Over the last few days there have been a number of programmes on the old goggle-box relating to the 50th anniversary of one of the Beeb’s favourite and longest running series; needless to say I remember well when this programme was first broadcast and I have pleasant memories of watching the series way back in the 1960s when I was a young teenager.
If Doctor Who was first broadcast in 1963, then I can only assume that my dominant memories may be of the second series in 1964 when the Daleks first made an appearance. That year a new boy had started in my fifth-form class at school and I had been picked by the staff as a suitable pupil to introduce him to school life, goodness knows why they chose me, I was never really considered as being useful for anything. It transpired that this lad lived next door to an aunt and uncle of mine so immediately we had something in common; I then learned his father had a shop in town, something else in which we had a common interest as my father also had a shop, as well you know. Of course, we became good friends and every Saturday afternoon he would visit my house, or more often, I would visit his and we would while away the few hours strumming our guitars with the latest popular tunes of the day. His fingers were much more nimble than mine, mainly because I’d had an accident the previous year which prevented the use of my index finger on my left hand, but that’s a story for another day. I digress, he was much more nimble with his fingers but his sense of rhythm and time-keeping was rubbish, he just couldn’t see one had to count the beats until one came back in with the tune and I was very frustrated, but much too polite to tell him, I just tolerated his vagaries of tempo. After we had played for a few hours then his mother would cook tea, chips with something, sausage, egg, bacon maybe, but always chips with dozens of peas.
Afterwards she’d open a brick of raspberry ripple or neopolitan ice-cream and then we’d consume the whole thing between us, this was extravagant in my mind, in our household a brick would feed us all and we’d be satisfied, a half brick each was over indulgent, but I wasn’t complaining, I loved ice-cream and still do. Whilst consuming our ice-cream we’d settle down in front of their television to watch the latest edition of Doctor Who and afterwards have a lengthy discussion about where we thought the plot was going and speculate on the following week’s action. Later, his father would come home from the shop and I’d be bundled into their car and returned to my home about a mile away, another pleasant Saturday afternoon over.
It all seems so long ago now; I was best mates with this lad for about three years and after our school days we went on to do different things, he went to art college and I stumbled into a short ten-year career in child care. During the holiday at the end of his first term in college I visited him hoping to continue our friendship, but he had changed, so had I, it was a difficult afternoon where conversations between two seventeen-year-olds were strained, even our guitar interests had taken different directions and we were no longer musically compatible; all of a sudden we had nothing in common any more and I was relieved when the ritual of the chips and ice-cream was over and I could escape. I never visited or saw him again.
I’m not a fan of the TV series, I doubt if I’ve sat through a whole episode since the 1970s, but just the mention of Doctor Who always takes my mind back five decades to the days when as a carefree young teenager I enjoyed every episode with my best school-mate whilst tucking in to raspberry ripple!