Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

VerityExtraParentingThis week the Verities who are parents talk about that. Join Deb, Lynne, and Tansy as they discuss what it’s like to raise children who are fans–and to be a fan as a parent. This my be the most personal Verity! yet.

Are you a parent raising a young DW fan? Let us know about it in the comments! How young did you start your kids on Who? How did you explain concepts like regeneration? We’d like to know!


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Comments on: "Extra! – Bringing up Babies (on Doctor Who)" (22)

  1. microtoast said:

    Only four minutes in and already compelled to comment – hey, I LOVE both Timeflight and Timelash! I didn’t know I was supposed to hate them until fandom told me 🙂

    • Ditto for Timeflight at least (as a kid I wasn’t allowed to watch Colin Baker’s shows until Trial of the Time Lord because I was oppressed by one fan narrative in particular – my mother’s). It does help a lot to have experienced the story first via novelisation, but then I’m never bothered by special effects issues.

  2. I have two boys are who are almost 7, and we introduced them to Who at age 3 1/2. No real planning, we simply started letting them watch with us. At first we filtered pretty carefully for the scary stuff, but then realized that our kids at least are nearly impossible to predict in terms of what scares them. The Weeping Angels didn’t faze them at all. Dinosaurs on a Spaceship sent them running out of the room. So we switched to more of a “self-filtering” policy as well. I knew they were starting to really get into Doctor Who around 4, when they were reading (looking at pictures) in one of the annuals, and debating if the Ood counted as bad guys. “The red eye Oods are BAD!” “No! Oods are nice. The ones with red eyes weren’t TRYING to be mean, the bad guys were MAKING them be mean. So they couldn’t help it.”

    Regeneration was taken pretty easily by our kids. We kind of gave the standard line you’d give a non-fan, like they use in newspaper/magazine articles about the show. “The Doctor is an alien called a Time Lord, and instead of dying, his face and body change, so he’s still the Doctor but looks different.” They were pretty content with that, although it still occasionally throws them for a continuity loop- like realizing that the 10th Doctor would remember the Zygons since he has met them before, even though he was the 4th Doctor at the time, etc.

    I loved The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe for the same reasons you guys discussed. It hit me right in the parent-feels, and I loved that a regular mom/parent, and what she goes through, was actually a real part of the story. We could definitely use more of that in Doctor Who. People with kids have lives too, it turns out, and would probably like a good adventure. 😉 The folks that don’t like it, fine, it’s not for them. 🙂

    • I think Doctor Who is a great way for kids to actually practice that self filtering process in a safe environment, simply because there is such a variety of potentially scary things in it, amongst the comedy and hijinks.

      A story I meant to tell on the podcast but didn’t is that my eldest daughter used to be scared of animals – dogs in particular. And I don’t mean a bit scared, I mean flat out, pedal to the metal, panic attacks in the face of a puppy. The kind of bone-deep fear that makes you genuinely concerned one day she will run into the street to get away from someone walking their dog.

      We were at a loss for a long time, trying to find different ways of managing her fear, and it really hit home when her younger sister started picking up on it and reflecting it. We saw a similar fear in Raeli with some Doctor monsters – as I mentioned in the podcast, the Sontarans/Humpty Dumpty men in particular. But she worked on that because she loved the show so much, and as she started to overcome her fear of monsters in the show, she learned something very important: that fear isn’t an absolute thing which always feels the same. You can get past it, and learn to like things that used to terrify you.

      Doctor Who didn’t teach my daughter to be calm and rational around dogs – she did that herself, step by step, one “exception” case at a time. Now as a relaxed ten year old, she will happily walk other people’s dogs on leashes, and spend time around the pets of friends. Once her fear diminished, that of her sister mostly disappeared (though some aspects linger). But Doctor Who taught my daughter not only how to train herself out of fearing things, but also methods for doing it – returning to the scary thing over and over, talking it through, using love to get you past the bad bits.

      And eventually it taught her to appreciate media that is trying to scare you. Or, rather, it gave her the opportunity to teach that to herself.

