Doctorin’ the house

One of my earliest childhood memories is siting on the living room floor, playing with my Doctor Who toys. I had a Tom Baker figure (complete with enormous scarf), a Cyberman, K-9, and a magical TARDIS which could make those figures disappear and reappear. I loved those toys as much as the show on which they were based. And I was 4 years old, something I know because that’s the age I was when we moved out of that house, just before I started school.

I mention this because the new series of the revived Doctor Who began at the weekend, prompting Gem and I to discuss whether it might be suitable for Heather to watch. The conversation went along these lines:

Me: “I think she’d really like it”
Gem: “I think it’s too scary – it scares ME!”
Me: “Hmmm… why don’t I blog about it, and let the internet-people decide”

So here I am.

Heather’s actually seen a little bit of The Doctor already – the 2011 Christmas special was broadcast after the Gruffalo’s Child, which we recorded and have watched quite a few times. One time it got left to play all through the credits, and into the start of Doctor Who, which prompted a lot of questions from a rather intrigued (then) 3 year old: “Who’s that Daddy? Is he really a doctor? What’s that thing? What’s he doing?”. Not dissimilar to some of Steven Moffat’s dialogue, in fact!

And I think she liked what she saw, not least because when the recording cut out halfway through the opening credits she seemed disappointed. Which, given Heather’s fascination with all things space, didn’t entirely surprise me. But, aged three, I think she was a little on the young side. “It won’t be long though” I thought, “maybe next Christmas…”

Of course, the 2012 Christmas special was about evil looking killer snowmen with menacing smiles. Heather already has issues with things going bump in the night, so I let that one go. “We’ll wait until the new series starts”, I thought. Which brings us right up to date.

The new series features a new companion for the Doctor, and that would seem like an ideal time to start watching – Heather could discover the Doctor’s world through Clara’s eyes, learning about time travel, sonic screwdrivers and bow ties at the same time as she does. But is it too scary?

I’ve just watched the first episode, and I think it’s probably okay. Yes, there were a couple of tense moments (I don’t want to give anything away in case anyone hasn’t seen it yet – spoilers!) but overall I don’t think there’s anything in there that will totally freak her out. Which you’d expect, given the family friendly tea-time schedule slot. And anyway, even if it is a bit scary in places, it’s good for kids to be frightened once in a while, right? Right???

So what do you think? Is four too young to be watching Doctor Who? Would vetting the show in advance, and bypassing anything that looks potentially too scary be a reasonable way to go? All comments and suggestions gratefully received.

Update (7/4): After everyone’s comments I decided yesterday was the day, and said to Heather would I put Doctor Who on. “No, I don’t want to watch it” she said, although she was intrigued by Clara in the YouTube clip I tried to entice her with. So I guess that’s the end of that!

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!