Tag Archives: Red Squirrel

I Grew up with Doctor Who

Doctor Who first started in 1963. I was nine, and my dad said to me that a new programme was starting that I was going to like, and did I want to watch it with him. Mum wasn’t keen on Science Fiction but Dad loved it. So we’d watch it together while mum was cooking. (Dad used to do a lot of the cooking, but Mum was a great cook too.) Dad died in 1978 when I was 24. I rarely missed a Doctor Who episode, it was only when it got a bit silly towards the end that I gave up on it.

When it started again with Christopher Eccleston, I was very excited and we watched it as a family. My daughters love Doctor Who and so do their husbands, so it is still a family thing. I had an A level class who loved it as well and we’d often discuss it at the end of lessons, and in my writers club at school.

The new Doctor Who benefits from stylish special effects, unlike the first series which was done on a shoestring. All three doctors so far in the new version have brought something new to the role, and it’s also good to see ‘assistant’ becoming ‘companon’. I am exicted to see what Capaldi brings to the role. The Doctor needs to be capricious, mysterious, wise, energetic, brave, resourceful and if I am honest, a little bit sexy too.

Here is my Doctor Who poem, written for Split Screen (Red Squirrel), included in Paper Patterns (Lapwing) and in my selected Letting Go (Mother’s Milk Books).

Doctor Love

Jon Pertwee as The Third Doctor



Doctor, Doctor, when you first called I was nine.

I couldn’t come with you then, still hiding behind daddy,

sheltering in his shadow in front of our monochrome set

dreaming of Gallifrey, of diving into your kaleidoscope.


I was changing like you, renewing all my cells,

going through to my third incarnation:

a new version of myself with pointed breasts, long hair,

a waist. Not nylon slacks but Levi’s, lace and scent.


Doctor, Doctor, oh you dandy, velvet smoking jacket,

bow ties and leather gloves, you lounge lizard.

My mother warned me about men like you.

And yet you were the perfect gentleman, like daddy.


I watched as you outfaced Silurians, always polite

but not afraid to punch when words failed,

reverse the polarity and get the hell out of there.

I was getting out too: boys, A levels, university.


Doctor, Doctor, your world was colour like mine.

We watched you in black and white but knowing

others could see your green, burgundy and blue

as you strutted in galaxies, finding yourself, like me.


Daddy’s girl learned to argue, teenstruck and difficult.

I had no tardis to travel back to myself.  You

could have made everything alright again.

Where were you? Too busy on missions to call again.


Doctor, Doctor, you missed your chance with me.







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Split Screen (Red Squirrel 2012) and Double Bill (forthcoming)


Was thrilled to get a mention in this excellent review of Split Screen reading, even though I wasn’t present at that particular one:

Other voices ring more sure: Liane Strauss’s ‘The Dark Days are Done’ weighs audience expectations of Italy alongside those which shaped The Godfather‘s Corleone family, and sees Sonny Corleone’s death as that of an Icarus born from the Medici. It’s twinned with Luke Wright’s mordantly concise study of Michael Corleone’s character development, ‘Godfather’. Where these poems about cinema engage with their films as texts, it’s those on television personalities which make the case for the box in the corner as maker of the most enduring myths: Paul McGrane’s ‘And the doctor says’ adopts Tommy Cooper’s sense of rhythm to turn the story of his televised death on stage into a routine, though the reader is left to imagine what conjurer’s props would be most appropriate. Angela Topping’s ‘Doctor Love’ claims Jon Pertwee’s Doctor Who as a sex symbol for adolescent girls and as a model for teenage rebels, even as the poet’s maturation causes her to leave the Doctor behind. There was, as Naomi Woddis’s ‘Always Ours’ argues through the career of Diana Dors, always a pragmatic end to British postwar fantasies.

Matthew Kilburn

This anthology just keeps on giving. I’ve bought copies for friends who have enjoyed it. A follow up volume is planned and written, with even more poets stepping on the bus back to cult TV and film of the past. With Christmas coming, I do recommend this book to anyone, whether into poetry or not, as an entertaining and thought-provoking read about things that entertain us.


Buy it here: http://www.redsquirrelpress.com/SquirrelCAT.html or order it from a bookshop



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