Science fiction fans of a particular show who also love watching behind the scenes documentary films are in for a treat with this one; Who’s Changing, a documentary made by Capital City Entertainment and filmed at multiple science fiction and Doctor Who conventions throughout the 50th anniversary year 2013.
The film includes interviews with numerous companions. The actors who played the Doctor aren’t interviewed for the film, as it is more from the fan’s perspective, and concerned with what it was like to grow up watching Doctor Who. However, there are interviews with some of the writers of Doctor Who fiction stories in magazines and graphic novels.
The film is covers many different topics, starting off with the evolution of the Doctor Who fan convention. The 1970s saw the first Doctor Who convention held within a church hall. In the interviews it is clear that this first experience was a small event which has grown over the years. The organisers were able to get the actor Tom Baker (who played the fourth Doctor) to come along. The BBC supplied props for the event. In the first few years the convention organisers were unable to pay the actors for appearing; only their expenses were covered. The 1980s onwards saw American conventions start up for Doctor Who and these organisers across the pond have been able to pay the actors for their time, thus attracting bigger names from the world of Doctor Who. This has meant that the smaller British conventions may be suffering.
It is noted that in the beginning of the Whovian fandom there were mostly male fans attending the conventions. I find this to be true of even general science fiction conventions of the late 1990s and early 2000s when I first started attending them myself. There is a consensus among Doctor Who fans that there have been more female fans liking the show since Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant played the Doctor. Some of these female fans have morphed into quite the “fan girl”, and have felt wronged that the new Doctor Peter Capaldi is older than other actors who have played the Doctor recently. In my opinion, they should look at a broader history of the show…
The interviewees talk about their favourite episodes of Doctor Who as a child, and many say that their love of the show made them want to become an actor. The interviews with the fans at the conventions are insightful. Cosplay is a rising phenomenon at these conventions, where fans dress up as characters from the show. This has also spawned Crossplay in the world of the Doctor Who fandom. This involves female fans dressing up as male characters from the show, and vice versa, a practice which has taken off in many other fandoms too.
The passion the fans have for the show really comes through in the interviews, especially as they talk about being a fan as a child and then growing up and having their own children. Then they are able to show the programme to their children, who finding themselves more popular at school due to the newfound mainstream popularity of the show. This is surprising for the parents, many of whom were seen as uncool when they were children for loving Doctor Who.
Overall the documentary was well developed. I can see why there were no interviews with the actors who played the Doctor – it was very much a story of the fan’s journey through loving a television series. The length was just under an hour and a half, just right for this documentary, and if you are a Doctor Who fan then it is well worth a watch. You can buy the DVD for £12.99 from www.whoschanging.moonfruit.com, or rent the film for £3.49 per full watch of the film. Doctor Who fans: embrace your even geekier side!