You can now while away the lockdown hours in the company of Doctor Who’s resident memory man
This month has seen the doughty, redoubtable, but not, as it turns out, erstwhile Toby Hadoke launch his own podcast. In fact, partly due to being more locked down than most of us, he’s launched three. While this might smack a little of indecision, it’s hard to blame him – all three concepts are winners. And as we join Toby watching Doctor Who in the early hours of the morning, it’s arguably the best use anyone’s made of their own boredom since the long night when the Doctor invented a new type of screwdriver to put up some shelves.
You can never have too much Too Much Information
The most on brand of the three strands is the marvellous Too Much Information. It aims to go through the entire history of Doctor Who one episode at a time. And if that concept, the title, and the words ‘Toby’ and ‘Hadoke’ hadn’t already clued you in, it’s going to do so in excruciating detail. And that really is episode, by the way, not story, with the first five installments devoted to 1963’s Serial A, whatever you want to call it. Five because this first podcast episode is about the Pilot. As in the originally untransmitted first attempt to mount An Unearthly Child. Not the introduction of Bill Potts.
As always, Hadoke deftly presents a vast amount of data (want to know how many abortive meetings producer Verity Lambert had with designer Peter Brachacki before she finally pinned him down? – this is your podcast) in an astonishingly digestible manner. And now matter how much you think you know about Doctor Who, he proves there’s always more to uncover. The revelation, new to Blogtor Who at least, that elements of the show’s opening titles were actually recycled from an earlier program is literally jaw dropping for instance. (Tune in to learn exactly which show that was, as well as which one it definitely wasn’t.)
Despite the huge amount of information, Hadoke’s personable style keeps things engaging and accessible
But that’s not just the result of intelligent scripting and wise choices about where to draw the line about what actually is too much information. A huge part of that is his personal, approachable style, tinged with self deprecation. But more than that, the human angle is never far his mind. In the veritable maelstrom that forged what would become Doctor Who, critical figures pop in to introduce some element of total genius, before meandering vaguely towards the exit again. It’s tempting to think of the likes of CE ‘Bunny’ Webber announcing ‘It should be stuck as a Police Box’ before dropping his mike on Lambert’s desk, and moonwalking out of the production office while popping on shades and declaring ‘deal with it!’ But Hadoke wistfully captures the bittersweetness of his simply drifting off because nobody much liked his actual story.
It’s emblematic of these podcast’s greatest strengths, bringing Doctor Who’s past alive as populated for really real people, with their own lives, ambitions and disappointments. Spellbindingly compelling.
The second strand proves that in every Doctor Who story, you can always find your Happy Times and Places
The second strand of these podcasts are billed as Happy Times and Places. And if that’s more vague about the content, it perfectly encapsulates their spirit. These are simply about enjoying Doctor Who. Not, as Hadoke points out, with any shade of irony. Not because it’s entertainingly rubbish. But loving it because it’s, well, just fantastic. And so each podcast in the Happy Times and Places series takes a different episode of Doctor Who and looks for everything great about it. To keep things fresh, each story has been nominated by one of Hadoke’s friends, each one with particular reasons for loving it. Our host then sits down to watch it, commenting along as he tries to predict exactly why his friend has picked it. The result is available both as a podcast and as a YouTube reaction video.
You need to supply your own copy of the story to line up with his viewing, however. Though, on the other hand, straining your ears next to the television hoping to occasionally make out a particularly loud bit on Dudley Simpson’s clarinet may make fans of a certain age nostalgic for the days of bootleg VHS.
I Think You’ll Find… these podcasts a whole new way to enjoy some classic stories
It’s a lovely contrast to Hadoke’s meticulously researched and scripted efforts. Full of smart observations, anecdotes, and entertainingly random digressions it’s probably the next best thing to having a good old chat with the great man himself. The format also provides us with the magnificence of I Think You’ll Find…, which tails most episodes as he either corrects himself on some minor error like the name of a character in a Target book he read thirty years ago, or anticipates a likely, but wrong, attempt to correct him from the peanut gallery. Stories covered in Happy Times and Places so far are Day of the Daleks, The Sontaran Experiment, Time-Flight and Turn Left. With, hopefully, many more to follow.
Undefinable Magic turns its eye from Doctor Who itself to the fan experience
Finally, Undefinable Magic is the most personal of the podcasts. As the title of opening episode Scouring the Shelves attests, this is a strand that’s not really about Doctor Who at all. Rather it’s about the highs and lows of being a Doctor Who fan. In this case the eternal hope of happening across a random copy of Doctor Who Magazine in various newsagents. And the even longer odds of actually having enough change in one’s pocket to buy it. As a portrait of the young Toby, it invites the speculation that the very fact that the facts and images gleaned from those pages were so very hard to come by is what made they so valuable. That if some indulgent uncle had gifted him an annual subscription and made it all too easy, Toby wouldn’t have grown up into the fan he is today. It scarcely bares thinking about…
Like many of you, Blogtor Who has spent most of 2020 working from home with the news playing in the background. But perhaps switch it up a little by sticking Mr. Hadoke on instead. The extra spring in your step and hum on your lips as you commute back to the kitchen in the evening might surprise you.
All of Toby Hadoke’s Time Travels are available via Podbean and Apple
The episodes are available in most places were you get your podcasts. (Alas, searching for ‘Toby Hadoke’ on Spotify simply brings you to Rob Shearman’s Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical. Though that’s not the worst thing that could happen to you today, either). You can find them on Podbean, however, as well as Apple. And don’t forget to subscribe to the official Toby Hadoke YouTube channel. You can support the podcasts via Patreon on a Pay-What-You-Can model. Or with a one-off payment through Ko-fi.