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11 Notable Doctor Who Fans

More than almost any series (apart from Star Trek, perhaps), the term “fan following” seems to have been invented for Doctor Who. As the series prepares for its 50th anniversary in 2013, it’s worth noting some of the more prominent fans. As it’s a British institution, UK fans have reportedly included rock legends Ringo Starr and Cliff Richard, Stephen Fry, David Beckham, Sir Patrick Stewart, Toyah Wilcox, Liz Hurley, and cricketers Mike Gatting and Graham Gooch. Across the Atlantic, the list includes other sci-fi heroes like George Lucas, Joss Whedon, David Duchovny and Matt Groening. An impressive line-up that might be—but of all the celebrity Doctor Who fans, these are our favorites.

1. Queen Elizabeth II

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When she toured the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in 1971, the Queen was shown the Radiophonic Workshop, which pioneered electronic music in Britain. Wondering where she’d heard of them, she pondered for a moment, before saying “Ah yes… Doctor Who?” (London’s Sunday Times noted: “The Queen neatly expressed everything most of us know about the workshop.”) HM has reportedly been a fan since the first season in 1963. According to British media, she even ordered a DVD boxed set to take on her summer holiday to Balmoral Castle in 2005.

2. Harlan Ellison

As well as countless novels and short stories, the science fiction and horror writer has had a successful career as a television script-writer (including one of the most acclaimed episodes of the classic Star Trek, “The City at the Edge of Forever”). However, he has long derided television. The exception? Doctor Who, of course (to which he was introduced by another renowned science fiction writer, Michael Moorcock). As guest-of-honour at Iguanadon, the world science fiction convention held in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1978, the notoriously bellicose Ellison attracted boos from the audience by saying: “Star Wars is adolescent nonsense, Close Encounters is obscurantist drivel, Star Trek can turn your brains into a puree of bat guano, and the greatest science fiction series of all time is Doctor Who! And I’ll take you all on, one by one or in a bunch, to back it up.”

3. Steve Martin

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The comedian is such a fan that he only appeared in Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003) on the condition that the Daleks, the Doctor’s most famous monsters, also make an appearance. The BBC allowed this, causing a minor copyright dispute with the estate of Terry Nation, the writer who actually created the Daleks in 1963. When Doctor Who was relaunched two years later, the estate refused to grant permission to the BBC to use the Daleks again. As the source of the problem, Martin wrote a letter of apology to Nation’s estate. Upon receiving it, they had a change of heart, and the Daleks have continued to cause trouble.

4. Douglas Adams

The late Douglas Adams, renowned as the creator of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, was a devoted fan, first trying to sell scripts to the series as a teenager. He didn’t break in until 1978, at the age of 26, when he sent his Hitchhiker’s pilot script to the Doctor Who production office and was assigned to write a serial. A year later, he became the Doctor Who script editor. A staunch atheist, he introduced atheist philosopher Richard Dawkins to his wife Lalla Ward, former Doctor Who girl (and former wife of Doctor Who star Tom Baker).

5. Meat Loaf

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The “Bat out of Hell” singer is reportedly such a fan of the series that, in 2006, he was trying to convince the producers to let him play a villain in one episode. So far, his impassioned pleas don’t seem to have worked.

6. Peter Jackson

When popular Doctor Who writer Steven Moffat was hired as a screenwriter for Tintin, it was reported that Steven Spielberg was a fan. In truth, the real fan on set was Spielberg’s co-director Peter Jackson, who—when not devouring the literary works of Tolkien and Herge—had been a Doctor Who aficionado while growing up in New Zealand. (Therefore, he no doubt understood when Moffat had to leave the Tintin trilogy early to start a new job, as executive producer on Doctor Who.)

7. Craig Ferguson

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Born in Glasgow, the comedian and host of The Late Late Show makes no secret of his fanaticism, frequently interviewing Doctor Who stars Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. In a 2010 episode dedicated to the show, he explained that the series was “about a Doctor who’s not really a doctor—like Dr. Phil, but awesome.” This was followed by a bizarre number, to the Doctor Who theme tune, in which Ferguson (accompanied by a group of straight-faced dancers) sang catchy lines like “It follows the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism.” (Smith appeared at the end, out of costume.)

8. Neil Gaiman

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When readers of the website Comic Book Resources were polled on the greatest-ever comic book writers, the top three were all British: Alan Moore, Grant Morrison and Neil Gaiman. Coincidentally, all have a Doctor Who connection. Moore wrote stories for Marvel Comics’ UK magazine Doctor Who Weekly, while Morrison (a self-confessed Doctor Who fan) wrote some of his early work for Doctor Who Magazine. Gaiman, an acclaimed fantasy novelist (American Gods) and graphic novelist (The Sandman), did even better. A long-time fan, he wrote an episode of Doctor Who in 2011.

9. Florence Welch

The lead singer of Florence + the Machine is a recent convert to Doctor Who, becoming a fan after Matt Smith took over the lead role in 2010. “I’m basically a total geek for it,” she confessed on the radio, saying that she’d love to appear on the show as “a monster or something.” Smith endorsed this, saying that he’d love her to do a cameo.

10. David Tennant

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Yes, the actor is best-known for playing the Doctor, not just adoring the character. However, like many of the people involved in Doctor Who since it returned to production in 2005 (including executive producers Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat), he was an obsessive fan in his childhood. In fact, he became an actor in the hope of one day playing the role. His favorite Doctor was Peter Davison, with whom he starred in a short 2007 Children in Need special, in which the two of them joined forces. “You were my Doctor,” Tennant says in the special, even suggesting that he based much of his performance on Davison’s portrayal. Later he would even marry Davison’s daughter, Georgia Moffett (also an actor). Tennant’s predecessor, Christopher Eccleston, said that he himself only became a fan after he joined the series. The current Doctor, Matt Smith, was not a fan as a child, simply because he was too young.

11. George Christensen

You’ve probably never heard of him, but we’re saying “notable,” not famous. Christensen is a Queensland-based politician who has launched a “Bring Doctor Who Down Under” campaign, petitioning Steven Moffat to bring the series to Australia—aiming for January 2015, which will be the 50th anniversary of the series first being shown in Australia. He notes that the show has already filmed in the U.S., a relatively late convert to the charms of Doctor Who, and it should be brought to a nation whose children have enjoyed it since 1965.

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