Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Doctor Who in Arabic

By Becca at No Smoking in the Skullcave
I spent part of my childhood running up and down the sand-dunes in Saudi Arabia.  To this day, buried deep under the sand near Rahimah, sits a headless Han Solo, an Obi-Wan Kenobi (sans cape but with his light saber,) a transparent yellow and silver headed Micronaut Time Traveller, the reflector dish off the Millennium Falcon, and a fully functional Space 1999 Eagle Transporter.

TV was a hit of miss affair in Saudi, even though we had two TVs.  One was an NTSC set for picking up the ARAMCO station.  It only broadcast 5 or so hours a day - mainly Scooby Doo, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, and strange British Cartoons that scar me to this day.

The other TV was a PAL affair, picking up regional broadcasting from Saudi Arabia, and when the humidity was just right, shows from Qatar and Abu Dhabi.  My mother sat glued to the TV in the afternoons watching soap operas from the Emirates.  She had no idea what they were saying, but the male and female leads chain smoked a lot and had an intense staring contests with one another. 

In the evenings we would watch Arabic stations, channel surfing (in the age before remote controls) for something to watch other than pictures of Yassir Arafat.  We could catch BBC shows on occasion.  I remember most started (or was it ended,) with a picture of a fancy building near water and the word 'THAMES' boldly emblazoned on top.  I pronounced it like 'James' with a 'THAY' in the front.  Oh, laugh away, you limey bastards.  You go and try to pronounce the town of Palestine, Texas correctly.  WRONG.  That way you said it in your head just now  WRONG.  Ha!

It was this way I learned about Doctor Who.  It was in black and white.  The good Doctor was a gray-haired man and he had a lovely lady with him named Sarah Jane Smith, and they went on wild and wacky adventures together with dinosaurs, robots, and god-knows-what-else.  They all spoke Arabic, and the show was sub-titled in English.  That was a lot of reading to go through for a kid, I swear!  But it was worth it.

Jon Pertwee and Elisabeth Sladen were my firsts.  I eventually moved from Saudi, and this teeth-and-curls guy eventually became my new go-to doctor back in the States, late nights on PBS, but Sarah Jane Smith was my Who-girl for a long, long while (mainly because the PBS in my area refused to get the post Baker Dr. Who's and repeated the 4th Doctor over and over and over again.)

I've tried to let the news settle in the past couple of days.  Elisabeth Sladen's death is rather unsettling.  It seems too soon.  Way too soon.  It wasn't actually ever supposed to happen at all.

- Ark


  1. Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. That was a great post. Elisabeth Sladen will certainly be missed. It's been so interesting to read the ways in which she touched other people's lives through her Who career.

    On another note you are a really talented artist! I checked out your Deviant page and there is some amazing stuff. A new fan has been born :)

  3. This was a good post, Ark. It's been interesting reading about how you all grew up watching her. I am sorry for your loss, and agree that it seems too soon.

  4. "a fully functional Space 1999 Eagle Transporter."

    My heart sank a little further at that. :(

  5. @Zombie - Yes.

    @Becca - Thanks very much. I wonder tough - maybe you were on a different deviantArt page? Someone elses, maybe?? But just in case you were actually looking at my gallery, thank you very much. :)

    @Whisk - Thanks.

    @Timeshadow - Yeah - with a operational cargo winch and everything.

    - Ark

  6. I'm curious that you recall that Aramco broadcast in NTSC, when various publications indicate they were PAL from 1979 onwards; those Pertwee / Sladen eps aired in SA in 1981 in fact - see full study of DW in Saudi here:

    Please email me as I'd like to ask you about this: cheers