Non-EU arrivals line.  Bizarrely the Non EU line was quickly handled but the passport control bloke in my line seemed intent on nailing at least half a dozen terrorists that day and he was going to harass everyone until he found a would be suspect.  I tried as hard as I could not to roll my eyes or make loud comments about him being a self important jobsworth but inevitably he cottoned onto the fact that I was the person responsible for the loud sighs and he cast a steely glare over me.  Rather than punishing me directly by holding me up he decided to drag out the inquisition of the Finnish family in front of me.  They didn’t fit the stereotypical image of terrorists.  Their group consisted of Miss Marples frailer sister, a couple of Macauley Culkin clones and  a married couple who looked uncannily like Bjorn Borg except for the fact the wife had slightly less facial hair.  As far as I could tell the only crimes they were likely to commit were against fashion but then I am not a security expert.  “What is the purpose of your trip ?” the guard asked them.  “Where are you staying ?”, “For How long ?”, “Where are you people from ?”, “Finland ? Is that near Fatland ?”  It went on and on until Marple feigned spell of dizziness and a supervisor of the guard waived them  through.  Sly old Marple was probably the one carrying the explosives.   A few dirty looks and mumbled insults later and I was finally through to the arrivals area. 

My Mum came to greet us because my Dad was trying to find somewhere to park.  Well in fairness he hadn’t had long to find somewhere since the flight was only four hours late.  We slowly hauled our luggage outside onto the concourse.  There were only three of us but we had outfits to keep the Partridge family clothed for 3 national tours.  I had insisted on packing all of our winter clothes because from my experience England was cold in February.  My parents had tried to convince us that global warming had altered the climate there to such an extent that south east England was now competing with the planet Mercury as the hottest patch of land in the solar system so we brought all of our warm clothes too.  Finally the day before we left my wife had noticed that we still had some money in our bank account and so she went on a spending binge to buy even more clothes just for the fun of it.  The end result was that I was struggling to carry two bags that felt like lead lined coffins.  My Dad finally emerged from the parking lot but rather than help with the carrying he decided to film our suffering with his camcorder.  At first it was funny but after the first few tendons in my lower arm snapped I started to get annoyed.  It made no difference to him since he was determined to get every second of our trip on film.  His actions seemed to confirm rumours started some time back that he was in fact the paparazzi who hit Diana. 

 We all packed into their compact relatively fuel efficient car and set off for home.  My parents were upset that their 33 mile a gallon car wasn’t fuel efficient enough for the leftie tree huggers running the country and they’d been hit with a penalty tax.  Imagine if we made rich snow birds pay extra for gas guzzling RV’s in the US ?  That being said imagine if we made rich snowbirds pay taxes period ? Anyway I digress but it is funny how very little changes over the course of time.  As we drove by I bored my wife with stories about every street corner.  “That is where Deacon claims to have been abducted by the UFO,”I said “and the roundabout is where Mark almost got hit by former England International football player, Peter Beardsley…allegedly.”  I am sure that my wife was delighted to hear my running commentary most of which consisted of myths and half truths that had developed down the years to disguise the fact that in reality absolutely bugger all had ever happened there.   It was good to be home though in the mildly warm country of my birth where you can have a beer without having to have a follow up counselling session on “Dr Phil.”

For the first 24 hours I felt a bit like Sam Tyler from “Life on Mars.”  I had been awakened from my coma and the bizarre life where I was surrounded by larger than life characters with whom I had nothing in common.  Playing ball in the yard with Pop, high school proms, mulletts and fish cookouts are as alien to me as rocks on the red planet and needless to say the Gene Hunts and Rays of Gainesville had even less interest in learning about the world of Ceefax, Wombles and Kenny Everett that I grew up in. 

I had to remember not to use words like “soccer” “sucks” and “awesome” any more because I didn’t want to be accused of being a “fake American” although supposedly I now have an American accent which is hilarious since nobody in Gainesville seems to think so.  At work I guy I worked with for 3 years revealed recently that he thought I was South African and most of the customers at the bank seem to think I am either Australian or German.  There isn’t any logic to their mistaken attempts at pinpointing my origins it’s just that their idea of an Englishman is a bloke with a top hat and tails who rides around hunting foxes with a blunderbuss and so since the only other countries they know are Germany and Australia they assume I must be from one or the other.  Another thing that was strange about being back in England was that people would start conversations about sport … and actually have some knowledge of them so conversations lasted for minutes at a time.  At work in the US the sports discussion usually follows this pattern:

American male#1: “How about those Yankees huh ?

American male#2″How about them ?!!”

American male#3″Yep.  Those Yankees !”

American male#1″Did you watch the game ?”

American male#2″Nah”

American male#3″Me neither.”

Kjohn “I did so does that mean they’re going to win the world series ?”

American males 1,2 &3″Don’t know we don’t really keep up with it that much….Loser!”

Sports talk seems to be one of those strange rituals American men go through like looking at each others cars or boasting about upcoming drink fests that they have no intention of attending because they have to spend the weekend downloading software for the blackberry’s.  Englishmen on the other would cease to exist without football.  Every man over the age of 25 vicariously lives through his favourite team and it’s that kind of ultimately meaningless existence that I have come to miss.  It was good to be back but before I knew it David Bowie was reverberating around my skull and it was time to head to Ireland ….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueUOTImKp0k&feature=related

 

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Outcasts of Society no more: Doctor Who fans

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Apparently it is acceptable these days to be a “Doctor Who”fan.  Not so long ago “who” fans or “anoraks” as they were known were outcasts of society and as someone who mingled with these fans I am of the opinion that they should probably still be outcasts but who am I to pass judgement.  My involvement with “fandom” began around 1992 when I made the leap from being someone who watched the show to someone who was involved in one of the many secretive cult like “Who” groups that were prevalent in the Cambridge area in the early 90’s.  It all happened by chance really as this kid called Colin James (who these days is a popular karaoke performer in Harlow) introduced me to a guy called John Dorney at school.  Colin and Dorney were both from the year above me and with an image to uphold at school I referred to them as “drama” friends rather than “Who” friends since conveniently they were part of both groups.

Dorney invited me one weekend to a meeting in Cambridge and it was there that I first realised that most “Doctor Who”fans were weridoes.  The meeting was at a little terraced house down a back alley opposite an adult bookstore and on entering the safe house I was amazed to see about 30 grown adults packed into a tiny living room.  Sitting in the centre of the room on a tatty old blue velvet armchair was an elderly looking man who was introduced to us all as “David Fisher the man who wrote many classic stories.”  In reality he was a guy who wrote the scripts for a few lousy stories that were on TV in the mid 70’s but for these fans he may as well have been Tom Cruise or the Pope because basically he was someone who had been involved in the show.  The meeting was really boring as the host an emaciated looking guy called Joe feigned interest in Mr Fisher’s sketchy recollections of the show and then subjected us all to a 4th generation pirate video of “Stones of Blood” on a tiny black and white TV screen that was perched above his fireplace.  The story in question was about as badly planned and executed as the meeting and I’ve never watched it since and hopefully will never watch it again.  Unsurprisingly after this tedious meet up Joe decided to disband the fan group and that probably should have been that but for some reason I had stars in my eyes and decided that it was time for Hertfordshire to have it’s own Doctor Who group.

I got together with Dorney and a dubious chap named Ian Richardson and pretty soon we convinced the local milkman, Dave Crerar to join with us and form a new and more powerful group.  Richardson was an internet and publishing wizz kid, Dorney was a hardcore Doctor Who encyclopaedia and I was someone who wanted to get famous so the notion of trying my luck via Doctor Who conventions really appealed to me.  Crerar didn’t really have anything to offer except for the fact he had a car which we once drove to the pub in but after I missed an appointment for a part time job at McDonalds which he had organised for me we never saw him again.  Anyway before we knew it we had a monthly magazine “The Hourly Press” and started having meetings at Dorneys house for anyone who we could convince to show up.  I found a few pretty normal folks from Hertford who joined our group whilst Ian went curb crawling in Cambridge looking for homeless people to fill out Dorneys living room.  Probably the best thing about those early meetings was the location as Dorneys parents lived in probably the oldest house in the world.  The ceiling was about 4 ft above the ground and held up with wooden beams that were probably relics from Noahs ark.  At night Dorneys house came to life with all kinds of creeking and howling sounds which would all make for a great episode of “Most Haunted” but I digress.

