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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!

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