I first remember watching Doctor Who aged about two, and as cliche demands, I was actually hiding behind the sofa. Family Thompson were tuned in because my dad, god rest his soul, was a huge fan, testament to the fact it was always meant to be a show for the whole family and not just kids' TV. Even before I could talk, I think I knew what a dalek was, as my dad made up various Doctor Who tales in lieu of the usual bedtime stories as I grew up, quaking under my quilt. After every episode, my mum delights in telling me, I'd go to bed and plead: "Please don't turn out the lights mummy and daddy. Daleks! Please keep the lights on!"
I remember Jon Pertwee regenerating into Tom Baker, and grew up playing Doctor Who games with my godbrother and godsister - I always wanted to be Leela but invariably ended up as K-9. My godfather and dad even took all three of us Whovian kids to the Doctor Who convention at Longleat in 1983. It was possibly the best thing that ever happened to me as a child. I met Peter Davison, K-9 and saw the set of the Five Doctors. It's probably the reason I wear a stripey scarf to this day.
My obsession has stretched over a space/time continuum and a whole 11 doctors until this day. My dad has now passed and my love of the Doctor, according to my mum, is something I should have grown out of long ago. She's also less than impressed that every Christmas Day - which is also my birthday - the celebrations always have to stop so I can watch the festive episode. But from Pertwee to Smith, I've watched every incarnation. Each have been brilliant in their own special way.
With Doctor Who celebrating its 50th birthday, I decided the only way to watch the Day of the Doctor was to take myself off to the cinema to watch it in 3D with three similarly-obsessed female chums (thank you Charli for booking the tickets). And wow, it was good. Amazing in fact.
No, I didn't dress up (bar my stripey Tom Baker-style scarf I wear in winter anyway), but there were a lot of people who had - girls dressed as David Tennant and the odd bloke in a Matt Smith fez, though sadly no-one made up as a Weeping Angel or Cyberman (not that we saw, though maybe they were there alongside us in a parallel timey-wimey universe).
After a bit of a mission, that involved much Who-like running about screaming between all three Odeon cinemas around London's Leicester Square rather than a sandpit in Dorset before realising we were actually meant to be at the Vue, and not screen five but screen six, we got to our seats with 30 seconds to spare.
3D specs donned, we were treated to a Sontaran telling us to turn off our phones, not talk and to eat popcorn quietly (each little piece of popped corn screams when munched, apparently, which the Sontaran enjoyed greatly) then Matt Smith popped up to introduce the show. Then, after the original old school Delia Derbyshire titles, we were off.
I don't want to give too much away for those yet to see it (I am almost jealous of you seeing it for the first time if you haven't). What a ride. And made so much better to be in a sold-out auditorium chockful of fans, where you could have heard a pin drop for the duration. And it was mostly adults and a 50/50 gender split too. You could palpably feel the camaraderie between the few hundred people packed in there.
And oh! the show. The 3-D worked brilliantly and wasn't over the top, the story was fantastic, the special effects amazing, and Tennant and Smith proved to be a great double act, though John Hurt almost stole the show. Having Billie Piper back, even if she wasn't actually Rose, made my heart hurt with happiness (and prompted huge hurrahs from the audience). And Jenna Louise Colman also shone once more as Clara to earn her reputation as one of the Doctor's best-ever companions.
There were cheers, there were tears (mine, mostly at the end, from sheer joy) and a lot of laughter. Oh, there were so, so many injokes. One of my favourites included David Tennant saying "I don't want to go!" before stepping into his Tardis at the end, with Smith joking "you always say that" (they were the last words he uttered before he regenerated as Smith).
The story, if you don't know, involves Queen Elizabeth I played by Joanna Page of Gavin and Stacey fame who turns out to be the Doctor's wife, the Time War, the shape-shifting Zygons, daleks, time fissures, the National Gallery having a rather odd painting and the Tower of London being the headquarters of the UK's anti-alien operation, UNIT - complete with the Black Archive.
We got a glimpse of new Doctor Peter Capaldi (prompting a massive cheer and round of applause in the cinema), there were glimpses of McGann and Ecclestone, neat links tied up from series ago (the Bad Wolf conceit with Rose was genius) nods to the past such as the aforementioned UNIT and Torchwood, present day jokes such as blaming the arrival of the Doctor hanging from the Tardis in Trafalgar Square on Derren Brown and Cup-A-Soups, and of course, the Brigadier's daughter Kate now being head of UNIT. At the end, seeing all the Doctors to date assembled totally did for me.
The ultimately genius thing about seeing it at the cinema though was that all this was a shared experience of the kind I've never had before in all my years of watching Doctor Who. Everyone there understood and loved the show and felt privileged to be there (no mums tutting and rolling their eyes at your love of it), which you never really get when going to see just a film. The atmosphere in there was incredible and the assembled mass got every single script nuance with much oohs, ahhs, chuckles and spontaneous clapping.
In fact, the only thing missing was Tom Baker offering Matt Smith a jelly baby before he shuffled out of the gallery.
My friends and I were literally hugging ourselves with glee as we walked out of the foyer at the end of the show, before standing outside in the freezing cold to dissect the injokes, plot twists and hidden meanings for a quarter of an hour, before heading home, heads filled with sonic screwdrivers and fezes.
It was so good, as soon as I got home, I watched it again in 2D on the telly. And it was still brilliant. Here's to the next 50 years...