After a few months I decided the time had come to cut the crap and start bringing in some celebrities so first on our radar was long time Doctor Who writer and script editor Terrance Dicks.  The main reason I invited him was because I found his phone number in a copy of the North London telephone directory that my Dad had brought home by mistake from work and never taken back.  Some times it just takes that little bit of luck to get the ball rolling !  We invited Terrance down to the old church hall in Sawbridgeworth because it only cost 25 quid to rent for a day and because it was near the train station so it wouldn’t be too far for him to walk.  How cheap is that ?  But it is the truth.  Terrance was great entertainment as he told us all kinds of amusing anecdotes about his time on the show and even hung around for a few swift pints at the King Willy afterwards.  Suddenly the local freemasons who frequented that pub had a bit of competition as there was a new weird and secretive group getting drunk that night !  At around the same time I managed to find a few other telephone numbers in “Who’s Who” which my Dad had also brought home  for some inexplicable reason and returned.

I couldn’t afford to pay people for interviews so I called them and I would leave my old stereo tape recorder with a phone on speaker in one room and ask the questions on a cordless phone in the other room.  It never failed to work as it seemed that BBC types had a hard time telling a sqeaky voiced kid to bugger off although there were a few times people weren’t too happy at my requests for interviews.  Paddy Russell wasn’t best pleased when I asked to speak to “Mr Paddy Russell.”  Apprantly she was a woman.  One other very well known actor started to answer my questions before deciding that his ongoing argument with his (now ex) wife was proving to be too much of a distraction and finally hung up on me.  I also felt a little awkward when I called a number asking for a certain Director and was told by his tearful wife “he just left me!”  Nevertheless I spent several months randomly calling actors, producers, writers etc and the more I called people the more they directed me towards their friends or other minor celebrities that they probably thought it would be funny to harrass.   I got a lot of good interviews for our magazine whilst Dorney got to work actually writing articles and Ian bribed shopkeepers in Cambridge to stock our ‘zine.  Everything was going pretty well with the meetings as well.  Ian had introduced us to a guy called Phillip Featherweather who always wore an egg stained tuxedo and lived in a Greek Orthodox monsatery as well as an array of other less interesting but fanatical characters.  It was obvious by late 1993 that we were ready to take the next step and host a convention ……….

To be continued.

The Best Kids TV Shows Ever !!!!!

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1. “Boy from Space” – “Look and Read” : This was a popular TV show in the 80’s that kids would watch at about 11 am each day as a break from class.  The host Wordey was a legless red faced little man who would fly around chanting “Magic Magic E”.  Nobody realised at the time that he was a pioneering drug pusher getting ready for the era of raves.  “Boy From Space” was one of the stories featured in the show and it revolved around a couple of alien kids who looked like the children of the damned but with blue suits that appeared to be made from tissue paper and a language that only the teacher from Charlie Brown could imitate.  The actual episodes were all of 5 minutes long at the end of each “Look and read” segment and sci-fi obsessed kids all over Britain waited with baited breath each week for the latest fun installment.  The “Dark Towers” story was also a classic but the little lad from the stars was the pick of the bunch.

2.”Newsround”: with John Craven:  It may seem odd to highlight a kids news show as being a cult TV classic but the sad reality is that Craven and his sidekicks produced a 10 minute show containing more real news items than you’d see after a year of watching Fox and or MSNBC today.  I particularly liked the endless reports on giant Panda’s and space shuttle launches.

3.”The Flumps”: Long before that northern bloke was winning Oscars for dull films about Wallace and his dog the BBC had set the standard for animation with “The Flumps”  This was easily the best show of its genre and one of the all time classic moments of television was when Grandpa flump got stuck in his Flumpaphone.