      • That’s a really good point, that it allows kids to learn to self-filter. And as part of that, they learn that they can say “I’m scared” and it’s ok- no one makes fun of them, and they can choose to try and watch anyway (which they’ve done) or they can choose to give that episode a miss for a while (which they’ve also done. Kid #1 is particularly not a fan of the Autons. He will still not watch “Rose”, but recently warmed back up to “Spearhead from Space”.)
        Love the story of your daughter with dogs! Such a good example of getting past her fear. I really like that most things can be tied back to Doctor Who, in one way or other. 🙂

      • Hmm. Hmm! My 8yo stepson has had the same fear of dogs and scary shows. We introduced DW gradually a couple of years ago and he’s moved from running out, to sitting on dad’s lap hiding his face, then watching, and now he’s fine. The dog thing is also improving. Coincidence? You might be onto something! DW as fear therapy! 🙂

    • I have a 2 year old boy and cannot wait to educate him in the classic series of Who, when he is older. Currently he loves the classic theme music. He even sings along but won’t sit still any longer than titles.

  3. Thanks for another wonderful podcast! 🙂

    I’ve got to be honest, I wasn’t sure this one would be my cup of tea because my lovely partner and I have made the choice not to have kids so I wasn’t sure there’d be a lot here for me.

    But I should have known better! It’s always fascinating to see the programme filtered through someone else’s prism, as it were, and this was no different. I have no doubt that I would react to certain stories differently if I was a dad. I’m an uncle, but that’s really not the same. And none of my nephews and nieces are particularly interested in Who so I’ve never had the opportunity to experience it through their eyes.

    I suppose the closest example from my own life (if you’ll forgive me for bringing things down a bit) is that after my Dad died, certain stories hit me a lot harder than they had previously, ‘Father’s Day’ among them, as you can imagine.

    So you have given me another new perspective and another new way to think about the weird and wonderful stories that Who presents us with. Thanks for that. 🙂

  4. I am crazy when I watch new Doctor Who. I need silence because I do not want to miss a thing. I am hugely, emotionally invested and am very involved to the point of ignoring all else when Doctor Who is on. My 13 year old daughter understands this and will watch with me and has learned not to ask questions until the commercial break. 😉 Once I’ve watched an episode once, then I can relax and let the younger kids (ages 6 and 8) watch if the want, which they don’t usually. They may accidentally watch a few episodes because it happened to be on in the living room while they are playing legos, but they don’t actively seek out the show. They find it too scary. I’m hoping they will change their tune as they get a bit older.

    I watch Doctor Who with my now 13 year old. (she started watching at age 11) She adores the show, is a huge Matt Smith fan but is not into Capaldi. There have been episodes where she storms out of the room at the end and complains that she *hates* the 12th doctor. However, she loves to go back and watch seasons 1-7 on Netflix, and is looking forward to season 9. She understands regeneration, and knows in her head that the 12th doctor will not be around forever, but she still loves Matt Smith. He was her first doctor, and has had a hard time adjusting to Peter Capaldi. I, on the other hand, have absolutely loved every doctor during the new series, and find it hard to pick a favorite.

    Great episode ladies! I cried my way through the Wardrobe Christmas episode too, and don’t understand the wrath it gets. It was lovely!!


  6. James McCrory said:

    Hello Verities!

    Though not a parent I found the programme interesting and thought-provoking. I have a suggestion to make based on my own experience as a child.

    I used to watch ” Quatermass and the Pit” with my Uncle but found it was giving me what I can only call day mares. When sitting on my bed in the morning I imagined those Martian creatures hanging in my room and reacted accordingly…

    I was henceforth baned from watching the BBC serial but could staying in the room my back to the TV set and listen – so that I did not miss what was happening. I had no further trouble.

    I don’t if this is any help?

    best wishes,


  7. Richard S. said:

    Another non-parent here, one who was possibly lucky enough to catch the trailer for Trainspotting at the cinema, and go: “Grim. Sordid. Depressingly trendy & contemporary. Nope, not watching that.”

    But I can remember what it was like to be a child who was scared of a great many things, such as:



    Heart attacks

    The irresponsibly terrifying illustration of the troll doll in the Target novelisation of “Doctor Who And The Terror Of The Autons”

    Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected

    The idea that, if I’d been born a girl, I would have had to give birth (!!)

    And, worst of all, the reality of murder. The idea of people killing other people in cold blood, then posing as normal people. On the news. In the Real World. The whole concept terrified me so much that I refused to watch even fictionalised murder mysteries, the worst of which was Jon Pertwee’s ITV panel game “Whodunnit,” which disturbed me so much that I even hated any music that sounded like the show’s reedy flute-based theme tune.

