It’s not true so much in the U.S., where Doctor Who had been primarily of cult interest to geeky teens and grownups until the past few years, but almost everyone in the U.K. has childhood — and grownup — memories of the show going back to 1963. A few years ago, fan Steve Berry self-published, for charity, a collection of reminiscences from British celebs. Now, a new edition of Behind the Sofa has arrived just in time for the show’s 50th anniversary, with all royalties going to Alzheimer’s Research UK.
When I conceived the book, I wanted it to fulfill two purposes; firstly, to raise a TARDIS-load of cash for scientific research into the dementia that affected my mum; and secondly, to show just how vibrantly Doctor Who can live on in the memories of those who experience it.
Contributors include Neil Gaiman on how he became a Doctor Who fan; Katy Manning (who played companion Jo Grant) on Jon Pertwee’s manic creativity on the set; Nicola Bryant (companion Peri Brown) on worrying that the Sea Devils would appear when she was on a beach vacation as a kid; and composer Murray Gold on being able to date his memories of the classic show because he hasn’t seen them again as an adult and they weren’t repeated back in the day. New contributors to this edition include Sophia Myles (“Girl in the Fireplace”), Bernard Cribbins (who played Wilf), Lindsay Duncan (“The Waters of Mars”), and former Doctor Who scriptwriter Ben Aaronovitch. There’s an introduction, too, by Terry Pratchett, among whose memories is this:
[T]he Daleks are still scary, which isn’t something you can say about many half-century-old alien designs…
(My one complaint: the book desperately needs an index, or else for the mini essays to be presented alphabetically by author. The only way to find a name is to skim the table of contents, where the celeb names appear in seemingly random order.)
(If you stumble across a cool Doctor Who thing, feel free to email me with a link.)