It’s there, right at the back of my mind in my earliest memories. A front room in a terraced house, right outside Stockport County’s ground in 1977.
A white leather sofa, a slightly psychedelic looking carpet and a Hitachi colour TV, capable of receiving all three channels, in the right corner of the room.
I was three. It was Saturday evening.
That bloody spooky Doctor Who music emitted from the TV , strangely exciting, strangely foreboding. Mixed with the spooky ‘time tunnel’ image of the opening titles.
That’s it, I thought. I’m taking refuge behind that white leather sofa, at least until the music stops.
The programme starts. I sit, perhaps too closely, to the television again. I am too young to understand the plot but I take in the visuals. The foggy Edwardian lighthouse at night. The claustrophobic feel. I’m scared but it’s going to be ok, because Doctor Who is there. With his scarf. Also his friend Leela.
Jesus! What’s that big, green blobby thing? It looks like a cross between a jellyfish, a regurgitated Brussel sprout and an alien’s bogey.
That’ll be me back behind the white leather sofa then…
Looking back it was quite scary stuff for teatime viewing back then,sandwiched in between the twin safety pillows of Basil Brush and the Generation Game. When you look back at the Hammer Horror films of the 70’s, there really isn’t that much difference between them and 70’s Doctor Who ( No fake blood and no bare breasts in the TARDIS, granted). As I hid behind the sofa, I was unaware that millions of other kids up and down the country were doing the same.
As scared as I was, I didn’t want to stop watching it, ever. Those scares inspired an obsession and a loyalty that no other programme could ever achieve.
What is it about that era of Doctor Who that made so many fans of us? Tom Baker was a large part of that. As a kid watching it, I totally believed in his portrayal.
So eccentric, with those wild staring eyes, those teeth and curls.
There was something slightly scary about him as well, but you knew he was the good guy. You knew that if anyone was going to defeat that hideous blob, it was him. He was the hero of Saturday night. Many a week would be spent agonising over his fate after one of the many nail-biting cliffhangers.
You can watch 70’s Doctor Who now and maybe laugh ( especially if you don’t remember it from around the first time around), at the dated effects, the low budgets etc.
You have to remember though, at that time, only the wealthy had access to VCR’s. There were three channels, no Sky, no cable, no internet.
This was the scariest thing we had been exposed to and it did it’s job well. When you consider the limitations and budgets they were working with, the production team worked wonders.
So, perhaps there was no better ‘jumping on point’ than The Horror Of Fang Rock. It is a classic and I would wholeheartedly recommend you watch it. It started a journey that I am still on today. It has influenced my life and when I think about it, it has cost me quite a bit of money too…