4.”Mr Benn” : This guy was the ultimate master of disguise.  Every week he went to some kind of fancy dress shop and disappeared through the dressing room into many weird and wonderful places.  He tried his hand at being everything from a cowboy to a clown but his real brilliance was in his ability to persuade the shopkeeper to let him keep trying on costumes all the time without ever buying a single item from the store.

5.”The A-Team”: In this era of cheesy remakes I am surprised that no one has decided to make a big screen version of the greatest US TV show of all time : The A-Team.  I bet George Clooney would like a stint as Hannibal alongside Jim Carey as Murdoch and perhaps Di Caprio as Face.  BA would be harder to cast but perhaps DMX would be the man for the job and it would be the kind of thing that could lead to at least 3 or 4 sequels which is right up Clooneys alley.

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6. “Tim Tyler “(aka Timm Thaler) : This was a German classic about a kid whose laugh was stolen by an evil Baron in 1970’s Berlin (?)  The show was great because the worst sound editors in the history of television hired some drunk B movie actors to dub it into English and during the whole series not one word was uttered by a character in English at the same time his mouth was in motion.  Aside from the cheap production this show was also memorable for the flairs and hippie hairstyles that defined an otherwise forgettable era.

7. “Degrassi Junior High” : This was Canada’s answer to Grange Hill and was so terrible that it was actually  good for its utter patheticness.  I remember that one episode caused a stir as it featured the revelation that one of the teachers was a lesbian before the old BBC watershed.  Oddly enough the BBC didn’t buy a lot of shows from the land where people say “aye” after the ratings for this one were compiled but I still have a soft spot for it.

8.”Silas”: The people who dubbed this Polish gem into English did a marginally better job than their counterparts had done with Tim Tyler but the real issue was the fact that phrases that take about two syllables to say in English take 5 minutes to say in Polish and vice versa.  I remember that Silas was harrased by an nefarious harridan who was known simply as “The Old Shrew”.  I can’t remember the plot of the show but basically it involved around a kid riding around on a horse and every  week it had the same cliffhanger ending as he crossed paths with his nemesis and he exclaimed “the shrew”  Brilliant !

9. “Airwolf”: Some people may remember Ernest Borgnine as the Roman soldier at the foot of the cross or as the cop who married a hooker in “The Poseidon Adventure” but I remember him most fondly as the pilot of the best helicopter ever built, Airwolf.  This show had a simple message:  Criminals beware of copters loaded to the brim with machine guns because no matter where you run Ernie will blow your head off.  This was much better than anything you’ll see on CSI, eat your heart out David Caruso.

10. “Neighbours”: Not technically a kids show but try telling that to anyone who grew up in the UK in the late eighties.  So many kids were skipping school to watch this Aussie classic that the BBC moved it to the 5.30 spot after “Blue Peter” which had usually been reserved for shows like “Doctor Who” or “Friday film: The Glitterball.”  I was skiving off school in 1987 when the first episode was broadcast and after I saw Max Ramsey lose his temper, Des fall for stripper Daphne and Shane introduce the southern hemisphere to the mullet there was no looking back.

HEROES : THE SHOW NBC CAN’T AFFORD TO CANCEL

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If only the writers of “Jericho” had decided to end their season in the same manner the “Heroes” writers did !!!  Alas !  Whilst one show wrapped up nicely the other was cast into the abyss never to see the joy of being listed on the TVGuide channel again.

Last nights episode of “Heroes” did leave us wondering about one or two things although for the most part the story tied up a lot of loose ends.  I wonder if Siler is still alive because the last shot seemed to suggest his blood soaked body had made it’s way down a nearby man hole.  I have a feeling he will be back in some shape or form.  It was pretty cool when whacko Nikki/Jessica/blondie bimbo smacked the crap out of him but I would have liked to have seen everyone pile in a bit more.  It would have been like one of those times at school when some fat kid wouldyell “Bundle” and everybody would jump on top of the skinny kid until a teacher would finally intervene and extract his lifeless form.  I would have liked to have seen Micah bop him on the nose and I am sure Clare’s Dad would have liked to get a kick in as well.  Clare’s Dad is pretty cool actually if you can overlook the fact that he once tried to murder Doctor Who aka the Invisible bloke.  He actually reminds me of my old boss at work who was a little odd but a decent enough bloke.  Sadly Clare’s Dad has since been replaced by Tony Soprano as my boss but that’s another story.