    Funnily enough, my parents both loved watching “Whodunnit?”, whereas my Mum kept telling me I’d have to stop watching DW, like the girl who lived across the road, if it gave me nightmares. I did have a few: one where I was confronted by what could best be described as a Giant Robot Cyberman, several where the troll doll illustration peeked round the top of the stairs at me and, if I’m honest, a blurry one last year, the first DW bad dream I’d had for decades, involving a train, a stopwatch and articulated bandages.

    But, really, when I was a kid, the real-world issue of serial murderers gave me far more sleepless nights.

    Which brings me to the DW repeat I’ve just been watching on the Horror Channel, first time I’ve seen it in colour: 1977’s The Robots of Death, almost certainly the first ever murder mystery that I was able to sit through as a kid. The presence of Tom Baker would have been a comfort to me, plus the new girl Leela, who was starting to grow on me, and their friendly Asimovian ally, Robot Daneel Eightyfour (or whatever). But, even with those friendly faces, one of the crew was still a murderer, one of them was hiding their true evil nature behind a mask of civility and futuristic makeup. It definitely freaked me out, that story, but I did manage to sit through it, and it’s been a longtime fixture of my all-time top ten for the era.

    A few hours earlier this evening, the Horror Channel broadcast another show that I was riveted to on Saturday teatimes, BBC1 in the late 1970s. Oh yes, the extended pilot relaunch ep for The New Adventures of Wonder Woman (starring Lynda Carter! ***sigh***). Just like The Robots of Death, it has a production date of 1977, but it’s waaay different in terms of the atmosphere & violence level.

    Strangulation, suffocation and burial of a sandminer crew, who remain stubbornly dead, versus Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor punching & throwing Nazis… sorry, this is The New Adventures, so it’s Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor Jr punching & throwing terrorists over the tops of cars… and then the terrorists just pick themselves up & carry on fighting.

    So-called American cartoon violence v. Doctor Who’s more realistic approach of fatal death. Can you say that one type of drama is healthier than the other? Or does it depend on the viewer? Or the episode (as in the extended fight scenes in Mandragora or Assassin, both of which I’ve just rewatched)?

    Thanks for the fascinating and wide-ranging episode. I think I heard you mention the Beatles. As in “When I’m Sixty-Four.” As in Happy 64th Birthday, this Friday July 24th, to… Lynda Carter! (***sigh***)

  8. Richard S. said:

    Just to clarify, the girl across the road from us in the 1970s was banned from watching DW (as were so many children of Daily Mail readers, it seems) because the show gave her nightmares.

    Also, if you doubt the relevance of Wonder Woman (The New Adventures Of, extended pilot relaunch) to this discussion, just watch the ep for yourselves (repeated this Saturday in the UK) and see who’s fencing against Diana Prince at the climax. It’s the Robot Of Sherwood! Yes, really!

    • Richard S. said:

      Just to clarify further, with apologies, Wonder Woman is repeated Sundays on Freeview Channel 70 in the UK. Saturday, it’s Xena season 5, which is a whole ‘nother level of TV violence. And, I believe both days this weekend there’s a full-length repeat of Attack of the Cybermen, though I wouldn’t blame the channel if they missed out the Sunday breakfast showing of that one.

  9. So many great directions for this discussion – it’s hard to comment on only a few!

    As yet another parent of a 10 year old who was also born just as NuWho returned, I have difficulty figuring out exactly when he started watching with us; he was just always there. But I can pinpoint exactly when he started getting into it, around age 3 – and it was David Tennant he clicked with first. At least early on, he didn’t care at all about the companions.

    But as he’s started to go back and re-watch episodes and stories on his own, he’s really become a classic Whovian – he is all about Sarah Jane Smith, and (currently) he’s very into both Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker, to the extent that he sometimes pooh-poohs NuWho. Having grown up on Tom Baker myself, I think it’s both adorable and weird – there are so many great things about that era, but equally, things look a lot better now. It’s also interesting to me that he’s only really gotten into the Sarah Jane Adventures recently – because he feels she’s ‘fighting the patriarchy’ along with aliens. Fair enough! And he has decided he hates Adric with a white-hot passion, even with no prompting from me, but he’s in a very different place on current Who from me – he doesn’t ‘get’ Clara, and isn’t yet sold on Peter Capaldi, but I think he’s still in Matt Smith mourning.

