“You know what, Doctor? You were my Doctor.”
Only someone who is another Doctor Who fan can appreciate the depth and beauty of that statement in the Children in Need BBC Special “Time Crash”. The ones who grew up with Doctor Who – watching it despite the low-budget, sometimes bad special effects, bad scripts, men in rubber monster suits. Our show has come so very far in one generation that it now overcomes all that with the force of the Eye of Harmony (and if you are reading this and don’t know what the Eye of Harmony is and are not Doctor Who fan, do yourself a favor and check out a few episodes of the series). But I ramble…I am here to celebrate Davison’s years as the Doctor and remember why I got into Dr. Who in the first place. It was because of Peter himself.
My husband and I were science fiction, card game, etc. vendors back in those days…hitting science fiction conventions like Loscon, Baycon, World Con, Westercon, Con Dor and of course, Gallifrey. In 1995 at Galley, I was sitting at the table by myself. Everyone else (even all the dealers), had gone to a panel and I was literally the only one left in that small dealer’s room. A tall, young, blonde man came by, holding a guitar, and we struck up a conversation. He was sweet and pleasant to talk to and just to be around. I took an instant liking to him; the soft, musical lilt to his voice, the good looks, shy smile and gentle demeanor. The amazing qualities I had married my husband for just six years before, were reflected in his eyes.
I had no interest at the time in Doctor Who and knew nothing about the show except it was British and I hadn’t been hooked into liking it because I was put off by Tom Baker’s interpretation of the character, but we never mentioned Dr. Who (we talked about his guitar!), so it was a warm, friendly few words we exchanged and that was it. The amusing conversation with my husband when he came back to the table went something like this:
“Dennis, do we have any video tapes of Peter Davison’s years as the Doctor?”
“Sure. Why? You haven’t been interested in watching before now.”
I shrugged. “I know, but he came by the dealer’s table while everyone was out and he’s a really nice guy. I want to see him act.”
It was then Dennis’s jaw hit the floor in amazement and his own bad luck at having just missed meeting him.
As I said in another post, I was never into Dr. Who in the Tom Baker years – an anomaly in my generation. Tom Baker was everyone’s Doctor. Why wasn’t he mine? Looking back, I think it came down to what spoke to my heart. The reason so many people love Dr. Who the world over is partly because each regeneration of the Doctor has a different enough personality that they appeal to their own fan base. As a recent observation, I always knew Peter Davison had fans, just like every other Time Lord incarnation, but until I put up the video capture of the message Davison sent to the Gallifrey One: Blackjack 21 convention and started seeing the comments left by viewers, I don’t think I ever realized what other fans thought of him.
Silly, isn’t it?
In my research of the 5th Doctor’s legacy on the internet, I came across a snippet of an interview (or was it an observation) that Peter made of his own tenure as our Fifth Time Lord from Gallifrey. He said he thought if he had been older when he had done the part he would have done a better job of acting. I smiled at the humbleness of the comment – heck, wouldn’t every actor dedicated to improving their craft say and feel that way? It’s just part of why he appeals to me and so many others the world over so much, that humbleness. He didn’t have the “yes, I am marvelous, aren’t I?” bravado and bohemian qualities of Tom Baker.
BTW, before I tick off too many people saying I don’t like Tom Baker’s interpretation, that was then. I have since grown up and grown into liking and appreciating his and all the Doctor personas – yes, even a bit of Colin Baker’s brashness and dare-to-wear attitude that went along with that awesome patchwork coat…I really do like it, LOL!
Another article I read yesterday highlights another quality that Davison brought to Doctor Number Five that I hadn’t seen before and it touched me. He was no longer the Doctor in Control. The one who knew what to do in every situation – he was VULNERABLE. He’d faint, need attention and fussing over, but hate it because he DID need it. He’d make mistakes, but all would work out in the end. His interpretation fit with the new generation watching Doctor Who. They loved it and finally, so did I.
Thank you, Peter.