Dr Who Am I
In 1996, a TV movie of Doctor Who was released, with Paul McGann as the eighth Doctor. It was intended to launch the classic sci-fi series into a new era; however, the film failed to impress and was met with ire from fans who criticised screenwriter Matthew Jacobs’s decision to reveal the Time Lord was half-human, as well as giving him an onscreen kiss (something that was unheard of in the series’ history). Over two decades later, the film has become the black sheep of the Doctor Who fandom, among whom speaking positively about it is a taboo.
The film was despised so much that Jacobs declined convention invitations for years for fear of the hatred he’d face from attendants. It’s only now (persuaded by co-director and friend Vanessa Yuille) that he has decided to bite the bullet and attend dedicated Who conventions across America in documentary Doctor Who Am I, which takes its name from a line in the 1996 movie.
For decades, fandom has been synonymous with pop-culture, and for many of these devotees, the fandom is just as important to them as the show itself. This documentary is in part a love letter to fandom; while the convention-goers are dressed as daleks or sporting Tom Baker scarves, the passion and sense of belonging could be extrapolated to any other piece of pop-culture. But, as anyone who’s opened Twitter in the past few years will know, there’s a darker side of this adoration where some will take it too far and, in some extreme cases, weaponise it. Despite having its roots in the backlash initially targeted at the writer, the documentary generally omits this side of fan culture, neglecting to dig deeper into the meat of the subject – which, especially given the current state of the community, feels like a massive misstep.
When Jacobs isn’t chatting to cosplayers or former Who colleagues, he’s reflecting on what Doctor Who means to him. And since his father was an actor on the original series, the screenwriter is perhaps more affected by the show than most. His background gives him a deeper insight into what fandom can mean to people, but the documentary doesn’t go anywhere with these ideas. The flick meanders around convention halls and fans’ houses, where various people talk about how much they love Doctor Who, and that’s basically it.
Dr Who Am I is released in select cinemas on 27th October 2022 and on VOD on 28th November 2022.
Watch the trailer for Dr Who Am I here: