Competition: What Doctor Who means to me (Competition Closed!)

The TARDIS iPhone case in its box, and on my own phone

For new readers, please note that this competition was held and closed in January 2012!

I don’t really remember who my first Doctor was. I wasn’t really into Doctor Who as a kid, though I watched it when my brothers did. I liked stories about ponies back then. But later, when I discovered science fiction through Star Wars, Star Trek and Blake’s 7, I rediscovered Doctor Who and took a shine to Patrick Troughton. I’ve loved all of the Doctors to varying degrees since then, even if it did take me a while to warm to Colin Baker.

So, after 30-odd years of regular viewing, what do I see in that show? What does the Doctor mean to me?

Doctor Who means a lot of different things to me. I’ve learned that adventures are more fun when they are shared; that new things and new places are not always safe, but are often exciting and an opportunity to learn; and that it’s important to stand up for what you believe.

As flawed as individual stories are – which is inevitable over such a long history and the constraints of it being a TV series, after all, and not a philosophy – I find that, for me, the themes of courage and valuing intelligence were consistent and influential.

You need courage to choose the unknown, to trust someone to have your back and to stand up for your beliefs. You also need courage to allow your beliefs to be challenged and to see things from another perspective. Stories with the Silurians have shown three incarnations of the Doctor urging the competing sides to attempt to share and understand, with the earliest ones making an impact on me, as did Tom Baker’s contemplation on whether he had the right to destroy the Daleks, even with all the evil they had done.

I also love how the Doctor respects intellect. He encourages people who can think under pressure and, particularly in new Who, delights in people solving things before he does. It was always great seeing female characters who were active and intelligent, including many scientists. In fact, I saw a lot of strong, smart women of all ages in this series, particularly when I was younger and I didn’t see a lot of them in other TV shows. Not just Barbara, Zoe, Liz and Sarah Jane, but among the supporting cast as well. Amelia Ducat in The Seeds of Doom is still a pretty good template for the kind of old lady I’d like to be. In new Who, there is the exquisite Donna Noble, and how I loved the fact that the Doctor thought her take-no-prisoners mouthiness was “brilliant!”.

Despite the science often being terribly wobbly (or non-existant), Doctor Who taught me the value of seeking empirical answers. Even with the advent of a lot of mystical clouds in the current series, I have always enjoyed even the most nominal attempts to say ‘It’s not magic, it’s science.’ Science can be understood, and so you should at least try to do so, rather than falling down in superstitious awe or taking things on face value.

On more personal terms, Doctor Who has other meanings for me. It’s through a Doctor Who fan club that I met Tim, my partner of 25 years. We’ve been having adventures together ever since, and that’s a darned wonderful thing.

I still love Doctor Who. I love it when the Doctor is enabling others to use their intellect and skills, and to find their own courage to be activists in their own lives. Even in the silliest episodes, where the science stinks and the women are squealing and tripping over tufts of grass: the encouragement to use your brains and find your courage remains as powerful and empowering for me now as it always has done.


Naturally, being a fan, when I was looking for a case for my new iPhone 4s, I was delighted to find a wonderful TARDIS case at I ordered one, and when it didn’t show up and I contacted Redbubble, they immediately replaced it. Then, wouldn’t you know it, the first one escaped from its time loop and arrived three days later. I asked Redbubble if they wanted me to post it back and they said ‘Don’t worry about it: just give it to a good home.”

So in the spirit of their good customer service, I’ve decided to have a competition to find the TARDIS case (pictured) a good home. It fits an iPhone 4 or 4s and is valued at around $40.

All you need to do is email me at with the subject heading ‘Dr Who Competition’ to tell me in 100-300 words what Doctor Who means to you.


Conditions of entry:

It is a condition of entry that I may use your answer or part thereof (quoting you) in my blog, which will be online indefinitely. I’m happy to attach an alias to any quotes, but you need to let me know both your real name and preferred alias in your entry.

  • The competition will be open for two weeks, from Monday 9th January to Monday 23rd January 2012.
  • I will select the winning entry that week and post the result, along with extracts from all entries, on Monday 30 January 2012.

If you miss out on winning this case, you can find it at Redbubble – “The TARDIS” by mechantefille. RedBubble has a huge range of geek  iPhone 4/4S cases, including Dr Who and Firefly. It was hard not to buy a case for every week of the year! If I’d seen Keep Calm and Call Buffy first I might well have bought that one.


The competition has closed and the winners have been drawn.