Inside the Fiction Factory – Part 42

Dr Who

I took in the Dr Who Exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh this week. It was my third visit and as it is finishing up at the end of the month I was keen to go back. I have a museum membership so I have free entry to all the paid exhibitions.

I write science fiction and given some of my earliest television memories are of Dr Who, the influence it has had on me and continues to have is incalculable. It’s the longest running science fiction series in the world and continues to adapt and evolve in response to the changing circumstances and attitudes and the technology that make up our world. One of my earliest memories is of my father coming home from work, all excited about watching a new program on TV that evening. I don’t know why that has stuck with me. I recall sitting down beside him and watching it in awe of the music and the swirling graphics of the time tunnel. The sound of the Tardis still gives me shivers today. The theme music is something I will blog about in another post. It’s funny how a memory like that lingers. He took me to see an exhibition in Glasgow sometime later. I don’t have the details now or what the exhibition was about, but I remember the first Doctor, William Hartnell along with a Dalek was there.

Among the exhibits were a number of the costumes that have featured over the years including my favourite the Daleks. There were also Cybermen, a weeping angel and many other favourites. There was also a glass case containing the many different types of sonic screwdrivers the Doctor has used over the years. There was of course a Tardis and a Tardis console and there were several short films running, discussing for example the science behind the concepts used in the series. I’m into electronics and music so I was thrilled to see the ring modulator which is the gadget they use to produce the voice of the Dalek. It was also used for voicing the Cybermen and for creating other sound effects in the programs.

I used to have toy Daleks as a kid, but unfortunately I no longer have these. I recall having quite a few all made out of plastic. I also had a toy bagatelle with a Dr Who Theme (the Doctor featured was Jon Pertwee). I couldn’t resist buying a model Dalek from the exhibition shop as a souvenir. This one is made out of metal and looks pretty cool. It is now sitting on my writing desk on the base of my lamp, a reminder of my writing roots.

I found the exhibition a real joy and at times emotional. The series was part of my childhood and has been a constant ever since. I experienced a real sense of the passing of time when I was there. The notion of time travel fascinates me and the fantasy series I’m working on called The Clockmaker Conspiracy plays with time and parallel universes. This exhibition allowed me time to review the connections and influence Dr Who has had on me, my reading and my writing. I doubt I would be writing science fiction if it hadn’t been for this program, or my father wanting me to sit with him while he watched it. It’s funny how things work out.

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