The Almost 500-year Diary. Part I

Since it’s relaunch in 2005, Doctor Who has been big in America and even set a few stories there. But what was it like for fans of the classic show? Doctor Who in History editor and contributor Carey Fleiner remembers her first appointment with the Doctor and her struggle to get a regular dose of the strange British show. Over the next five blog posts she flicks through her childhood diary entries on  …

The Almost 500-year Diary

Part I


‘I found a Good Show’


No 500 Year Diary here, but I did have a Five Year Diary as a kid, and I really did keep it every day from 1976 through to 1980! Now, not every one of those 2,192 entries is particularly fascinating or of historical merit, but it is cool to look at a single date and see a kid going from about 10 years old through to 14! Well, I think so anyway.

1aAnyway, given that our project is about history and Doctor Who, I had a flick through the diary, as I remember catching an omnibus episode of the show back on one rainy Sunday when I was in the fifth or sixth grade – my dad and I had no idea what we were watching, but thought it was great mad fun (turns out it was ‘Ark in Space.’) Sadly, I didn’t record that, but I did record when I discovered the show a few years later, in the summer of 1979.

The local PBS station (12, WHYY out of Wilmington/Philadelphia), started running an episode every evening, which is where I stumbled on it in 1979. I watched it all summer, from ‘Ark in Space’ through to the first few episodes of ‘Genesis of the Daleks.’ When the show was packaged like that for the US, they had a voice over at the start of each episode explaining to us clueless colonialists what had happened in the previous episode. I was genuinely hooked, as I liked the cliffhangers, thought Sarah Jane was lovely, and found it all quite exciting.

I wrote about it a couple of times:

24 July 1979

1b‘I found a good show on 12 called DR WHO. It’s a British sci-fi soap opera.’

As for the other entries in other years (if  you can decipher the handwriting): Matthew is my nephew…no idea what was going on there with him, church, and just sitting. WIOQ was a Philly radio station; used to listen to Helen Leicht on Sunday mornings doing her ‘Breakfast with the Beatles’ show…N. G. is Night Gallery, which my oldest brother and I used to watch religiously late at night.

A few weeks later, the first day of a family trip, and the day after seeing part 5 of ‘Genesis of the Daleks:

24 August

‘Didn’t do much at all [today]. I’ll never know if Dr. Who destroys the Daleks.’

Soz, you’re just getting the 1979 entry here, as there’s a few things in the other years on that date that aren’t for public consumption/entertainment. What’s happened here is that I’d just got stuck in to the ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ but only saw the first five episodes – my auntie and mother had planned to a trip to Disneyworld and took me along with them. I really, really wanted to find out what in the heck happened in that final episode, and this was long before VCRs…


Carey’s chronicles continue tomorrow.

BACareyThe writers of Doctor Who and History focus on a different aspect of history as it expressed thematically in the show. Carey Fleiner’s chapter looks at the portrayal of Nero in the Doctor Who episode The Romans (1965). “The serial was intended to be a comic farce from the time of its commission,” says Carey. “And Derek Francis leapt into the role of the greedy, gluttonous emperor with aplomb”.

Doctor Who and History is available on Amazon UK  Amazon US  McFarland shop and also available on Kindle. Check out the McFarland catalogue.

When Sydney Newman conceived the idea for Doctor Who in 1963, he envisioned a show that would entertain as well as educate. Historical adventures were part of his vision-the Doctor and his companions would visit and observe, but not interfere with, events in history. That plan was dropped early on. Not only has the Doctor happily meddled with historical events for decades, his adventures-on television, in films, novels, comics, books and games-reflect how we regard our own place in history. This collection of new essays examines how the Doctor engages with history and inspires reflections upon it history. Topics includes reconstruction of lost historical serials, reflections on Britain’s colonial past, the subversion of nostalgia for village life, the depiction of Norse myths, alternate history, and the impact of historical decisions on the present.

Book Format Paperback
Number of Pages 193
Author Fleiner, Carey, October, Dene
Publisher McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
Publication Date August, 2017
ISBN-13 9781476666563
ISBN-10 1476666563

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