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WhoSoc in 30th Anniversary Shock: Celebrating the Oxford Doctor Who Society

Well, it’s actually not that surprising that something that has lasted three decades is celebrating its 30th year but I needed an arresting headline…

The Oxford Doctor Who Society started in in 1989 in ‘Hilary Term’ no less, around about Bernard O’Clock on Frankie Day in Janet Week (probably). The Oxford University society skillfully launched the same year that Doctor Who was cancelled. Good timing, clever clogs.

Joking aside, it’s a fantastic achievement, and can only be a good thing if it diverts future cabinet members and prime ministers into watching The Sensorites, Meglos, and The King’s Demons. Rather than dressing up like posh prats then drunkenly trashing restaurants and student living quarters with the other Hooray Henrys at the Bullingdon Club.

It’s a friendly and welcoming group by all accounts and they watch every episode from the flickering ’60s to the HD present day. ‘We see the highs and the lows,” says James Ashworth, one of the editors of the society’s magazine, The Tides of Time.

“Often accompanied by some good-natured ribbing of the wobbly sets, at times nonsensical dialogue, or the many permutations of the phrase ‘Gone too far.’ Afterwards, we often retire to the pub for further conversation, like debating the relative merits of Kill the Moon, joking about Lungbarrow, or making predictions about the new series.”

They have also welcomed top-name guests to speak at meetings including Dalek scriptwriter Rob Shearman; and books, comics and audio author, Simon Guerrier. Members of the society have gone on to contribute to the Whoniverse, writing Doctor Who Magazine articles and tie-in books. I’m looking forward to the Big Lungbarrow Joke Book, chaps…

Lungbarrow BBCi Illustration

The society are also keen on quizzes and boast a Mastermind champion among their members. They regularly battle other socs such as LegoSoc and TrekSoc. It’s a shame they weren’t around in the ’60s to take on MeccanoSoc and KGB-SpySoc. All I managed at university was grappling with MissingSoc and AnotherBloodyHoleInMySoc.

WhoSoc also compete in Varsity Quizzes against their Cambridge counterparts. I can imagine the ensuing banter…

CamWhoSoc: Hey oiks! At least the Doctor thought Cambridge University worth a visit… Remember Shada?

OxWhoSoc: No, was it on TV? We heard it was so bad it went straight to video! Haw, haw, haw…

CamWhoSoc: Gadzooks, you ruffians!

But for James Ashworth, WhoSoc is more than just a club; it has played an important role in shaping his life:

“It’s a place to make friends, somewhere you can meet up with like-minded people to discuss the things you enjoy in a supportive atmosphere. This may sound like a standard platitude, but I speak from experience. WhoSoc has helped me come out of my shell at University, and develop into the person I am now, while giving me a bunch of friends who I know I’ll keep in touch with.”

Aww. I take it all back; it sounds brilliant! WhoSoc are keen to welcome new members and meet weekly in term time on Thursdays, 8pm at Corpus Christi. To find out more, email

It’s reassuring to know that our future is in safe hands. Here’s to another 30 years…

Peter Shaw

WhoSoc in 30th Anniversary Shock: Celebrating the Oxford Doctor Who Society

by Peter Shaw time to read: 2 min
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