I have just spent fifty minutes with the President of the World. Those in the know will nod because in all probability, they have too. Those not so in the know will know The President of the World by another name; The Doctor. Yes, all those Whovians- today is the day I pay tribute to Doctor Who.
I vaguely remember seeing William Hartnell in this role back in the year dot. I am not sure how young I actually was but I do know that for weeks I'd stomp about chanting "I am a Darek" because I couldn't say Dalek, so I must have been pretty young. In those halcyon days, Doctor Who was in black and white and had a half hour slot around 5pm on a Saturday. I have seen a lot of monsters - some quite convincing, those early ones not so - and I can remember being enthralled by the adventures of the strange little man in the tailed jacket and check trousers. I doubt if I understood half of what was going on but I do thank it for introducing me to the world of Sci-Fi.
Over the years, rather like James Bond (another favourite, is there no hope for me), the Doctor has been morphed many times. More times than I thought actually but in the TV series, I can think of these, Patrick Troughton, John Pertwee (who grew up to become Worzel Gummidge), Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi. Maybe I was growing up at the time but I remember losing interest after Peter Davidson and rekindling interest from Christopher Eccleston onwards and I have been an ardent fan ever since.
But it has changed. It has evolved. These days, the episodes run to fifty minutes and come on at 8pm on Saturdays - long after I'd have been in bed first time round. So when did it stop being a children's adventure series and become pure escapism for adults - with, one has to admit, some quite adult themes running through its orange veins?
Even this far down the line though, I have a certain fondness for it. My favourite baddies over the years have included the Daleks (of course), the Cybermen, the Angels of Death and the evil mannequins that smashed their ways through shop windows and went on the rampage, all the more terrifying for their completely expressionless plastic faces. There has of course also been an army of sidekicks along the way. Does anyone remember Frazer Hines as Jamie or Wendy Padbury as Zoe? Then there was the adorable K9, the Brigadier and of course Bessie the Edwardian car who was the Doctor's main form of transport when the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) went AWOL (Absent With-Out Leave) for a couple of seasons.
So who will be the next President of the World? Could The Doctor, rather like The Master who became Missi - regenerate as a female? I think Sandi Toksvig would do the role enormous
justice; what say you?