“One Day, I Shall Come Back. Yes, I Shall Come Back.”

Escapism will always entice us. It breaks us out of our normal day to day routine or our dreary nightmares. Some of us even find comfort in escapism. It brings up hope. The messages TV shows and films of this genres send makes us feel like we have a home – somewhere to always feel safe, welcome and cared for. Learning about fandoms who care as much about the shows as we do, can make us feel like we have a second family. But maybe that is not the case anymore. At least, not with the Doctor Who fandom. Perhaps, the Doctor Who fandom of once upon a time dematerialised long ago and we need to wait for it to come back.

So where’s the good old caring Doctor Who fandom gone? More to the point, what’s happened? How do we even know anything’s happened to it? While, I’m not old enough to have been able to track its 54-year history, I can talk about the changes I’ve witnessed since the return of the show in 2005. These include changes I believe were linked to an increase in my exposure to the Internet side of the fandom.

Back in 2005, I did not even have the internet at home. At some point we got dial-up broadband but new companion entrances like Martha Jones’ were kept surprise and I did not spend an entire series knowing Christopher Ecclestone would soon look a lot more like David Tennant on my screen. I did not even know what regeneration was, as I had never watched the show before. I was kept away from fandom, purely watching Doctor who for enjoyment of the show. Only a few people at school watched Doctor Who. There was no conversing online about the episode after it aired.

At some point, that changed. I started joining Doctor Who Facebook groups, glad to look at other Doctor Who posts and comment in response to what other fans had to say about the show. I wondered what all the fuss was about Twitter and finally joined the social media network (It’s @PINKTROID by the way. You’re welcome.) After having forgotten to delete it enough times, I started using it and following any accounts related to Doctor Who. It was fun. When David Tennant was called The 10th Doctor all the time, I wondered “If he’s The 10th Doctor, then there must be other Doctors. Christopher Eccleston must be the 9th. Who are the others?” I looked online and found my answers pretty quickly. This was my first taste of how much enjoyment could be conjured out of learning more about a then, 43-year-old show. It was even more fun when you could learn from other Whovians. “So, who was Nyssa?” “Who’s Romana?” “Do most people think there was a Romana III or is it just theorised?” “Why do so many people dislike Adric?” “Who is The Brigadier?”

Eventually, The Oncoming Storm was no longer a term just to be associated with The Doctor, but with the fandom. I stopped always getting answers. It turned into “Call yourself The Ultimate Whovian”? instead of information being provided with joy of helping out another fan. I fount out about #DWSR (Doctor Who Set Reports), which always made me annoyed I did not live in Cardiff at the time and that the one time it was filming in London, I missed it because I found out too late to get to Trafalguar Square in time and I really wanted to see some filming and meet my favourite actors. It was cool to see filming photos. However people eventually started going too far posting actual spoilery material, such as sides (A5 pages of the script), they’d spotted, which could spoil the storyline. Furthermore, within the last year, the Twitter hashtag has been criticised, with those who attend filming being called stalkers by some.

Even more recently, some met a Doctor Who actor on his last day of filming reportedly, according to some of them, received death threats. To add some context, a fan gathering was planned for Tuesday 11th July outside the studios, which was the rumoured last day of filming, according to the organisers, with no guarantee of meeting The Doctor, Peter Capaldi. Some went to the gathering location the day before and say they just happened to be there and did not know that the 10th was the actual last day of filming. Eitherway, this shows that the journey of the Doctor Who fandom, has been, at least from my point of view, from one where you can find joy in conversing with other Whovians and learning more about the show to one where some allegedly receive death threats.

This is also the fandom where I created a list of topics I knew I was no longer able to talk about online, namely River Song, Steven Moffat’s writing or whether The next Doctor should be anything that is not a white man, unless I wanted to be attacked for my opinion, that was, which I did not want to be. I would keep those conversations for people I knew, who were more rational in their approaches to understanding my opinion of liking River Song, Steven Moffat’s writing and The next Doctor being able to be anything, black, Asian, female, male, as long as they were a fantastic actor and true to the character.

Eventually, this year, I declared myself out of the fandom, as it has personally become too toxic for my liking. It is now one where not all opinions are welcomed and understood, one where you possibly risk having the show spoiled for you and one where there are some aggressive comments thrown at some who watch go to watch filming, as they come across it in Cardiff, or if they get told where it is by others who have come across it. Watching filming should be an opportunity to watch this fantastic show being made, for fun and perhaps if you’re lucky get to talk to the cast and/or crew if they are able to take time out to talk to fans, as filming schedules can be hectic, depending on productions and on the day. It should not be one where you get attacked for watching filming or an opportunity to spoil the episode for others. There has been some worries about cast safety from the opposants of DWSR. However, from my filming experience on many productions, I know that on location, there is on set security, so fans need not fear in that respect. However, I will add that should anyone go and watch filming, they need to understand that everyone is there to do their jobs first, so do appreciate if you do get some time to talk to them, but if you do not, please understand that everyone is there to work, first. Actress, Carrie Hope Fletcher has a great YouTube video on stage door, which is along the same lines of the point I am making here. I would therefore hope that everyone going to filming cares about the show and would not want to harm the safety of anyone filming, in anyway. To be honest, despite the current state of the fandom, I also do not, personally see how any fan would want to pose a safety risk to the cast (or the crew).

Overall, I do hope this is just an effect of the few in the fandom. Eitherway, it is a toxic and disappointing one. I no longer call myself a Whovian as part of the fandom. I am just a watching Whovian, because it is safer that way. This post is not a glossy “This fandom is fantastic and nothing else,” post but honesty about the current state of the fandom is necessary. Hopefully, having this open and honest conversation will enables us to get the fandom back to where it should be. Hopefully, the fate of this fandom is not hopeless and all the good that is still in it, with all of the kind Whovians who are still in the fandom (despite this post, don’t worry, the Doctor Who Fandom is not just full of negativity at the moment), will overtake any negativity and we will have the true fandom back.

Hopefully, one day, it shall come back. Yes, it shall come back.


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