Who North America attends GenCon each year - and this year, the company will show up with products, a life sized TARDIS, and maybe even a replica Dalek (the show's most famous monster). In addition, Who North America is hosting a dinner and a Q&A with one of GenCon's guests of honor, former Doctor Who star Peter Davison.
Doctor Who's longevity is due in part to the Doctor's ability to change his appearance and personality every time he 'dies', a conceit which allows for a new actor to take over the role whenever the current star decides to leave the series. The next transition will take place when Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith departs during this year's Christmas special and actor Peter Capaldi replaces him.
In 1981 Peter Davison became the Fifth Doctor, taking over from Tom Baker, whose comically long scarf and razor sharp wit made him a fan favorite in both Great Britain and the U.S. At just 30 years old, Peter Davison was significantly younger than the four actors that preceded him, but he infused his character with the crotchety demeanor of a much older man.
He played the Doctor for three years, including the show's twentieth anniversary season. NUVO spoke with Davison about his time on the show, his thoughts on the fiftieth anniversary and his advice for the next actor to take on the role of the Doctor.
NUVO: How does it feel to be part of a show that is celebrating its fiftieth year?
Peter Davison: Apart from very old, do you mean? Well I was the first Doctor who grew up watching the show, so it's hard to believe I was playing a hero of mine in the first place. Now it's fifty and still going strong, I feel honored, humbled and - yet really, really cool.
NUVO: Why do you think Doctor Who has remained so popular?
Davison: Something about it hit the spot from the first episode, you wanted to see more. See what the next story would bring. Suddenly it's fifty years later. From our British perspective, he's a peculiar superhero, but he's ours. He somehow sums up what we would like to be if we were a sort of gentleman superhero. Then there's science fiction itself, with its limitless scope for imagination and creativity. Doctor Who has become almost self perpetuating, inspiring the young who grew up and write for, act in, or produce the show.
NUVO: What did you try to bring to the role that was different from previous Doctors?
Davison: I tried to move faster and maybe show a little more fallibility and self doubt than previous Doctors, but I always wanted to retain an essence of the Doctors I grew up with.
NUVO: You were the last actor to play the Doctor during a major anniversary year (Doctor Who was not on the air in 1993 or 2003). What was it like being on the show during its twentieth year?
Davison: Very special. Lots of questions like, "Did you ever imagine it lasting this long?" We made 'The Five Doctors' [an anniversary show featuring all five actors who had played Doctor Who at the time, in some shape or form], of course, with Patrick [Troughton] and Jon [Pertwee]. It was like I was a child imagining it.
NUVO: What about the convention experience do you enjoy the most?
Davison: I enjoy the talks or panels best, even though people ask the same questions.
NUVO: As someone who has been in his shoes, do you have any advice for Matt Smith, who is leaving the show in December?
Davison: Move on, but don't turn your back on the show. All those mad fans aren't so bad.
NUVO: Do you have any advice for Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi?
Davison: As I said to him only yesterday, get used to it. This is the longest job you will ever have; you're the Twelfth Doctor from now until the end of time.