The times we met the Doctor – and so did you (part one)

Dear Blog Readers,

What you are about to read below is not your usual blog post. It was designed as a panel for a convention. And it will not be any panel but a special panel about Doctor Who. Something that combines our knowledge of the series, the meetings on the Who fan circuit and all those crazy happenings that make us feel like we have been characters on the show itself. It has a lot of anecdotes and should be treated in a tongue in cheek manner. We did this panel to inspire other fans to share their own stories. We had to separate it into two instalments, because the text is so long – we were afraid you will be bored to eternal sleep. In this instalment we will cover three sections: who are Whovians, what can happen if you encounter people with strange names, and we will tell you about the music with Who references. Our encounters with the Doctor (in his 12th and 7th reincarnation) and the monster stories will be added at a later stage.

We hope this will make you giggle a couple of times.


The times we met the Doctor – and so did you.

We had this panel idea for a very long time. Actually, we have decided to hold it off for a year, just to write down all weird moments and observations. As aloof as it may sond – we will here argue that Doctor Who universe is very real, and The Whovians are not just fans – they are a noble race of fearless and unstoppable time travellers in their own right.

We don’t know a person that wouldn’t want to jump in a time machine to see other worlds. Compared to the Doctor’s, our lives seem routine and boring. But perhaps we are already on our biggest adventure; we just haven’t been paying attention to the signs. Maybe the Time Lord is not the only one blessed with privilege of travelling though time and space and living out various reincarnations. What if our paths have crossed and we have already met the Doctor and his allies and enemies? We want you to decide if this is possible, but before we lay out our evidence, let us pen few paragraphs about the Whovians.


Whovians – impossible time travellers.

For fifty years, one TV series raised generations of nerds, geeks and sci-fi fans. It became a cultural phenomenon, instantly recognized and immersed in national consciousness just like tea-time, tabloid press and Buckingham Palace. Hiding behind a sofa when Daleks appear on screen is an experience that binds entire generations. All it took to win minds and hearts of millions of people on Earth was one Doctor, sonic screwdriver and a police box.

Fans of Doctor Who series – known as Whovians – are peculiar. They are dedicated to the point of obsession and follow all plots and nooks of the saga with great interest. Even the most obscure characters on the show will have their fans and detailed biography. People often refer to different reincarnations of the main protagonist as “their Doctor”. If you don’t believe us how dedicated Whovians are – let us tell you this. David Tennant (10th Doctor) and Peter Capaldi (12th Doctor) became actors because they were following the show since early childhood. Legend says, both had replicas of TARDIS in their bedroom. Peter Capladi sent regular letters to Doctor Who Magazine and made fanarts. Steven Moffat (writer/producer) used to write Doctor Who fan-fiction. Another writer on the show Russel T. Davies kept a Doctor Who diary where he noted reviews of the episodes.

How do we know all those things? Didn’t we mention that we are Whovians? We have it all memorized! You can even ask us for co-ordinates to Gallifrey and how to pilot a time machine. No problem. 🙂

Being around devoted fans is an experience in itself. Whovians don’t act like your regular fandom. They read a lot of unusual books: encyclopaedias, scientific papers on quantum physics, pulp novels from the 30s, fairytales…They often discuss odd topics like paradoxes, monsters and parallel universes during mundane activities (morning bus ride to work suits perfectly) and have an interesting way of putting things. If they don’t like you – they will call you a “little Dalek”, if they find a subway carriage overcrowded, they will complain loudly that it is not bigger on the inside. Their dress code is out-worldly: scarves that are half a mile long, combat shoes or converse shoes worn with a suit, hats, trench coats with cat emblems, entire wardrobe that seems to be transported from Victorian era (and who said it isn’t?). Whovians tend to be wary of their surroundings – for some strange reasons they will stare at statues of angels or keep out of shadows if in a library.