One thing that I didn’t quite understand was why Peter had to get Nathans help to fly.  The last I knew he was just as capable a flier as he was a nuclear bomber after being exposed to the powers of both caveman Ted and evil Nate.  I guess it’s possible that he can only use one power at a time or perhaps the radiation was too overwhelming for him to think about jetting off in space.  Either way I still think Nathan is a prat because of his overall slimy sleaze bag attitude to Clare, her weirdo hippie Mum and well just society in general.  Hopefully he was incinerated without causing too much of a hike in the global warming process but I want Pete to return next year because he has pretty much become the star of the show.

The producers have said that they plan to make the show more like “24” than “Lost” in as far as it will have season long storylines rather than one continuous tale.   We have several questions though to be answered after this season like:  How did everyone know there was going to be a bomb and why were they cool with that ?  Who is the boogey man who makes Siler seem no more menacing thanRonald McDonald ?  Will they do what day time soaps often do and replace the kid actors with teen actors once they realise it’s hard to carry a story with two 7 year old kids ?  Will Ted get a role on ABC’s new sitcom based upon the Geico caveman commercials ?  Will the insurance company cough up to replace Clare’s house or will they say that nuclear explosions aren’t covered in the policy ?  Will Mr Sulu pass on his old yellow Enterprise shirt to Hiro or will he give him the red one he wore in the movies ?  Will Christopher Ecclestone find a third new sci-fi show to appear on for one year as a smart arse Mancunian ?  These are the things I am left pondering but the good news is that NBC have commissioned 30 new episodes for next year so whilst we’re all sitting around watching repeats of “Lost” on ABC and re-runs of “The Price is right” in “Jerichos” old slot we can at least rest easy in the knowledge that at least we have one show left that actually fulfills us.

CBS KILLS JERICHO

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There are times when I wish that I hadn’t tempted fate and one of those times occurred this past week.  A guy at my work with whom I regularly discuss television news was asking me about the season finale of my best show “Jericho”.  After giving him a run down of the thrilling cliffhanger I couldn’t help but take a swipe at “Entertainment Weekly”.  Back in August that magazine had proudly declared that of all the new shows being broadcast in the fall that “Jericho” was the most likely to be cancelled.  They had also predicted great success for “Smith” (haha 3 episodes and scrapped) and “Sunset Strip thing with Chandler from Friends” or whatever it was called but either way it was also a flop.  I knew “Jericho” had been popular earlier in the year but it turns out that after CBS decided to give it a prolonged break mid season that some ungratfeul good for nothing selfish bastard viewers didn’t bother to watch the most recent episodes because they were too busy mowing their lawns, attending PTA nights or having “American Idol” parties.  As a result CBS have decided to send the show to the scrap heap where all great shows seem to end up these days.  The same thing happened to “Invasion” and I am sure that long before the next 48 padded and pointless episodes of “Lost” have been broadcast that all of the broadcast delays will ultimately lead to a sad demise for that show as well.

“Jericho” was bloody brilliant though and I am furious that that the network that thinks having a crappy actor in a black suit with bright orange hair putting on and takingoff his sunglasses repeatedly for an hour at a time constitutes “drama.”  CBS needs to be shut down for crimes against television.  Anyone could have told you that an old git who uses expressions involving “tornadoes and trailer parks” to describe elections would be far more liked than some kind of 50 year old Olsen twin wannabee as the host of the evening news.  CBS don’t know what the hell they are doing when it comes to quality programming.  “Jericho” had everything you could ask for : a failed movie actor in the lead role, gun wielding yanks, terrorism, love triangles, a bar, a bald headed villain and even a pumpkin patch that Charlie Brown would be proud of and yet we will never ever know the fate of Skeet and the boys now as someone has decided that it would be better to show a new drama about Swingers in 1970’s Chicago instead.  For anyone who thinks that new show sounds interesting I wouldn’t even bother wathcing it because the only shows that last past one season these days are reality shows and cheapskate quiz shows.  Whoever made the decision to cancel “Jericho” will have to smoke a turd in hell for sure but instead of cancelling the show they should have maybe fired the person who decided to interrupt its broadcast for a few months mid season and therefore lost it half of its audience base.

