Matt Hills
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The thirteenth Doctor during UK lockdown
Paratexts of hope and care
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This chapter considers official and unofficial Doctor Who responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and the first-wave UK lockdown of 2020. In particular, Matt Hills focuses on how the thirteenth Doctor appeared in lockdown fiction, extras and short-form videos, both those that were branded by the BBC and those that moved beyond BBC authorization. Rather than representing paratextual additions to a main TV text, unusually these gift-texts became central online experiences for fans seeking solace. Hills examines how such texts mirrored lockdown experiences and provided ‘ontological security’ and ‘sperosemic interpretations’ by offering reassuring sources of inspiration, comfort and hope for fans of all ages. The chapter also considers how – in a suspension of standard industrial practices and partly as a result of COVID disruptions – Doctor Who’s current showrunner, previous showrunners and writers, and professionalized fans such as Emily Cook from Doctor Who Magazine, were all united in terms of producing new Who gift-texts for a somewhat captive, locked-down audience. Playfully dubbed ‘the Emily Cook era’ on Twitter, this also became not so much a multi-Doctor story as a temporary multi-showrunner story.

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