Saturday, 6 February 2016

Doctor Who to land in Stockport

“Have you ever thought what it’s like to be wanderers in the Fourth Dimension?”  The First Doctor, An Unearthly Child

Michael Herbert will be teaching an 11 week evening  class  on the history of the television programme, Doctor Who,  starting on  Monday 11  April 2016, at Aquinas College , Stockport.   This is the only evening class on the subject of Doctor Who in Britain.

This course will look at  the creation of Doctor Who by BBC’s head of drama, Sydney Newman, and producer Verity Lambert, in 1963. It will  then  follow its history over the following five decades, including the Twelve Doctors from William Hartnell to Peter Capaldi;  the many companions from Susan to Clara;  and the role of producers and script editors in the programme  such as Verity Lambert,  Terrance Dicks, Barry Letts,  John Nathan Turner, Andrew Cartmel,  Russell Davies and Steven Moffat .

 The course will examine why Doctor Who was taken off air in 1989 and how, against all the odds,  it returned in 2005 to  critical acclaim and is now  watched  by millions,  both in Britain and abroad.  Each week the course will view a number of  classic episodes from each Doctor’s era.

 The course will be led by historian and writer Michael Herbert,  who watched the first episode,  “An Unearthly Child”, aged 8, on 23 November 1963,  He has been watching ever since. His pamphlet “Doctor Who and the Communist” : the television career of Malcolm Hulke was published by Five Leaves Press in January 2015. Paul McGann  (the Eighth Doctor)  tweeted; “Michael Herbert has nicked the title of my memoirs”.

The  course first ran in 2015. Michael  was interviewed about the course by local TV station Quays News which can be seen here.

Michael said,  “I  am delighted to be presenting  this course again  at Aquinas College. I  am hoping that  viewers who  have become fans of the programme since 2055  will come along and find more about the  history of the programme. I also hope that viewers of my generation would like to revisit their memories of Doctor Who.“

Frazer  Hines, who played Jamie in Doctor who in the 1960s, sent a message to the course last year.  “I wish all the course members the best of luck and I hope you all have as much fun as I did working with the lovely Patrick Troughton. There is hardly a day that goes by that I don’t think about him as my den is full of photos of the two of us.Of course if I was invited I would love to reprise my role as Jamie (somewhat older though! Ha Ha) and if Patrick was still with us, the fun we would have in the current brand new, special Tardis! One only as to watch the DVD’s of our shows to notice the fun, love and camaraderie that the two of us shared with our female companions as well!”

Michael Troughton , whose father Patrick played the Doctor, and has himself appeared in the show,  also sent a message. “I know my dad would be very honoured, if not a little amazed,  to be included in such a course. After all, he did say right at the beginning of rehearsals for 'The Power of the Daleks' – ‘without Bill, it will probably only last 6 weeks.’ How wrong he was! It still survives today, stronger and just as popular as ever. In fact, I was so pleased to be able to fulfil a childhood dream and appear in the Christmas Special last year. What an emotional experience that was. It took me back to those heady days of studio visits to 'The Web of Fear' set and seeing Yeti and Daleks - I was just 12 years old then. I think if it hadn't been for the wonderful new character he was able to create for the Doctor, so different and above all believable, we would never have enjoyed the incredibly talented Doctors who followed. We have a lot to thank him for. Good luck with the course and hears to another fifty years of exploring time and space.”

For more information  or to book places  on the course,  please contact Sheila Lahan at Aquinas College, Stockport. Tel: 0161 419 9163. email:

Michael Herbert  is an historian who specialises in the history of Manchester’s radical and feminist  movements. His latest book is “Up Then Brave Women”: Manchester’s Radical Women 1819-1918. He also  teaches classes on  the history of radical women at Aquinas College.

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