Hauling Like A Brooligan

Stephen Gallagher

Doctor Who at 60

As part of the 60th Anniversary celebrations The Guardian is running a series of soundbite interviews with people closely associated with the show throughout its long run. My anecdote’s in there, in the first group of a dozen. I gave a little more than was needed… I could say it was to give flexibility in the edit, but in truth I just rabbited on a bit. Here, as a record for the ages, is the rest of it…

All we want is the answer to one question: What is the greatest moment from Doctor Who for you? Something which moved you the most – the one that made you grateful to have gone onboard the TARDIS?

Pick a moment? I guess it would be on the top floor of Lewis’s department store on Market Street, Manchester, in 1965. As a child I was one of the Hartnell-era audience, acting out episodes in the playground, pestering for the annuals, building the Blue Peter Dalek out of egg boxes and a Smartie tube. Then along came the Hammer movie. Big screen! Colour! Peter Cushing! And with no concern for canon or continuity I loved it just the same. One of the sets was recreated in the store’s exhibition area to promote the film. You made your way through a short maze of passageways to emerge into the Dalek control room, where the only exit was at the far end – and you had to pass between two live movie Daleks in constant motion, menacing the crowd and lunging at everyone who passed. And I kind of got into it. My mother had to tow me out by the arm, yelling defiance as I went. In my defence, I was nine.

When I joined as a writer for two seasons in my mid-20s it may have been down to work and good fortune, but it felt like destiny. Four decades on from that encounter I told the story during a long afternoon in the bar of Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre. I was meeting there with actor/writer/comedian Toby Hadoke as part of his mammoth project to track down and interview every living soul with a connection to the show. Four hours of chat, two bottles of wine, and it clicked. This wasn’t a conversation about old TV. The show I’d once put so much of my heart into was still giving back. And today’s young fans continue to become tomorrow’s creators; so maybe it was destiny after all.

Stephen Gallagher, writer of episodes featuring the Fourth and Fifth Doctors, 1981-1983