Everybody Loves Their First Doctor

The Hilton Crystal ballroom hosted the BritTrack panel “Doctor Who—Season 10 in Review” Friday afternoon. A veteran fan panel including Allison Lane, Andrew Hartley, Robert Bowen, Robert Lloyd, and Dr. Scott Viguié escorted the assembled Doctor Who fans through season ten.

The discussion began, naturally, with the Doctor and especially the growth of Peter Capaldi. The consensus across the table was that this year (his last) was Capaldi’s best. Viguié declared: “The writers got him right just in time for him to leave.” This season saw him become the “most Doctor-ish.” Capaldi grew on fans, including those in attendance today. Time and again commentators (both panelists and members) used the phrase. Viguié perhaps best summed up the growth of feelings among fans toward Capaldi’s Doctor when he declared that “everybody remembers their first Doctor, but you will love the current Doctor eventually.” The panel reserved judgement and comment, largely in deference to discussions planned later in the Con, regarding the just announced selection of Jodie Whittaker for the role of the 13th Doctor. How a new show runner will develop her character remains to be seen.

The subject of the Doctor’s age also came up. Reviewers often wrote that an older Capaldi brought the weariness of age to the character and stood in contrast to his much younger predecessors. The sense among those present was that the Doctor would be younger in the future.

The conversation then turned to companions with the focus on Bill Potts, played by Pearl Mackie. The panel pointed out that the Doctor’s companions tended to reflect, and even more, complete the Doctor. Bill was his humanity. Further, one of her strengths was her inquisitive nature, a real compliment to the Doctor. The panel generally saw Bill as a “great” character whose departure, at least its manner, at season’s end was disappointing.

The panel also discussed Big Finish Productions, which produces high-quality audio stories. Big Finish built its following using classic Doctors but because of its popularity has started incorporating more contemporary characters. It is so popular now that it is often referred to as the “other” Doctor Who series. Viguié argues that they take the “old radio serial” to a new level.

The session continued with a passionate discussion of other characters and the possibilities for the future. All in attendance remembered their first Doctor and look forward with great anticipation to the next. It’s bound to be an interesting ride.

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