Would Dr Who use the word "spooky"? Actually I'm sure he wouldn't. I'm sure he'd employ a much longer and much more impressive, probably more pompous-sounding phrase than boring old spooky. He'd call it something like an inter-galactic-strange-and-a-bit-scary-sensationoid, or perhaps a queer-supernatural-perceivement. And he'd have a plan to deal with it, too. In any case, I found myself having a bit of a queer-supernatural-perceivement last weekend. Not only did the latest incarnation of television's most famous time traveller debut on Prime on Sunday (7.30pm), but Sky's new Travel Channel launched too.

Coincidence, or not? Brrrr, shiver, shiver, etc.

Well, no, not really. Actually the latest Dr Who - played by a young, angular chap with a flopping haircut, called Matt Smith - arrived with such a hiss, roar and Tardis-full of whimsical one-liners that I was overcome by feelings of lovely old mirth, pretty much from the opening sequence.

Ha ha, ho ho, etc.

I'm not quite sure why Dr Who - like Bond, James Bond, who's having a much-overdue repeat season on Saturday nights on TV One - is a character able to survive a revolving door of actors playing him, but he is.

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact both are such fantastic fantasy characters. Their very names - along with the preposterous adventures they embark on - are able to cancel out the foibles and failures of the particular thesps playing them.

Or maybe Who and Bond are so much a part of the pop cultural furniture that we'd watch them if they were being played by a hideous blue snake with very sharp teeth. I mention hideous blue snakes with very sharp teeth because this turned out to be the nasty alien nemesis who was the new Who's opponent in last Sunday's premiere. Not a success, as it happens, the hideous blue snake. I've seen much better nasty aliens over the years. However, the new Doctor was jolly good, indeed.

In established Who fashion, his performance owed much to a cheery panto turn - "look out behind you!" - with Smith shrewdly playing to the stalls in a quite wonderfully manic performance of a script positively fizzing with silliness and great lines.

Take the scene where the end of the world was nigh and the villagers (didn't catch what the village was called) wandered out to take a look, cellphones in hand.

"Oh, and here they come, the human race," the Doctor grumbled, wearily. "The end comes as it was always going to - down a video phone."

Ha ha, ho ho, etc ... and how very knowing.

To me, Mr Smith looks a fine Dr Who, though advance word from Britain implies the second episode should have been exterminated, exterminated, exterminated. Whatever, I like him. Besides, I approve of his new assistant, the wonderfully named Amelia Pond. You can never have too many cute, redheaded sidekicks on television, I say.

As it happened, sidekicks were much in my mind as I watched Julian & Camilla's World Odyssey on Sky's new Travel Channel, that same night. I couldn't work it out: is Julian the sidekick, or is Camilla? She, certainly, has better hair.

Still, didn't matter really, I was here to learn. I do an enormous amount of travelling - unfortunately it's mainly to and from work, with occasional wildly exciting excursions to the supermarket. So I wholly approve of anything that tells me about places that are not located in Auckland's CBD or in the vicinity of Balmoral.

Sri Lanka, the New Zealand duo's first stop, seemed terribly exotic. I say, seemed. Actually, although they packed an awful lot in, including a 20/20 cricket match, a climb up 5000 stairs and elephant polo, their adventures were rather less enthralling than the Doctor's. It doesn't help that Julian sounds like Rhys Darby.

The show does have a refreshingly honest backpacker feel to it - crappy hotels, dust and cheap cocktails - but the show's formula is still the travel show standard: "We did this, then we did this, then we did this."

Towards the end - around the time Julian told us "there's not much to do [in Anuradhapura] but the people are friendly" - I began hoping they'd be attacked by some hideous blue snakes with very sharp teeth. At least that might have generated a few inter-galactic-strange-and-a-bit-scary-sensationoids.