Doctor Who is so much more than a mere television series, of course. And it would be silly to dismiss everything else entirely. Wrong to deny so much that is wonderful. I love many of the books and audios. The book Killing Ground shows the tragic truth and horror of the Cybermen, in a way that few of the television episodes ever managed to capture. It makes the Cybermen really frightening. And the audio Spare Parts captures the roots of the Cybermen, giving them the best origin story that you could ask for. Their roots are humanity becoming inhumanity. The Cybermen were born out of good intensions and a struggle for survival, both ultimately corrupted by an abuse of power and a lack of emotions. Best of all, the books, audios and comics have given the Eighth Doctor an era. And however you dip into his era, it has been of such importance, to give such a deserving Doctor so much more (I’ll happily admit it, I have a soft spot for The TV Movie. It helped me to become the fan I am today!). The romantic adventurer is my Doctor, in many ways. I do have a soft spot for the audios. Audio drama is perfect escapism. You can turn off the lights, lie back (even close your eyes) and escape into the world of the Big Finish audios. It’s an amazing experience.
Doctor Who is pure escapism. It can be serious or silly, and dark or funny, but as long as it’s enjoyable, it’s good fun, and it takes me away from the stress of the real world (as long as it cheers me up!), then that’s all that matters. Whatever it is, by whatever the means, it is escapism. Pure and simple. That is what Doctor Who is in a nutshell. And not just for children, but for adults too. A good story is a good story. An adventure is an adventure. A trip of a lifetime, is an experience of a lifetime. I’m on a journey of my own (as you are too!). It’s been by television, book, audio, movie, comic strip, computer game, and board game. It’s even been interactive and personal, when I visited The Doctor Who Experience, and when I made my Pilgrimage to Aldbourne, one sunny afternoon in August 2011. It’s also not been in any order! (I travel by Type 40, which is as rickety and unpredictable as it is fun!). It doesn’t all hang together perfectly. But I’ll tell you what it has been, and what it still continues to be today - a whole heap of fun! And if you can’t be childish sometimes (even when you’re a ‘grown-up’), and watch and enjoy a children's show, then just what is the point of living?! There is so much about this show that is special, it hardly seems to matter what is canon or what isn’t canon. If it’s been part of what I’ve enjoyed, then it's part of my adventure. I’ve missed bits, certainly, just because there is so much in the world of Doctor Who (or sometimes, I’ll admit, it has been through my own choice). But that doesn’t mean they’re unimportant or not canon, it just means that they’re not part of my personal adventure. They exist for sure, and they’re an important part of someone else’s tale, and someone else’s adventure, they’re just not a part of mine. And that’s fine with me, with Doctor Who there’s something there for everyone to enjoy. Make your Doctor Who journey your own, make it as unique as the show is itself.
Doctor Who should always have a moral core, and the ability to educate, while being fun escapism along the way. When it loses that moral core, and when it becomes far too serious (or, more to the point, things surrounding it become far too serious!), then it stops being fun. That's when it stops being a part of my adventure (and only then). There really is nothing else like Doctor Who (well, for me there certainly isn’t!). It’s something special, to so many people, and in so many different ways.
So, how would I answer that question, ‘what is proper Doctor Who’? I would answer by saying, ‘whatever it is, by whatever the means, it is escapism!’. That’s what it is. It is unique to each and every one of us, each of us enjoying it in our own little way. Our own personal escape from the boredom, and the stresses, of the real world. Never take it too seriously. Just find your own inner child, let your hair down, and have fun!