It’s the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, and it seems like everyone’s got something to say, and not all of it’s good.
But who would have a bad thing to say about Doctor Who? Well let’s talk to Waris Hussein, who directed the first ever episodes of Who back in 1963. When he made Who, The Doctor was an old man that traveled through time and space with his granddaughter, but now he’s a twentysomething looking guy who picks up a new sexy sidekick every couple of years, and that leaves a bad taste in Hussein’s mouth (so to speak).
“There is an element now, and I know we’re living in a different era, of sexuality that has crept in. The intriguing thing about the original person was that you never quite knew about him and there was a mystery and an unavailability about him. Now we’ve just had a recent rebirth and another girl has joined us, a companion, she actually snogged him. Why bring in this element when in fact you needn’t have it there?”
Well he sounds about as old as The Doctor used to look.
But speaking of young people, actress Carole Ann Ford used to be one. (Ba-doom-boom!) Anyway, Ford played Susan, The Doctor’s aforementioned granddaughter, in the first iteration of the show. While also being interviewed for The Telegraph (which again comes to us via Blastr), Ford talks about her experience being the first companion to go on a fantastic voyage with The Doctor (played at the time by William Hartnell).
For instance, did you know that no one involved with the show, least of all the BBC, knew that Doctor Who was going to become the phenomenon it became when the show debuted. “A lot of people did not want Doctor Who to go ahead,” said Ford. “The people high up were against putting money into children’s programmes, which is how they considered it at the time.
“At that moment, it was just another job,” she added. “You learn your lines, you turn up, you don’t bump into the furniture and you take your money, you know? It soon became fairly clear that it was more than that, though.”
According to Ford, there were even big plans for Susan. Big, awesome plans that sadly never materialized.
“I was a very good dancer and had been an acrobat. They told me Susan was going to be an Avengers-type girl—with all the kapow of that—plus she would have telepathetic [sp?] powers. She was going to be able to fly the Tardis as well as her grandfather and have the most extraordinary wardrobe. None of that happened.”
“All my differentness was cut out. They made me wear horrible little trousers, not even funky jeans. Horrible little flat shoes. I don’t know why they did this to me.”
“Bill [First Doctor William Hartnell] and I put together a back story because we had to. You can’t act something unless you know what is behind it. We created the fact that he had done something to annoy the other Time Lords and they decided he had to go.”
That might be part of the reason that Ford left the series, which, according to her, cursed her then young acting career to the depths of hell and typecasting.
“I must say that when I left Doctor Who, I was filled with… not loathing, but I was incredibly annoyed because I wanted to do more television and films and the only thing that people could ever see me in was a recreation of what I had done. A Susan clone. Some kind of weird teenager. I wanted to do work that would disconnect me from Doctor Who. That is a very difficult thing to accomplish, as many other actors who have played the companions have found out.”
“I had the most searing letters from parents of small children who had been allowed to stay up late to watch this, because I was in it and they thought it was going to be something akin to Doctor Who. They were saying, ‘How dare you do this? You are a role model.’”
I guess it’s all just more proof that every silver lining has a dark cloud. C’est la vie.