Friday, 22 November 2013

November 1963

by Mark Richardson
November 1963

John and Jackie Kennedy
It was fifty years ago, and one saviour of the world was dying and another was ‘busy being born’, as Bob Dylan wrote less than a year later. It's a quirk of time that the two should be so close together, but as one is a lord of time, perhaps it is fitting.

 The first episode of the Time Lord Dr Who was aired on Saturday, November 23rd 1963, while just a day earlier the President of the United States was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Fifty years later, programmes and articles about each of those events have been aired and printed, marking the passing of fifty years. The link seems just a casual one, but the resemblances are anything but, and given the fertility of the ground of the assassination for conspiracy theorists, who knows what we might be witnessing?

The first Doctor (William Hartnell)
We are in the era of the ninth different President and the eleventh (perhaps) Doctor. Each one regenerates, bringing fresh impetus and change to the series. The scope of the United States, its impact upon the world, its central role, seemingly, in the affairs of the world might be mirrored by the scope and range of the Doctor as far as the universe is concerned, witnessing its birth and death, fighting hordes of evil-doers and celebrating humanity, showing us that love can break your (two) heart(s).

It's scarcely surprising that the President and the Doctor have met each other. How could two such important people not meet over the centuries? Indeed, they do more than just meet once: in the Whovian universe they have meet over twenty times, twenty-five to be precise. Some familiar names, such as Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Nixon, Reagan and Obama, are in the list, but being able to transcend time there are also less familiar ones such as Norris, Winters, Bruce Springsteen and the Master himself, the Doctor's nemesis. It is also hardly surprising, therefore, that Kennedy would be missed from the list, and it turns out that at least four TV shows include him, with the Doctor ultimately powerless to prevent the assassination itself.
Both regenerate, both have huge power and influence, both have been touched by tragedy, both know the essential loneliness, and both are old beyond ordinary measure, one being 224 years and the other so old that even he loses track, age itself perhaps being a problematic fact if one travels through time so regularly.

What of the future for these two venerable people? Gender transformation seems inevitable, something already achieved by the British Prime Minister in the 1980s. The future is a complicated space, though, and we will have to wait and see, even though our glimpse will be a brief one, relatively. The next regeneration of President is foreseen: it will take place in 2016. The next regeneration of Dr Who is more imminent: Christmas is coming, and with it a new face. Exciting space and times for us all. #savetheday

See also: Gregory Walton-Green on Why Do People Believe In Conspiracy Theories?; Will Wallace on A Light Is Extinguished: Remembering JFK; and an article and video marking 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg address.

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