Thrilling return calls for silence in the front room
It was, I suppose, a reasonable question to ask of a grown woman. What is the fascination with Doctor Who? After all, I had just told my (adult) children that there was to be NO TALKING, during the 40-minute programme.
Any interruptions would be met with the pause button, I continued grimly, and the whole thing would just take much longer. I had to resort to this threat because, sadly, they are too old to be sent to their rooms. Especially when it's not even in my house.
So what is the fascination? Part of it is that thrill we all get in connecting with something from our childhoods – those grainy black and white episodes with their naive special effects that had me cowering behind a cushion. I am old enough to remember the first Doctor, William Hartnell, and can list them all in order (I am nerdy enough not to count Paul McGann and discerning enough not to have liked Sylvester McCoy).
I realise that, with four younger brothers and no sisters, I may have been swept along by the family's love of Boys' Own adventures and science fiction, but that doesn't explain an adult passion for Doctor Who. I think the key is in the writing. Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat created a dramatic environment in which anything was possible and offered stories that were clever, sharp and interesting. They weren't afraid to introduce adult themes and emotions in a series which is still aimed, essentially, at young audiences. Even if those audiences have grown up.
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In Saturday night's opening episode of series seven, we were shocked to learn that Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) – having been offered the chance of a normal life and happiness by The Doctor (Matt Smith) – were in the process of getting a divorce. Before you could say decree nisi, they were reluctantly caught up in a new adventure involving – as the title "Asylum of the Daleks" suggested – The Doctor's old adversaries.
In yet another shock to expectations, the daleks were asking for help. They had created a planet to house all the mad, bad and dangerous ones, but something was sending a signal from inside it. If someone could get in, then the crazy daleks could get out.
We had adventure, explosions, sadness (Amy's revelation that she couldn't have children), and comedy – the confusion over what the dotty daleks meant when they kept saying "eggs". They meant "eggs-terminate".
And nobody spoke at all.