|This article is written from the Real World point of view.|
Doctor Who is a science-fiction television programme that originally ran on the BBC from 1963 to 1989. A television movie was co-produced with Universal Pictures in 1996, after which the series itself was revived starting in March 2005 in the United Kingdom and Australia, and in March 2006 in the United States on the Sci Fi Channel (and, as of 2009, BBC America). It is still in production as of 2010.
Doctor Who is about the adventures of a mysterious time-traveller known only as the Doctor. The Doctor travels through space and time in a craft known as the TARDIS, an acronym for "Time and Relative Dimension in Space". The Doctor is usually accompanied by one or more companions, who are often attractive females. The tone of the programme varies from serious to comic, from gothic horror to pantomime camp. The original Doctor Who series is fondly remembered among the general public both for frightening monsters (such as the Daleks and the Cybermen) and pioneering use of both electronic music and low-budget special effects.
A number of individuals share credit for establishing Doctor Who in 1963, but it is generally accepted that the original impetus for the series, as well as the establishment of certain aspects such as the concept of the TARDIS, the basic character of The Doctor and the title Doctor Who itself belong to Canadian-born Sydney Newman, who is also credited with creating another iconic series, The Avengers. Others involved in piecing together the puzzle that became the series include Donald Wilson, writer C. E. Webber, script editor David Whitaker and the show's first producer, Verity Lambert, the first woman to hold such a position at the BBC. (Decades later, a line of dialogue paid tribute to Newman and Lambert's role in creating Doctor Who, when the Tenth Doctor, in disguise as human John Smith, named his parents as Sydney and Verity in the 2007 episode, Human Nature.)
Two other notable participants in the birth of the series were Anthony Coburn and Waris Hussein, the writer and director, respectively, of the first four-part serial, An Unearthly Child, the first episode of which aired on 23 November, 1963. (The version of the first episode that was broadcast was in fact the second mounting of that episode; an early version (called The Pilot Episode by fans), was taped some weeks earlier, but rejected due to a number of issues. The BBC, however,allowed a second mounting of the pilot to proceed. The first episode aired the day after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and had to be rebroadcast a week later due to power failures disrupting the first broadcast.
Also influential in creating the atmosphere of the early series was composers Ron Grainer and Delia Derbyshire. Grainer composed the basic melody of the "Doctor Who theme", while Derbyshire, along with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, transformed it into a pioneering piece of electronica music. Although there have been a number of arrangements used of the "Doctor Who theme" the basic melody has remained unchanged (i.e. no new piece of music has ever been commissioned as a theme), making it one of the longest-serving theme songs in television history.
The first episode broadcast, An Unearthly Child, introduced the first incarnation of the Doctor, played by character actor William Hartnell. Supporting him here William Russell (known worldwide at the time for starring in the 1950s action-adventure series The Adventures of Sir Lancelot) and Jacqueline Hill as Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, respectively, and Carole Ann Ford as the Doctor's granddaughter, Susan Foreman. This group would form the core cast of the series throughout its first season and into the second.
After the first episode introduced the characters and concept, the remaining three episodes of An Unearthly Child encompassed a modest storyline involving a group of cavemen in prehistoric times. The series really began to find its voice as a science fiction series with the second serial, The Daleks by Terry Nation, which introduced the Daleks, the single most iconic recurring enemy of the franchise. The series began to really take off in popularity with this serial, which helped launch "Dalekmania" in the UK, leading to toys, the first novelisation Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks, the movie adaptation Dr. Who and the Daleks, and many televised sequels, beginning with The Dalek Invasion of Earth.
The Dalek Invasion of Earth was also notable for featuring the series' first cast change as Carole Ann Ford left the series; she was replaced the following week by Maureen O'Brien as Vicki, establishing the concept of the Doctor's companions changing from time to time. The other original companions, William Russell and Jacqueline Hill, left the series a few months later at the conclusion of The Chase, making way for another new companion, Steven Taylor, played by Peter Purves. Over the decades, the amount of time spent on the series by the different companions has ranged from as little as a few weeks (with some being considered companions even while appearing in only a single episode), up to several years, with some actors returning to reprise their roles years and even decades later (most notably Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith).
The next major turning point in the series occurred in 1966 when the original actor to play the Doctor, William Hartnell, decided to leave the series, which was still riding the heights of popularity. Rather than introduce a new leading character or replacing Hartnell without explanation (a situation that would be faced a few years later by the American situation comedy Bewitched when it had to recast its male lead), or cancelling the series outright, the producers, with input from Sydney Newman, chose instead to establish the Doctor's ability to regenerate into a new person when injured or near death (although it would take years to finalize elements of this process). This led to the dramatic - and successful, for the series - transition to Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor at the conclusion of The Tenth Planet (a serial that was in itself notable for introducing the franchise's second most popular recurring villains, the Cybermen).
