DOCTOR WHO at 50: An Excerpt from BEHIND THE SOFA


Edited by Steve Berry

Gollancz (


All author royalties are donated to Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Saturday 23rd November 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the world’s longest-running science fiction drama, Doctor Who. As a long-time fan, I thought it would be nice to mark the occasion in some way and, thanks to those wonderful people at Gollancz and Orion, I’m able to do just that, by sharing one of the many celebrity memories that can be found in Behind the Sofa: Celebrity Memories of Doctor Who, which is available now.


I guess the interesting thing about my favourite Doctor Who memory is that it might not be real.

When I was a kid in the 1970s, mom would cut my hair herself to save money: just pop a bowl on, trim the edge with scissors. I like to think I was very much 1976’s Justin Bieber (or possibly the fat one from the Double Deckers). Like all socially awkward males of the future I was a Doctor Who fan, but what I saw through my child’s eyes was 10 times as amazing as what was actually on the screen. Imagination gave it leverage.

This is probably heresy but I don’t revisit classic Who because I know reality can never live up to my memories. My most vivid memory was of monsters that were essentially cloaked figures without any heads. I don’t remember what they were called but I was terrified.

I was watching this episode perched on a high stool in the front room as mom cut my hair. I’ve always been a terrible fidget, much to her annoyance. She’d tried everything to get me to sit still, with no success. Then, that day, she hit on the one thing that worked. She pointed at the screen and said “You know how they lost their heads, don’t you? Fidgeting whilst having their hair cut,” while ominously making snipping motions with the scissors.

That was it. I didn’t want to become a monster. I never again moved during a haircut. I still don’t. Not that my mom still cuts my hair. I’m tempted at this point to pick up the phone, call my friend, comic Toby Hadoke, and ask what these monsters were. In fact, I think of asking whenever I see him but I never have, as I suspect the real truth is much more mundane than what I remember and will only disappoint.

There may well never have been any cloaked headless figures, but there were for me.

Incidentally, I don’t think the terrors I remember were the same as the Headless Monks in A Good Man Goes to War but I guess it’s possible. These more recent creations were far less scary. Partly because, at the time of watching, I was nearly 40, and partly because I recognised the Fat Gay Married Anglican Marine as being Charlie Baker (another comic), who I worked with the week before in Jongleurs Portsmouth.

That sort of stuff never happens when you’re five.


Gary Delaney is a comedian. “Wanted to invent a Doctor Who monster that could disguise itself as a sofa


Steve Berry decided to do something a little bit different to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK. A life-long DOCTOR WHO fan, he began to interview celebrities, writers, actors and people who had worked on DOCTOR WHO, asking for their earliest memories of the show that sent us cowering behind the sofa. Now he presents the fruits of his four years of labour – a beautiful, touching book containing short articles and touching memories of one of the most successful TV shows ever. 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of DOCTOR WHO – this is the perfect way to enjoy those 50 years!

This revised and expanded edition includes over 30 new entries from people such as Sophia Myles, Ben Aaronovitch, John Leeson and many more

Contributors include comedians Al Murray, Stephen Merchant, and Bill Oddie; actors Lynda Bellingham, Nicholas Parsons, and Rhys Thomas; writers Neil Gaiman, Jenny Colgan, Jonathan Ross and Charlie Brooker and politicians Louise Mensch and Tom Harris. In addition, there is input from a number of the writers, actors and production staff who were involved in creating DOCTOR WHO stories new and old.

Doctor Who Logo

One thought on “DOCTOR WHO at 50: An Excerpt from BEHIND THE SOFA

  1. I was talking with Mum after watching on Saturday night and she said she didn’t let us watch Doctor Who as kids. However, I do seem to remember seeing it at some point, because I was scared of Worzel Gummage (despite always watching it) because I knew he was Doctor Who (even though Pertwee wasn’t the Doctor at that time!).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.