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Difference between revisions of "Doctor Who"

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The current series is filmed in 576i25 DigiBeta widescreen format and then filmised to give a 25p image in post-production using a Snell and Wilcox Alchemist Platinum.
The current series is filmed in 576i25 DigiBeta widescreen format and then filmised to give a 25p image in post-production using a Snell and Wilcox Alchemist Platinum.
A special case is the Children in Need specials broadcast for charity. The first of these was also the 20th anniversary special. It was billed in ''Radio Times'' in the normal format for the series and is usually counted as part of it. One event in it is alluded to in a later programme. Others appeared in between the old and new series and are obviously not intended to be taken seriously. At one point Joanna Lumley appears as the Doctor. In the new series, CIN specials appear in between the main annual series and the Christmas special. However, the trailers, teasers and next episode captions at the ends of the main series ignore them, jumping straight to the Christmas specials. They are usually omitted from lists of TV programmes. (Some websites attempt to list all stories in all media in one continuous sequence, though none seem to have succeeded.)
==Public consciousness==
==Public consciousness==

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Doctor Who
Doctor Who series logo
Format: Science Fiction; Drama
Country: United Kingdom
Channel: BBC One
First Aired: 23 November 1963
Creators: Sydney Newman
C. E. Webber
Donald Wilson
Russell T. Davies (current series)
Starring: William Hartnell; Patrick Troughton;
Jon Pertwee;Tom Baker;
Peter Davison; Colin Baker;
Sylvester McCoy; Paul McGann;
Christopher Eccleston; David Tennant
Picture format: 405-line black & white (1963–1967)
625-line black & white (1968–1969)
PAL 625-line colour (1970–1989)
720x576 16:9 (2005–)

Doctor Who is primarily a British science fiction television programme, appearing on BBC, about the adventures of a time-traveller known as 'the Doctor'. His time machine, the TARDIS, is disguised as an old British police box, but is much bigger on the inside than out. Some recurrent adversaries include the 'Daleks' - mutants inside pepperpot-shaped casings - and the 'Cybermen'. The programme has lasted so long because the Doctor, an alien, can 'regenerate' his body when badly injured, allowing the lead actor to be recast. Traditionally, the Doctor is accompanied by at least one (usually human) companion, usually female, but with few romantic implications.

The programme is the longest-running science fiction television series in the world[1] and is also a significant part of British popular culture.[2][3] It has been recognised for its imaginative stories, creative low-budget special effects during its original run and pioneering use of electronic music (originally produced by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop). In Britain and elsewhere the show has become a cult favourite on a par with Star Trek. It has received recognition from critics and the public as one of the finest British television programmes, including a BAFTA Award for Best Drama Series in 2006.

The programme first ran from 1963 to 1989, with a television movie made in 1996. It was relaunched in 2005, produced in-house by BBC Wales.[4] Doctor Who has also spawned spin-offs in multiple media, including the current television series Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, as well as actual Doctor Who stories in other media.

The relaunch of the programme has seen Christmas Day special episodes broadcast between series, the most recent being Voyage of the Damned. Series three of the programme, starring David Tennant as the Doctor and Freema Agyeman as his 'companion' Martha Jones, followed in spring 2007 on BBC One. Series four, beginning in spring 2008, featured Catherine Tate as the Doctor's latest companion, Donna. After this, four special programmes will be broadcast in 2009/10, before a new series produced by Stephen Moffat, with a new Doctor, will begin in 2010.

[edit intro]


Doctor Who first appeared on BBC television at 5:15 p.m. (GMT) on 23 November 1963. The programme was born out of discussions and plans that had been going on for a year. The Head of Drama, Sydney Newman was mainly responsible for developing it, with contributions by the Head of the Script Department (later Head of Serials), Donald Wilson, staff writer C. E. 'Bunny' Webber, writer Anthony Coburn, story editor David Whitaker and initial producer, Verity Lambert. The series' distinctive, haunting title theme was composed by Ron Grainer and realised by Delia Derbyshire of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

The BBC drama department's Serials division produced the programme for twenty-six series, broadcast on BBC One. Viewing numbers that had fallen (though comparably increased at some points), a decline in the public perception of the show and a less prominent transmission slot saw production suspended in 1989 by Jonathan Powell, Controller of BBC One. Although it was for all intents and purposes cancelled (as series co-star Sophie Aldred reported in the documentary Doctor Who: More Than 30 Years in the TARDIS), the BBC maintained the series was merely "on hiatus" and insisted the show would return.

