Photos: Doctor Who Fandom Spans Generations

Photo: Amy Lombard

Think about your favorite television series for just a moment. Ask yourself, in fifty years will this show still be around? (Probably not.) Yet somehow the BBC sci-fi classic Doctor Who, which premiered on November 23, 1963, has endured. The series has managed to enchant audiences for half a century across multiple generations and a dozen lead actors. As for the fans, you can call them Whovians.

In early November, Whovians gathered at the Clarion Hotel in Ronkonkoma for “L.I. Who,” a convention that brought together like-minded fans to the New York area for the first time in over twenty years. In a weekend full of panels (“So You Can Draw a Dalek, Now What? From Fan Art to Business”), gaming, auctions, and lectures from celebrities like Sylvester McCoy, who played the seventh Doctor, I found myself in a sea of bow ties and Tom Bakerinspired scarves, with no shortage of all-TARDIS-blue-everything. What follows are photographs and interviews with Whovians as they discuss the first time they watched the show, their dream doctor, the prospect of a female leading the show, and more.

Do you remember the first time you watched Doctor Who? It was the “Pyramids of Mars.” I was just fascinated by it. You think back to the special effects at that time, how antiquated people would think they are now. But they were high-tech at the time.   Who is your favorite Doctor? I love Tom Baker, he became my Doctor. Photo: Amy Lombard
Have you always been a Doctor Who fan? I’ve been a Doctor Who fan since I was 6 years old. I remember after the first episode I saw I went to my little notebook and wrote, “I will watch this show my whole life.”   What do you think it is about Doctor Who that is so appealing? It just shows a vision of humanity that I think is incredibly inclusive. Growing up African-American and Muslim in a small suburb in South Jersey, I was not welcomed at all. Doctor Who was a space where my dreams could have room to roam. As a writer, I love that they are so utterly daring with storytelling. Doctor Who isn’t afraid to have the queen of England in the year 3000 be a black woman. Photo: Amy Lombard
Tell me about your costume for the convention. I’m wearing the high-council member robe.   When and why did you start watching Doctor Who? It was during the eighties. My parents started me off on Monty Python, so I was already watching PBS and this would come on too. Me and my sister were instantly hooked by the cheesiness and optimism of it all. Photo: Amy Lombard
How long have you been watching Doctor Who? Paul: I have no clue. Four or five years or something?   And how old are you, Paul? 8.   So you’ve been watching Doctor Who for a good portion of your life. Why do you like the show so much? Yes. Um, because the doctor saves the day. He’s a hero and he knows all about time and space, and stuff like that.   How long have you been watching? Christopher: Oh, almost thirty years, I think.   Did you pass it down to him? Oh yes, it’s congenital. Photo: Amy Lombard
Why did you start watching Doctor Who? Saturday morning, late 1970s, cartoons on TV. My sister looked at the TV guide and saw on channel nine there was a show on called Doctor Who. I expected to see a fellow wearing a white lab coat, instead the main character is a man who is a mix between Harpo Marx and Bob Dylan. That, of course, was Tom Baker. I remember watching a few episodes and then I kind of stopped.   Then from 1981 to 1985 I went to Yale graduate school and I was a member of Connecticut public broadcasting. I met this young woman from New York who said to me, “Do you remember this show that was on Saturday mornings called Doctor Who?” So I said yeah. She explained it was now on Connecticut public broadcasting. The odd thing is that the story that was on was “Pyramids of Mars,” where the doctor meets this evil ancient Egyptian god. The thing that I was studying at Yale, I’m serious, was ancient Egyptian studies. So I got hooked right away. I’ve been watching it ever since. Photo: Amy Lombard
Photo: Amy Lombard
Tell me about what you’re wearing today. I’m cosplaying David Tennant from the tenth Doctor Who. He’s my favorite Doctor because, well, he wears Converse. That’s reason enough.   What is it about Doctor Who that seems to captivate so many generations? The diversity of it. There’s so much for everybody. There’s historic episodes, there’s sci-fi, there’s romance — I think it kinda gets everybody.   If you could get any actor or actress to play the next Doctor, who would it be? Oh my god. That’s really tough. Wait, no it isn’t. Benedict Cumberbatch. Photo: Amy Lombard
What’s your favorite part about the show? Seeing the Doctor.   Do you watch it everyday? Definitely one episode on the DVR a day. Photo: Amy Lombard
“Who doesn’t want to take David Tennant home?” says Lady Arielle, who makes Victorian and steampunk jewelry at Lady Arielle Presents. Photo: Amy Lombard
Who’s your favorite doctor? Jon Pertwee.   Tell me about what you’re wearing to the convention today. Right now I’m dressed as season seventeen Tom Baker.   So you chose not to dress as your favorite Doctor? I had a third Doctor outfit in the works, and it wasn’t ready in time.   How much time does it take to put the outfits together for this type of event? Building the outfit and finding the pieces takes a while. I’ve been looking for this coat for a long time. Buying the coat can be very expensive, so I’m always looking for thrift-store alternatives. I happened to come across this at a rummage sale — I got it for a dollar which is amazing. Photo: Amy Lombard
What is it about Doctor Who that appeals to you? Each Doctor is drastically different than the one beforehand. I think that’s why it’s lasted so long. It’s not the same thing over and over again. I think that’s why people as old as my grandparents were into the show, I am, and now my son is getting into it.   How would you feel about a female doctor on the show? I think it would be awesome. Hard to say for certain that I can think of anyone in particular, but I would be very open to it. It’s something new, something different. Photo: Amy Lombard
Why did you start watching Doctor Who? Oh jeez. My best friend started watching it in high school, I thought it was kind of strange, but I just became hopelessly addicted. Now I’m a huge fan. I was watching it till like two in the morning every night. Photo: Amy Lombard