Re-watching My Comfort Show: Doctor Who

There is always comfort to be found in re-watching shows we loved so much in childhood. It gives us a chance to revisit childhood emotions and connects us to a past we may mourn. The most memorable show I watched during childhood was Doctor Who – specifically the era now defined as New Who.

Doctor Who ticks all the boxes for me as the perfect show to re-watch; multiple series, cross-episode storylines and the nostalgia of when I first watched the series. The show is full of binary opposites; human vs alien, good vs bad, right vs wrong. In the constantly changing and anxiety inducing world of Covid, it is nice to have such things laid out clearly.

Sometimes everything imaginable seems to be going wrong, but you still know it will be okay in the end. And isn’t that a message we all need right now? We want to know that we can overcome this; that it is only a mere dot on the timeline.

One of the most important aspects of the show is its very real form of escapism. When visiting alien worlds, you can switch off from the Covid reality of our day. It’s a naïve world free from all this present worry, and sometimes that’s needed.

Earlier this year I started re-watching Doctor Who (circa 2005) during a time that I needed some form of comfort show to ground me (and I’d already re-watched Derry Girls too many times).

The main thing that re-watching this childhood favourite has made me realise is that I don’t actually enjoy Doctor Who anymore. I love re-watching Doctors Nine and Ten, but getting through Eleven felt like a slog: I have almost no recollection of previously watching the series past David Tennent leaving.

I’ve come to realise what I love is the safety of the show, the memories it brings me and the easy watching. In short, it’s the nostalgia of watching the show during childhood that made me turn back to it when I did. I needed to know things would work out and be okay and Doctor Who gave me that – after every hour long episode things would be okay again.

Watching Doctor Who now takes me back to my childhood – the life I was living, the friends I had, the feelings that I felt. I don’t think I was giving myself enough time to think about the person I was as a child until I fell back in love with the show that connected me so vividly with my childhood.

In childhood, life often seems a lot simpler and it has been nice to fall back into that mind-set for a short while. Although some of the aliens in Doctor Who still scare me, this isn’t the only emotion I feel when I watch it. The ongoing storylines of love, relationships and friendships have me hooked. The plots that some prominent figures are actually dangerous (and alien) make me think more deeply about how this reflects real life. The compassion shown towards aliens, who really are just scared themselves, reinforces the idea that being kind is always important. As an adult, I have a better understanding of the social commentary that Doctor Who provides, and how this mirrors a world I recognise today.

Re-watching Doctor Who has filled a hole in me that I didn’t know was there. It has transported me back in time and away from the anxieties of 2021. But perhaps most importantly, it has also reminded me that although the villains in our lives are sometimes people we love and trust, they never win: things will always be okay.

Image courtesy of Aneta Pawlik.

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