While in-house production had ceased, the BBC was hopeful of finding an independent production company to re-launch the show. Philip Segal, a British expatriate who worked for Columbia Pictures' television arm in the United States, approached the BBC about such a venture. Segal's negotiations eventually led to a television movie. The Doctor Who television movie was broadcast on the Fox Network in 1996 as a co-production between Fox, Universal Pictures, the BBC, and BBC Worldwide. Although the film was successful in the UK (with 9.1 million viewers), it was less so in the United States and did not lead to a series.

Licensed media such as novels and audio plays provided new stories.

After the programme's cancellation in 1989 and the failure of a 1996 American-backed movie to secure a new series, as a television programme Doctor Who stayed 'on hiatus' until 2003. Its return in 2005 was largely due to the persistence of the controller of BBC One, Lorraine Heggessey,[5] who finally won the rights to the series from the corporation's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide. Several unsuccessful attempts by Worldwide to find backing for a feature film version finally convinced the BBC that an in-house series was the best way to secure the future of the programme.[6].

To bring back the series, the BBC approached writer Russell T. Davies, who had contributed to a range of Doctor Who novels, so had a love of the programme as well as considerable scriptwriting experience. Davies was appointed as executive producer and head writer on the programme. To date, he has also written most of the scripts for the series. Joining him to head up the programme at BBC Wales was the BBC Head of Drama, Julie Gardner.

The new series began with the episode Rose on BBC One on 26 March 2005, and the show has since been sold to many other countries. Due to an initial lack of interest by networks in the USA, it only debuted on the Sci Fi Channel on 17 March 2006, one year after the Canadian and UK showings. The BBC subsequently commissioned more series and Christmas specials. Series 2 in the UK was followed by The Runaway Bride in December 2006. Series two began airing in the US on the Sci-Fi Channel on 29 September 2006, followed by the CBC on 9 October. After four series and several specials, Davies left the programme in the hands of frequent writer for the series, Stephen Moffat, who is executive producer from series five onwards. With David Tennant also leaving the series in 2010, the fifth season of the programme will open with a new actor playing the Doctor.


Doctor Who originally ran for 26 seasons on BBC1, from November 23, 1963 until December 6, 1989. During the original run, each weekly episode formed part of a story (or "serial") — usually of four to six parts in earlier years and three to four in later years. Three notable exceptions were the epic The Daleks' Master Plan (1965–66), which aired in 12 episodes (plus an earlier one-episode teaser, Mission to the Unknown, featuring none of the regular cast); the 10-episode serial The War Games (1969) and The Trial of a Time Lord which ran for 14 episodes (containing four stories often referred to by individual titles, and connected by framing sequences) during Season 23 (1986). Occasionally serials were loosely connected by a storyline, such as Season 16's quest for the Key to Time.

The programme was intended to be educational and for family viewing on the early Saturday evening schedule. Initially, it alternated stories set in the past, which would teach younger audience members about history, with stories set either in the future or in outer space to teach them about science. This was also reflected in the Doctor's original companions, one of whom was a science teacher and another a history teacher.

However, science fiction stories came to dominate the programme and the "historicals", which were not popular with the production team, were dropped after The Highlanders (1967). While the show continued to use historical settings, they were generally used as a backdrop for science fiction tales, with one exception: Black Orchid (1982) set in 1920s Britain.

The early stories were more serial-like in nature, with the narrative of one story flowing into the next, and each episode having its own title, although produced as distinct stories with their own production codes. Following The Gunfighters (1966), however, each serial was given its own title, with the individual parts simply being assigned episode numbers. What to name these earlier stories is often a subject of fan debate.

Writers during the original run included Terry Nation, Henry Lincoln, Douglas Adams, Robert Holmes, Terrance Dicks, Dennis Spooner, Eric Saward, Malcolm Hulke, Christopher H. Bidmead, Stephen Gallagher, Brian Hayles, Chris Boucher, Marc Platt and Ben Aaronovitch.

Over 700 Doctor Who instalments have been televised since 1963, ranging from the 20-minute episodes of The Mind Robber (the shortest being just 18 minutes), through 25-minute episodes (the most common format in the original production), and 45-minute episodes (the normal length in the new production), to two feature-length productions (1983's The Five Doctors, at 90 minutes the longest so far, and the 1996 television movie).