    It’s rather telling that just before baby Verity was born last October, one of my big concerns was being in the hospital and not able to watch Doctor Who on time, but she had the good sense to be born in the middle of the week, so we didn’t miss an episode – I take that as a good sign for future nerdery.

    But I am curious to see how it’s a different experience for her, having a much-older brother who can show her his own favorite Doctors and companions, rather than just seeing ours; for me as a kid, watching Doctor Who was a very solitary experience, but it’s very much a family thing for us as new stories air (and we do plenty of Big Finish on car trips) – but I think it’s been a healthy thing for Linus to discover his own favorites from Classic Who (or by re-watching NuWho) without our ‘interference’ – but I think it will be an experience they can share despite their big age gap.

    I am too wordy tonight…

  10. Matthew said:

    Parenting and Doctor Who are sooo intrinsically linked for me these days. I didn’t watch new who at all until my daughter was born. January 2010, I was upstair once again trying to rock her to sleep and I decided that maybe, just maybe, I’d try out new who because I was bored and thought maybe the background noise would help. By the time she was 3 months old I was completely up to date with Doctor Who…

    So Doctor Who has always been part of her life, right down to the fact that when she was 3, she happily walked (and half ran) 8 miles along a cliff top because she had invented a game in which she was Sarah Jane and was running away from the Daleks.

    The funny thing is, I don’t believe we actually showed her any Doctor Who until a couple of months later when Asylum of the Daleks came on.

    But she’s now very definitely a fan, even though she doesn’t always want to watch it. We’re working our way through the Key to Time currently and she starts shaking in terror -she asking to go to bed the moment any ominous music starts…. She’s also quite happy to announce that “this is the one where Romana regenerates” every time anything bad happens to Romana. Interestingly, she’s now had it confirmed because Mary Tamm doesn’t appear on the cover of Armageddon Factor and Lalla Ward does, so Romana 1 definitely dies in episode 4 of Power of Kroll….

    But what’s been really nice is that both my daughters love listening to Big Finish with me (which is kind of useful, as it’s the only thing that can ever motivate me to do the housework). We’ve actually got the situation where, when they’re playing, they take it in turns to play Clara and Charlie, although they do still give us odd looks when me and wide start gushing at the sound of McGann’s voice…. I suspect that’s an added dimension of Doctor Who that they’ll have to wait to appreciate.

    As a parenting tool though, Doctor Who is brilliant. So many discussions about morality and behaviour. “Do you think the Doctor was right to say that to Clara?” And also, in naughtiness, “why do you think hitting your sister was wrong? What would Clara have done?”

    They really don’t like my weeping angel impression though…

  11. terminuspodcast said:

    It was really interesting listening to Deb’s feelings about “Amy’s Choice”. That’s actually my favorite episode of new!Who, but in all honesty, I can say that I never really thought about the whole killing-the-baby aspect of Amy’s choice at the end. I know that’s probably weird, and maybe its because I’m childfree with zero maternal instincts, but Deb’s focus is something that just never occurred to me.

    Instead, I am usually too caught up in my own excitement about the story’s juicy meta about the Doctor and what goes on in his mind and his relationships to his companions and all that to notice much else (to be fair, I do have a bit of a narrative kink for a good meta story, so that is going to be a Big Shiny for me that’s taking up a lot of attention).

    In fact, in all honesty, now that I’m reflecting on it, I think there is a part of my brain that actually sort of forgets Amy is pregnant when I’m watching the episode and, to be fair, I think the plot mostly forgets as well. Yes, there’s a joke or two about it, but mostly its a tiny part of the plot.

