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Doctor Who? (Charlie McDonnell)
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Learn about an icon in British culture. Charlie McDonnell explains what is "Dr Who" and why he is such a big fan of it. In fact, he tries to explain why this series has been for decades one of the most famous TV shows in Britain for two generations (see fragment here).

Now, Doctor Who is as much part of British culture as double-decker buses (though not so famous for tourists)

See more videos by Charlie here:


One thing that I've found myself mentioning an awful lot in these video blogs is Dr Who. Dr Who, Dr Who, Dr Who, Dr Who, Dr Who. But, what is it? What the hell am I talking about? Well, Dr Who is a British TV show about a 900-year-old alien who travels through time and space in a blue box, which if you're someone who's never experienced Dr Who, probably sounds like the weirdest idea for a TV show that you've ever heard but it's a bit of a national treasure for us Brits. Probably cause of its longevity. I mean, it's been on TV since 1963. In fact, my mum actually saw the first ever episode when it was being broadcast.

- When you saw the first ever episode of Dr Who, how old were you?
- Uhm, I was very very young, uhm I'd rather not give my age away.
- Ok, did you use to hide behind the sofa when you were watching it?
- It does sound like a bit of a cliché, but my brothers and I definitely did hide behind the sofa when we were watching the daleks.

Just for people who don't know what a dalek is, my mum has one here. It's basically a Dr Who enemy bad guy person.

- So there's being no escaping Dr Who in my lifetime, uhm
- Not in your lifetime, Charlie, no.

One the loveliest things about all Dr Who was that the special effects were adorable, which is basically a nice way of saying that they were... terrible. In fact, nowadays I can do better special effects just sitting here in my bedroom.

One of the reasons that Dr Who's been on TV for so long is that the character, the doctor, a 900-year-old alien, he has this way of cheating death. Whenever he dies he regenerates every single atom in his body starts afresh. He gets a new body, he gets a new personality and he keeps on living, which in terms of the real world means that some other actor comes in and starts playing him.

Now I usually sign Dr Who as being my favourite TV show, which to a casual viewer of the show might seem a little bit of an odd thing to say. I mean, sometimes the show can be brilliant. You know, great stories, scary monsters, witty dialogue. When it's good, it's the best. But when it's bad, it's really, really, really, really bad. For example there's this one episode called the unicorn and the wasp, in which a giant wasp kills a man with lead piping and then the giant wasp goes and falls in love with a human. It's... it's absurd. I mean, that's just my opinion but it's... it's really, really, really bad.

So given that it's pretty hit-and-miss, I mean, why is it so popular? why is it my... my favourite TV show?. Well, not only does it have this massive legacy attatched to it but I think, and this is just me speculating, I think that people love the bad episodes as much as they love the good episodes. There's a great community attached to Dr Who called whovians and I... I guess I would consider myself a whovian. And I see whovians as wannabe TV critics, you know, people who love to pick apart the whole plot holes and point out the bad dialogue and... and cringe at the really bad ++++, but also when they can, revel in the brilliant acting and the amazing plot twists.

I guess I'm making this video to try and justify to you and to myself, I guess, why I consider Dr Who to be my favourite TV show. I know for a fact that my brother and sister think I'm a bit odd in liking Dr Who as much as I do, especially my brother, who thinks it's awful, which it is at times, you know, I'll admit that, but I think that's one of the great things about it. But, this is just the opinion of one person. If you like Dr Who, tell me why, and if you don't like Dr Who, tell me why as well, I'm interested. And if you're someone that's never seen Dr Who then I would definitely recommend it.

You’ve just had the almost imponderable joy of watching charlieissocoollike, which makes you, like, cool!

Given that Dr Who's a science-fiction show I bought my science T-shirt today.

- Exterminate! exterminate! That's a really bad impersonation, sorry.

AN AWFUL LOT= a real lot, very very much. (we use "awful" here to emphasize the expression "a lot", though the word "awful" usually means "horrible")

WHAT THE HELL AM I TALKING ABOUT= The phrase THE HELL is used here to emphasize the question and it's a very common expression but many people consider it a bit rude, so they can also say "what the heck..." to avoid using "the hell". It is also very common (and not rude at all) to emphasize a question using the phrase ON EARTH, e.g. What on earth am I talking about? Why on earth didn't you ask me?

TV SHOW= Television programme.

A 900-YEAR-OLD ALIEN= An extraterrestrial who is 900 years old. Notice the construction 900-YEAR-OLD to make an adjective expressing age:
- He's a 5-year-old boy = This boy is 5 years old
The word "year" is singular in this construction because adjectives have no plural. But we can also use the same construction to make nouns, and in that case we use the plural "years":
- 3-years-old must be accompanied at all times = kids who are 3 years old...

