The day I met the new Doctor Who

In 1991, I met the new Doctor Who. An excited phone call from my Auntie one Saturday morning informed the twelve-year-old me that the new Doctor Who was at the local school fete. Being the keen young fan that I was, I couldn’t believe that the new Doctor Who was so close by. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t heard of him before, nor the plans to resurrect the series. I rushed down to Holmesdale First School in Reigate, my light blue plastic-lensed 35mm camera in hand. (Actually, I think my Mum drove me there.)

David Burton, the new Doctor Who, with Tony Whitmore

The handsome young man with the exquisite dress sense pictured standing with Burton is me.

These were the wilderness years, the time when the BBC had stopped making the show and long before Paul McGann was to a don a curly wig and officially become the eighth Doctor. The man at the school fete, whose name was David Burton, represented some light at the end of the tunnel. He even had a car emblazoned with the words “The New Doctor Who”. This had to be for real, right?

Well, like so many Doctor Who fans, I was a precocious child. I was sceptical. The undeniable naff-ness of the Proton Saga, carefully protected from the sticky fingers of the children of Holmesdale by an impenetrable barrier of benches, was a worry. As was the lack of anything other than the car and a man in a white suit, red shirt and matching red shoes. There didn’t seem to be anybody who looked like a BBC employee there. It was also curious that they had chosen to announce the return of the series in a school car park. It’s not so far from the Prime Minister announcing a new manufacturing policy in a factory in Swindon I suppose, but there was a distinct lack of pizazz about the whole event.

I wrote to Doctor Who Magazine, telling them about my encounter. I didn’t know whether I had “a coup or a con,” I wrote. Only I think I used a more phonetic spelling of “coup.” The editor, John Freeman, asked me to send in my photographs and in October 1991 (#178) two of them were published alongside a news article in DWM. For this I was paid the sum of £10 and a copy of the Marvel Doctor Who Yearbook. They must have been my first professional photographs.

Time passed and there was no more news of Doctor Who starring David Burton. He was occasionally spotted around Redhill and once in the background of a scene in London’s Burning. So why am I writing about this now? Well, a few weeks ago, something rather extraordinary happened… To be continued.

David Burton's car, with "the new Doctor Who" lettering

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    4 Responses to The day I met the new Doctor Who

    1. Paul Mellors says:

      OMG you can’t leave it like that…..

    2. I thought the name rang a bell and I have only just realised that I once had quite a long discussion with David. He was performing at the Victorian Festival of Christmas at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard in 2008, as was I. We walked back to our respectives digs after the event. Seemed a reasonably nice guy, so somewhat surprised at this Doctor Who business.

    3. Dan Melluish says:

      Aarrrgh! Cliffhanger!

    4. […] 1991 I had some photos published in Doctor Who Magazine. Fast forward 23 years and 293 editions and it’s happened […]

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