I really have no use for CBS now so I don’t expect to be watching it ever again.  I used to watch “King of Queens” when it was funny but after about 57 scheduling changes that show has now become nothing more than the unfunny show featuring the fat guy and the miserable, old looking Scientologist chick.  They should have cancelled that before it died it’s slow tedious death but no that would have required some intelligence on CBS part.

I guess I will start a new life based around the Discovery Channel and CMT whilst CBS can carry on being mismanaged and firing folks like Imus for being innapropriate whilst saying nothing about the vulgar content of their music channels.    One day pretty soon they will get their just desserts when David Caruso loses his sunglasses on the way to work and everybody realises that they were the only thing that held the whole “CSI” franchise together. 

 

Amazing Race All Stars : Oh Danny Boy !!

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It was bound to happen the minute a shady deal was struck with the beauty queens but all the same I was sad to see Danny and Oswald join the scrap heap of fading reality TV stars by being eliminated on Sunday night.  I didn’t care for the flamboyant fellows on their first season but as I became increasingly irritated with their “allstar” opponents I found myself rooting for the dynamic duo but alas their goose has finally been cooked.

With those two out of the way I am having a hard time trying to decide who to support for the last leg.  The beauty queens have some obvious qualities although I like the short one much more than the taller horsey looking one and on the previews for next weeks show it looks as though big blonde goes ape on small blonde which doesn’t bode well for their chances.  I guess I could just support shorty and hope that she figures out a way to ditch her partner and clone herself during the last leg and cross the finish line first.  Phil never seems particularly interested in what is going on anyway so I am sure he wouldn’t even notice, just as long as he sees two blonde pony tails on the mat.

I have a lot of respect for Charla considering not only the physical disadvantage that she has had to overcome but also the mental disadvantage that comes from being on a team with Mirna.  I couldn’t believe it last night when Mirna revealed that she deliberately tries to immitate foreigners accents during the race because she thinks it will make her easier to understand !  All this time I had put it down to either a subconcious mishap or brain damage but apparently it is part of her strategy.  Next time I am in Canada I will have to try that  aye.

The last team in contention are also the most insignificant.  I have watched every season of the show and yet I have absolutely no idea who the hell Eric and Danielle are.  I can only assume that I am the victim of some kind of “Truman show” stunt where history is being re-written and I am being tricked into thinking that I have seen these two grumpy whingebags before.  I don’t know where Danielle shops but she may want to try going to a regular clothes shop rather than a scuba diving store next time she picks out a suitable outfit for racing around the world in.  Everywhere she has been she has worn her skin tight rubber diving outfit.  No wonder she looks so bloody miserable the whole time as she must have all kinds of nasty sweat rashes under that suit.   Eric on the other hand does a great job of demeaning women by referring to anyone who outwits him as a “dirty whore.”  Nice going curley perhaps there is a reason your buddy from the last season didn’t want to team up with you again.  I thought it was pretty funny that Eric whinged so much that Danny went from feeling “guilty” for yielding him to having “NO REGRETS” by the end of Sundays show.  The fact that Eric upset my boys from Miami means that I can’t cheer him and sweaty face on in the final so it’s got to be Dustin and clone Dustin and if that fails then I hope Charla wins by herself after Mirna gets decked in Glasgow for mocking Scottish accents or something.  Here’s hoping !! 

Doctor Who and the fake TARDIS

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It is really sad that I am now old enough to talk in terms of things that happened twenty five years ago.   I was about 5 years old and Britain was in the grip of Thatcherism.  The football team were terrible and Michael Foot was making secret plans for Britain to join the Warsaw pact.  Times were hard for a 5 year old with ginger hair and a black school coat growing up in an era when duracell commercials ran on TV round the clock and gave bullies the great idea of associating me with the batteries slogan about “The copper coloured top.”  School was awful as we had a 2 foot tall four hundred year old Italian woman teaching us who could barely speak English and loved to smack us around with her mini ruler.  All in all it was pretty bloody miserable.

