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My First Doctor Who Video: The Keeper of Traken

The 30th anniversary reawakened Doctor Who in the hearts of so many fans, not least my own. Christmas 1993 was a mix of new guitar and a VHS that wasn’t a rock band’s latest live show. No, this was my first Doctor Who video, and that same morning I would be taken back in time 12 years to the final days of Tom Baker’s TARDIS tenure.
It wasn’t quite the end – the moment was still being prepared for – but it was a show that I remembered watching as a four year old. The Keeper of Traken!
There I sat, transfixed, the smell of roast turkey filling my nose as the Doctor and Adric were distracted by the arrival of the Keeper on the TARDIS, encountered Tremas, met a new friend in Nyssa, and found themselves wrapped in a web of intrigue, a typically long game pulled together by the Master. But why now?
1993 was a massive year for Doctor Who fans. Not in the same way as 2005 or 2013, but massive nontheless. Here we had a show, off air for four years, suddenly taken seriously (it seemed) once again. We’d had repeats of classic serials on TV, Doctor Who Magazine was emerging from the post-cancellation duldrums with a new, in-depth approach (one that remains to this day) and there was optimism about the future. Even with the cancellation of Lost in the Dark Dimension, it felt as though there was still plenty to love and enjoy about the show. The revived VHS line was, I suppose, a part of this, and as I saved up for further releases (such as the Dalek and Trial of a Time Lord tins, not to mention the re-released Spearhead from Space), I slowly found myself being drawn into a world which I hadn’t realised I’d missed.
It happens, you know…
To this day, I have a soft spot for The Keeper of Traken. It might be stagey in that old school BBC historical drama way, but the production is polished, the costumes and sets stunning, and the sense of foreboding is heavy, as is the significance of the returning Master. The way in which the renegade Time Lord attempts to prolong his lifespan yet again might not be a million miles from his plan in The Deadly Assassin, but this time, unusually, he wins. Also, Traken gave me my first opportunity to get hold of a Target novelization for the first time in ten years – not for this story, but the next, Logopolis!
So that’s mine – what was your first Doctor Who video or DVD? Perhaps it was a laserdisc, or a cine reel? Tell us in the comments.

Christian Cawley

My First Doctor Who Video: The Keeper of Traken

by Christian Cawley time to read: 2 min
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