Doctor Who fans ask What Would the Doctor Do? at Bradford's National Media Museum

By Ben Miller | 04 December 2013

Honouring the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, a new exhibition in Bradford is uniting Superfans

A photo of various paraphenalia to do with a science-fiction television programme
The first Doctor, as seen by painter Ray Macfadyen© National Media Museum
“I’ve been collecting Doctor Who memorabilia for many years now,” confides Keith Garforth, a Pontefract fan whose timelord skills extend to resurrecting an annual, poster and two Weetabix card sets from way back between 1975 and 1977.

“Although my collecting journey started due to nostalgia for Doctor Who, the main reasons my collecting has never stopped are the ever expanding universe of merchandise and meeting the other fans and collectors of the show, who are as great and varied as the universe of Doctor Who."

Opened during the week of the 50th anniversary of the BBC blockbuster, the National Media Museum’s homage to primetime sleuthing proves Garforth right.

Putting it together, its curator, Toni Booth, visited a number of “superfans” in their homes, and she remains in awe of their “simply incredible” collections.

“I have heard about marriage proposals at a Doctor Who exhibition in Blackpool,” she reports. “Another fan confessed to me that, in life, they often ask themself ‘WWTDD?’ – What Would the Doctor Do?

“Over the past few weeks it has become very apparent that the influence of The Doctor extends into many parts of people’s lives. The stories and objects in the exhibition will show just how intertwined into their everyday lives the Doctor has become for so many people.

“We hope to give a real insight into this ultra-dedicated few, as well as display the objects that mean the most to them from the hundreds of items they have amassed.”

One of these superfans, David Howe, provided very rare examples of authentic Palitoy and Louis Marx toys from the 1970s. “It’s wish fulfilment,” he feels, having written books on his passion during decades of devotion to the Doctor from his North Wales home.

“It’s taking you out of the mundane life that we all live in, taking you on adventures with a guy who’s great fun to be with, who’s entertaining, will keep you safe and everything will come out all right in the end. It’s classic and mythic – it almost can’t fail to be popular.”

Hendryk Korzeniowski, meanwhile, has made his own towering Tardis. “I used to make a model every summer, starting with paper ones,” he says.

“I’ve got a model wooden Tardis that I made when I was 15, back in 1985.  I’ve kept this one, which doubles as a bookend now.

“It was the best one I managed to do. It reminds me of my childhood I guess – just like Doctor Who still does.”

Portraits of every Doctor are the fine works of Roy MacFadyen, a repeat Dr Who exhibition organiser in Scotland. He’s been known to construct full-size Daleks, echoing the endeavours of Simon Greetham, a Sheffield contributor who has also lent the display a Cyberman costume and two Cybermats.

Knitted Doc depictions come from Lotta Groeger. “I started knitting at the end of 2006, soon after the new series of Doctor Who started showing in Germany,” she says.

“So knitting and crocheting and Doctor Who go hand in hand for me. So far I have knitted 11 Daleks, seven Adipose monsters, five K-9s in different sizes, four sticks of celery, a Tardis and, of course, the Scarf.”

Joanna Woodward – a Birmingham knitter who says she’d “probably” name Peter Davison as her favourite Doctor – gives Groeger a run for her stitching.

“The knitted David Tennant, in his tenth Doctor costume, was knitted by my mum, Hazel, in 2008,” she explains. “She didn’t use a pattern and basically made him up from magazine pictures.

“He lives in my satchel and has been on many adventures, including various holidays, Glastonbury festival, Indietracks Festival and The Doctor Who experience in Cardiff and London.

“He is my pop quiz team mascot along with a blue glass donkey called Donny Donko.

“I know at 43 I’m a bit old for carrying dolls around, but he’s a lot more than a doll.”

  • Fifty Years of Doctor Who Fans is at the National Media Museum until February 9 2014.

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A photo of a small blue toy police box next to a DVD boxset
Commemorative Tardis presentation box, donated by The New Zealand Mint© National Media Museum
A photo of various paraphenalia to do with a science-fiction television programme
The series first aired on November 23 1963© National Media Museum
A photo of two small doll figures standing in front of a mirror and a blue telephone box
Karl Rooney's miniature memento of the caper© National Media Museum
A photo of several small different coloured metallic figures from a sci-fi television series
Adam Mutilinski's collection of Daleks© National Media Museum
A close-up photo of a small model car with the word timelord on the numberplate
Melissa White's full throttle contribution© National Media Museum
An image of a painting of various people crowding around a blue police box and buildings
Paul Comben, Hiding from the Dalek Patrol© National Media Museum
A photo of various small crafted sculptures depicting a sci-fi television programme
Taylor Dean's Easter Egg display© National Media Museum
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Latest comment: >Make a comment
Hi there,

Thanks for the mention of my portraits at the Doctor Who and Me exhibition! However, you've got my name wrong in the article! It's actually Ray MacFadyen!

An easy mistake to make!
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