REVIEW: DOCTOR WHO – CELEBRATING FIFTY YEARS OF FANDOM / CERT: E / DIRECTOR: JONATHON SCRAFTON / SCREENPLAY: JONATHON SCRAFTON / STARRING: LOUISE JAMSEON, ROBERT SHEARMAN, NICK ROBATTO, MICHELLE OSORIO, JOHN PAUL GREEN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (AVAILABLE FROM WWW.FTSMEDIA.CO.UK)
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this 45-minute documentary celebrating Doctor Who’s half-century as a TV phenomenon. But you can’t help thinking that it’s a bit late to the party as every last crumb of the TARDIS birthday cake was devoured back in November and the bunting’s long since been put away. But this is a Kickstarter-funded project which has suffered delays and production problems so perhaps we can look at the film as one of those ‘sorry we missed your birthday’ type messages and just sit back and enjoy the show.
Whereas Cameron K. McEwan’s Who’s Changing looked at the ways Doctor Who fandom has developed over the decades, Celebrating Fifty Years just rounds up a bunch of Doctor Who professionals and fans and lets them talk about Doctor Who and how important it is in their lives. So Louise Jameson (Leela from 1977-8) discusses not only her time in the series but the impact the show has had on her life ever since; it is, as she cheerily admits, her pension. Robert Shearman is as avuncular as ever as he talks about his love for the series and his ‘Dalek’ episode from 2005 and prop maker Nick Robatto explains how he turned his work on the TV series into Rubbertoe Replicas, making and selling licensed replica props and collectibles based on his original designs for the series. Then we have slightly more eccentric and yet still endearing fans such as American Michelle Osorio (she describes herself as a ‘film-maker and YouTuber‘…that’s a profession now?) who’s busily making a web series called ‘Dalek Gary’ about a stranded Dalek who has to take up a menial office job to make ends meet – which does seem to fundamentally miss the whole point of the Daleks. Other enthusiastic fans interviewed have fulfilled lifelong ambitions by appearing on the revived show as a high-profile extra (one of the ear-pod humans in ‘Rise of the Cybermen’) and another has built a fully-functioning ring modulator which allows him to distort his voice into the familiar tones of a Dalek or a Cybermen.
Light-hearted and good-natured, Celebrating Fifty Years of Fandom is watchable and unassuming, if entirely inessential, and if it doesn’t come to any specific conclusions about why its interviewees are Doctor Who fans that’s probably because it doesn’t need to and doesn’t want to. It’s just a bunch of folk whose lives have been touched by the Doctor and who, like most of us, can’t help feeling like better people because of it.