Doctor Who: The Unfolding Text by John Tulloch

By John Tulloch

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After establishing the mysterious 'absence' of her home and her character the narrative ostentatiously reveals Susan-asspectacle. Reminiscent of the visual rhetoric of TV pop music shows, the camera tilts up and down her maturing body as she listens to the current electric guitar 'hit' on the radio. The transistor is a sign of 1960s youth culture, and Susan herself resembles one of the teenage 'pop' star products of that culture, Helen Shapiro. In contrast to this insistent contemporaneity, Susan's gesture, ostensibly motivating the camera movement, reveals a mysteriously 'different' teenager who follows the familiar beat of the music in very unfamiliar ways.

Like the Doctor Who of the 1960s, The Eagle comic of the 1950s brought together a serious educational designmuch praised by teachers - with a new science fiction adventure format in its lead feature, 'Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future'. Although 'Dan Dare' was mainly Vernian-type 'boys' adventure' in space, ocean and underground, its narratives were combined with 'hard science' blueprints, 37 and augmented by The Eagle's other main colour strip: the historical 'Great Men' series. This juxtaposed the themes of Christian heroes (like St Paul and St Patrick) with heroes of British imperialism (like Winston Churchill), while others, like David Livingstone, quite overtly combined the two.

The normal (the similar, the identifiable) estranged by the different: this was to be the initial definition of Doctor Who. It began with that first episode in November 1963 when the audience had to wait for 11% minutes for his first appearance - time for the programme to establish the tension between banality and difference which in fact was his character. We will begin by looking at those opening minutes of a twenty-year-old institution. Signature tune The instant signature of the Doctor Who theme music was on the one hand its rhythmic, repetitive melody, and on the other hand its strangeness.

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