Whovians Who Have Never Seen Doctor Who

whoviansThe Oxford English Dictionary defines a Whovian as “A fan of the British science fiction series Doctor Who.”  According to most English departments at higher learning institutions around the world, this means Whovians are an institutionally recognized, actual, and real group of people. Such a distinction moves them beyond a simple, underground counter-culture or fad but certainly not out of their “cult” status, which they revere. There are also Whovians who have no idea what Doctor Who is or have never seen a single episode the popular BBC program.

The only explanation for the fact there are Whovians who have never seen Doctor who, is that the merchandise and memes for the show are everywhere in the U.S. and the witty slogans and catch phrases of the show have been applied and cross referenced into just about every other subculture, popular name, and demographic of persona out there. The most popular meme states, “Keep calm, I’m the Doctor,” and originated from the show’s famous line “Keep calm and don’t blink.”

The meme, however, appears applied to every name, for example: “Keep calm, I’m Ted,” or “Keep calm, Susan is here,” and any bit of simple, universal advice attributed to any what-one-should-remember-from-kindergarten list one can think of. The meme most often appears in bold lettering imposed over a Union Jack or under the graphic of a crown with a red or blue background and is printed on t-shirts and posters and sold everywhere.

Thank the “geek chic” movement for making all of this happen. This is the movement in which it is “cool” to be “un-cool”, and Doctor Who is, perhaps, one of the greatest beneficiaries of the movement. The Whovians, however, are not to be discredited. They are as loyal and involved as any fan of Star Trek or Star Wars. Reenactments of favorite scenes and battles are even performed around the world by Whovians in costume in impromptu, flash-mob brand performances. For the show’s 50th anniversary a British entertainment blog, CultBox, asked fans to submit videos of these reenactments.  As a result, Whovians from over thirty countries around the world submitted videos to the contest.

whoviansThe series originally started in 1963 and ran until 1989. It was then regenerated, to borrow a concept from the show, in 2005 and continues to air. There have been twelve “regenerations” of The Doctor, an alien time traveler, as he is passed from host body to host body and the show continues battling evil across time and the cosmos. The show is as whimsical as it sounds, though not for the faint of heart. Villains of the show are the stuff of nightmares. Any remaining story premises are simply too deep and Whovians are too detail oriented to attempt more of a synopsis in one article. To miss something would be inexcusable. Perhaps the Doctor explains it best when he says, “It’s a timey wimey thing.”

Among the memes shared frequently on social media pages, lines quoted in conversation, and merchandise purchased in every shopping mall by the most ardent of fans, there are still many practitioners who partake in Whovian culture without having seen a single episode of Doctor Who and would never know it. The advice is simple to those Americans who have purchased or shared a “Keep calm” shirt or meme recently: Watch Doctor Who on BBC America, also available on Netflix. The other Whovians may not keep calm forever.

By Joseph Porter


Oxford English Dictionary

6 Responses to "Whovians Who Have Never Seen Doctor Who"

  1. mydoctor1962   April 26, 2014 at 4:15 am

    How valid this claim is not the reason for posting it. The reason being that someone actually wrote a column about it in the first place! 🙂

    Back when I started watching Doctor Who (in 1982) you couldn’t get any press, let alone speculative press like this.

    My how times have changed.

    The Charge of The Whovian continues!

  2. K   April 26, 2014 at 1:31 am

    I’d also like to see receipts on the alleged “many” Whovians who have never seen Doctor Who. As a Whovian, I’ve yet to meet anybody using the term or any term of Who fan therein to have never seen a single episode. There might be a slight minority online cache of fans who due to someplace like Tumblr can quote a line or two, or know about bowties and scarves but it’s unlikely it’s “many”, even unlikelier they refer to themselves as “whovians” or buy merchandise and only fractionally part of the already minuscule group of Yank Whovians. Most of whom are anglophiles and pretty ardently devoted to DW. As for Britons, even those who grew up in the silent era (the years DW was not on tv) they are aware of it as a cultural part of their world, if somewhat nebulous. It has none of the “geek cache” there as it does here. Perhaps a bit but mostly it’s a family show, shown at family tv hour time, and people are either devoted to it as part of their experience or they think it’s a load of wasted tosh for children. As for the usa, despite the popularity of the big bang theory, the rise of comic con franchises, and gaming competitions, being a geek is still not a “cool” thing. If anything it’s more of a “hipster” thing which is slowly pushing real geeks out of it. This whole article seems like fan fiction or a very unobservant outsider’s opinion on a fan culture at first brush. Not to be mean. I just don’t think this is accurate. Any of it.

  3. K   April 26, 2014 at 1:16 am

    Keep Calm and Carry On is the slogan originating during WWII as a spirit lifter for the British. As much as I love Doctor Who, it certainly did not originate with it and actually attributing it to anything other than it’s original historical origins is pretty offensive to British history and the English in particular.

  4. Tim Reed   April 25, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    Yeah, the “keep calm” thing didn’t originate in Doctor Who. “Keep Calm and Don’t Blink” is just one application of the meme. Pretty shoddy research work there, to be honest.

  5. Wayne Robert SmithWayne Smith   April 25, 2014 at 5:26 pm


  6. Traci D. Haley   April 25, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    A slight correction — the “famous line” is just “don’t blink.” The “keep calm” meme originates from the World War II-era poster in Britain that reads “Keep Calm and Carry On”. You’ll find all manner of “keep calm” memes in every fandom — not just in Doctor Who.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login