It’s been two years since we joined the Eleventh Doctor, Amy and Rory for the very first time in The Eleventh Hour.
The premise of the episode? I’ll let Steven Moffat explain (taken from an interview on Radio 4’s Front Row):
“A few minutes ago he was David Tennant saying goodbye to Rose Tyler, and now he’s in the very thick of a new adventure. There’s not even the traditional period of unconsciousness, so, in a way, he’s still settling into his new form. He’s still a bit of David, but he’s realising those things don’t work for him anymore. Imagine waking up and you’re literally someone else. How do you cope with it?”
I’ve said previously that Matt Smith is my favourite Doctor – in fact, the three make up my perfect TARDIS team – and I was sold even before he climbed out of his burning Type 40 TT to request an apple. It was when we first joined him, mere moments – or months, depending on your view of things – after he checked his hair and chin (“blimey!”) and he dodged Big Ben; that’s when I knew he’d be great.
And I’ve seen that bit so much now. I lose track of how many times I’ve watched The Eleventh Hour. I’m still not bored.
I remember being told that we were going on holiday. “Cool. When?” The answer sounded like torture: “Easter.” But that was when the 11th Doctor made his debut! What are you doing?
Thing is, this had happened before. A holiday was accidentally scheduled at the same time as The Sound of Drums. Clearly, one would have to be missed, and I was sure which one it’d be. Turned out I was wrong. I even phoned up the BBC, trying to make them realise their mistake. Alas. I had to record it.
But this was the start of a new era! I couldn’t miss this!
…And I didn’t. I forgot that Cornwall had television too. But it was much better than that.
On 3rd April, I was shopping in Plymouth with Mum and Dad. I found Big Finish audios in Waterstones, and I didn’t think Plymouth could top that, to be honest. But there was a noise, ebbing in and out of reality as the wind carried past us. I could’ve sworn it was the Doctor Who theme tune.
Suddenly, there were Cybermen. A huge screen, with smoke and officials handing out red-and-green specs and kids screaming with delights and terror as the Ood told them they must feed (them – if they were hungry).
We grabbed some glasses, a TARDIS insignia tattoo and a lenticular sticker, and watched as Murray Gold’s Down to Earth reverberated around Armada Way and the Doctor struggled with the TARDIS. We watched a few times, then off to lunch, then a few more times, then shopping – then back once more. For luck, naturally. But they never showed beyond that first scene, no matter how many times I went back! I still have those goodies; pride of place in my collection.
We had to rush back to see the full episode – through traffic jams, and road works, and tight country lanes and cows crossing! (Well, the last one didn’t happen, but might as well have.) No, we got back with plenty of time. I still don’t know how we did it. But boy, was it worth it.
Not only did it usher in the 11th Doctor, but also the Ponds, Leadworth, “Silence will fall,” Steven Moffat’s incredible era, I Am The Doctor, a new TARDIS, the crack in time, a revitalised Time Vortex…
10.08 million tuned in, and, as far as I’m concerned, Everyone loved it.
And since then, we’ve had The Time of Angels/ Flesh and Stone; Vincent and the Doctor; The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang; The Impossible Astronaut/ Day of the Moon; The Girl Who Waited; The Wedding of River Song…
28 classics. And with 14 more on their way.
Matt Smith is the Doctor. Long may he reign.