Each series in the revived programme consists usully of thirteen 45-minute episodes. These usually include three two-parters and a loose story arc per season whose elements are brought together in the season finale. Like the original serial format, episodes in two-part stories have separate titles. From series two, the regular characters have been largely absent from one episode so the leads can concentrate on filming others; this led to criticism of the first 'Doctor-lite' adventure, 2006's Love & Monsters. Doctor Whohas surpassed the number of instalments of the Star Trek franchise (726 episodes over five programmes) during the 2007 series.

The current series is filmed in 576i25 DigiBeta widescreen format and then filmised to give a 25p image in post-production using a Snell and Wilcox Alchemist Platinum.

A special case is the Children in Need specials broadcast for charity. The first of these was also the 20th anniversary special. It was billed in Radio Times in the normal format for the series and is usually counted as part of it. One event in it is alluded to in a later programme. Others appeared in between the old and new series and are obviously not intended to be taken seriously. At one point Joanna Lumley appears as the Doctor. In the new series, CIN specials appear in between the main annual series and the Christmas special. However, the trailers, teasers and next episode captions at the ends of the main series ignore them, jumping straight to the Christmas specials. They are usually omitted from lists of TV programmes. (Some websites attempt to list all stories in all media in one continuous sequence, though none seem to have succeeded.)

Public consciousness

The programme rapidly became a national institution, the subject of countless jokes, newspaper mentions and other popular culture references. Many renowned actors asked for or were offered and accepted guest starring roles in various stories.

However, with popularity came controversy over the show's suitability for children. The moral campaigner Mary Whitehouse made a series of complaints to the BBC in the 1970s over its sometimes frightening or gory content. Ironically, her actions made the programme even more popular, especially with children. John Nathan-Turner, who produced the series during the 1980s, was heard to say that he looked forward to Whitehouse's comments, as the show's ratings would increase soon after she had made them. During the 1970s, the Radio Times, the BBC's listings magazine, announced that a child's mother said the theme music terrified her son. The Radio Times was apologetic, but the theme music remained.

There were more complaints about the programme's content than its music. During Jon Pertwee's second season as the Doctor, in the serial Terror of the Autons (1971), images of murderous plastic dolls, daffodils killing unsuspecting victims and blank-featured android policemen marked the apex of the show's ability to frighten children. Other notable moments in that decade included the Doctor apparently being drowned by Chancellor Goth in The Deadly Assassin (1976), and the allegedly negative portrayal of Chinese people in The Talons of Weng-Chiang (1977).

It has been said that watching Doctor Who from a position of safety "behind the sofa" (as the Doctor Who exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image in London was titled) and peering cautiously out to see if the frightening part was over is one of the great shared experiences of British childhood. The phrase has become a common phrase in association with the programme and occasionally elsewhere.

A BBC audience research survey conducted in 1972 found that by their own definition of "any act(s) which may cause physical and / or psychological injury, hurt or death to persons, animals or property, whether intentional or accidental," Doctor Who was the most violent of all the drama programmes the corporation then produced.[7] The same report found that 3% of the surveyed audience regarded the show as "very unsuitable" for family viewing.[8] However, responding to the findings of the survey in The Times newspaper, journalist Philip Howard maintained that: "to compare the violence of Dr Who, sired by a horse-laugh out of a nightmare, with the more realistic violence of other television series, where actors who look like human beings bleed paint that looks like blood, is like comparing Monopoly with the property market in London: both are fantasies, but one is meant to be taken seriously."[7]

The image of the TARDIS has become firmly linked to the show in the public's conciousness. In 1996, the BBC applied for a trademark to use the TARDIS' blue police box design in merchandising associated with Doctor Who. [9] In 1998, the Metropolitan Police filed an objection to the trademark claim; in 2002 the Patent Office ruled in favor of the BBC,[10][11] indicating that the police box image was more associated with Doctor Who than with the police.[12]

The Doctor

For more information, see: Doctor (Doctor Who).

Warning: Spoilers follow below

The character of the Doctor was initially shrouded in mystery. All that was known about him in the programme's early days was that he was an eccentric alien traveller of great intelligence who battled injustice while exploring time and space in an unreliable old time machine called the TARDIS. The TARDIS is much larger on the inside than on the outside and, due to a chronic malfunction, stuck in the shape of a 1950s-style British police box.

However, not only did the initially irascible and slightly sinister Doctor quickly mellow into a more compassionate figure, it was eventually revealed that he had been "on the run" from his own people, the Time Lords of the planet Gallifrey.

Like all Time Lords, the Doctor has the ability to "regenerate" his body when near death, allowing for the convenient recasting of the lead actor. A Time Lord can regenerate twelve times, with a total of thirteen Doctors. The Doctor has gone through this process and its resulting after-effects on nine occasions, with each of his incarnations having his own quirks and abilities. Despite these shifts in personality, the Doctor has always remained an intensely curious and highly moral adventurer, who would rather solve problems with his wits than through violence. The following actors portrayed the Doctor from 1963:

  1. William Hartnell (1963-1966)
  2. Patrick Troughton (1966-1969)
  3. Jon Pertwee (1970-1974)
  4. Tom Baker (1974-1981)
  5. Peter Davison (1981-1984)
  6. Colin Baker (1984-1986)
  7. Sylvester McCoy (1987-1989; 1996)
  8. Paul McGann (1996)
  9. Christopher Eccleston (2005)
  10. David Tennant (2005-2010)

In addition, Richard Hurndall appeared as a lookalike for the late William Hartnell in one of the stories bringing back past Doctors to meet the incumbent, and a number of other actors have played the role in other media.

Throughout the programme's long history certain controversial revelations about the Doctor have been made. For example, in The Brain of Morbius (1976), it was hinted that the First Doctor may not have been the Doctor's first incarnation (although the other faces depicted may have been incarnations of the Time Lord Morbius); throughout the Seventh Doctor's era it was hinted that the Doctor was more than just an ordinary Time Lord, and in the 1996 television movie it was revealed that the Doctor is actually half-human on his mother's side. The very first episode, An Unearthly Child revealed that the Doctor has a granddaughter, Susan.

The newest episodes reveal various aspects of The Doctor's character and past, but much remains mysterious.

In Rose (2005) the viewer is introduced to what appears to be a leather-jacketed man of action, mid-way through a conflict with a creature known as the Nestene. It becomes clear that he is not a human being, and that he travels in time and space in a machine disguised as a 1950s police telephone box, and which is much bigger on the inside. This story also reveals that he believes himself to be the last of his own people, who were destroyed in a battle known as the 'Time War'. Throughout this season of adventures, it is emphasised that this individual is "damaged", in Russell T. Davies's words, by his experiences, which make him somewhat unpredictable.

The Doctor's physiology is unlike that of a human; he has two hearts, and is capable of physical and mental feats beyond those of an ordinary human. Most usefully, he has the ability to regenerate - what he calls a trick for "cheating death". When he is fatally injured in the course of saving his companion Rose's life (The Parting of the Ways, 2005), she and the viewer witness a burst of energy released from his body, as his features melt into those of a new individual - the Doctor's present incarnation, portrayed by David Tennant.

It is soon established that this new person is the same character, physically different and with some new personality quirks, but still the same intensely curious and highly moral adventurer, who would rather solve problems with his wits than through violence.

Other aspects of the Doctor's life remain less clear. There are suggestions of romantic feelings towards both Rose and others, but the his personal relationships are never humanlike. Though in the 2006 episode Fear Her it is revealed to Rose (though not to those familiar with the original production, who already knew this) that he was once a father, and likewise the third series (Smith & Jones; The Sound of Drums, 2007) reveals that he had a brother - not his arch-enemy the Master - nothing more is known of what family he may have had, apart from a passing reference to a favourite uncle in one of the programmes in the original production.


Warning: Spoilers follow below

The Doctor almost always shares his adventures with up to three companions (the only exception in the original series being The Deadly Assassin, in which he travels alone). The idea of the companion is to provide a surrogate with whom the audience can identify and to further the story by asking questions and getting into trouble. The Doctor regularly gains new companions and loses old ones; sometimes they return home or find new causes — or loves — on worlds they have visited. Some have even died during the course of the series.

There are some disputes as to the definition of a companion, but fans mostly agree that at least thirty (including K-9 Marks I and II) meet the criteria for "companion" status in the television series, with others being established in the various spin-offs. For further details, see the notes in List of Doctor Who supporting characters.

'Companion' is more generally used as a technical term in fandom; the press normally refers to them either as companions or assistants. The series does not apply the term consistently to those travelling with the Doctor, with him just as often introducing them simply as his friends.