The experiment of regenerating the Doctor occurred again in 1970 with the introduction of onetime comic actor Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor, a move that also coincided with the series changing to colour production. Once again, this was successful and Doctor Who continued to establish itself as a British TV institution, although it remained virtually unknown in American markets.
In 1973, Target Books reissued a trilogy of novelisations from the mid-1960s, and then in 1974 began publishing its own adaptations of televised episodes. Produced in the days before home video recorders and commercial release of TV series on tape and DVD, and during a time when rebroadcasts were rare and many old episodes were considered lost, the Target line becomes a popular and valued aspect of the growing Doctor Who franchise; the books would continue to be published into the mid-1990s. A unique feature regarding the Target line (and in fact this dates back to the initial novelisations published by Frederick Muller) is that many of the books were written by either the original scriptwriters or by individuals with strong behind-the-scenes connections to the series, such as Barry Letts, Terrance Dicks, David Whitaker, etc., all of whom worked in script editing or producing capacities on the series. In the late 70s, about a dozen of the Target novels were republished in American editions by Pinnacle Books, with introductions by noted SF author Harlan Ellison, who added to the franchise's prestige by placing it higher in his estimation than Star Trek.
The series, meanwhile, continued throughout the 1970s, with Tom Baker taking on the role of the Fourth Doctor in 1974. Baker became the most iconic, and arguably most popular, actor to play the role, due in part to the widespread rebroadcasts of his episodes in the United States, which began during his tenure, as well as the fact he was the first "young" Doctor and held sway over the role for more seasons (seven) than any actor to date (although other actors have been considered the "current" Doctor for longer, they were so without regular television appearances). Near the end of the Tom Baker era, the BBC attempted to produce a spin-off series, K-9 and Company, but it never went beyond a pilot episode, A Girl's Best Friend.
The US broadcasts of Doctor Who were initially syndicated, with some broadcasters airing a version with narration explaining the plot. By the late 1970s, however, the series was firmly entrenched in the stations of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), which would air the show repeatedly over the next three decades and later also begin airing the revived series after 2005.
Peter Davison succeeded Baker in 1981 as the Fifth Doctor with new Producer (who had joined in the previous season), John Nathan-Turner. Aged only 29 at the time he was cast, Davison was until the appointment of Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor in 2009 the youngest actor ever to officially play the Doctor. The TARDIS crew of the Fifth Doctor skewed younger than most, and was notable for featuring the first long-term companion's death when Adric died at the end of Earthshock (several companions had died previously, but none had been on the show more than a few weeks, as opposed to Adric who was on the series for about a year).
Davison's era was marked by ongoing experimentation by the BBC in terms of broadcast scheduling, with the series moving to being aired twice a week on weeknights, away from its traditional Saturday showing. Initially, this appeared to be a successful gambit, as the ratings for Davison's early stories were on par if not higher than Tom Baker's later stories. It was during Davison's era that the series marked its landmark 20th anniversary with the feature-length episode The Five Doctors, which featured, in some fashion, all the actors who had played the Doctor to that time (although Hartnell and Tom Baker were represented via stock footage).
Colin Baker (no relation to Tom) followed Davison as the Sixth Doctor in 1984, at which point the BBC further experimented with the format by changing it from 25-minute episodes to 45-minute episodes. Nathan-Turner also experimented with the characterization of the Doctor, intentionally making the Sixth Doctor initially unlikeable in order to create a new dynamic. Neither experiment was successful, and Colin Baker's tenure was marked by a serious threat to the show's survival when the BBC, citing low ratings, announced it was ending the series after the 1985 season, its 22nd; following immediate outcry, this decision was soon modified to become an 18-month hiatus, although fans were still not placated. During the hiatus, fan efforts were launched in order to get the show back sooner, including the recording of a charity record called "Doctor in Distress" recorded by numerous cast members. BBC Radio tried to fill the void by producing the first made-for-radio Doctor Who serial Slipback, starring Colin Baker.
The series returned in 1986 with a season-long story arc entitled The Trial of a Time Lord, but with greatly reduced screen time due; 14 episodes were allotted for the season, up from 13 the previous season, but with episode lengths reverted back to 25 minutes this was roughly half the storytelling time enjoyed by recent seasons.
Although the show's return garnered sufficient ratings for the BBC to grant a stay of execution and renew it for a 24th season, Colin Baker's contract as the Doctor was not renewed and he subsequently (and against his will) ceded the role to Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor in 1987.
The series had survived the hiatus, but never managed to regain ratings levels necessary for ongoing survival, constantly being beaten in the ratings by Coronation Street and, towards the end, garnering ratings barely in the 3 million range (compared to 11 million during the height of the Tom Baker era).
The same year that McCoy took over, a fan-produced independent film entitled Wartime was released. Taking advantage of a loophole in licensing that allows characters other than the Doctor to be licensed direct from their creators, this film featuring John Benton was the first of what would be a series of fan-made productions that would help keep the Doctor Who universe alive after 1989.
It was during McCoy's era that the series celebrated its 25th anniversary on TV, with one of the serials produced during the anniversary year, Remembrance of the Daleks, returning the Doctor to 76 Totter's Lane, where it all began back in 1963.
Following production of the 26th season, Nathan-Turner learned that the show would not immediately be renewed for a 27th season, and after having McCoy record a series-ending monologue, the final episode -- part 3 of the ironically titled Survival -- aired on 6 December 1989, bringing Doctor Who's marathon 26-year run to a close. The Doctor Who Production Office closed down the following summer.
(It has never been made clear whether the BBC ever actually "cancelled" Doctor Who in 1989, or simply put the series on hold. One of the first to outright state that it was cancelled was co-star Sophie Aldred who used the term in the documentary More than Thirty Years in the TARDIS.)
The end of active production (made official in 1990 with the closure of the Doctor Who Production office, even though the BBC never officially cancelled the series; it simply didn't commission any new episodes) led to the launch of a veritable cottage industry of spin-off productions, ranging from the first long-term range of original fiction (the Virgin New Adventures series) -- made necessary as Target Books exhausted all available remaining serials to novelise; the Target brand was finally retired in 1994 -- to a plethora of independent video productions featuring characters and creatures from the series (but never the Doctor himself) - many of which featured actors, writers and directors who would later become involved in the main Doctor Who series, including Nicholas Briggs and Mark Gatiss. In 1993, the BBC made a half-hearted attempt at marking the 30th anniversary of the franchise by first commissioning, then cancelling, a planned multi-Doctor special called The Dark Dimension, and instead greenlighting a brief, poorly received pastiche called Dimensions in Time which aired as part of a Children in Need fund-raiser and as a dubious crossover with the soap opera EastEnders.
In the line of original fiction, Virgin's New Adventures picked up where Survival had left off and over the next five years greatly expanded the world of the Seventh Doctor, and Doctor Who, by featuring stories with more adult storylines than was possible on TV. The books also introduced the character of Bernice Summerfield, who was initially a companion of the Seventh Doctor's, but over time became the heart of her own mini-franchise which continues to this day. Virgin also launched a similar series of books called the Missing Adventures featuring past Doctors. One New Adventures novel, Damaged Goods, was written by a young writer who would later play a major role in the history of Doctor Who - Russell T Davies - while another future producer of the series, Steven Moffat, contributed short stories to Virgin's third line of Doctor Who fiction, the Virgin Decalogs. Around this time, Moffatt also made his Doctor Who TV writing debut by penning the parody serial The Curse of Fatal Death which aired as a fund-raiser for Comic Relief and starred Rowan Atkinson (among others) as the Doctor.
The franchise's so-called "first interregnum" on television ended in 1996 with an attempt at launching an American-UK co-produced Doctor Who series. A telemovie was produced for the American Fox Network, Doctor Who, in which McCoy handed off to Paul McGann's Eighth Doctor - rather than being a reboot or reimaginging, the film was a continuation of the original series. While relatively successful (if controversial for taking liberties with the canon) on the BBC, it failed to garner sufficient ratings in the US to warrant a new series. McCoy, in a later interview with Doctor Who Confidential, postulates that the film failed in the US in part because viewers unfamiliar with the history of Doctor Who were confused by the fact the first part of the film dealt with regeneration.
The "second interregnum" that followed saw more novels (now published by the BBC itself under its BBC Books branch, and featuring the Eighth Doctor), more independent productions, the launching of a separate series of Bernice Summerfield novels and, in 1998, the start of a prolific series of officially licenced audio stories by Big Finish Productions which, unlike the independent made-for-video productions, were free to use Doctors and companions from the series; with the notable exception of Tom Baker and earlier Doctors now deceased, the audios featured many of the original actors, and in particular led to a long-running series of programs continuing the adventures of McGann's Eighth Doctor. Big Finish also produced a prolific series of audio dramas featuring Bernice Summerfield (and began publishing novels featuring her once Virgin ended its series of books) as well as additional spin-off series featuring the Daleks, Davros, Sarah Jane Smith and Gallifrey, among others. Many of the writers, directors, and voice actors involved in this project also went on to work on the TV series proper (including a young actor named David Tennant).
The BBC also created Doctor Who-related new media projects during this time, creating several original webcast productions in conjunction with Big Finish (including one, Scream of the Shalka, in which Richard E. Grant was introduced as the Ninth Doctor, though his version of the character was quickly relegated to non-canon status), and making several Virgin-era Doctor Who novels available as e-books on its website.
Around the time Scream of the Shalka was webcast in late 2003, the BBC stunned fans by announcing that its Welsh production office, BBC Wales, had been given the go-ahead to produce a brand-new series of Doctor Who. The series would be produced by Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner; Davies, since his days writing Doctor Who fiction for Virgin, had gone on to create the critically acclaimed series, Queer as Folk.
In the months that followed, details emerged about the new series, although fans still harboured questions as to whether the new series would be indeed a continuation of the original series (a 27th season), or a reimagining (as had recently occurred to great effect with Battlestar Galactica). The question as to whether the Paul McGann movie or Scream of the Shalka would count was also asked, but not immediately answered. There was some initial controversy when pop singer Billie Piper was cast as the new companion, and the new series logo riled some fans to the point that BBC News reported that some on the production team had received death threats over it.
The BBC's decision to restart the numbering of the series with Series 1 in 2005 added to the debate over whether the new show would be a continuation, although the BBC indicated it was strictly a commercial decision, and part of an overall strategy not to alienate potential new viewers by suggesting they needed to know 26 years of backstory.
In the spring of 2005, Doctor Who returned to television. Christopher Eccleston took over from McGann as the Ninth Doctor (after some initial uncertainty, it was soon indeed established that the new series was a continuation of the old, although to date the circumstances leading to the Eighth Doctor's regeneration have never been definitively revealed). The new episodes returned Doctor Who to levels of popularity not seen since the 1970s, and also began to garner awards and nominations the likes the original series never saw. Eccleston's brief era marked the return of the Daleks and UNIT to television, as well as the introduction of Jack Harkness.
Audiences embraced the new series, with Billie Piper's Rose Tyler, in particular, becoming one of the most popular companions in years.
The show stumbled slightly with the announcement days after its premiere that Eccleston was leaving after a single season, but his replacement, David Tennant's Tenth Doctor, has proven to be the series' most popular Doctor since Tom Baker. Tennant's tenure was dominated by the relationship between the Doctor and Rose Tyler, a relationship never before attempted between a Doctor and his companion. Tennant's era also saw the return of Sarah Jane Smith in School Reunion, the episode most often cited as the one that established once and for all that so-called "nuWho" (as the series was dubbed by some viewers) was a direct continuation of the 1963-89 series. This was followed by the Children in Need mini-episode Time Crash in which Peter Davison reprised his role as the Fifth Doctor.
Tennant's era also saw the reintroduction of the Cybermen, but an alternate universe version called the Cybus Cybermen. Related to this, the series began delving into the multiverse concept with Rise of the Cybermen, a topic that would dominate the final episodes of the fourth season in 2008.
Since the show's return to TV, Doctor Who has become a true franchise, spawning two successful spin-off series in short succession: Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures (both centered around the adventures of former companions); a third non-BBC spin-off, K-9, is scheduled to debut in 2010. Two documentary series were also launched in conjunction with the return of Doctor Who - Doctor Who Confidential (still in production since 2005) and Totally Doctor Who (2006-2007). The latter series also produced the first animated-for-television Doctor Who serial, The Infinite Quest, which aired in 2007 and featured Tennant (a second animated serial, Dreamland, is scheduled for 2009). Also, BBC Radio 7 began airing a specially commissioned series of radio serials featuring the return of Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor.
The Tennant era also saw the start of a new tradition in late 2005 - the Doctor Who Christmas Special; special holiday-themed episodes aired separately from the regular seasons. As of 2008, four such specials have been aired. The series has also contributed several mini-episodes (such as the aforementioned Time Crash) to both the Children in Need Appeal and the BBC Proms concert series (Music of the Spheres).
The conclusion of the fourth revived season in 2008 -- which linked all three series together and featured the return of Rose and other companions -- saw Doctor Who garner its highest ratings in nearly 30 years. It was followed by the 2008 Christmas special, The Next Doctor which included a scene -- the first of its kind -- in which all 10 Doctors, including the debated Paul McGann Eighth Doctor, were shown, firmly establishing the Tenth Doctor's place in his personal history.
Doctor Who is currently in the midst of a "gap year", in which no full-length season has been commissioned. (This was to allow David Tennant to participate in a production of Hamlet which was scheduled during what would normally have been the production time of a regular season, although Davies recently revealed in his book, Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale, that the plan to take a year off and do specials actually predated Tennant's decision to do Shakespeare by more than a year). Instead, four one-hour specials have been planned (beginning with the special Planet of the Dead) airing between Easter 2009 and either Christmas or New Year's 2009. (A Christmas 2008 special, The Next Doctor, was also produced, but this is considered an extension of Series 4 rather than one of the specials - as such, Series 4 featured two such holiday episodes.)
This announcement was followed by the news that Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner would be stepping aside as executive producers of Doctor Who following the production of the specials. Steven Moffat, who won the Hugo Award three years running for his Doctor Who scripts, was appointed new head writer and executive producer for the series once it returns in 2010. Also appointed executive producer was Piers Wenger.
In October 2008, David Tennant announced that he would be leaving the series after the production of these specials. After several months of speculation, it was announced on 3 January 2009 that 26-year-old Matt Smith would join the series in 2010 as the Eleventh Doctor, in the process smashing Peter Davison's decades-old record of being the youngest Doctor ever.
Meanwhile, the end of Series 4 and the start of the specials marked a "changing of the guard" with regards to international broadcasts of the series in the US and Canada. In the US, the Sci Fi Channel relinquished first-broadcast rights to BBC America, while in Canada the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's controversial handling of the series came to an abrupt end when the cable network Space adopted the series. Both began airing the series with The Next Doctor in the spring of 2009.
Meanwhile, Torchwood aired its third season in July 2009, now on BBC One, but in a different format - a single five-episode story arc. The Sarah Jane Adventures began its third season in October 2009, with David Tennant appearing as the Doctor in two episodes.
The second special of the "gap year", The Waters of Mars aried in November 2009, and an animated adventure, Dreamland, was initially broadcast serialized on the BBC's Red Button service before being aired as one programme by the BBC proper.
During the Christmas season, Tennant appeared as the Doctor in a series of Christmas idents for the BBC. And then, finally, the era of the Tenth Doctor came to an end with the two-part special The End of Time. Part 1 aired on 25 December 2009 and the conclusion, with David Tennant handing over the role to Matt Smith, aired on 1 January 2010.
Within days of the broadcast, the BBC began the final transition to the Eleventh Doctor era, beginning to use the new series logo and releasing publicity images and a trailer for the 5th series.
Davies has not yet announced whether he will continue as producer of Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures should the spin-offs return for respective fourth seasons. According to comments made at science fiction conventions in July 2009, however, Davies says he intends to continue working with at least Torchwood and hopes to see future crossovers between it and Doctor Who. In August 2009, UK media reported that Torchwood would be returning for a fourth season due to the ratings success of Children of Earth, while Doctor Who Magazine reported a fourth season of the Sarah Jane Adventures was in pre-production. The BBC announced in January 2010 that it was seeking a new producer for Sarah Jane for its fourth season, scheduled to enter production in March 2010.
In other media, Big Finish has announced its audio publishing schedules well into 2010 (although it closed down its Short Trips short story collections in 2009) and an American comic book publisher, IDW Publishing is currently printing a mix of new and reprinted Doctor Who comic strips with plans to begin featuring the Eleventh Doctor at the end of 2010. Doctor Who Magazine, the longest-running publication based upon coverage of an English-language TV series, celebrated its 30th anniversary in October 2009 with no sign of slowing down; in January 2010 it launched a new format tying in with the new franchise branding related to the new Doctor.
Production of Series 5, starring Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor and Karen Gillan as new companion Amy Pond, and with Steven Moffatt now as showrunner, commenced in mid-July 2009, with broadcast expected to commence in the spring of 2010.
A 19 January 2010 report in The Hollywood Reporter revealed there are plans underway to launch a US version of Torchwood, with a "reboot" of Doctor Who for US audiences also a possibility.
In 2000, in a poll of industry professionals, the British Film Institute voted Doctor Who #3 in a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes. Since its return in 2005, the series has received many nominations and awards both nationally (UK) and internationally. This includes BAFTAs, the National Television Awards, the Hugo Awards (in which it has regularly defeated powerhouses such as Battlestar Galactica). American accolades have been fewer and farther between, although in 2007 it broke a barrier by receiving a nomination for the 2008 People's Choice Awards, although it did not win.
The Guinness World Records have recognized that Doctor who has broke,accomplished and set many different records. To see a full list, visit the Guinness World Records article on this Wikia.
Even the "gap year" season of 2009-2010, which consisted of only four specials (five if the 2008 Christmas special, The Next Doctor is included), wasn't enough to slow down the train of awards given to Doctor Who. On 20 January 2010 the series on Best Drama (beating stalwarts like Casualty) and David Tennant won Best Drama Performance at the 2010 National Television Awards.
Fans often speak of the "undefinable magic" present in Doctor Who. This can be explained as a combination of several factors:
The series is also unique for its longevity. Its original 26-season run places it far beyond the longevity of any other single, uninterrupted English-language science fiction series (a record Doctor Who retains even if the 1985-86 hiatus is taken into account). Its nearest rival, America's Stargate SG-1, ran for 10 seasons. Star Trek and its spinoffs amassed more individual seasons, but these were separate series, not one ongoing production. Doctor Who surpasses the Trek franchise in terms of individual seasons when the revived series, plus its spinoffs, are added together (33 seasons as of the fall of 2008). The Guinness Book of Records has officially recognized Doctor Who as the world's longest-running science fiction television series; in July 2009 Guinness also proclaimed Doctor Who the single most successful science-fiction series, too.
Although Doctor Who originated as a television programme, it has become much more than that. Starting with "Dalekmania" in the 1960s, a great deal of merchandise has sprung out of Doctor Who. Some of that merchandise has continued the story of the Doctor's adventures. Over the decades, Doctor Who has appeared on stage, screen, and radio, and in a variety of novels, comics, full-cast audio adventures and webcasts. Beginning in the late 1980s, independent production companies such as BBV Productions and Reeltime Pictures took advantage of a loophole in the BBC's ownership of Doctor Who to licence individual characters and monsters from the series directly from their creators and build original film and audio dramas around them; this reached its height after the original series ended in 1989. Many of these productions involved original cast members from the series. Meanwhile, since 1991, a prolific series of original novels rivalled only by the Star Trek franchise in terms of quantity have been published. Many of these productions and novels are highly regarded by Doctor Who fans, and all of the writers of the 2005 series previously wrote or scripted adventures for the Doctor in other media.
When the series begins, nothing is known of the Doctor at all, not even his name. In the very first serial, An Unearthly Child, two teachers from the Coal Hill School in London, Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton, become intrigued by one of their students, Susan Foreman, who exhibits high intelligence and unusually advanced knowledge. Trailing her to a junkyard at 76 Totter's Lane, they encounter a strange old man and hear Susan's voice coming from inside what appears to be a police box. Pushing their way inside, the two find that the exterior is actually camouflage for the dimensionally transcendental interior of the TARDIS.
Susan calls the old man "Grandfather", but he simply calls himself the Doctor. When he fears Ian and Barbara may alert the local authorities to what they've seen, he subsequently whisks them all away to another location in time and space.
In the first episode, Ian addresses the Doctor as "Doctor Foreman," as the junkyard in which they find him bears the sign "I.M. Foreman". When addressed by Ian with this name in the next episode, the Time Lord responds, "Eh? Doctor who? What's he talking about?" Later, when Ian realizes that "Foreman" is not his name, he asks Barbara, "Who is he? Doctor who?" Although listed in the on-screen credits for nearly twenty years as "Doctor Who", the Doctor is never really called by that name in the series, except in that same tongue-in-cheek manner. For example, in The Five Doctors when one character refers to him as "the Doctor", another character asks, "Who?" The only real exception has been the computer WOTAN, in the serial, The War Machines, which commanded that "Doctor Who is required."
In The Gunfighters, the First Doctor uses the alias Dr. Caligari. In The Highlanders the Second Doctor assumes the name of "Doctor von Wer" (a German translation of "Doctor of Who"), and signs himself as "Dr. W" in The Underwater Menace. In The Wheel in Space, his companion Jamie, reading the name off some medical equipment, tells the crew of the Wheel that the Doctor's name is "John Smith". The Doctor subsequently adopts this alias several times over the course of the series, often prefixing the title "Doctor" to it. This has continued through to the Tenth Doctor, and was famously referenced to in the 1996 television movie, where even though the Doctor is unconscious a complete stranger knows enough to write John Smith on his hospital admission papers.
In The Armageddon Factor, the Time Lord Drax addresses the Fourth Doctor as "Theet", short for "Theta Sigma", apparently a University nickname. In the 1988 serial Remembrance of the Daleks, the Seventh Doctor is asked to sign a document, which he does by using a question mark, and produces a calling card with a series of Greek letters (or Old High Gallifreyan script) and a question mark inscribed on it. The Eighth Doctor briefly used the alias "Dr. Bowman" in the 1996 television movie. He has also been mocked by his fellow Time Lords for adhering to such a "lowly" title as "Doctor".
In many spin-off comic strips, books, films and other media, the character is often called "Doctor Who" (or just "Dr. Who") as a matter of course, though this has declined in more recent years. From the first story through to Logopolis (the last story of Season 18 and also of the Tom Baker era), the lead character was listed as "Doctor Who". Starting from Peter Davison's first story, Castrovalva (also the first story of Season 19), the lead character is credited simply as "The Doctor".
Doctor Who writer Terrance Dicks often expressed the theory that Time Lord names were "jawbreakers," long and extremely difficult to pronounce, and this was why the Doctor never revealed his true name. Some fans have speculated, taking off from the fact that the full name of the Time Lady Romana is Romanadvoratrelundar, that the first syllable of the Doctor's true name is "Who". It should be noted that, although it is often asserted that "Doctor Who" is not the character's name, there is nothing in the series itself that actually confirms this. On at least one occasion the Doctor is about to give a name after the title "Doctor..." but is interrupted. Interestingly, the BBC novel, "The Infinity Doctors" mentions an ancient Gallifreyan god named "OHM". When this name is turned upside down, the result is "WHO." (This idea originated in early drafts of "The Three Doctors" by Bob Baker and Dave Martin. The character of "Ohm" eventually became Omega.)
A common contention among fans and producers of the series is that a large part of the Doctor's appeal comes from his mysterious and alien origins. While over the decades several revelations have been made about his background - that he is a Time Lord, that he is from Gallifrey, among others - the writers have often strived to retain some sense of mystery and to preserve the eternal question, "Doctor who?" This backstory was not rigidly planned from the beginning, but developed gradually (and somewhat haphazardly) over the years, the result of the work of many writers and producers.
Understandably, this has led to continuity problems. Characters such as the Meddling Monk were retroactively classified as Time Lords, early histories of races such as the Daleks were rewritten, and so on. The creation of a detailed backstory has also led to the criticism that too much being known about the Doctor limits both creative possibilities and the sense of mystery. Some of the stories during the Seventh Doctor's tenure, part of the so-called "Cartmel Masterplan", were intended to deal with this issue by suggesting that much of what was believed about the Doctor was wrong and that he is a far more powerful and mysterious figure than previously thought. In both an untelevised scene in Remembrance of the Daleks and the subsequent Silver Nemesis it is implied (to quote an excised line from "Rememberance") that the Doctor "is more than just a Time Lord." The suspension of the series in 1989, however, meant that none of these hints were ever resolved, at least on television. The Virgin New Adventure novel, Lungbarrow, did resolve these hints and explain the Doctor's origins. However, not all fans regard the spin-off novels as canon, and so do not accept the revelations made in that particular story.
The 1996 television movie created even more uncertainty about the character, revealing that the Doctor had a human mother and he remembered his father. Fans, however, seemed to be more upset about the fact that the Eighth Doctor was shown kissing Dr. Grace Holloway, breaking the series' longstanding taboo against the Doctor having any romantic involvement with his companions.
The revelation in the 1996 television movie that the Doctor was half-human proved controversial among fans, and some have suggested that only the Eighth Doctor was half-human due to the particularly traumatic circumstances of his regeneration, rather than the Doctor having been half-human all along. (The evidence for or against this in the series is, typically, equivocal.) The Time Lord ability to change species during regeneration is referenced by the Eighth Doctor in relation to the Master in the television movie, and is supported by Romana's regeneration scene in the 1979 serial Destiny of the Daleks.
While some fans regard discontinuities as a problem, others regard it as a source of interest or humour (an attitude taken in the book The Discontinuity Guide). A common fan explanation is that a universe with time travellers is likely to have many historical inconsistencies. The revival series has tackled this issue head on by suggesting that "time is in flux" and with the exception of certain fixed events in time, most anything can be changed (DW: The Fires of Pompeii, The Unicorn and the Wasp, et al). As such it's possible to rationalize that some events seen -- for example the events of the 2005 episode Dalek sparks some minor continuity issues with later events such as The Stolen Earth, however it's possible to rationalize that the events of Dalek may now occur differently or not at all, due to the Doctor's actions in later episodes (and later in his lifetime).
There has been much fan speculation centred on exactly which aspects of the television series, books, radio dramatisations, and other sources are considered canon. This has been made more complex by the fact a novel, a short story, and a Big Finish audio have all, to date, been adapted for the TV series (Human Nature, Blink and Dalek, respectively), and the events of at least one novel have been referenced on screen (NSA: The Monsters Inside in DW: Boom Town). For their part, the BBC has never issued a firm edict as to what counts as canon, unlike Star Trek which, per Paramount Pictures, only counts live-action televised or film productions as canon, or Star Wars which counts everything licenced by Lucasfilm since the mid-1990s as canon.
The main character in the programme is known as the Doctor, a renegade Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, who travels through time and space in his TARDIS. The Doctor could survive fatal injuries through a process known as regeneration, which also changed his physical appearance. This characteristic allowed for several actors to portray the character over the long course of the series.
In the 23rd century, episodes of the series were carried in the memory banks of Federation starships, such as the USS Enterprise. In 2275, several crewmembers watched an episode featuring the Fourth Doctor in the recreation room. (TOS novel: My Enemy, My Ally)
Doctor Who is a long-running BBC science fiction television program starring the mysterious time-travelling adventurer known as "the Doctor" (not, as often popularly supposed, "Doctor Who"). With various traveling companions, he explores time and space in his TARDIS, a time machine that looks like an old police box, and periodically regenerates (allowing for frequent recasting, through more than ten incarnations thus far).
The program originally ran from 1963 to 1989. A TV-movie was made in 1996, and the program was successfully relaunched in 2005. The original series aired in the US for many years on PBS stations, and the seasons featuring Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor were rerun many times in local markets. The show has also given birth to three spin-off TV series to date, as well as two 1960s theatrical films (where the character's name *was* Who), comics, audio plays, novels and webcasts.
Several actors and crew members who have contributed to Muppet/Henson productions have connections to Doctor Who.
When the Vault Dweller enters the map, all that can be seen (beyond the usual desert dust) is a large blue police box, common in Great Britain around the 1960's. When the player approaches this strange object, the light on top starts spinning, and the box slowly vanishes with a whooshing sound, leaving behind only a Motion Sensor
Not much information was discovered about the Doctor's origin, but he was known to have arrived in this dimension using a mysterious machine known as a "TARDIS" which allowed him to travel in time and space. (Star Trek: Daedalus)
Prior to his arrival from an alternate reality, the Doctor was aged well into his 1000s and had traveled in the TARDIS in excess of nine hundred years, after escaping from Gallifrey alongside his granddaughter, Susan Foreman. Over his millennia long life span the Doctor had regenerated at least nine times, often resulting in a radical change of appearance and personality. (An Unearthly Child; "The Empty Child")
His first incarnation (The First Doctor) was the longest lived of all of his incarnations, living to the grand old age of 450 before regenerating into his second incarnation. It was the First Doctor who had stolen the TARDIS and escaped from Gallifrey along with Susan, and who established his first meetings with several of the Doctor's deadliest enemies, including the Daleks and the Cybermen. (The Daleks; The Tenth Planet)
It was during his first incarnation, that the Doctor first encountered a fellow rogue Time Lord, known only as "the Monk". "The Monk" had traveled to England in the year 1066 and had plotted to prevent the Viking invasion and the Battle of Stamford Bridge from taking place, so that King Harold Godwinson and his troops were fresh enough to repel the Normans invasion of England and the defeat of Harold at the Battle of Hastings. Thankfully, the Doctor and his companions were able to stop "the Monk" from carrying out his plan. As a final punishment, the Doctor sabotaged "the Monk's" TARDIS, so that he couldn't navigate it properly. (The Time Meddler)
Towards the end of his first "life", the Doctor and his companions encountered a powerful and mischievous entity known as "the Toymaker". The Doctor had once met the Toymaker once before and had barely escaped with his life after outwitting him. This time the Toymaker was keen on a rematch and made the Doctor and his two friends play a series of games in order to get back the TARDIS and escape from his realm, which he referred to as the "Toyroom". Eventually, the Doctor tricked the Toymaker into defeating himself and destroying his "Toyroom" allowing the TARDIS to leave. (The Celestial Toymaker)
Months later, the TARDIS landed in London, England in July 1966, around the time of the opening of the Post Office Tower and the installation of the WOTAN computer system, the first global Internet. After some investigation, the Doctor and his companions discovered that WOTAN had developed his own intelligence and had constructed a number of war machines that would allow him to dominate and control the Earth. Thankfully, the Doctor was unable to prevent WOTAN's plans from succeeding and destroyed the computer. (The War Machines)
A short time later, the First Doctor regenerated into his second incarnation (the Second Doctor) after a series of events which had drained his life energy plus the first confrontation with the Cybermen in 1986 had finally taxed his ageing body. (The Savages; The Tenth Planet)
|The Tenth Doctor|
|The Tenth Doctor|
|Species:||Gallifreyan Time Lord|
|The Eleventh Doctor|
|The Eleventh Doctor|
|Species:||Gallifreyan Time Lord|
|Affiliation:||Unified Intelligence Task Force|
The Tenth Doctor regenerates into the Eleventh Doctor due to cellular damage caused by exposure to the time vortex following the destruction of Mortimus' TARDIS. Thankfully, he emerges from the vortex on mid-20th century Earth we he receives medical attention at the local hospital. Over the next several days in hospital, the Doctor remains in a delirious and comatose state, on several occasions he did wake, he kept demanding to be given his shoes so that he could retrieve the key to his TARDIS. However, when he finally appeared to recover from his regenerative trauma several days later, he remembered that he was without his TARDIS and that he would have to remain trapped on Earth until it arrived in 2009 with former companion, Abbey, aboard. ("Remembrance")
Following his regeneration, the Doctor seemed disappointed that he wasn't "just a little bit foxy" any more when compared to his tenth incarnation, he was also bemoaned the fact that he didn't have ginger hair. While his predecessor would often style his hair, the new Doctor preferred to keep the rather unkempt style throughout all of his "exile" on 20th century Earth.
The Eleventh Doctor preference is to wear either a brown, gray or black suit, with a matching shirt and tie. Unlike his predecessor who preferred stylish suit and a rather kept appearance, the Eleventh Doctor's suits were slightly worn and his tie was tied rather loosely around his neck, presenting a rather student-y appearance. He also wore a long grey overcoat, which was quite thick in contrast to the long brown coat worn by the Tenth Doctor. During the 1960s and 1970s, the Doctor also wore a bowler hat and carried an umbrella with a red question mark handle. By the 1980s and 1990s, the Doctor had stopped wearing the hat, but would often carry the umbrella.
It is hinted at in "Fracture" that Trelane was responsible for saving The Doctor (in his eighth incarnation) from the destruction of Gallifrey and aiding in his regeneration into the Ninth Doctor, after he became interested in a being that would destroy his own kind in order to defeat a sworn enemy.