Are you or have you ever been a child? Have you or have you ever had any imagination? If the answer to either of those questions is ‘yes’, you would have thoroughly enjoyed this Saturday afternoon show with David Solomons, writer of new Doctor Who adventure The Secret of Vault 13.
I say ‘show’. In retrospect, a PowerPoint presentation of evil plants and pictures of sonic screwdrivers doesn’t typically hold up well against the spectacle of Game of Thrones or the son et lumiere of Cirque de Soleil. But then, on those terms, neither did Doctor Who.
Doctor Who, as you may remember, was quite rubbish. It was virtual-unknown actors pulling faces in a small room as wheelie bins prodded them awkwardly with plungers. Guff. Total guff.
But none of that is evident and none of that matters when you’re eleven years old and your imagination is going into ecstatic overdrive with the power of the stories and the words and the sheer thrill of adventure. To you, at that age, it might be the greatest show in the world and all other culture that follows may struggle to compare, even though other pieces of entertainment may have production values and budgets far in excess of what you watched back when you were eleven.
David Solomons expressed this point perfectly. “You’re not humans”, he told the assembly of youngsters, “you’re sponges. What you take in, read, watch or enjoy now will change you and be with you always”. And he’s so right.
As he told us, his own love of Doctor Who goes back to his childhood (the 80s, I assume?) where the programme was on once a week with no chance of re-immersion in it until the following Saturday. To satisfy that Who itch he took to the Target novelisations and found a new way to continue living in that world. Hearing him talk about this took me back to my own seemingly never-ending reading sojourns inside the universes of the Stainless Steel Rat, the Three Investigators, the Hardy Boys, even Biggles (no apologies).
I usually have a problem with (or fear of) nostalgia swamping us, of the past obstructing new creations. I’ll make an exception for Doctor Who now though (you’re welcome). There was an evident enthusiasm in the crowd including at least one uber-fan (Oliver, take a bow) and at the book-signing queue. While some of us may no longer be eleven, it’s good to know that there are great writers out there setting up new adventures and new worlds for all those sponges out there.
WORDS: BEN EVANS