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Où Sont Les Dodo Chaplets d’Antan?

Despite spending most of my childhood in a Commonwealth country with a relatively heavy BBC influence, I actually watched Dr. Who for only one season, when I was a very small boy. This delightful post reminds me of how cool the theme music was, and made me curious about those old episodes; it turns out that about one-third of the episodes from the show’s first six seasons have been utterly lost.

An NR colleague told me that it was a commonplace in Britain that the kids would watch the show because of the Doctor’s adventures, but their dads would watch because of the Doctor’s assistant, who was always a lovely young woman. l was an unusual little boy (which will surely not come as a surprise to my colleagues), so the chief attraction for me, after the theme music, was the Doctor’s assistant, who, in the episodes I saw, was named Dodo Chaplet. Wikipedia describes her character, played by Jackie Lane, as “unsophisticated, bright, and happy” — which I imagine accounts for much of her appeal to a four- (or was it six-?) year-old boy.

As it happens, most of the Dodo Chaplet episodes are in the “lost forever” category . . . which, paradoxically enough, makes me grateful for living in one of the culturally richest periods in human history. In the living memory of some of our grandparents, there were no copies at all of performing-arts events — concerts, stage plays, recitals, ballets. Dodo Chaplet is vanishing into the mists of time, but we have direct access to a vastly greater amount of our cultural past than would have been considered imaginable when my grandparents were born, at the turn of the last century. We are lucky; I, all the more so, in that I can now experience the feelings past generations must have had when they listened and watched, and thought, I wish my friend X were here to see this, because it will never be again.



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