"The one you watched when you were twelve": Regenerations of Doctor Who and Enduring Fandom's 'Life-Transitional Objects'

Matthew Hills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In this article I return to the fannish transitional object, relating fandom across the life course (Harrington and Bielby 2013) to recent critical concepts of ‘consumed nostalgia’ and ‘mediated nostalgia’ (Cross 2015; Lizardi 2015), both of which imply that ‘enduring fandom’ can represent an unhealthy holding on to the past. Challenging this, I turn to Christopher Bollas’ (1993) notion of ‘generational consciousness’, considering instead how a long-running British science fiction TV series such as Doctor Who (BBC1, 1963–) can become a ‘generational object’ for multiple cohorts of fans (Booth and Kelly 2013), this being recognised through fan discourses of ‘my Doctor’. I also examine how changes in the fan object linked to recasting and reimagining are drawn on by fans to understand the ageing of their own generation, and its movement from a culturally powerful ‘illusion’ (that the text is meant for them), to disillusionment (that Doctor Who is now aimed at younger audiences, and hence they may no longer be culturally central to its meanings and practices). If we can identify ‘media generations’ (Bolin 2017), then this calls for a greater exploration of how media attachments, retained by fans across many decades, can act as life-transitional objects within experiences of ageing. I conclude by addressing the ‘textual ageing’ of Doctor Who, demonstrating how the programme denies its own metaphorical ‘life cycle’ (Harrington 2016) in favour of always regenerating, even while it simultaneously trades on the cultural/heritage value of being more than 50 years old.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-230
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of British Cinema and Television
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2017


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