Image Credit: Sophie Iles – All Rights Reserved
Image Description: London 1965!
By Sophie Iles
Before Doctor Who on Twitch my life seemed very different. I was working in a call centre and had gathered a small niche amount of followers on Twitter who enjoyed my fan art. I had completed some small commissions for some now well-known blogs, but it was still small.
When I heard about the Twitch event happening, I was very intrigued. I have, and probably always will be a huge fan of the Hartnell era, particularly of Ian and Barbara, and I also knew that most of the time, those new to the series didn’t respond kindly. This was usually because they weren’t expecting the grouchy grandfatherly figure who had an arsenal of intelligent companions who didn’t want to be there, and a granddaughter. This Doctor didn’t want to save the universe, just wanted to discover it for the first time and on some occasions could and would do some pretty devious things to get his own way.
So I logged on Twitch to watch An Unearthly Child, just to see the response, and I am so glad I did.
For the first time – at least, that’s how it felt to me – the classic series was being talked about with passion. Everyone was energetic about enjoying the show, and seeing how these four characters changed over time. With every episode, the crowds seemed to get more excited.
When Twitch couldn’t immediately play The Web Planet, often described as one of the worst of the Hartnell era episodes, the number of complaints caused the story to trend on Twitter. A new vibrant audience hungry for the Zarbi was something I never thought I’d see! Even fans like myself, who haven’t had the time to sit down and watch these episodes for a while, were able to rediscover favourite moments. For me in particular it was the creation of the meme ‘London 1965’ due to the short clips between episodes, where everyone knew exactly what was going to happen to our favourite history and science teacher.
I may have ended up watching The Chase all three times it aired that week.
The enthusiasm for the characters and the joy in the chat box was enough to get me doodling, as I have often done and post them on social media under the hashtag. For me personally, everything changed for me after that. Tagging my relevant art to #DoctorWhoOnTwitch and its story title gained me almost double my followers just in the first week of episodes, and despite the fact I had a full-time job, which worked in shifts, I was able to use my downtime to doodle ideas for what I wanted to do next. I even did requests, and all of a sudden, that double was a triple. My phone battery was dead by lunchtime most days when Twitch was streaming Doctor Who!
Since the last Twitch episode aired on 23 July, everything’s changed. In almost six months I’ve been able to leave my full-time job and become an artist and writer professionally. I have now traded my artwork at ten conventions, set up an Etsy and Patreon and have 1,300 followers on Twitter. My work has been featured in Doctor Who Magazine, BBC America’s Anglophenia blog, DoctorWho.TV, The TIme Travel Nexus, the Doctor Who Appreciation Society’s Cosmic Masque and multiple charity anthologies all to be released soon, and I’ve been able to organise creating my own fanzine about Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright in memory of Jacqueline Hill.
I now also have a platform for my writing, with work due to be published next year, most of which is terribly top secret and makes me grin from ear to ear.
Without Twitch, I don’t know if I would have realised just how much love my work had, or find the confidence to do it at all. It really is a wonder.
Isn’t it funny that a TV show that aired fifty five years ago could do all this? I wonder what the next year will bring.
More of Sophie’s work can be found on her website, here
Tides 42 is, at time of publication, available to buy through this link