The Doctor…. or at least A Doctor….

I love to watch films, but I don’t often read reviews. I’m pretty easy to please, and I know what I like, so, even if a film has had a bad review, and it’s what I usually like, I will probably go and watch it at the cinema and enjoy it. I also don’t really like surprises, so I like to read spoilers. That’s something of an alien concept to my colleagues – they don’t always understand when I tell them it improves my enjoyment, but it does. I can read up about what happens in a film, but until I see it, I don’t quite know how it happens. If it’s a TV show, and I know a former character is returning, I can start thinking about how they will return, will any special music be played, how they will interact with other characters and so on. In other words, it builds the excitement.

The type of music I most like to listen to, is film and television scores. Whether that is the main theme, some instrumental part of the score, or even a song from a movie or TV show, most of the music I have, I was first introduced to through watching a movie or television series.

Being in China, I miss quite a bit of British television. When I say miss, I mean I do not get to watch it, and so do not know what the current dramas are, rather than miss in the sense of how I might miss family and the UK. That being said, there are some programmes that do fit into this second category.

I remember when Doctor Who returned in 2005. I’ve watched it mostly since then. On Saturday, 2 July, the current series, Series 10, ended. I saw the first episode of Series 9, in autumn 2015, the weekend before I left for China. I did not see any other episodes in that series, except the Christmas special. But I have seen all of Series 10. I didn’t see them in order; but that didn’t really matter. The series has a new companion, Bill Potts, who is very good; I like her a lot, and I like Peter Capaldi’s Doctor, too. This series has dealt with racism, free will, what it means to be human, good versus evil and the conflict between the two, redemption, there was a brilliant critique of capitalism, and, of course, Bill’s sexuality, as well as her saying the world by simply thinking of her mum. Also, when much of the action has happened, a piece of music which I love has been played, so that enhances the moments for me all the more.

I think I am partly interested in the series because everyone wants to be the Doctor, the hero (who doesn’t?), and as a doctor, you can sometimes get away with calling yourself the doctor (e.g. I’m the doctor on the FT team …), which is also cool. Also I am, perhaps, more conscious of the themes given my job at the moment. Talking to Senior students about the future, particularly those planning to study abroad, can be interesting in their interpretations and opinions, which are not often bad, but are different to what someone their age from the UK’s would be (they have different priorities). I don’t get to see much of the inner workings of their lives – I only teach them one lesson a week and we are way down the pecking order of information here. Still, it’s always nice to talk to students about their lives, and get more of an insight into them. They tend to find me someone wise (or so they say), though I point out I’m older than they are and have had more life experiences, so I know more (in theory at least) about things.

Ironically, I wrote this post before the series final had aired, and coincidentally, the title just so happens to be quite close to a line that Capaldi’s Doctor uses in the final episode, and which is repeated by a familiar face who returns at the end of the episode.

I think the thing that stands out most about Doctor Who, in its many guises, but especially during the series that has just finished, is that it teaches tolerance. It shows us how helping others is important (necessary, even), because, that’s what life is about, and how if we respect others – despite supposed differences – wonderful things might happen. It’s all about celebrating our individuality as humans and also accepting our differences. At the end of the day, it’s a story of hope and helping others, and that’s a pretty cool message for today’s world. The Conservative Party in Britain recently applauded as they voted against giving public sector workers (nurses, firefighters and so on), a pay rise. These workers are people who help us regardless of financial gain, often risking their lives for people who they’ve never met before.

As the Doctor says in the great final episode, he doesn’t help people because he wants to win, or beat someone, or get revenge or blame someone. He doesn’t even do it because it’s easy (it isn’t), nor because it always works, as it rarely does. No, he does it because it’s right, decent and kind. Regardless of the costs, it’s the right thing to do. I think with everything going on at home at the moment, remembering that might help. Remember the suffering of others, and just be kind and help others. Because it’s the right thing to do.

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