Whovians are restless dreamers that yearn for travels and adventure. They are curious like kittens, open minded and they expect the unexpected. They throw themselves head first into action, maybe that is why they find themselves in situations that sound like scripted by Steven Moffat (or David Lynch). If you are a fellow fan, you will know what we are talking about. There are days when you turn around because you are sure you hear the sound of oncoming TARDIS or your instincts tell you that the Doctor himself just passed you by in the crowd. Or you are certain that something is manipulating the time votex and things are just not right. Whatever this may be, each Whovian has multiple anecdotes of this sort that range from bizarre to blood chilling.

These are ours stories; we hope that they will entertain you.

Nomen Omen – it’s all in the name

On his adventures, Doctor meets all sorts of unusual characters. They represent all possible races, social classes and occupations, some of the characters also come up with extraordinary names. Fellow traveller and a Time Lady – Romana`s full name is Romanadvoratrelundar. Vile and infantile breed of Slitheen (also known as Raxacoricofallapatorians) have a proud history of having absurdly long surnames such as “Blon Fel Fotch Pasameer-Day” or “Glune Fex Fize Sharlaveer-Slam”. To know somebody’s name is a true power. It can give you a hint of the bearer’s origins or intentions and perhaps that is why Doctor never reveals his own name even to the closest allies.

We have crossed paths with several individuals with truly exotic names. An unsuspected observer would think that it was a case of having eccentric parents but we are Whovians and we can read between the lines. One time at work we dealt with a customer named “Asterios”. Pretty poetic unless you know Greek – then you would know this means “Ruler of The Stars” or “Of The Stars”. Not only it was a clear indication that the person was an alien but also showed he held a high status in the Outer Space. Rulers of the Stars – how many races would fit the description? Only the powerful Time Lords themselves. If we wanted to dig deeper, Asterios was known to be a god of rivers to the ancient inhabitants of Earth. River, a Time Lord – you know where this is going 😉

On another occasion we ran into a whole family waiting for an appointment to a GP. The kids were named Andromeda, Medea, Cassandra and Iason. The mother was Helena (and she was suspiciously beautiful). We weren’t sure if the family was on their way to Hogwarts or Camp Half Blood, but knowing the Greek mythology (and the turbulent history of the original characters) we decided to keep our distance. You can never be too careful when meeting strangers with strange names, especially if they could have come from another fandom (apologies to Rick Riodan and JK Rowling).

Situation looks a bit different if you are the one with an unusual name. So, if you have been named “Attilla”, “Achilles” or “Cleopatra” then it is possible that you are an echo of your former self from a different time line or you have jumped into somebody’s life stream and there are million copies of you throughout the universe.
But don’t panic, you are not the only one. Something similar happened to Doctor’s own companion Clara Oswald when she tried to save the Time Lord from evil Great Intelligence. Having multiple versions of yourself has advantages – no matter the space and time, you are guaranteed to always meet a familiar face.


“You are not alone” – meeting other Whovians

One observation rings true when you travel – nothing stands out in the crowd like the things that remind you of home. You may find yourself in the busiest street in a foreign land and once somebody starts speaking your own language, you will hear it. Don’t ask us how – but this is how it works.

Many people meet their neighbours or even relatives in the most unlikely places – when on holidays far away from home or during delegations abroad. Or they strike a conversation with a complete stranger only to discover they have mutual acquaintances. Then they joke the world is small. However truth is quite opposite – the universe is infinite and it is constantly expanding. And yet something brings us all together.

We are not sure if even the Doctor could explain this mystery. But to be honest – isn’t it wonderful to meet souls that are alike? How terrifying and lonely it would be if we were truly alone in the universe? Doctor knows this pain very well – he had spent three reincarnations believing he was the last of the Time Lords until The Face of Boe revealed that to be a misconception.

For Whovians, it is relatively easy to meet their own. In the age of merchandise, conventions and fandom – you have a good chance to run into a fellow fan almost every day. We have lost count how many times we’ve seen people wearing Doctor Who tees on the streets. We have attended sold out premiere of “Deep Breath” (first episode of series 8) with thousands of other fans and managed to meet up with Steven Moffat face to face twice. Nothing out of ordinary.

And yet, we had some encounters with other fans that were so unique and unexpected that they could be a part of Doctor Who episode.

The other day Mal nearly fainted after she went out to pay her Internet bill. High blood pressure ain`t no fun. She would be laying face first in the mud outside Marks & Spencer if not an elderly gentleman who grabbed her and took back into the Internet shop. First thing he did was to sit her down and take her pulse. The conversation was something along those lines:

Mal: Call the ambulance.

The man: No need, I’m a doctor.

Mal (cynical): But not the one I was expecting.

The man (with a laugh): Judging from your age, your doctor is called Smith.
Mal: No, Tennant.

The man: Mine was Pertwee, such a gentleman, all reason, no whining. But he passed away many years ago…Who is now in regency?

Mal: Doctor Capaldi.

The man: Ah yes, should be all right. You need to drink more, you are dehydrated. And go and see a GP.

He went away after a while. When Mal was able to stand on her feet, the shop girl asked her where she could find Doctor Capladi. Mal told her he was only taking the best before she continued on her way home.

Again, if you are the fan of the series, this conversation makes perfect sense, but a word of explanation to those who are not familiar with the Who saga. When the man introduced himself as a medical practitioner, Mal responded in a witty way that he was not the doctor she was expecting. This was a direct reference to the words of Ninth Doctor (Paul McGann) from the episode “The night of the Doctor”. Matt Smith (Eleventh Doctor), David Tenant (Tenth Doctor) and Peter Capladi (Twelfth Doctor) are actors who portray the Time Lord for the younger generations. Jon Pertwee was Third Doctor and was mostly known by the older audience. Mr Pertwee sadly passed away in 1996. There is also ongoing gag in the series that Doctor takes only the best as his travel companions.

Sometimes, you meet fellow Whovians by sheer accident. But on occasion they appear by themselves, like it was scripted. On October 19, 2013 Rita attended Doctor Who 50th Anniversary celebrations in Hereford, UK. One of the guests was an amazing artist Mike Collins. Rita had a long discussion with Mike and bought one of his prints for a common friend – writer – Helen Stringer. On November 30th, 2014 – a whole year later – Mike Collins found himself visiting Malta for Malta ComiCon. Guess who showed up at his table, all looking mysterious and smiling like a sphinx. Yes, Malicia. Mike just returned from a quick brunch and was hard at work sketching for people. But from time to time he would look at Mal (who was silently standing in a corner) with a strange glare. When he was finally done with all the sketches, he gave Mal a nod to which she replied: “Do you remember me?” It took him about few seconds to proclaim “Ah, we’ve met in Hereford! Your friend Helen was a science fiction writer”. But then he looked at Mal again, smiled to himself and corrected his statement – “No, I have met your sister. You darling are the evil clone”. Mal had a good laugh but was quite impressed that Mike was able to tell us apart (consider the fact that our own mother can’t tell which is which when we are on the phone). The whole scene gathered quite a crowd who were equally amused with a story of comic artist meeting twins in two different countries in a span of a year. But then the crazy thing happened. Mobile phone rang and it was Rita on the line. Before Mal knew it – Mike Collins was reaching for the phone to say hi to the other twin. The crowd was roaring with laughter while Malicia’s ears were crimson red. Rita was confused while Mike had a highlight of the day.

That morning Mike Collins sketched a small drawing of Peter Capaldi (as 12th Doctor) and it was one of the few remaining items on his stand. Malicia grabbed the sketch before anyone noticed and it now forms our collection of Doctor Who memorabilia.