A BLUE BOX= A colloquial way of referring to a British police box. A police box is a telephone kiosk or callbox located in a public place for the use of members of the police, or for members of the public to contact the police. Unlike an ordinary callbox, its telephone is located behind a hinged door so it can be used from the outside, and the interior of the box is, in effect, a miniature police station for use by police officers. Now, with mobile communications, blue boxes are outdated and most of them have been withdrawn or simply not in use anymore. In Doctor Who, the spaceship where he travels (called the TARDIS) is a "normal" sci-fi spaceship on the inside, but it looks like a small police box on the outside. (see picture)

THE WEIRDEST IDEA= The strangest idea. The word WEIRD /wɪə*d/ means "strange, odd", and it's a bit more colloquial.

A NATIONAL TREASURE= A very important thing that makes a nation feel proud about it. (treasure: /treʒə*/)

IT'S A BIT OF A NATIONAL TREASURE= You can probably consider it a national treasure. It's more or less a national treasure.

THE BRITS= (col.) The British people.

CAUSE= (col.) Because.

I MEAN,= A conversation filler. You can find several examples of this phrase here, sometimes it is used to explain better something that we just said, and sometimes it is nothing but a filler, it doesn't mean anything, simply gives you an extra second to think what to say next.

ON TV= Notice the preposition ON for TV.

ACTUALLY= In reality, really. Often used to express that what we are saying is interesting or impressive.

THE FIRST EVER= We use EVER here to emphasize that it really was the first one.

BROADCAST= (irregular past tense: broadcast-broadcast-broadcast) Shown on TV or the radio.

I'D RATHER NOT + infinitive without to= I PREFER + infinitive with to:
- I'd rather stay here = I prefer to stay here
- She'd rather not speak to me = She prefers not to speak to me
I'd rather = I had rather

GIVE MY AGE AWAY= If you give something away you reveal a secret.
(it may also mean "to give something for free", but not in this example, obviously)

DOES= We use the auxiliary verb DO in affirmative sentences to emphasize the verb. Charlie's mother is using this twice in this sentence: It does sound... I definitely did hide...

DALEK= /dɑ:lek/ Daleks are the bad guys in Doctor Who series. Daleks are organisms from the planet Skaro, integrated within a tank-like or robot-like mechanical casing. The resulting creatures are a powerful race bent on universal conquest and domination, utterly without pity, compassion or remorse. Various storylines portray them as having had every emotion removed except hate, leaving them with a desire to purge the Universe of all non-Dalek life. (see picture)

BAD GUY= In a story, you have the bad guys and the good guys, meaning the people who are bad and the people who are good. In an action movie you usually have a hero (who is the good guy) fighting the bad guys.

A DOCTOR WHO ENEMY BAD GUY PERSON= This is a horrible grammatical construction (though things like this happen in real life), and it's difficult to say what is an adjective and what is a noun, because Charlie is chaining words as an after-thought and improvising. If we analyse this according to grammar rules we'd find several levels:
1- a Doctor Who enemy-- the phrase "Doctor Who" (the name of the hero in the series) is used as an adjective because it goes before the noun "enemy", which is fine. If we say "Doctor Who's enemy" then we mean "the enemy of Doctor Who" (so there is no article, we can't say "a Doctor Who's enemy"), but since "Doctor Who" is one adjective we can use the article "a" naturally.
2- a bad guy person-- this is more or less the same situation as before. "bad guy" is a adjective+noun construction, but the whole phrase is used as an adjective because it goes before the noun, so "a person" is more defined by saying "a bad guy person".
3- the grammatical mess comes when Charlie combines both constructions to make up a new one: "a Doctor Who enemy bad guy person". Here the noun has to be the last one, obviously, so in this case the noun is PERSON, he talks about "a person". What person exactly? A Doctor Who enemy bad guy person, so "Doctor Who enemy bad guy" is an adjective, and if we try to analyse this phrase... well, we better not.

THERE'S BEING NO ESCAPING DR WHO= There will be no possibility to avoid Dr Who = It will be impossible to forget about this series.

LIFETIME= The period of time from your birth to your death.

ADORABLE= Cool. But while "cool" is more American and very colloquial, "adorable" (used this way) is more British and more formal.

A NICE WAY OF SAYING= We use the verb in the –ING form because after prepositions and conjunctions we always use –ING.

NOWADAYS= At present, in these days, now.

FOR SO LONG= For such a long time, for many many years.

CHARACTER= /kærəktə*/  / A fictional person from a book or film

CHEATING= To cheat is to do something which is not allowed, to break the rules.

WHENEVER= Every time that (always)
- Whenever I phone her she's out = When I phone her, she's always out = Every time I phone her, she's always out.

REGENERATES= If something suffers a damage and then it regenerates, it repairs the damage and is again in good condition.

EVERY SINGLE ATOM= Here the word SINGLE is emphasizing EVERY (with the idea that it is all the atoms, one by one and not even one atom fails to regenerate, all of them do)

STARTS AFRESH= Starts anew = Starts from scratch = Starts from the beginning.

KEEPS ON= Continue (always followed by –ING): keeps on living.

STARTS PLAYING HIM= If you play a character in a movie, you are the character in the movie. So "to play a person" is to act them out, and "to play with a person" is to play a game with another person. To play a song/movie is to start the music player or DVD player so that we can see it or listen to it. To play a musical instrument is to make it sound.

I USUALLY SIGN DR WHO AS BEING...= If you sign something, you firmly say it's true. Here Charlie simply says, emphatically, that he always says that Dr Who is his favourite TV show. Also notice the –ING after the conjunction AS (after prepositions and conjunctions we use –ING)

A CASUAL VIEWER= A person who sees an episode of this programme only sometimes, or only a fragment, or simply watches it without paying much attention.

ODD= Strange.

BRILLIANT= Wonderful, fantastic, cool (very common in BrE, sometimes shortened to "brill").

YOU KNOW= A conversation filler. It is used to introduce a more detailed explanations or give examples, but other times it means nothing. Very common in conversational English.

SCARY= If something is scary it makes you be afraid.

WITTY= Clever and funny.

THERE'S THIS EPISODE...= In colloquial English (especially BrE) we can use THIS instead of the article A, especially when you have a very concrete thing in mind:
- I was walking down the street when this man came and gave me 5 pounds = when a man came...
In this example THIS MAN is just "a man", because THIS implies that you have it next to you, and this is not the case.

WASP= An insect with black and yellow stripes (see picture)

GIANT= /dʒaɪənt/ very very big, enormous.

LEAD= /led/ a very heavy and soft metal.

LEAD PIPING= Piping is the tubes you use to carry water into your house up to taps, toilet, etc. Many years ago, all the piping in a house was made of lead, not it's usually made of plastic (PVC). (see picture)

ABSURD= Nonsensical; impossible to believe; unreasonable.

GIVEN THAT...= If we admit that... / considering that...

PRETTY= Quite, rather.

HIT-AND-MISS= Sometimes succeeding and sometimes not.

NOT ONLY DOES IT HAVE...= If we start a sentence with NOT ONLY we need to make an inversion just like in a normal question:
- Not only was she nice, she was also very pretty.
- Not only can you come to my party, you can also bring your friends.
- Not only does the house need some cleaning, it also needs some painting.

MASSIVE= huge, enormous, very very big.

LEGACY= All the things inherited from the past.

ATTATCHED TO IT= coming together with it. Attached is the opposite to separated.

THIS IS JUST ME SPECULATING= The subject of an –ING verb form is not "I, you, he, etc" but "me, you, him, etc".
- That's simply wasting your time
- See that? That's Him wasting his time
(or me wasting my time)

WANNABE= A person who desires to be or pretends to be something else. It can be used as a noun or as an adjective:
- I need a real actress, she's only a wannabe  (she's not really an actor)
- John is just a wannabe scientist, he's never done anything right.

CRITIC= A person who analyses a book, film, painting, etc. and tries to explain the good and bad things about it.
To CRITIC a movie is to analyse the movie and say if you like it and why. To CRITISIZE a movie is to say bad things about it because you don't like it.

TO PICK APART= To analyse all the parts of something. To break something into all its components.

PLOT= The pattern of events or main story in a narrative or drama.

THE PLOT HOLES= Inconsistent parts of a plot.

POINT OUT= If you point out something you make people aware of it, you bring it to notice.

CRINGE= To experience a sudden feeling of embarrassment or distaste. If you cringe at something, you find it really horrible.

REVEL= If you revel in something, you rejoice with it, you take great pleasure in it.

AMAZING= Fantastic.

PLOT TWISTS= A twist of the plot is when suddenly something happens (usually unexpectedly) and changes the course of action (the story changes). A plot with no twist is completely predictable.

TO TRY AND JUSTIFY= With the verb TRY we can use AND as a colloquial alternative to TO (esp. in AmE):
- Try to open that door with this key = Try and open that door with this key.

JUSTIFY= To give a reasonable explanation about why something is a good thing.

I GUESS= (col.) I suppose.

I KNOW FOR A FACT= I know for sure because it's not an opinion, it's something real and objective.

AWFUL= Horrible.

AT TIMES= Sometimes.


IMPONDERABLE= Impossible to evaluate because it's so valuable and important.

JOY= Happiness. An imponderable joy is an immense happiness.

CHARLIEISSOCOOLLIKE= The nick of Charlie on YouTube and the name of his YouTube video channel.


IMPERSONATION= The act of trying or pretending to be somebody else, or the act of playing the part of a character (actors impersonate a character, but if you impersonate a politician you'll go to prison because you pretend to be somebody else).



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