Doctor Who: The doctor who saves lives


Each of us has our story of how we met The Doctor and fell in love with BBC’s Doctor Who. This is mine.

As we round the corner into spring and Whovians wait anxiously for October when the 13th Doctor, played by Jodie Whittaker of Broadchurch written by the new BBC Doctor Who Showrunner Chris Chibnall, will finally make her full-episode premiere, I would like to take the time to introduce myself to you. My name is Sam Callahan, and I will be one of the hosts guiding you on this journey.

Buckle up, Whovians! We’re in for a roller coaster!

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I’ve seen it a hundred times: somebody posts in a Doctor Who forum about how this show saved their life. They were in a dark place and the Doctor’s insatiable desire to see the beauty in all sorts of species, villains or not, helped restore their faith in humanity and continue on their journey in this mortal coil. I too had a similar experience. 

A few years back, I was battling severe depression and anxiety, suffering from panic attacks that lasted hours through the night. I had taken a semester off of school to hole myself up and hide in my parent’s house, unable to dredge out of my misery or that feeling of impending doom. 

I’d recently witnessed some classmates in an hour-more discussion about some TV character named the Doctor and his “companions” Amy and Rory and River (weird name, I thought, as I eavesdropped). They were arguing about a pivotal plot moment in Season Six, Episode One “The Impossible Astronaut” where an important character may or may not have died (Spoiler Alert! Watch the show!)

They were so animated about it, I got curious. Not to mention, this instance was the fourth time in a single week I’d heard the name “Doctor Who,” having never heard of it before. I’m not one to ignore coincidences…

One particularly devastating morning that fateful spring in 2012, I wrapped myself in my big, black down comforter and lay down on my bathroom floor—a habit I developed in elementary school as a form of comfort, listening to the water fall over the shower walls — and I turned my computer to Netflix (remember, this was 2012; you can find Doctor Who on Amazon Prime and iTunes in America these days) and thought “What is this garbage everyone is talking about? This ‘Doctor’…. Doctor…Who?”

I started with the first episode of the new series rebooted in 2005 by Russell T Davies, called “Rose.”  Our heroine, Rose Tyler, finds herself trapped in a storage room, out of options, facing annihilation, and a hand comes into screen. A strong hand takes hers in his and says “Run.”

I felt that squeeze through the screen like a hug. It was with this word, that gesture, that I felt the spark. I was beginning to understand. I watched clean through to the second Slitheen episode, Season One, Episode Eleven “Boom Town,” before shutting my laptop begrudgingly to find a meal, and just like that famous meme from David Tennant’s era, I was hooked. 

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The ninth Doctor thought everything and everyone was beautiful. He was 903 years old, war-torn, and in immeasurable pain, yet he still lived in awe and wonder at the universe, and I thought, if he can do this for 903 years, I can do this for another 50, at least.

I had lost my faith in my fellow humans, this world, and its corruption and pain, and the Doctor helped restore that. This was the hero for whom I’d been searching and he saved my life.