Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Doctor Who: All Of Time And Space Podcast



I've known Mark Cockram since 2007. Mum had recently passed away and Dad and I were trying to cope in the aftermath of a second life-changing familial trauma.

To that end, we'd looked to take simple steps such as upgrading our ageing televisions in a dawning digital era. So, we ventured into a local Panasonic Store and got chatting with the friendly staff (who would later be instrumental in helping us create a multimedia wall for the residents of mum's former nursing home).

Mark overheard a conversation in which I mentioned Doctor Who and, in a timey-wimey twist worthy of everyone's favourite time traveller, asked if I was the same John Hood on a popular Whovian forum?

Spoiler: I was!

From there, our friendship began and I've always meant to invite Mark to write for this blog. 14 years and 3 coronavirus lockdowns later...

Guest post by Mark Cockram

Let’s begin by setting our space-time coordinates for March 2020.

My name is Mark, I work for a large department store and I was furloughed at the start of the first national coronavirus lockdown in the UK. I’m sure that like many others this was, for me, an unprecedented experience.

Watching the story of the pandemic unfold, I tried my best to hang on to some semblance of normality and like many parents endeavoured to negotiate my new role as a teacher to a sometimes reluctant six-year-old. I was left pondering the uncertainty surrounding any kind of tangible end to the crisis and it made me consider some of the things that I had been putting off over the years.

My passion is pop culture and in particular Doctor Who. Since 2012, I have had a semi-regular podcast called Nerdology UK covering TV, movies, books, theatre and pop culture. I was also a host on the now-defunct Blue Box podcast for Starburst magazine. I had to step away from podcasting for a few years when our world was turned upside down when our baby was diagnosed with a rare brain condition.

One thing I had wanted to do for some time but had been putting off was watching all of Doctor Who from An Unearthly Child right through in broadcast order. It seemed, to me, that if I didn’t do it soon it might never happen, and the occurrence of a global pandemic made this ever more apparent.

So, I decided to just go ahead and do it. I wanted a travelling companion to share the journey with, but who should I ask? My wife enjoys the programme but I don’t think she would appreciate being asked to endure such an undertaking any more than I would enjoy watching a marathon of her favourite musicals.

Iain Martin is someone I had podcasted with before. We share a similar sense of humour and it had always been a fun experience. I sent him a YouTube clip of the teaser for series five with Matt Smith’s Doctor asking “All of time and space Everywhere and anywhere. Every star that ever was. Where do you want to start?” and asked “would you like to be on my new Doctor Who podcast?” and a straightforward “yes” sealed the deal.

Iain suggested that “All Of Time And Space” would be a good name for the podcast, which was much better than any of the ideas that I had been kicking around in the weeks that I had spent setting up the podcast feed and social media accounts.

The show launched in July 2020 and it’s been tremendous fun to make. There’s a nice dynamic between us as I’ve seen it all (not necessarily in the right order) and Iain had only seen a handful of the early stories from the 1960s. We have been really lucky with the calibre of the guests who have agreed to join us as we journey through the Doctor’s televised adventures. We have welcomed a Dalek operator and someone responsible for helping return one of the missing episodes among our esteemed guests.

At the time of writing, we are about to finish recording season two. And this marks a distinct watershed moment in our journey. We have experienced a handful of the stories that are missing from the BBC’s archive, but season three is where the missing episodes begin to outnumber the existing ones, which will make for a challenging experience.

The show has gradually evolved as we have found our “groove”. I was keen to have some kind of context to what was going on in the world when the programmes were first shown, and Iain took that idea and ran with it deciding to introduce a quiz in season one, which has morphed into something we’re calling “The Mind Probe” for season two.

I was also very keen to generate a sense of community between us and the listeners, which is something I really enjoy when listening to podcasts myself, and it feels great to have comments and correspondence from people who are listening in from all over the world. To open up the avenues for discussion we have a presence on Twitter and Facebook as well as a dedicated web page where you can leave audio feedback if you prefer. We even have an old fashioned email address for those listeners who really want to make themselves heard and Twitter’s 280 character limit just isn’t going to cut it.

So, we’re heading into season three, and we’re edging closer to the end of William Hartnell’s tenure, and it’s been a rewarding experience discovering new favourite stories and in some cases reappraising our opinions of others after seeing them within the context of the continuing narrative.

And for those of you that love the modern series and are curious but have yet to dip your toes into the mysterious waters of the classic series, it has never been easier to watch along with us. Practically every story that exists is available on DVD, but if the thought of lining your shelves with these wonderful stories and their oh-so-shiny “value-added material” is a bridge too far then BritBox has them available to stream, including an exclusive reconstruction of The Wheel In Space from Patrick Troughton’s first full season in the lead role.

Additionally, the stories that sadly no longer exist in their original form in the BBC archive are able to be experienced as a result of the dedication of fans who recorded the audio when the stories were first broadcast, and by the creativity of fans in more recent times who have taken the audio and combined it with off-air still photographs and in some cases animation in order to help bring these stories to life in the form of reconstructions.

Before I head back into the vortex, I would like to thank John for letting me ramble on and if you have been inspired to join us on our journey the long way around, you can find All Of Time And Space on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and all the usual podcatchers.

Happy times and places,

Mark

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