Today's Inspiration: Doctor Who
I missed out on Tom Baker, because I got into Who late. The main reason for this was sheer terror - the theme tune sent me scurrying from the room, and the only glimpses I'd catch usually involved that most fearsome of creatures: K9, or as he appeared to my fevered Childish imaginings: 'Doctor Oo's little horse'. He would belch out beams of red death that felled many a guard. Evil.
But I saw a big load of repeats, including all the old doctors, in the Autumn after Baker quit, and then I saw Peter Davison's first year on the job, and I was hooked. I remember having to feign illness twice to get out of cubs so that I could see every episode of Kinda and enjoy odd pre-pubescent stirrings seeing Janet Fielding being all possessed by a snake/Buddhist metaphor.
[Another aside, another survey: I remember everyone at cubs having a vote on their favourite TV show. I told the truth this time, but Doctor Who only got my vote. What won? TJ flippin' Hooker by a landslide. The 80s, they really were a different place.]
Anyway, as soon as I got into Doctor Who, I also got into a thing called Doctor Who Magazine. And for years, it was the only magazine I read about the making of television. And it was good too: always highlighting the importance of the writer, and covering pretty much every aspect of production, in increasing detail during the wilderness period before the 2005 resurgence.
It was in DWM that I read about Robert McKee's Story book and seminar in an article about story structures in 1999. I booked myself on the next available London dates: my first writing course. And that was what started my path to where I am now, for better or worse.
Now a parent, I find myself in the same position mine were way back when: should I be too stringent? Or is that worse than being too lax? As a confused white liberal, I do the whole "we don't like to let him watch too much television" thing, but - you know - it didn't do me any harm (twitch).
This year, as my boy was two years old, and Doctor Who was being shown earlier, I thought I'd give it a try. The cute Adipose episode was fine, and he seemed to really enjoy it (although at 45 minutes he was getting restless halfway through - Daddy sat rapt throughout, obviously). But the following week, big lava monsters in Pompeii scared the be-jesus out of him. Who do you think you are scaring my child, Mister Moran?* Well, you're pretty cool, actually. I'm sure some day soon he'll be remembering "the one with the big lava monsters" in fond terms.
Or he'll think Doctor Who is rubbish 'cos his Dad likes it, and he'll want to play football instead. Well, it'll be fun finding out...
* If it wasn't clear, this is not an attack on James, but a very obscure Doctor Who reference. If you know to what it refers, you are as sad as me. Well done.
Next: The Singing Detective