The one bright spot in my life was sitting down in front of the TV each week to catch the latest installment of my favourite show “Doctor Who.”  As you can imagine it came as quite a surprise when my Dad announced suddenly that I was going to miss a day of school so that I could go to London and meet the “Doctor” in person.   I assumed that the Doctor had come to Earth specifically to meet me and it wasn’t until about 5 years later that I put the pieces together and realised that it wasn’t real.  My Dad worked in PR for the Post Office and the powers that be decided to have a letter writing competition for kids.  To launch the campaign they would take a picture of a youngster delivering mail to the Timelord and my Dad savvy as he was managed to land that role for me.

It was always exciting to go to London but to meet my favourite TV star was something else.  The event was held at Hendon Police college where the Met train most of their bobbies.   The reason they chose Hendon was because there were actual Police boxes there which could easily pass for a TARDIS as far as most people were concerned.  I on the other hand wasn’t deceived.  The real TARDIS was bigger on the inside than the outside and furthermore it didn’t have any windows whereas this police box had two.  I tried to explain this to Nigel Fitt a fellow from my Dads work who accompanied me for the day.  He was one of those kind of guys who had a deep voice, curly dark hair, wore gold chains and smoked Cuban cigars.  He wasn’t a kid kind of guy and seemed to think that a wink and a pat on the head would make everything OK.  Not ruddy likely.  I was insistent that the “TARDIS” was not the actual Time travelling machine from the television show.  The poor old postman was probably wondering how he got roped into this gig with a whiny kid when the star of the moment arrived.  To most people he was known as actor Peter Davison.  As far as I was concerned he was “Doctor Who.”  Initially I was a little annoyed with him when he also tried to claim that the cheap replica police box was his actual time machine but after a while I accepted his story about disguising it from people.  The cameraman eventually told us to get into position and pose for our publicity shots.  I remember that it was really hard to focus because hundreds of trainee policemen started to gather around us.  Their instructor was angrily ordering them back into class but they were obviously Who fans and massed around the TimeLord trying to get into the snaps.  Anyone who didn’t know what was going on could have been forgiven for thinking that they had stumbled across a “Z cars” convention as the young coppers in their smart new blue Met issue sweaters gathered around.

Once we had taken the snapshots the Doctor asked us if we wanted a ride back to the Post Office HQ where my Dad worked.  Naturally we agreed as it’s not every day that you get chauffeured around by an alien/TV actor (depending on your point of view).  His car was amazing.  It had all kinds of digital displays and gadgets in it and it was blue !  OK that sounds pretty lame now but in 1982 any car with cushy seats and a radio was pretty flashy.  For me it was a nice change to ride around in a car other than my Dads beaten up old brown Ford Cortina.  You’ve heard of people leaving a trail of exhaust fumes as they jet off on vacation well never mind the fumes our family would leave the actual exhaust pipe behind when we left town.  That old car was a piece of junk but this car was something else.  It was the nearest thing to KIT on Knight Rider I had ever encountered and it seemed to travel at supersonic speed through the grizzly streets of London.  Sadly though it was time to say goodbye and the good Doctor left myself and my companions outside Post office HQ in London.

That was the last time I ever saw him but even worse it was the last time anyone would see that car.  The following day cricketer Ian Botham borrowed it to use in a charity car race.  Botham evidently wasn’t the greatest of drivers and he smashed it up.  I was furious when I heard about the crash on the news and I never watched a game of cricket again in protest.  In fairness I was on the lookout for a reason to avoid Britains dullest tradition anyway but I still can’t look at Botham without thinking about how he destroyed the Doctors car.  The sad thing is that my Mum who was a grown adult at the time also holds a grudge against Botham but then again she is the same person who claimed that Roman soldiers lived in our kitchen !

Good Doctor Who Interviews

Ray Brooks Interview http://www.bestbritishtv.com/?p=294

Victor Pemberton Interview http://www.bestbritishtv.com/?p=151

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