The following is the final entry in Steve Berry’s Doctor Who book, Behind The Sofa, originally published in 2012, and to which my dad – who died this morning – contributed. If you’re so moved, please support Alzheimer’s Research UK.
(Apologies to Ben Morris, for modifying his work, above)
Retired management consultant
Niece worked on a pilot for a sci-fi show with Jon Pertwee – but it didn’t take off
I watched Doctor Who from the very first episode in 1963. How did it begin?
I was 24, and newly married. We were living in Crawley in Sussex and I worked as an engineer at Mullard Ltd, who manufactured electrical components. At the weekends we went dinghy sailing at a club in Felpham, close to Bognor Regis. There was a very scatty, well-spoken professor-type called John Sharp, who ran it. At the end of the day, he’d always invite us back to his home, White Lodge. It sounded very posh, but the house was a shambles. Someone once said to him, “John, don’t you ever decorate this place?” He replied, “Frequently – with my presence.”
We’d eat bacon rind sandwiches, because he could get them cheap from the butcher, and we’d watch TV. It was at White Lodge I saw the very first episode of Doctor Who. It grabbed me – you didn’t know what was going to happen, didn’t know where it was going. You came back next week, and you were constantly surprised by it. It was weird and unlike anything else on television.
We didn’t stop watching. When I became a father, I watched it with my kids. They have fond memories of Saturday nights in the 1970s with Tom Baker on the TV, and us playing the card game ‘Happy Families’.
‘A man is a sum of his memories’. I’m told that’s something the Doctor once said. It’s a bit sweeping, isn’t it? But it’s true. Having given it some 10 seconds of thought, it’s true!
I’m not aware of my memory deteriorating – until I get the feeling I ought to know something; I think about it, and I can’t remember. It’s very frustrating. I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2008. It seems like such a long time ago now. What did I think when the doctor told me? I can’t tell you. I can’t recall. It’s a horrible condition.
Am I scared? No. I think I’m still in control. And I think this book is a good thing.