It’s hard to remember a time when the Doctor Who watch-along’s weren’t A Thing. But when the entire world found itself locked down in a plot that sci-fi has done time and again, Doctor Who fans rallied together and using different hashtags watched a number of stories over the past couple of months.
But the ‘official’ watch-alongs have sadly now ended. The watch-alongs were the brain child of Emily Cook, who also works for the Doctor Who Magazine. Speaking in an interview with the Guardian, all about how the Doctor Who community has come together in this crisis, Emily said:
“The idea came to me in bed one morning. I was thinking about the state of the world and how life was about to change quite dramatically. I often use TV, particularly Doctor Who, as escapism and I needed a pick-me-up. I suspected that others would be in the same position, so I sent out a tweet saying I was going to watch The Day of the Doctor later on at this time and why don’t we make it a communal thing?”
Just watching and experiencing Doctor Who with other fans is exciting enough but when Steven Moffat saw her tweet, things really took off. I don’t think we could have predicted that the watch-alongs would become so massive. From thought-provoking stories like Vincent and the Doctor, and Human Nature/The Family of Blood to massive Doctor Who-Endgame level events like The Stolen Earth/ Journey’s End, we’ve experienced the best that Doctor Who has to offer.
Since Steven Moffat joined in with The Day of the Doctor, we’ve been joined by other contributors on Twitter like Matt Smith, Russell T Davies, Karen Gillian, Arthur Darvill, David Tennant, and Catherine Tate to name a few.
I was only able to join in with the watch-along for Dalek, mainly because every other watch-along happened while I was work; but it was great to read some of the thoughts behind the story from writer Robert Shearman and seeing what the other fans thought of the tale.
For me though, the best part of all the watch-alongs is the extra content that came with it, from short stories to stars like Arthur Darvill, Karen Gillian, David Tennant, Matt Lucas, and Pearl Mackie all reprising their roles in narrated videos. I loved the Bernice Summerfield tie-in to Human Nature/Family of Blood and the heart-breaking conclusion to The Sarah Jane Adventures with Farewell Sarah Jane, which I think is one of the best extra Doctor Who videos we’ve had for a long time.
Emily Cook continued to tell the Guardian that the BBC have been hands-off, but have been surprised and enjoyed the fact that this is done by fans for the fans.
While the ‘official’ watch-alongs have now finished, many other fans are doing similar things with the original series, with stories like The War Games and The TV Movie getting the same treatment, as hundreds of fans join in.
For an idea thought up by one fan just as the world seemed to turn dark, the watch-alongs have shown how great the Doctor Who community is, with so many of us coming together to enjoy something we all love. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take another global pandemic for everyone to come together like this again!