Friday, 26 June 2009

Behind the sofa

There are some things that instantly mark you out as someone who grew up in England during the 1970s.

Show me someone with vivid memories of hiding behind the sofa in delicious terror as the Dr Who theme tune played, and I'll show you someone now in their 40s. In other words, someone who should know better by now, but who probably still gets a little misty-eyed at the thought of Mr Ben, The Magic Roundabout,and the 'real' Blue Peter with John Noakes and Shep.

Despite growing up in Greece, my son has become a bit of a Dr Who fan, thanks to family trips to the UK for high days and holidays. But let's face it, today's revamped reloaded Doctor just isn't the same as it was back in the days of the delightfully wild-eyed Tom Baker, is it? It's just too polished, too professional, and the inside of the Tardis is just too flash to pass for the real thing.

The whole appeal of the Dr Who in the '70s was that it was believable enough to give us that thrill of fright that sent us scuttling behind the furniture, but naff enough not to give us sleepless nights.

And, of course, the Daleks were the mainstay as the baddies.

When I was about ten, we made a Dalek in our back garden. Me, my little sister and two cousins from down the road got together during the endless rainy afternoons of the English school summer holidays and made a Dalek. In the shed. Surrounded by bent bicycle wheels, broken spades, discarded badminton racquets, a deflated Space Hopper and forgotten seed packets, we upturned a plastic dustbin, stuck egg cartons and a sink plunger to it (bit of a challenge - even for Dad's heavy-duty masking tape) and tried to mount it on a bit of plywood perched on top of some roller skates.

Then, when it finally stopped raining, we burst out of the shed yelling "Exterminate! Exterminate!", pushing a rather dodgy-looking Dalek and trampling all over the soggy grass.

Mum was none too pleased.

The hitch came when we tried to take it down the garden steps to the back door. Major design flaw. Davos (or whatever the original creator of the Daleks was called) had failed to foresee the down-side of not being able to tackle stairs. Bit of a problem for an arch-villain, but somehow in keeping with the wonderful naffness of 1970s TV.

I'm just not quite sure how Dr Who, in all his Time Lordly wisdom, never worked out that all you had to to escape the baddies was to leg it upstairs.

But then, it never occurred to us either. When things got too scary round the Tardis, our refuge was always behind the sofa...

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