The Hereford encounter with Mike Colling can be found here:


Listen! – The music of Who

Main theme from the series is one of the most easily recognized pieces of music in the history of television. It is also one of the very first pieces of electronic music ever created. It was composed by Ron Grainer and arranged by Delia Derbyshire in 1963 at the legendary BBC Radiophonic Workshop in Delaware Road, London. Just imagine – it’s been in use for five decades. Since the Doctor Who series revival in 2005, the soundtrack duties fall on Murray Gold. Each Reincarnation and each Companion (and some monsters) in the show have their own individual theme and the soundtrack albums are released regularly. Three Doctor Who themed orchestra concerts have taken place as part of The Proms festival at the Royal Albert Hall in London (2008, 2010 and 2013 respectively).

Doctor himself is extremely fond of music. Second Reincarnation (played by Patrick Troughton) carried around a flute, while Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) composed a whole symphony in an episode “Music of the Spheres”. During a visit to the Rings of Akhaten, Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) met and helped young girl named Merry Gejelh (Emilia Jones) to defeat a memory parasite. The song performed by Merry is recognized as a highlight of seventh series.

Doctor seems to have a lasting influence on many professional musicians as well. Ambient duo Orbital released a mix of Who main theme in 1996 hoping it would be used in the planned series with Eight Doctor (Paul McGann). In 2010 Orbital performed this song alongside with Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) at Glastonbury Festival:

Members of scandalous KLF also mixed the main theme and went on to chart with the single “Doctorin` the Tardis”. For the occasion they renamed themselves as “The Time Lords”. The video to the song is just an eye candy with a Dalek and a car that was introduced as “Ford Time Lord”.

British rock band Supergrass paid their tribute to the series and the Doctor in their 1997 song “Sun hits the sky”. The chorus incorporates famous introduction line: “I am a Doctor” and there is a cartoon of a medial person on the single cover.

If you consider yourself a Whovian, you must have blasted those songs on a regular basis, or they cheered you up when you heard them in public while going about your business. We have to admit, we haven’t found the reference to the series in Supergrass song until very recently (we must have been drunk back in the 90s) and once we got it – it was on a public bus. We have been on our way from the office and had a very fascinating conversation about what to have for dinner, when this song came on the radio. The bus driver must have been a big fan of the band, because he pulled the volume to 11. So here we were deciding between a potato salad or fish and chips when the line “I am a Doctor” hit us. We just went silent for a minute, looked at each other and other passengers thinking “Did we just hear Supergrass singing about a Time Lord?” Obviously since we are both very much in the spirit of John Peel, we had to consult Wikipedia and YouTube at home to double check. We were right; there was a direct reference in the song. Dinner could wait.

Another time we had this strange feeling like being on a set of Doctor Who, complete with a soundtrack, was when shopping at a local supermarket. It is a very cinematic feeling, when you enter a shop and hear a song called “Exterminate”. You never know from which aisle a Dalek will pop up and the invasion will begin. The song in question is a single by Snap! with the vocals of one and only Niki Harris. We love Niki and follow her since the late 80s when she was touring with Madonna (you can see her in video to “Vogue”). Niki issued two singles with Snap! between 1992-1993: “Exterminate” and “Do you see the light (looking for)”. Check her video below and tell us if she doesn’t look like an Empress of the Daleks?

Let us remain with Snap! for a minute longer. In 1995 they teamed up with vocalist Paula “Summer” Brown to record their third album “Welcome to tomorrow”. Second single from that album was named “The first, the last eternity (till the end)”. Set in New York in the 30s, it shows Summer as a comic femme fatale travelling between pages like she is travelling between parallel dimensions, calling out to people to follow her into the eternity. She rocks a beautiful red dress and her hairdo is immaculate. Now if you ever seen Professor River Song (Alex Kingstone) on the Doctor Who series, then you will be having déjà vu when watching the video. Remember the video was filmed fifteen years before character of River Song was even created. Strange coincidence or perhaps Paula Brown reincarnated into Alex Kingstone at some point in the last decade? 😉

