I’m someone who despite my age, only caught bits and pieces of earlier Doctor Who. I’m also an American, and while I grew up knowing what Doctor Who was, it was never as popular as Star Trek, or even the original Battlestar Galactica. Perhaps it was more popular than Space: 1999!
That said, I was intrigued by the return and I believe I was working during the American premiere of Eccleston, so I had my mother tape it. I liked the concept. I adored Rose. I knew none of the background and everything was a mystery to me. I did not like Eccleston, but having no knowledge of previous doctors, I figured this may have been intentional. Perhaps Eccleston was an anti-hero, and I wasn’t supposed to like him.
For me, I became a “fan” as soon as I saw the chemistry between Tennant and Piper as Ten and Rose. At that point, the tenth doctor became “my” doctor. As much as I liked Rose, to me, Ten and Rose are the pair that worked. I didn’t really care so much what they were doing (I’m not a fan in the sense I care about the world-building at all, I don’t), as long as they were it doing together.
Ten without Rose was tolerable. Rose without Ten and I wasn’t interested. I saw a few episodes of Smith’s doctor and stopped watching. I have never seen an episode of Capaldi’s doctor. I followed Tennant to Broadchurch and Whitaker back to Doctor Who, so I am watching again. Whitaker has a bit of the Doctor I like that reminds me Tennant (but also a bit of Smith).
The question is going to be will Whitaker’s doctor stand up alone, or will her portrayal hinge on her relationships with companions. Given the fact that out of all of the “New” Who I’ve seen, I could only really stay focused on Ten and Rose, together, as a unit, we shall have to see.
Clearly, I am far closer to “casual viewer” than “fan” of Doctor Who, and if asked if I am a fan, I think I typically just say I’m a fan of Ten and leave it at that.
This is what Doctor Who is to me: