Dr U Who
In 2005, television's most famous time-traveller made a triumphant return to the Saturday night TV schedules, beginning a journey which earned world-wide popularity. Times have never been so good.
But it wasn't always this way. Between 1989 and 2005, the 'wilderness years', the future of the beloved, medically-monikered, maverick was far from safe. So, what happened to prompt the mighty BBC to finally return our intergalactic hero to prime-time TV?
This affectionate parody of one of the longest-running TV series of all time(s) finally answers this, perhaps one of its greatest mysteries. Then again, perhaps it doesn't, but it does answer a lot of other questions, such as why all aliens seem to speak English, among many others.
The 'true story' (from a certain point of view) about those wilderness years can finally be told.
The story behind the story
First things first, I am a huge Doctor Who fan; not a fanatic - I couldn’t make it my specialist subject on Mastermind, because I don’t memorise the most minute detail - but I do love the show. Many years ago, I came across a book called Star Wreck by Leah Rewolinski, which parodied Star Trek, and that fuelled my idea of doing a parody of Dr Who.
And way back then, it was a lot easier to parody Dr Who, because it was off-air, and the last time it had been on, we had been subject to wobbly walls, dodgy acting, horrendous (not in the behind-the-sofa sense, but more the "wtf!" sense) monsters and so on. Star Wreck had been published by Boxtree in the UK, and I contacted them, telling them I was thinking of giving Dr Who the same treatment. I was stunned when I got a letter back saying they had been thinking the same thing, and would love to see my ideas. Unfortunately, my ideas weren’t very good at all - starting with the fact that my main character was going to be a woman - she started off as "Nurse What" and then "Dr Pru". Boxtree politely told me to go and have a re-think. (As if anyone would consider making Doctor Who a woman!!!! Perhaps - as I write this additional note in November 2017, I was simply ahead of my time, and in true wibbly wobbly timey wimey fashion, offering a premature glimpse into the future!)
Although, in the late 1990s, I wrote quite a bit of material, and plenty of notes, I never did complete a finished version. And then it fell onto the back burner, as real life got in the way. I did eventually finish a version in 2006 (by which time my hero was a Time Lad called Dr U Who), inspired by the show’s return to television the year before, but I still wasn’t happy with what I’d produced. I needed to re-write it. And then I simply got overtaken by events. Just as I found some time to make some progress, something fundamentally changed in the ‘real’ Dr Who world, like a regeneration or something, and I was struggling to keep up.
Of course, the other thing that has happened in that time has been the advent of digital publishing, Kindle and the like, to make it far easier for people to make their work accessible, without paying a fortune for the privilege by going down the vanity publishing route.
When news emerged that there would be a spectacular 50th anniversary in November 2013, I thought I would try to get something out before the anniversary episode. But the end of the preceding series, and the introduction of John Hurt through a huge spanner in those works (my idea had Paul McGann’s Doctor regenerating into Chris Ecclestone at the end). So it was back to the drawing board. And all the time, with new ideas, I was getting tangled in more and more knots, not being able to totally leave behind the 2006 version.
Finally, in July 2014, with piles and piles of Post-It notes beside me, I had a week off work; the boy was still at school, Mrs B was happy to potter in the garden, so I started on a Monday morning, and the following Monday lunchtime, I had written, from start to finish. There’s about a quarter of the 2006 version buried within it; but I was delighted to discover brand new things occurring to me as I was writing.
Between July and October 2014, it was exclusively available on Kindle; I had 203 downloads, and the book attracted six reviews on Amazon, all of which were positive, and are on the left. However, in October 2014, I removed it from Kindle, having discovered www.lulu.com, which provided me with the means to make hard copies available, without me having to spend a fortune doing it, and also copies available much more widely than just through Amazon.
