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And so, the Tardis torch was passed…

Tonight was both an exciting and an upsetting time for fans of the British sci-fi series DR WHO, because it marked the end of the “reign” of the tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant, and the beginning of the reign of 11th Doctor, played by Matt Smith. Many of us up and down the country watched the program with a mixture of excitement and despair, because we all love the Doctor’s “regeneration” – it’s at the very heart of the character – but we have grown, in the past 4 years, to adore David Tennant, who really has made the role his own and has won over even the most rabidly devoted Tom Baker and Jon Pertwee fans, so we were very, very sorry to see him go…

It has to be said that there are a lot of people who think this wailing and gnashing of teeth is either amusing, or sad, or both. They aren’t into science fiction, or who just don’t like Dr Who, or have some other reason, but they think that getting so “worked up” over a TV program is childish and pathetic. That’s their opinion. I don’t try to convert them, and it’s just a thing we sci-fi fans have to put up with – there’s no criticism of people who have a passion for football, or fast cars, or literature, but sci-fi fans are seen as fair game. Ok. Whatever. We all have different tastes and interests, we can’t all like the same things, thank god.

But Dr Who has a very special place in many people’s hearts, so yes, tonight was a big deal for us, a genuine end of an era, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I watched – perhaps ‘endured’ would be a better word – the final scenes, sat on the edge of my sofa, through very blurry eyes and with wet cheeks. 

I’m NOT going to give away any of the story, I wouldn’t want to ruin it for any readers who haven’t seen it yet. But I will say that I was less than impressed by the basic story of the 2 parter, thought it unconvincing and a bit flabby, but the final half hour more than made up for it, and David Tennant’s Doctor went out in an appropriately heroic, noble and worthy way, as befitted a “Champion” in the truest literary sense of the word. The build-up to the regeration is – if you’ll pardon the pun – masterful, with a bam-bam-bam assault of heartstring-plucking moments. And when the regeneration finally started, and David Tennant began to shimmer and shatter into pieces, I had a lump in my throat the size of an apple, it was horrible… but exciting, too, and almost a relief in a way because, well…

Put it this way. I’m really, really going to miss David Tennant. In common with many Who fans, he became “my Doctor” when he took over from Chris Ecclestone, and his love affair with Rose (oh come on, it was!) was just wonderfully written. I was gutted when I heard he was leaving, absolutely gutted… but as the months passed, and the 10th Doctor’s story drew to a close, I found that I was less gutted, and by tonight I was ready for a “new” Doctor, because a) I wanted Tennant to go out on a high, and b) I just thought he’d been written into a corner, he had nowhere else to go. And there was a danger of the show becoming the David Tennant show, his character and personality is so strong.

But mainly, I felt ready for a new Doctor because the series needs a kick up the arse to stop it becoming too comfortable and safe, and even before I’d seen tonight’s new trailer – which is awesome! – I was feeling confident that new Doctor, Matt Smith, would do a great job and, with Stephen Moffat at the helm (the writer of such classic episodes as “Blink” and “The Girl In The Fireplace”) there will be some superb, darker and edgier stories for us all to enjoy later this year.

Okay, so Matt Smith IS very young-looking. Okay, so he has a boy-band floppy fringe. Okay, so looks like a bit of a “gurner”. But from what I’ve seen he’s a fine actor, and I think the key to the Tardis has been dropped into a safe pair of hands. I also think new Companion, Amy Pond, played by Karen Gillan, is going to attract a legion of fans. The two of them will make a great team.

A lot has been made of Matt Smith’s age. “He’s too young!” “It’ll be Hollyoaks in space!” and “He looks like the singer from A Flock Of Seagulls!” have been some of the kinder comments. But the thing is, Matt is just 3 years younger than Peter Davison was when he took on the role, and he’s an accomplished actor too, so I am sure all will be well. And when you watch the latest trailer on YouTube ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=299Q6HF7NlA ) you can’t help but feel excited about the new series.

It will be a different series, that’s for sure; a younger cast and new writers will bring a whole new dynamic to the Who mythos. But at its heart it will still be Dr Who.

So, the King is dead. Long live the King!

Ending the year with an eclipse…

So, here we are then – 2010! There are no huge, spinning space stations, no Moon- or Mars Bases, nothing like that. Oh well.

2009 went out with lots of bangs and flashes here in Kendal, as fireworks whizzed and wheezed up from gardens in all directions, but several hours earlier there was another light show in the sky, one that, I fear, despite my own best efforts to publicise, only a few people actually saw: a partial lunar eclipse.

The eclipse began at around 7pm, as the Moon started to creep into Earth’s shadow; the bottom right of the Moon’s brilliant disc began to show a darkening, as if a stain was creeping across it, and by 7.15 the Moon looked like this…

The eclipse was clearly visible to the naked eye – and looked much more impressive than I’d expected, to be perfectly honest! – but the view through my telescope was beautiful, with subtle colouring, shading and detail visible within the shadowed area that simply wasn’t visible to the naked eye. I showed the eclipse to a few passers-by, people scurrying and scrunching across the snow-covered field on their way to or back from meals, takeaways or off-licences, and they all loved the view. Of course, Stella was there too, and despite the cold – and it was ***** freezing! – enjoyed seeing the eclipse…

We even managed to project the eclipsed Moon this time! Okay, so it’s not a brilliant image, and it’s not going to win any photo awards, but I think it’s fun…

Bumping up the magnification a bit rewarded me with this view…

By 7.30 the eclipse was past its peak, but still looked pretty gorgeous through the telescope…

I headed in before the eclipse ended because it was just so, so cold, but I was more than happy with the photographs I took, and with managing to cram a little bit more Outreach into the final few hours of 2009 🙂

So, that was it, 2009. What will 2010 bring? Maybe I’ll write about that later, when I get back from work, if I have time. But it looks like poor Spirit is facing a very tough time as this new year dawns, and I have real worries that she’s just not going to get out of Troy, her soft sand trap. We’ll just have to cross our fingers and wait and see. In the meantime, I’ve just noticed my blog has clocked up more than 150,000 views, so I’d like to thank everyone for stopping by my little home on the web, and wish you all a very Happy New Year! 🙂