    Anyway, that may have made no sense as I’m a bit brain dead at the moment, but I just wanted to comment to say thanks to Deb for giving me a different perspective on that episode. I still really love the story, myself, but sometimes it can be interesting to see something you love from a totally different point of view. 🙂

  12. monkeyboyzmum said:

    I deeply believe that there is a lot of truth in the psychological theory espoused in this book (the inspiration for Into the Wood) although it has become somewhat dated since it was written. Children need to be scared in a safe environment to develop adult emotional problem solving skills and resilience. I think Disney does a rubbish job of this and Harry Potter filled a deep cultural void for the same reason. Watching Doctor Who as a family is parenting the right way.
    I have four sons born between 1989 and 2001. My eldest was and is a prolific, advanced reader of science fiction (War of the Worlds at the end of Year 1) and adored the Target novelisations.
    He is 26 now and lives with his fiance. I was amazed and delighted when he decided to bring her for dinner last week, he arranged the whole thing, menu, timing and what classic who to watch “I will bring some Uncle Tom”. We chose Genesis of the Daleks and had a lovely evening.
    When Doctor Who came back we developed a family tradition of watching it together – all six of us in a darkened room, surrounding the glow of the screen, occasionally commenting on what motivated a character or when there was a throwback to classic stories. So my youngest joined the family at 4 and watched New Who with us. One of my fondest memories is The Empty Child where as the tension built I could feel a child on each side of me (probably aged 5 and 11) moving closer and closer until by the end of the story my shoulders were nearly folded together as two boys squeezed in next to me. This is important. These are the conversations that we should be having with our children. Well done Doctor Who for being everything in one show and fun as well!

  13. Oh Dear Verities, thank you again for helping this middle-aged mom feel warm and welcome amongst Doctor Who fandom. My kids, now almost 16 and 21, were too old when I started watching seriously to be properly inculcated. My son is long lost to far more weird and “serious” shows (mostly anime but currently watching Twin Peaks, told him it’s an accident waiting to happen, he doesn’t quite believe me 🙂 it’s all David Lynch now all the time) and my daughter, during the run up to the 50th anniversary, binged all new Who (way ahead of me) then amazingly left Capaldi undone, as she couldn’t take Clara any more. Sad but there you are. (Seriously she only left out Flatline & Mummy, and won’t watch them now, more’s the pity, as I’d say they’re the best Clara episodes. I need to find a bargain i.e. driving time or laundry, because she’ll love them both I just know it.) My son has promised to finish Genesis of the Daleks as it’s really more his thing – “serious” scifi, right? Hoping to parlay my recent broken foot into a full family viewing of same before he moves out again, and that will perhaps get my husband on track, wish me luck!
    PS Since writing this she’s re-watching 11, and has promised to save Angels Take Manhatten to watch with me, since I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch it alone. What a sweetheart!
    Anyway, what made me want to write is that I can’t thank you enough for sticking up in a big way for The Doctor the Widow & the Wardrobe. It’s one of my favorite episodes, watched many times, and I was recently super annoyed by a podcast that just casually slammed it. (Can’t remember which.) Doctor Who IS for everyone, and if one episode is clearly just for me (and I’m also an enormous Narnia fan) they’ll just have to get over it I suppose. Who could dis Madge opening the TARDIS with a hat pin? Is that really a problem? Moms are spectacular.
    And a note for previous commentor Paul, my dad died this year too, and all things to do with fathers have become enormously important to me. We don’t just see these stories “for kids”, we can see them AS kids. Glories of time travel, and stories.That can be painful, and so true.
    It’s amazing though how easily I can be be made to feel slightly sheepish by one set of strongly stated male opinions on a podcast. You’d think I’d be too old for such silliness. I feel lucky to have you gals, seriously.
    So cheers to you!
    PS I adore listening to all of you, & I should say esp Liz. Though she dislikes The Doctor, the Widow etc I love her humor and really respect her opinions. I read her blog & I’m looking forward to her next visitation. Plus Erica & Kat of course :).

  14. Mr Axon said:

    The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe: I agree with the comments of the podcast 100%. This for me is probably the most overlooked episode of new-Who.

    I think that Deb raises some interesting points about “Amy’s Choice”. But I do disagree with one of Deb’s final comments about the episode: I think that the act of having to choose in the literal sense was imposed by the Dream Lord (i.e., the bad guy), and the way that the story played out was that in the end a choice was not necessary (and this is of course backed up by later episodes with Amy+Rory+the Doctor). So, as you say, Amy should be able to have both, but I think that this is the view of the episode.

  15. felicemorigel said:

    I was so traumatised by the dissolving baby in AGMGTW that I can’t bear to watch it.

    My Amy’s Choice get-out is that it was all a dream (which it was) and she on some level knew that. I don’t think it really holds water though.

  16. Terry said:

    i really loved this episode of Verity. Verity at it’s best!

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