You may argue that a song called “Exterminate” is rather easy reference to the Doctor and we will agree with you. But sometimes a song you have heard millions of times will catch you off guard. Both Rita and I are dedicated listeners of Absolute Radio and been so for over a decade. When we say dedicated, we really mean it – we are listening to it from Malta, despite the fact that their international broadcast was cut off two years ago (guys, please reconsider your policy regarding international online listeners!). One day at work, Mal was listening to Absolute and Dionne Warwick “Whisper in the dark” came on. This is one stunning love ballad off the album “Friends” released in 1985. Now imagine sitting in an office with your headphones on and singing along, only to realize the lyrics go “Travel with me through time and space”. Just like this, a simple song turns into something completely different. An invitation into the TARDIS? You look at your colleagues and they seem completely oblivious to what just have happened. You may brush it off as mere accident, but can you truly rule out the possibility that you have just received a message from the Doctor?


This makes the end of the first installment of the panel.

Should you have any comments or perhaps your own stories to share, let us know! We will gladly add and expand this panel with stories of ours or other fans.

Please come back as the second part will be posted quite soon. Until then, keep cool and have your eyes opened. This is a strange world we live in.


Castlemartin Firing Range in 19 clicks

Aye travellers!

The Tour de Wales goes on! As promised we are back on track again and ready to report about our adventures during the summer. Good news is that November is almost finished and we will be greeting the much more people-friendly December in less than a week! Christmas spirit, better weather and lots of festive markets to go to! We cannot wait to visit the Victorian Fayre in Worcester, and this year we are also planning to see the German Market in Birmingham. As usual, so much to do, so much to see and so little time – oh well, the life of a cultural blogger is a difficult one. Choosing between the places to go can be a heart-breaking task indeed J

Have you missed previous stops on or tour around Wales? Use the links below to see where we have been before:

Ogmore-by-Sea Review Part 1:
Ogmore-by-Sea Review Part 2:
Saundersfoot in 20 clicks:
Barrafundle Bay in 30 clicks:
Broadhaven South in 27 clicks:
St Govan’s Chapel:

All right, our last destination was the St Govan’s Chapel – beautiful, tiny place of worship near the village of Bosherton. The chapel is located at Castlemartin Fining Range, a piece of land now owned by Ministry of Defense that once belonged to the posh landowners, the Earls of Cawdor. Castlemartin is worth visiting for its breathtaking sights and truly impressive limestone cliffs but it also has a rich history. Interested? Follow us!

Have you ever wondered where the name Castlemartin came from? If you think it’s a combination of two words “castle” and “martin”, you are very close. The village built on a sandstone peninsula was founded around 5th or 6th century. It had an impressive motte-and bailey castle erected by Norman and Scandinavian invaders in the 11th century and large farms that supplied food for local residents and Marcher Lords. The castle didn’t survive to our times but the remains can be seen even today. They are quite extensive and measure 70m x 60m. Well preserved remains of a ring-bank and remnants of the outer ditch can also be located. Amateur archaeologists will be delighted to know that Normans have used foundation of an earlier building to create the castle, probably an Iron Age Roman fort.

Excellent photographs of the castle remains can be found here:

The village grew steadily around the castle and in the 13th century a Catholic church dedicated to St Martin has been added to the community. Within few years, the village became known as the Martel Castell, the Castle of St Martin, or Castlemartin for short. The church is still standing and has been renovated in the 19th century thanks to the generous donations by the Cawdor family. Today the parish is known as St Michael and All Angels. There is a different church also known as St Michael and All Angels in Stackpole. In Wales things just cannot be simple! We haven’t seen the churches yet, but next time we are in Pembroke, Rita is going to photograph them from every angle. You have her word for that.

Once again, please visit the website of Royal Commission on the ancient and historical monuments of Wales. This excellent site offers the best and most accurate information on almost any listed building in Pembrokshire:’S+CHURCH,+CASTLEMARTIN/

Castlemartin nowadays is a sleepy village that offers good BB accommodation to tourists and climbing enthusiasts. It may not be impressive but not many people realize that it is one of few remaining places in Wales that has been entirely English-speaking for the last 900 years or more.

We have mentioned in our previous entry that Castlemartin Training Range has been established in 1939, just before the start of WW2 as a place where the British Army and fleet could train undetected. This remote coastal location was perfect for this goal and Ministry of Defense used every possible legal trick to take the land away from the noble family. The range covers 2,390 hectares and 12 nautical miles off the coast. It consists of two parts: Range East available to tourists (this is where St Govan’s Chapel is located) and Range West that is closed off to visitors and you need a special permission to enter. The permission is granted quite often these days and many organized climbing groups come here to conquer some of the most impressive limestone walls. We have seen several red metal climbing poles on Range East but we didn’t have the chance to see the climbers in action. Rita is secretly planning to team up with some local climbing expedition and go with them to take some pictures – we tell you it will be some truly magnificent photo-session. If you’d like to enter Range West, be prepared for a 40 minute military style briefing about security and safety! Here’s another very interested link and several times when the briefing will be held in 2015:

Range West is known for its wonderful fauna (you can spot rare wild orchids there as well) but Range East is also very interesting. There is an old training ground used by military personnel, tanks and vehicles during the war, Cold War helicopter landing pads made out of stone, antishelters, bunkers and even small rail tracks for heavy cannons. Urban legends mention that several secret weapons were tested in those shelters but the data is classified and nobody knows anything for sure. Our guide has mentioned several big transmitters and radars being created here in 1950’s and 1960 but majority of them went out of use before our birth and what remains are the stone pillars and bare foundations. Those who like reading about military equipment will be delighted to know that Range East is considered unique and is preserved for its historical and educational value. An excellent article about the can be found here:

Here are our favourites pictures from the Castlemartin Range tour:


Castlemartin Range

Castlemartin Range


View from the top

View from the top


Castlemartin Range near the St Gowan's Chapel

Castlemartin Range near the St Gowan’s Chapel


High Cliffs

High Cliffs


Beach below with a sharp rock knowns as The Beacon or The Lighthouse

Beach below with a sharp rock known as The Beacon or The Lighthouse


Closer look at The Beacon

Closer look at The Beacon


Large beach at the other side of the Range

Large stone beach at the other side of the Range


Red climbing post near the old bunkers

Red climbing post near the old bunkers


Stone circles - they were used as a practice targets for military planes

Stone circles – they were used as a practice targets for military planes


Closer look at the circles, this one was made in early 1960's

Closer look at the circles, this one was made in early 1960’s


Don't look down!

Don’t look down!


Old bunkers from The Cold War era are not longer used by the military and their entrances have been bricked up.

Old bunkers from Cold War era are not longer used by the military and their entrances have been bricked up.


Castlemartin Range information board for the tourists. The range is closed for 44 weeks a year

Castlemartin Range information board for the tourists. The range is closed for 44 weeks a year


Long ravine with derelict train tracks

Long ravine with derelict train tracks


Old navigation station is actually still operational and is being used to monitor the weather conditions alongside the Pembroke coast

Old navigation station is actually still operational and is being used to monitor the weather conditions alongside the Pembroke coast


Rockly plateau is now home to hundreds of rabbits

Rocky plateau is now home to hundreds of rabbits


The magnificient coastline looks splendid in the sun

The magnificent coastline looks splendid in the sun


Cracked stone surface crates mini lakes and rock pools

Cracked stone surface crates mini lakes and rock pools


It may look nice and calm, but the ocean is very dangerous around the range with many hidden vortexes and strong currents

It may look nice and calm, but the ocean is very dangerous around the range with many hidden vortexes and strong currents

You want to know more? Look no further, we have selected the best websites to give you more information about the subject:–2

Click to access Castlemartin.pdf

And if you meed something extra: A great info about the range – print the map if you want to discover all roads and walking trails – castlemartin_range_trail

We are leaving Castlemartin behind and moving onto something bigger and better (in our humble opinion of course). The last stop on our Tour de Wales will be the lovely town of Pembroke. If you haven’t seen the grand castle there, you haven’t seen the beauty and splendor of medieval Wales!

Return soon
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz