The much beloved British television series Doctor Who has been with us for 50 years. Debuting in 1963, this science fiction show about a time traveling alien ran for 26 seasons before ending in 1989. Reborn in 2005, the series is as popular as ever. The eighth season of the new series begins this fall, starring Peter Capaldi as the 12th version of the title character.
Originally conceived as a program to teach kids about science, Doctor Who has grown into an international geek culture juggernaut. In case you’ve never seen an episode, the lovably goofy and absurd Doctor looks human, but is really the last living Time Lord from the destroyed planet Gallifrey. He travels through both time and space in the TARDIS (a ship that looks like an old-fashioned British police emergency call box) but that is “bigger on the inside.” The Doctor looks great for his age (which fluctuates constantly from all that time travel, but is at least 1000 years) because any time his body is destroyed he simply regenerates in a new one. He loves earth and humans (and, hey, constant space and time travel must get lonely) so he is always recruiting a human companion or two to journey with him.
Fans (who sometimes call themselves Whovians) wear themed apparel with pride, fill their homes and offices with geeky decor, discuss individual episodes in detail and even debate the merits of showrunner Steven Moffat — for the record, my biggest complaint is that all 12 Doctors have been white and male.
In addition to fanfiction.net and AO3, Doctor Who fan fiction writers can post their stories to Doctor Who-exclusive archives like whofic.com. And if you’re a famous Whovian, like writer Neil Gaiman, you may get to pen an episode: “The Doctor’s Wife” (season 6, and it’s excellent!). Fan art is also prolific, with many artists posting on Deviant Art and Tumblr (also a source for memes, gifs and other Who-related ephemera).
Foodies can make their own drinks based on the Doctor’s preferred weapon (a sonic screwdriver) and desserts based on the bizarre array of creatures that the Doctor and his human companions have encountered over the years. You can find how-to videos for Adipose and Dalek cupcakes and even pictures of a lasagna decorated like the villainous Cassandra — she’s basically a living sheet of skin — all over the Internet.
Here’s a photo collage of some of the activities patrons completed during our recent Doctor Who: Snacks and Crafts program.