Gosh - what a question! Why does the UK love Dr Who, exactly? There are a thousand reasons but let’s just look at a few:
Whether you love Tom Baker’s camp doctor or Peter Capaldi’s acerbic one, whether you enjoyed Christopher Eccleston’s brief muscular incarnation or fell in love with Matt Smith’s geekiness, there will have been (or will have be?) a Doctor Who for you. The various incarnations mean that everybody has a favourite doctor and fond memories of their personal ‘golden age of Dr Who’.
Did you know that the nature of the word companion has changed, just to accommodate Dr Who? When you say ‘companion’ anywhere in the English-speaking world now, people see it as side-kick, chance-met fellow adventurer, tag-along hero (or usually in the Doctor’s case, heroine). From overtly sexy Amy Poole back to ‘granddaughter’ Susan from the very first Dr’s era, most companions have been feminine. In a way that was quite ground-breaking at the time, and for many incarnations, the Dr and his doughty female companion presented young girls with a feminist perspective. Each companion lets us see the Doctor in a new light, from romantic to lonely to confused even to arrogant and as Dr Who evolves, so his character deepens.
Terrifying monsters - enter the Daleks
From Cybermen to Daleks, and with particular homage to the more recent and truly scary Weeping Angels, Dr Who has contained some of the nastiest creations of all the known universes. Everybody has their favourite monster and many a British child was scared to look under the bed after a particularly frightening episode of Dr Who!
Hiding behind the sofa - more Daleks
Another contribution that Dr Who has made to the language is the phrase ‘hiding behind the sofa’, coined to explain the effect that the Doctor’s enemies - particularly the Daleks - had on children.
Baddies who pay in horrible ways
Of course the monsters never win (but they are never quite defeated either) which leaves the comeuppance to be experienced by more human, and yet still unpleasant, characters. A notable example is Yvonne Hartman, who in 2006 played a chilly and ambitious woman who wanted to stockpile alien technology for the British Empire. She was reprogrammed as a Cyberman, a truly horrible fate, and during the conversion process her Cyberman eyes were seen to weep tears of oil … gruesomely sad!
Whichever is your favourite creature, the Daleks have actually changed the world. Describing somebody as a Dalek is a universally understood term that suggests an overbearing, humourless machine. ‘Exterminate’ is also so well known as a battle cry that you can use it anywhere and be understood. But here’s a fact that might amaze … the Daleks could have been even scarier! In the early 1960s when they were being created, it was Ridley Scott (director of Blade Runner, Gladiator and Alien) who was supposed to design them but by the time the project got to the front of the queue he’d left the BBC so Raymond Cusick was given the task. The Daleks are scary enough, but can you imagine what Ridley Scott could have done with them?
Need we say more? Okay, we need. So Torchwood, the really very grown up spin-off of Doctor Who (of which it’s an anagram) presented us with some of the twistiest stories of humanity and alienness that the TV has ever explored.
Dr Who Fandom Meets Steampunk
The links with Steampunk and Dr Who just keep expanding as we explore a more Time Lord aesthetic world, adding bow ties, fezzes, trips to the past – the future, images of Victorian England, alternate or secret timelines and clocks are prevalent in all of the Dr Who incarnations making many Steampunks fans of Dr Who and those Dr Who Fandom followers fans of Steampunk.
As a huge Dr Who fan and avid Steampunk, I love the intermingle, timey wimey wonder of it all!