Hello and welcome to In Too Deep into Doctor Who, where I over-analyse my favourite TV show.
Now it’s said that the best way to annoy a Doctor Who fan is to refer to the titular character as â€œDoctor Whoâ€. Nothing pisses them off more than to call him that and have them rage at you about how that’s completely wrong… or is it? Is it wrong to call him Doctor Who? Or have these spectators been right all along?
First off, lets establish a case for why he’s called Doctor Who. Now anyone who watches the classic series knows he was called ‘Doctor Who’ in the credits for the first four Doctors’ run, then that got switched over to ‘The Doctor’ and he never got called that again in the credits, right? Well… no. No even in the 2005 reboot he was called ‘Doctor Who’ for that first season before switching back to ‘The Doctor’. Likewise a lot of spin-off material tended to refer to him as ‘Doctor Who’. It’s not uncommon for the novelizations to call him ‘Doctor Who’ (at least at the start), with the 1960s films also calling the character ‘Doctor Who’. In fact the show itself has at one point called the First Doctor ‘Doctor Who’ as if that was his actual name. This isn’t counting all the times the production staff have referred to the character as ‘Doctor Who’, most notably Terrence Dicks (who invented half of all the stuff that makes modern Doctor Who great, with the other half being Robert Holmes). When even one of the big players in the series’ history refers to the character as ‘Doctor Who’, does that mean his name is actually Doctor Who?
The answer is, of course, no. The Doctor is the Doctor. But, it does open up an interesting problem when we talk about the show to other people. Now I watched The Day of the Doctor with my family and my Dad said they missed out a Doctor in the climax. Upon pressing him to work out what on earth he was talking about, he said they missed out Peter Crushing. Now Peter Crushing, for those not in the know, played ‘Doctor Who’ (as in that was the character’s actual name) in the two Doctor Who/Dalek movies released to the general public in the 1960s. For us fans of the show, we know that this Doctor is not the same Doctor that we watch on our television screens. But to the outsiders, those who only know Doctor Who in relation to the idea that it exists as a piece of media, it makes sense that they’ll get the two characters confused. After all, the show is called Doctor Who, this guy in the movie is called Doctor Who, they must be part of the same continuity. To this day my Dad is convinced that Peter Crushing is a proper Doctor alongside Tom Baker or David Tennant. Now fair enough, not everyone is a massive fanboy as me. But what about when the media talks about it? What about when they get it wrong? Should we get upset?
Well I’m gonna diverge quickly to talk about the Doctor. He is a character that started as just a one-note character, who didn’t have that much personality. Over time he grew as a character and layers were added onto him, making him more interesting, while he and others travelled across space. He often helped right wrongs and always tried to do the right thing. But enough about the character from Star Trek: Voyager, I thought we were talking about the Doctor. Because if you say ‘the Doctor’ and someone comes to the conclusion that you’re talking about Star Trek, it’s hard to really fault them. After all, ‘the Doctor’ is a somewhat generic name. So when it comes to the media, is it any surprise when they have to say that Peter Capaldi is going to be playing the next ‘Doctor Who’. They need to explain the context of what they’re talking about to those who don’t follow the show closely. I mean if I said that Matt Smith is the new Doctor, you’d wonder what medical news is doing in the media section of the news. So they need to use ‘Doctor Who’ as a way of quickly explaining what they’re talking about. Likewise whenever the media reports on it, calling the character ‘Doctor Who’ helps illustrate what they’re talking about. So can you blame the media for trying not to be misleading?
So the people that made it call the character Doctor Who, those that don’t follow the show religiously call the character Doctor Who, and the media calls him Doctor Who. All for very understandable reasons. So should we keep being upset by it? Ultimately… no. It’s understandable why people will end up calling the character ‘Doctor Who’, even if we think that it’s absurd. And honestly, I think we should let them. It doesn’t hurt the show in anyway, it helps it get more coverage, and ultimately it’s a rather harmless mistake. So why don’t we just calm down and not get so upset when it happens?
So there you have it. My brief look at a touchy subject in the Doctor Who fandom and why it’s not that much of a problem. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.