Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Imagine if you had never seen or heard of Doctor Who. From a UK perspective it´s almost impossible to believe that there is anyone who has grown up in the country who hasn´t heard the words "dalek", "cybermen" or "TARDIS". It´s an essential part of modern British culture, part of our national identity. These words are now even in the Oxford English dictionary. As children we chased each other round the school playground shouting "exterminate", and as adults we sometimes wish we still could.
However step outside the UK, especialy into a non-English speaking country, and you are going to have a lot of explaining to do. So, where do you start when trying to explain Who?
Well, perhaps the easiest way is to begin is with New Series Who, which was rejuvinated in 2005 and has become, once again, a flagship program for the BBC. You can then, like the New Series itself, drop in a few hints of a glorious history, allude to past stories and even directly mention an event or two.
So, let us start with this "second coming". And where better to look first than the official BBC Doctor Who website. For me this website is not aswell designed as its first incarnation (see comment below). It was redisigned a couple of years ago, and whilst still being dedicated to New Series Who, I find it difficult to browse and explore, and there´s not that much actual content. However I forced myself to have a proper look the other day, and hidden amongst the clutter there are some interesting bits and pieces.
Until then, the most valuable element of the website from my perspective were the wallpaper photos it provides. Many of these are stills from the show itself, and therefore nothing new or special. However scattered amongst them are publicity shots, usually intended for pre-publicity media circulation. Their uniqueness makes them special, and I save the ones that catch my eye for my personal gallery collection. Because, as I shall describe below, you never know when a good thing might suddenly dissapear.
Browsing through the episode guide the other night I made a new discovery. There are more interesting things! Hidden away are small collections of design artwork, graphics and story board illustrations which I just hadn´t noticed before. I love this sort of stuff - the costume and concept designers work in progress, the raw creativity of design before the constraints of budget and reality kick in. Plus the artwork can be really cool.
Earlier I refered to a redesigning of the website which took place a couple of years back. The content was, I think, much the same and not much was lost in the rejuvination. But something did dissapear, and I´ve never found it since. If my damn notebook hadn´t blown up it wouldn´t bother me so much, but back on the earlier version of the website you could download a "time tunnel" screen saver, based on the background title sequence graphics. It was pretty basic, but I liked it. And now it has gone I want it back again!
Until then, this website will always be lacking for me, but it really is the best place to start an exploration of Doctor Who, and the news updates (if you can find them) offer the most reliable source of new who gossip without crossing over into blogland and the inevitable "spoilers". And there´s a few short stories as well, which it would be very nice if they packaged into a pdf or something which we could download...