Kids today, eh? They have it so easy…portable music players the size of your little toe; hot and cold running internets; and, of course, all the Doctor Who they can eat. Not only lashings and lashings of Doctor Who, but on a budget that we would never have believed, starring some of the best actors money can bribe. They don’t know how lucky they are.
Mind you, we didn’t know how lucky we were. When DWAS started out in 1976, Tom Baker was the Doctor, Philip Hinchcliffe was producing, and Bob Holmes was writing. Doctor Who was arguably at the greatest creative peak it had ever hit and has still rarely equalled it since. No wonder the show was attracting fans like Russell T Davies and Neil Gaiman.
But you chaps…you chaps had it tough. 1986. Trial of a Time Lord. The show’s already had its first hiatus, the ‘85/’86 winter season, and is increasingly being edged out by the BBC, who think it’s hoary and old-fashioned. You didn’t know it then, but there was only one more Doctor to go before the Great Hiatus, or Interregnum, into which a whole generation of kids would be born without the aid of a Doctor.
At least when things got hard, we had the memories of the good times to fall back on. You guys had barely got off the ground and here you were, plugging away through the hardest time fans of the show had ever known, getting by on nothing more than a handful of videos, the occasional imported Virgin New Adventure, and your own grit, determination and, yes, God damn it, sheer bloody-minded masochism.
Together, across the Atlantic, fans of our show faced the dark time together. We suffered together. We hoped together. And, in the end, we triumphed together. Now Who is back, stronger than it’s ever been, and it’s thanks to the fans who remembered, the fans who grew up remembering, and the fans – like you – who told the bean-counters at the BBC that Doctor Who wasn’t a quaint oddity remembered in a few dusty little British seaside towns, but something the world loved and wanted back.
The transatlantic alliance. You and us, facing all a hostile world could muster, together. Hitler couldn’t break us and, by God, neither could Michael Grade.
Good work, Guardians of Gallifrey. You never questioned the duty. You never abandoned your post. You are an example to us all.