Last weekend, I met my childhood hero again. Which one? I hear you ask (in my head at least), to which I reply: the only one.
I don’t know what it’s like for you, but I have always been one of those people who find themselves on the outside. Quietly yearning to be a part of the group, while at the same time feeling strangely insecure about getting involved. In short, I tend to be the odd one out.
It’s a common theme throughout my life. There’s no particular reason why, and I’m sure there are many of you out there who feel the same way. It just sort of happens. We just end up where we do, and follow that pattern.
It perhaps makes sense then that as a child, most of my heroes were either anti-heroes, or straight up villains. Because I didn’t have a huge amount of close friends, it only seemed natural that I’d seek solace in fiction, and particularly in characters who themselves are rejects.
Beetlejuice, Danny DeVito’s Penguin, the Joker – these were the sort of characters I identified with, who, dare I say it, I aspired to be. I didn’t want to be a square-jawed hero, punching the baddies and getting the girls (OK, maybe that last one). I had nothing in common with Action Man or James Bond, and I’ll never have the muscles of Hercules or Superman. For me, there were no heroes that I could identify with.
And then I found the Doctor.
A tall, skinny, boggle-eyed lunatic, deliberately going against the grain, being a hero in a totally different way. He didn’t use weapons (much, anyway). He wasn’t particularly attractive, and he certainly didn’t seem to fit in anywhere, not even on his home planet. He was clearly an outsider, dealing with things in his own way, armed with good friends and yet still tainted by an ethereal loneliness.
In Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor, I finally had a hero of my own.
I soon discovered, of course, that Tom Baker wasn’t the only Doctor, and he certainly wasn’t the only Doctor I felt I could identify with. Anybody who knows me will know that I genuinely love every single one of those actors who helped bring the Doctor to life, and some of them played an even bigger part in my growing up than just providing entertainment.
Take Colin Baker, for example. I discovered his brash, colourful Sixth Doctor during my years at secondary school. I was bullied throughout that time, and Colin Baker was one of the Doctors who guided me through. A Doctor who dared to be different, even flaunted it. Despite the fact that the whole Universe seemed to rally against him, he fought on. How wonderful is that? How inspiring!
And then there was Peter Davison, and his Fifth Doctor. Anti-violent, endlessly polite, and always ready to forgive. A Doctor who always sought to find a better way; a Doctor who never hated, only pitied.
Yes, the Doctor is a brilliant role model. Not just for geeks, or young boys. He can be an inspiration to anyone who wants to live life a little differently. To anyone who has ever lost somebody. To anyone who chooses adventure over monotony. To anyone who clings on to optimism in the face of adversity.
I can tell you now, it was a tremendous experience, meeting Tom Baker again after ten years. The man who started off not only a big obsession, but who opened the gateway to a better way of living. To a new way of viewing the world around me, and the people in it. And it was equally wonderful to once again share a photograph with Colin Baker, and to shake hands with Peter Davison for the first time.
And do you want to know what the best part of the weekend was? It was being surrounded by so many good friends, none of whom I would ever have met, were it not for this silly little science fiction show, which I fell in love with one sunny afternoon back when I was 12 year’s old.
Not bad for the odd one out.