Although it was not the first complete book I wrote, it was the first I had published on Kindle, and the first I ended up publishing in paperback; my thinking was that there might be a captive audience out there, because there’s a devoted fandom who will be tempted to buy anything and everything linked to Doctor Who; The Furgle And The Frimp was the first book I actually wrote, followed by the first draft of The Big One, so this was actually the third I wrote, but the first I published.
In any event, finally, I fulfilled my dream, and held, in my hand, a paperback book that had been written by me, and that other people could buy! I was finally living the dream! In the course of formatting the book for Lulu, what started off as a detailed proof-reading exercise ended as a bit of a re-write, with 18,000 words being added to the original version published on Kindle.
Finally, in January 2015, my "definitive" version was finished, and is out there in both hard copy and digital version, through www.lulu.com, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBookstore, Waterstones, etc.
Reviews & Feedback
The best Dr Who parody
Great satire humour. Pokes fun at the BBC, celebs, the Doctor, fans, etc. It's a funny story.
Kishore Mehta, Amazon.co.uk, 15 Aug 2014
Particularly amused by the author's take on the Cybermen. His love for, and knowledge of, the franchise shines through in an affectionate parody.
Jay Forrest, Amazon.co.uk, 17 Aug 2014
A good read. I'm not really a Dr Who fan but this is triggering childhood memories, and is inspiring me to watch it more. Love the humour, and very well written.
SRC, Amazon.co.uk, 18 Aug 2014
A must for all fans! Great yarn. This guy sure loves his puns. Quite a giggle.
U Know Who, Amazon.co.uk, 22 Aug 2014
Just OK. Only get it if it's free
If you're familiar with a lot of Doctor Who episodes/storylines, then you'll recognise a lot and maybe chuckle a tiny bit. Kind of like an old Mad magazine parody but not quite as funny.
Christopher K Koenigsberg, Amazon.com, 25 Aug 2014
A right reveting read
This is a fun trip back down memory lane and was clearly written by a true fan of Dr Who.
Douglas R Jones, Amazon.co.uk, 10 Sept 2014
Dr Who fans will love it
Well-written, affectionate Dr Who parody. The author has a nice way with words, making this an easy read, with plenty of giggles.
Jeremy Plumley, Amazon.co.uk, 29 Sept 2014
About as funny as toothache on a wet weekend
Not entertaining as a stand-alone story, nor as a Dr Who parody. Save your download time.
Steven Lucason, Amazon.com, 10 Nov 2014
Just OK for me
An OK read. It felt like it was for teens. Just my judgment. I read a lot so maybe I could be a little hard on my stars.
Lindy researches, Amazon.com, 31 Jan 2015
This is EXTREMELY funny to Doctor Who fanz. Bunch of shout-outs to the real world, and how TV production was and is, but you'd have to have at least some minimal knowledge of the Classic Doctor Who before you want to pick this up. Includes backstories of what happened off-stage and made ridiculous comments on the actors/actresses. Also explains why we say "yoo-whoo!" Recommended to any Whovian.
Amazoncustomer, Amazon.com, 8 Feb 2015
Every week, we get a good number of Doctor Who-related goodies dropping through the letterbox here at WHO towers, but one particular goody piqued our interest this week and it came in the form of Darren Bane's new parody book, Dr U Who.
Join Darren as he attempts to bring an answer to a very important question. "What really happened to prompt the mighty BBC to finally return our hero to prime-time television?" In doing so, a whole barrage of amusing issues are tackled, including the 'truth' behind the missing episodes, and why aliens speak perfect English to name just a couple!
You're taken on an accidental journey backwards and forwards in time, with many side trips along the way, that will have you sniggering uncontrollably and tittering left, right and centre.
Through the parody, you will be surprised at how many childhood memories of the show you'll have jogged, in what can only be described as a lovingly crafted, gentle prodding at the show and the powers that control it.
Clearly, the title isn't aimed at the younger fan, but anyone who has followed both the classic and new series of Doctor Who will appreciate everything that has gone into Dr U Who.
www.drwho-online,co.uk, 7 March 2015