Today Doctor Who Magazine announced a regeneration to the Time Team, with a new team for a new era.
The Time Team feature began in 1999 with the quartet of Richard Bignell, Clayton Hickman, Jacqueline Rayner and Peter Ware beginning an epic journey to review every Doctor Who story in order. It was an endeavour that took 10 years to complete. After a hiatus, a new team ventured into the modern era of Doctor Who with ‘Rose’ and concluding with ‘The Almost People’. Now in 2018, the concept has been dusted off once again with a much bigger cast of reviewers.
In this incarnation, there have a been a number of changes. First, the team has swelled to twelve. Obviously, that’s quite a lot to fit on a sofa so there will be some rotation. Second, the episodes will also no longer be watched in order. Instead, episodes will be watched based on a theme. In DWM525, five of the twelve watch ‘Rose’, ‘Spearhead from Space’ and ‘Time and the Rani’, the first appearances of the 9th, 3rd and 7th Doctors respectively.
This new team is significantly different. Their gender and ethnicity are very diverse and they are all part of that first-generation of Nu-Who adults. The twelve-member team has an average age of 22 with ten of the twelve under 25. The two oldest members clock in at 26 years-old. (Ouch – That definitely makes me feel ancient.)
To put that in perspective, this group would have started watching when aged between 7 to 13 years old as Doctor Who returned to the screen with Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper. And it would be no surprise if a number of them were Time-Zero-Tennant Fans who began their adventures with the Tenth Doctor. This is definitely a youthquake.
There are a few names that will be familiar to fans. Christel Dee, the host of Doctor Who Fan Show, and Jacob Dudman, actor-impressionist for Big Finish’s The Tenth and Eleventh Doctor Who Chronicles will be the most well-known. The two co-founders of the Time Ladies, Beth Axford and Kezia Newson, and BBC News broadcast journalist, Gerard Groves, are also in the group. The remaining team members consist of a few YouTube vloggers, Claudia Boleyn and Luke Cutforth, plus several university students, Antoinette Belle, Dan James Frank (Claudia’s brother), Miles Hall, Sam Saffold and Zainab Sheriff.
It will be interesting to see how accepting the fan base is for this new Time Team. The age of the team is without a doubt going to make some of the older fans feel left behind and that their opinions have now been disregarded in favour of youth. I, too, must admit I’m wary that the age spread of the group is so narrow and I wonder if the past will be lost in this relook at old episodes.
This month’s article made it apparent that a large number of the team do not know the history behind some of the episodes, which is unusual for the Time Team. The context and background to the older episodes could be hard for the team to pick up, especially when the programme isn’t being watched in order. And l am curious to see how some of the political messages that were embedded in the programme are interpreted.
Perhaps I am being too pessimistic. This is fresh new look at Doctor Who from the viewpoint of a new generation and it is bound to be different. And I was heartened to see Christel Dee’s exclamation about the Seventh Doctor. “It’s the same show. That Doctor’s like my Doctor!” And yes, we had the roundels in the past too. So I’m giving this team a chance to love the past, present and future of this show as much as I do and I invite other fans to do the same.
All that remains is for “Long Ago” to wish good luck to the new Time Team.
“To Days to Come. All my Love to Long Ago”
The Fifth and Tenth Doctor – “Time Crash