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Cardiff has Whoniversal Appeal

03 November 2008

Postgraduate students at the University are celebrating the 45th anniversary of Doctor Who with an academic conference dedicated to the series and its spin-offs.

The ‘Whoniversal Appeal’ conference is open to the public and will examine issues of morality, history, philosophy, fan culture, sexuality, and technology which surround Doctor Who and its spin-off series, including Torchwood and the Sarah Jane Adventures. Even the show’s instantly recognisable theme tune will come under consideration.

The keynote speaker will be Dr Matt Hills, Reader in the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, whose research interests focus on cult media and fan cultures. Also expected at the conference is Rob Shearman, an award-winning writer who has written for the series as well as writing a number of popular Doctor Who audio dramas.

The conference has been organised by Melissa Beattie, a PhD student at the School of History and Archaeology. Melissa said: "Arts and humanities reflect the society which creates them. Doctor Who is an iconic and progressive series which has been reflecting British society for 45 years and we wanted to celebrate that."

The conference takes place on 14-16 November and the entry fee for all three days is £20 or £12 for a single day. Further information, including a provisional programme and details on how to register, are available at the ‘Whoniversal Appeal’ webpages.

The University is an appropriate host for a conference of this nature. Cardiff Bay may be the home of the Torchwood team but various locations around the University campus have previously been used as sets for Doctor Who, Torchwood and the Sarah Jane Adventures. The University is also home to a number of talented Doctor Who enthusiasts.

Caleb Woodbridge, a member of the University’s Welsh Translation Unit, has recently been published in a new Doctor Who short story anthology entitled Short Trips: How the Doctor Changed My Life, available from Big Finish. Caleb is also a member of the team behind A Podcast of Impossible things, a popular internet podcast which offers commentaries on new and classic episodes of Doctor Who. The team will be taking part in the Whoniversal Appeal conference as well as reporting on it.

A recent well-subscribed public lecture by a University researcher explained how time travel, sonic screwdrivers and the Tardis could one day become reality. Rhianne Atwood, a PhD student at the School of Physics & Astronomy, delivered her lecture on ‘Doctor Who: Fact or Fantasy’ as part of the popular Science Café lecture series.