Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Sarah Jane Must Live.

I'm a Doctor Who fan and today was a great day. Well, up until about 8.30pm anyway. When you're 42 and your favourite TV show is a programme aimed at children you quickly get used to people thinking you're, well, a twat despite the fact that Doctor Who is pretty much the UK's most popular non-talent contest piece of televisual entertainment. It's easily the most popular long running TV series that isn't shit, an achievement that deserves applause. After a bit of shopping in Sainsbury's today I felt like I deserved a reward, Sainsbury's is a trying experience, so I went to WH Smith and bought Planet Of The Spiders.

I took the empty DVD cover to the counter. The cover shows a dashing Jon Pertwee, a troubled but cute Elisabeth Sladen and two massive spiders. The shop assistant took one look at the cover and said "Gross".

SEE? That's what happens when you like Doctor Who. People can't wait to fucking give their pointless and needless opinions on something that has NOTHING TO DO WITH THEM. I mean, what would this shop girl know about quality British sci-fi from the 70's? She's only about 20. "Gross"? You're out of your league, love. Keep your opinions for voting time on Britain's Got A Fat Git Singing or The Ache Factor. "Gross"? How dare you, child? You're 20, you work in WH Smith and you're an idiot. You don't know your Ark In Space from your Eldrad.

"I bet it's good though, eh?", she said next. Too little too late, young lady. I came in here to buy something far above your stupid Beiber filled head and you've insulted me. You can take your fake interest back to your Glee downloads and shove off.

"Aw, man. Jon Pertwee ones was good though", she said.

About 17 months passed between the 20 year old shop assistant from WH Smith's last sentence and me saying "What?" and it felt great. I shook myself back to reality and tried to pretend that this wasn't one of the greatest moments of my entire life. "Yes", I said. "Jon...er...Jon Pertwee is great".

"I used to watch the re-runs back in the day. Did you know they made an American Doctor Who movie?"

DID I KNOW? Yes! But that's not the point. The point is that she knew they made an American movie. Alright, it was sort of Canadiany Americany but she knew it existed and she thought that I, someone who was buying Planet of the Spiders, might not know anything about it. Of course! See, that's the thing about Doctor Who. The assistants often appeared to be stupid compared to the expert but often they knew much, much more than they were given credit for.

"When the Master takes his fingernail off I was like I'm switching off".

A wise move when it came to Doctor Who: The Movie. I stayed at the counter for 10 minutes talking about Doctor Who with this girl and it was fantastic. It is easily the greatest thing that has ever happened to anyone in WH Smith. Mainly we discussed Jon Pertwee and his car and his shirts and The Master. I just never saw any of this coming. Then right at the end she pointed to the picture of Sarah Jane Smith on the cover of my DVD and said "She's the best girl ever".

Sarah Jane has always been The Doctor's most popular companion ever since she first appeared. She was cute and clever and funny and a bit tough and everyone liked her. I adored her when I was 5 and there's something brilliantly exciting about knowing that you can bump into people who are a couple of decades younger than you who get Sarah Jane's appeal too. Of course, much more crucially, the last few years has seen Sarah Jane become hugely popular again to kids on CBBC. That's just how good the character is. She lasted and she is loved and today's sad news just came out of nowhere.

I feel like I've been wrongly dropped off in Aberdeen.

If you don't know much about Elisabeth Sladen's excellent Sarah Jane Smith then I encourage you to watch The Hand of Fear. I think it's her at her best. That said she was great in all classic Doctor Who and her comeback in School Reunuin with David Tennant is one of the best in the new show. Any more comforting thoughts?



Scott Edwards said...

Couldn't have said it better. She was the first adult lady woman I had a crush on. I remember her with Tom Baker - when you're a kid you always want main characters to marry. The pathos she played in School Reunion was heartbreaking too.
I can honestly say I loved her when I was a child.
Thanks man, good blog.

Michael said...

A great post, Michael.

The 4th Doctor calls her his “best friend” – commonplace now, but shockingly intimate then. But of course he did. I loved the way she used to send the Doctor up – in the way one does with someone you truly love. She conveyed brilliantly the dangers of the universe, so that you believed the peril (“Linx!”), but also showed that travelling the universe in an old Police Box was a hoot.

Tom Baker is a charismatic screen presence, especially in his early series, and you have to be something special to match him. She matched him, and he knew it, which is why he’s generous with her in a way that he wasn’t always subsequently. Think of them tied together, alternating watching Voga approach, in Revenge of the Cybermen. He called her his “best friend” in Seeds of Doom – commonplace now, shockingly intimate then. And remember that the two of them rewrote, together, that final scene of Hand of Fear. “Oh, Sarah…”

Michael said...

Repeated myself above. I'm not thinking clearly. Why would I be?