Friday, 11 July 2008


How are your memories of 1979? If you're old enough to have any I'd suggest- wonky. They're over-detailed in some areas, vague and hazy in others. Without a briefing from an assistant director and a quick look at the clip you're due to recall on the monitor you may struggle.

My memories of 1979, aren't so much about the rise of Thatcher or the specific crapness of being 10 to 11, which is what I was mainly being that year, so much as how brilliant Doctor Who was, which of course with the exception of the 'one brief shining moment'* of City of Death it really wasn't that year.
The other important thing you simply *must* remember from 1979 is the sheer magisterial genius of Amii Stewart's cover of 'Knock on Wood', particularly in conjunction with that video (or promo film as they called them then, even when, like this one, they were soooo totally video), with the fractal howlround cloak and head-dress. It is spectacular. Go to YouTube now, leave a data trail that the Man will use to get at you, go now, do it! I'm ever so grateful to the assistant director for reminding me of it and playing that clip just now.

Oddly, in my messy memories of Doctor Who back then it was a serious drama in which all the science made sense.

Do you see where we're going now, children? I found the conclusion of Doctor Who over the last three weeks to be probably the most satisfying of the recent run.
Now, I know this is heresy, I know the job of a fan is to hate more deeply and more perversely than any untrained casual viewer ever could... and yet, and yet- I really liked it.
I cheered, I laughed, I was moved. Now, I agree the big old planet moving, multiverse mushing plot didn't really hold together too well, but oh, the human stories, the little touches, for some people these things (along with peculiarly lumpen speeches about well-prepared meals) are what Doctor Who is all about. It may have been over-detailed in some areas, vague and hazy in others but it was memorable for me and for all the right reasons... I think.
You see, I reckon we've had Doctor Who with worse science and plotting than this many times, but we've rarely had a series that has touched our little bubbling lumps of heart before.

Hang onto the feeling, it was good, really- it'll never be quite your ideal series I know, because it never was quite that show, really- you're a fan, you've spent decades misremembering it, but hey grab the good and enjoy it now, unbelievably it was the most popular chunk of Who since that shining moment in 1979 when ITV was just light classical music.

I don't mind if you don't like it obviously, with luck you'll have a chance to reappraise it radically in 19 years time, just don't be cross that I did.

Meanwhile, in 1979 nostalgia news, Radio 4 have commissioned my documentary about Bill Mitchell- the gravelly voice over man of choice of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
I'm delighted, I like to have at least one job of work to stick on the CV a year.
I'd quite like to call it The Man Who Wrestled Pumas... Probably, I doubt we will though. Touch wood, eh? Tukka ta tukka ta tukka ta tukka- better knock knock knock on wood... (repeat 'til "earworm'ed)

Radio 4 is now officially allowed to the 1970s now, you know? They're doing plays about punk now everyone involved is elderly and jaundiced like proper Radio 4 folk. There's probably an utterly ghastly ITV1 studio sitcom in doing something about old punks actually, it'd probably have to pilot on Radio 2 first, mind.

*Camelot, as nearly quoted by Doctor 10nent last week.

** Obviously, in retrospect, I should have had the foresight to name this posting after Nostalgia by the Buzzcocks, that would have been loads better. Everything's better in retrospect- even foresight.


Stuart Douglas said...

Ian, you a national treasure or shall be some day. Simply for having the sheer affrontery (always sheer, never another adjective) to like Journey's End so much I fully expect a blue plaque on your facebook page or something in years to come.

IZP said...

I can't help it. It went straight to my heart and by-passed my brain. I think I may be half-human or something.

The way I love it is frightening.

Pebble said...

I agree with you so wholeheartedly that it really wasn't worth you reading this comment. Not even this bit.