by CheekyGuy, HSM team writer
Let me try and put this as simply as I can to anybody living outside of the United Kingdom and Ireland:
The BBC is big. HUGE.
Most of its broadcasted shows have gone on to sell to a worldwide audience. Especially one of it’s biggest franchise to date: Doctor Who.
Doctor Who has been broadcast on our TV screens for over five decades – starting as far back as 1963 – and has featured a stellar acting talent that have gone on to promising TV and film roles respectively. This show was originally a sort of Flash Gordon for a British audience; now it has captured the imagination of millions of Whovians the world over.
It is a sci-fi, time-travel story of an unlikely hero disguised as an everyman, who uses wit and intellect when pitted against near-impossible odds, armed only with a Sonic Screwdriver that could save the world, with the help of his many companions and friends. Except there is only one small, unique quality about him – in that he is a visitor from another world, with a special interest in the affairs of Earth, to prevent its world and its people suffering the same doomed fate of his own planet, Gallifrey.
Using the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space), a time machine cleverly ‘disguised’ as a police phone box from the 1960s, the Doctor could travel to any time, in any dimension. But more often than not, for the interests of true drama (or comedic value, whichever way you look at it), he has no true control over where he may go or what may happen to him when he got there, which makes his adventures all the more unpredictable (of which there is irony if there ever was any).
I grew up with Doctor Who. It fired my imagination to write short science-fiction stories of aliens invading Earth from other planets, and there would be a lone hero that would save the day.
Everyone had their favourite Doctor over the years, as the character would often die and then ‘regenerate’ into another actor that would take over the titular role. My own all-time favorite would be Tom Baker, who played the fourth Doctor from 1974 – 1981; I had only been watching the reruns, and became his biggest fan; he was the role that caught most of the public’s imagination with an off-the-wall personality, a fondness for ‘Jelly tots’ (we call them Jelly babies – jelly candies to you guys) and eccentric dress sense.
Throughout the run of the many Doctors before Matt Smith, David Tennant and Christopher Eccleston, the character was known for somewhat flamboyant clothing; certainly, in the case of Tom Baker, the long scarf was his most iconic dress piece. Baker played the part for over seven years, which makes him the longest-serving actor to play the role. Personally, my other favourite would be David Tennant, as he brought a real passion and a small sense of a darker side to the role that hasn’t been seen since.
I would watch this show straight after another BBC franchise that keeps getting re-runs even to this day: Only Fools And Horses, a sitcom about two wisecracking, street-dealing con-artist brothers that make a pact with one another to get out of their tough inner city London neighbourhood and make it big, to be among the very classy and filthy rich, in the ’80’s world of excess. This show was nowhere near as successful as Doctor Who; for it to be successfully shown to an audience outside of the UK, the cockney London slang would have to be toned down or edited, or shown in subtitles to be clearly understood (especially for American or Canadian audiences) — while the Doctor has a certain universal appeal. Although he may talk crazy and out of his mind most of the time, you get a clearer sense of what he is saying — and you can understand the many themes this show explores, beyond it’s sci-fi storylines.
My favorite aliens and monsters in the show are the Daleks. On paper, they would sound crazy and more than a little nuts. Consider: they are hellbent on taking over the Earth with a toilet sink plunger as one of its primary weapons and the fact that they can’t even use the stairs — at least, in their earlier incarnations. Any prospective TV producer today would think this was an insane creation and simply throw it in a trash can, never to be seen again. But their presence on TV, and that voice (EXTERMINATE!) collectively carry a very real sense of menace.
These monsters were so popular, they would re-appear in many future episodes and TV specials. They are right up there with Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek creations, the Klingons, in terms of popularity.
The Cybermen are another fantastic creation that were probably the inspirations behind the Borg in Star Trek and lord knows how many other cyber-themed sci-fi monsters. Like many of the other classic Doctor Who villains, they’ve periodically reappeared in the rebooted series under Russell T. Davies and — later — Steven Moffat.
As a boy growing up in London, I spotted a Dalek in a local nursery that kids could get inside and play with. Sneaking inside through an opening in a fence, I got to the Dalek and stepped inside it, pulled the ‘hatch’/helmet over my head, and using my feet I could swivel the Dalek in any direction I wanted to move at and walk over to it. There were levers that could move the laser cannons and the toilet/sink plunger. I was in instant heaven. I will probably remember that day for as long as I live.
Now Doctor Who is coming to PlayStation Home, of which you can own your very own TARDIS as part of a bundle package. Wave One fans have the Eleventh Doctor, River Song, Silent, and Silurian costumes to choose from, plus a TARDIS private estate and clubhouse. (Head over to the LOOT Space Station to find out more.) In the TARDIS private estate, you can walk around and explore the interior of the TARDIS with its myriad of winding tunnels that veer off into many directions, leading into many rooms, and recreate your favorite scenes with the BBC Camera supplied for free with the bundle. Make sure to upload your machinima to YouTube!
But it is the main room with its carefully-crafted vision of the TARDIS that looks so jaw dropping: every detail of its console painstakingly recreated along with streamed clips from BBC Worldwide archives shown on its EOD Screens. LOOT’s attention to detail is nothing short of astonishing; you really feel like you’re there!
The BBC has finally landed in Home via LOOT Entertainment, as part of a 50th Anniversary celebration, with a very special episode that may feature several past characters from the series (including, notably, David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor and Billie Piper’s Rose Tyler). It has been no secret that the BBC wanted to promote its brand from within a virtual community, and it has already done so: in 2006, the BBC hosted an online concert in rival world Second Life, of which would mirror its radio broadcast of ‘One Big Weekend Event’, held in Dundee, Scotland, featuring the likes of real-world bands Muse, Razorlight and Gnarls Barkley, to name but a few.
I may have said this many times in other articles of which I have written: major brands and commercial companies could follow suit if they can see the benefits of marketing in virtual worlds. Perhaps it does sound like science fiction to some companies, or maybe that it’s just too complex to understand, but if they can take a moment to really think about it, real-world commercial advertising in a virtual world is the way forward.
Of particular note: the public TARDIS interface in the LOOT Space Station has a teaser for a second content wave. Who knows what it might hold?
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