|By Becca at No Smoking in the Skullcave|
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.