Useful Notes: Whovians
As the longest running Speculative Fiction show in the world, Doctor Who has acquired a massive fan base and one that is multi-generational, especially with the revival. It is also a textbook case of the fans Running the Asylum. Conventions and Cosplay were happening long before many such shows even began production, for a start. There have been many fanzines and Pod Cast stuff has emerged more recently. Fan Work was also a major feature, a number of official Big Finish audio plays having their origins as works from the fan AudioVisuals series. Mark Gatiss and a number of the below have also worked on semi-pro audio and visuals, not quite official and intended for a niche market, yet intended to make a profit. Pore through older issues of Doctor Who Magazine and you will see many familiar names in the letters columns and on the by-lines of articles and comics.
The following Promoted Fanboys contributed to fanzines, amateur and semi-pro productions, before going on to the big time:
- Nicholas Briggs, who has, in the past, done everything you can imagine in spin-off media, among other things running Audio Visuals and playing the Doctor in those selfsame productions. He now voices the Daleks and currently runs Big Finish.
- The nearly as prolific Gary Russell, also connected with AudioVisuals. He used to run Big Finish and script-edited The Sarah Jane Adventures, Torchwood and Doctor Who itself.
- Paul Cornell based his first novel, Timewyrm: Revelation in the Doctor Who New Adventures series, on early Fan Fic.
- Robert Shearman
- Matt Jones
- Mark Gatiss
- Matthew Waterhouse, who would a couple of years later go on to play Adric.
- Marc Platt, a Classic and Big Finish writer who contributed Fan Fic and/or nonfiction work to Fanzines before working on the actual series.
General characteristics of the fandom:
- Due to the show's abundant Parent Service, often prone to fanboy or fangirl-like behaviour, with frequent polls on "sexiest companion" and innuendo.
- Certain elements display a tendency to get a bit paranoid about the possibility of anything, whether elements of the series itself or the fan / public reaction to it, that might lead possibly lead to the intimation that there might be any suggestion of cancellation, possibly because of the numerous elements and gradual sense of decay which led to the program's eventual hiatus in 1989 and the agonising 16 year wait until a full series was produced. This tends to lead to great overreactions whenever any missteps (or anything the over-reactor merely perceives as a misstep) occurs, however minor in nature. In an interview with Nerdł, Steven Moffat has said that the reason the British media do so many scaremongering stories about the show's fate, at least at the time of his run as showrunner, is because they know the Doctor Who branding will sell more papers.
- Likewise, owing to the show's widely-held appeal to children, some fans may get a bit defensive (or confrontational) about any suggestion that the show is 'just for children'. This arguably led to the Darker and Edgier nature of the novels and other Spin-Off material produced between shows, and lengthy, somewhat pedantic debates about whether the show can be classified as a 'children's' show or a 'family' show are not unheard of.
- Don't call the main character 'Doctor Who' in front of one of them. Just... don't. Others really don't like the term "Whovian", which originated from the 1980s Doctor Who Fan Club of America.
- Even though the character was credited as "Doctor Who" on screen from 1963 to 1981, and again in 2005... Not to mention that a lot of members of the cast and crew will infrequently refer to the character as "Doctor Who," especially in more mainstream interviews, no doubt because of the fact that, without prior knowledge, "The Doctor" as a title is very generic.
- Likely to have parents or children (sometimes both) who are fans as well; Long Runner status and all.
- Tend to be Britons, Australians or New Zealanders- the show was and is far more mainstream there. American and Canadian fans are not unheard of, but due to the series' traditionally limited exposure in North America they tend to be something of a minority note (although the new series seems to be gaining wider, if still limited, exposure there than the classic series managed). Tends to have received minimal-to-no exposure outside of these areas.
- Due to its sheer size and the diversity of opinion present, has a reputation for being incredibly fractious and unappeasable; anything that one fan loves is guaranteed to be detested with a white-hot passion by another, and no matter what the producers of any medium do, someone somewhere is guaranteed to start whining about it. This makes fan interaction... interesting.
- Due to the nature of the Expanded Universe and its Long Runner status, the subject of what is or is not canon is particularly tricky in this fandom, especially as the BBC has deliberately avoided giving anything a canon. Some have even extended this to say that Doctor Who doesn't strictly have a canon. It's usually (but not universally) accepted that everything that has been made for television is canon; beyond that the argument rages, but the general moderate approach is that canon beyond this is a matter of personal choice.
Specific terms used:
- Base Under Siege: No, not the demographic base... This refers to a whole sub-class of stories which reached its peak during Season 5 (1968), in which an isolated military or scientific base came under attack by malevolent forces. Examples appear in almost every era of the show, and it is considered a "classic" story style.
- Casual viewer: See not-we. Often conceived of a fragile, easily upset creature who will turn off the TV or switch channels should they feel any one emotion to excess, in a manner comparable to Think of the Children!, in order to win fan arguments. Arguments range from Viewers Are Morons to Viewers Are Geniuses, they prefer Lighter and Fluffier stories, they prefer Darker and Edgier stories, they like Continuity, they hate it, etc. Everything except Viewers Are Goldfish, which would make the whole point moot. Because, you see, every true fan fears the ratings dipping and the BBC taking the series off-air.
- Celebrity historical: A story where the TARDIS crew goes to Earth's past and meets somebody famous. Almost always pseudo-historicals (see below) after the Hartnell era.
- Classic Who: The 1963-89 series. Generally also includes the 1996 made-for-TV movie, despite it being made by an American production company independent of the BBC.
- Gothic: Fandom uses the shorthand "Hammer Horror" or just "gothic" to describe a moody story dipping into Gothic Horror tropes in the way that they did during the reign of Producer Philip Hinchcliffe and his Story Editor Robert Holmes during the tenure of Tom Baker, which ran from Seasons 12 through 14. Specifically, they mean Seasons 13 and 14, over which they had full creative control.
- "Indefinable magic": Whatever makes Doctor Who special. As the term implies, no one can explain it. So overused that fans no longer use it, except ironically.
- Part of the Indefinable Magic is generally taken to be the "Infinitely Flexible Format", meaning that the show can be a western one week, hard sci-fi the next, fantasy the week after and historical the week after that.
- Not-we: Non-fans, a term taken from the Doctor Who story "Kinda" referring to people outside the Kinda tribe.
- New Who: The post-2005 revival. Alternately, nuWho (mostly by its detractors).
- One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, (War), Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve: Where formerly fans would refer to, say, Peter Davison's Doctor as the Fifth Doctor, or, umm, "Peter Davison's Doctor", younger fans would tend to refer to him as 5, Five or even Fivey. The same goes for the others. John Hurt's Doctor tends to switch between '8 1/2' and 'War' to avoid any numbering confusion.
- Pseudo-historical: A story set in the past that does feature science fictional elements—often, an alien in disguise is responsible for mayhem and the Doctor must stop them.
- Pure historical: A story set in the past that features no science fictional elements other than the Doctor's presence. These almost never appear after William Hartnell's era, and the last one to date was 1982's Black Orchid. They were unpopular with the production teams and garnered low ratings, but fans continue to clamour for their return.