WHO 50: 1989:

TV A guest post from writer Mags L Halliday:

Survival should, probably, have been my last Doctor Who story. It was 1989 and I was at art college, living in a bedsit on a diet of jacket potatoes, and going to see American post-punk bands. My tv was a tiny black and white set with a hoop aerial and a dial you used to tune in manually. Presuming you'd put a 50p in the meter. Once a week, though, I'd head back to my parents for a real dinner and Doctor Who in colour.

I missed the first episode of season 26 in fact. Unsurprisingly arty shared houses did not buy tv listings magazines so I only realised after it was on. And my parents didn't have a video. By the time Survival aired, it felt like it was becoming time to put Who away in the box marked "childhood". Despite the season having contained two of my favourite stories, Ghost Light and The Curse of Fenric, things like Hale and Pace and bad animatronic cats made me embarrassed.

Thematically, Survival is about conforming (or not) and working together to escape a doomed world (be that Perivale or the Cheetah planet). That chimed with me, as I partied with Anti-Fascist League members and protested the oncoming poll tax. In retrospect, Survival distilled the social and political tensions of the late 80s every bit as much as the more obvious The Happiness Patrol. But still...

Most fans think Survival has a melancholy air applied only afterwards, just as the Doctor's voice over at the end was dubbed on in edit. But for me that feeling was there as I watched it, and it chimed with my own feeling that something was coming to an end. Had there been another season in 1990, I suspect I wouldn't have watched it. My love of Who would have been boxed away along with my Bauhaus t-shirt.

Instead, I bought the first New Adventure. And Doctor Who became too broad and too deep for any TV set.

Mags is a contributor to Chicks Unravel Time: Women Journey Through Every Season of Doctor Who and Encounters of Sherlock Holmes: Brand new tales of the Great Detective, both out now. Her previous works include the Eighth Doctor novel History 101 (which I reviewed here) as well as for the Professor Bernice Summerfield and Faction Paradox spin-off ranges.

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