Despite the fact that the majority of the Doctor's companions are young, attractive females, the production team for the 1963–1989 series maintained a longstanding taboo against any overt romantic involvement in the TARDIS: for example, Peter Davison, as the Fifth Doctor, was not allowed to put his arm around either Sarah Sutton (Nyssa) or Janet Fielding (Tegan), although he did put his arm around Peri in his last serial, The Caves of Androzani. However, that has not prevented fans from speculating about possible romantic involvements, most notably between the Fourth Doctor and the Time Lady Romana (whose actors, Tom Baker and Lalla Ward, shared a romance and brief marriage). The taboo was controversially broken in the 1996 television movie when the Eighth Doctor was shown kissing companion Grace Holloway.

Previous companions have reappeared in the series, usually for anniversary specials.

In the new series the Doctor is initially travelling alone, but former London shop assistant Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) joins him at the close of the opening adventure, with others appearing later. It becomes clear that the Doctor's new friends were not the first to join him in the TARDIS, but so far only two of his 'companions' from the past have appeared, and others have not been discussed. Though the relationship between the Doctor and Rose is initially rocky, they come to trust and rely on each other through experience; her departure in 2006's Doomsday seemed to affect the Doctor deeply.

Any kind of intimate relationship is out: the series played with this idea by having various characters think that the Doctor and Rose were a couple, which they vehemently denied.

From the beginning of the 2008 series, Catherine Tate played Donna, the Doctor's companion, returning from her first appearance in The Runaway Bride.


Warning: Spoilers follow below

See also: List of Doctor Who monsters and aliens, List of Doctor Who villains

When Sydney Newman commissioned the series, he specifically did not want to perpetuate the cliché of the "bug-eyed monster" of science fiction. However, monsters were a staple of Doctor Who almost from the beginning and were popular with audiences.

Notable adversaries of the Doctor include the Autons, the Cybermen, the Sontarans, the Sea Devils, the Ice Warriors, the Yeti, the Silurians, the Slitheen and the Master, a rival Time Lord with a thirst for universal conquest. Of all the monsters and villains, the ones that most secured the series' place in the public's imagination were the Daleks. The Daleks are lethal mutants in tank-like mechanical armour from the planet Skaro. Their chief role in the great scheme of things, as they frequently remark in their instantly recognisable metallic voices, is to "Exterminate!". Davros, the Daleks' creator, also became a recurring villain after he was introduced.

The Daleks were created by writer Terry Nation (who intended them as an allegory of the Nazis) and BBC designer Raymond Cusick. The Daleks' debut in the programme's second serial, The Daleks (1963–64), caused a tremendous reaction in the viewing figures and the public, putting Doctor Who on the cultural map. A Dalek even appeared on a postage stamp celebrating British popular culture in 1999, photographed by Lord Snowdon.

In Doctor Who, the universe is a dangerous place. A frequently occurring theme is that of various alien races attempting to conquer the Earth or otherwise threatening the human race,[13] only to be foiled by the Doctor. Perhaps the best-known example of this in the new series concerns the attempts of the Slitheen family to take over the planet and sell it for scrap. Other villians appearing include the Autons (Rose), the Cybermen (in the 2006 series) and Cassandra, the last human being alive five billion years in the future (The End of the World, 2005; Ew Earth, 2006).

Of all the monsters and villains, the best-known in the series and wider UK culture are the Daleks: deadly mutants in tank-like mechanical armour from the planet Skaro. Envisaged as representing the Nazis, their best-known characteristic is frequently screaming "Exterminate!" at and destroying anything un-Dalek. They Daleks have appeared several times in the new series, firstly in Dalek (2005), where it appears that only one individual had survived a previous encounter with their nemesis, the Doctor (known in Skaroene lore as 'The Oncoming Storm'. The Daleks have made more regular appearances in the relaunched programme than in the original 1963-1989 series, returning at least once a year. At present, their numbers appear to once again have been reduced to one (Evolution of the Daleks, 2007).


The original 1963 arrangement of the Doctor Who theme, as composed by Ron Grainer and realised by Delia Derbyshire at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, is widely regarded as a significant and innovative piece of electronic music, working from tape loops of an individually struck piano string and individual test oscillators and filters. The Derbyshire arrangement served, with minor edits, as the theme tune up to the end of Season 17 (1979–80).

A more modern and dynamic arrangement was composed by Peter Howell for Season 18 (1980), which was in turn replaced by Dominic Glynn's arrangement for Season 23's The Trial of a Time Lord (1986). Keff McCulloch provided the new arrangement for the Seventh Doctor's era which lasted from Season 24 (1987) until the series' suspension in 1989.

In the early 1970s, Jon Pertwee, who had played the Third Doctor, recorded a version of the Doctor Who Theme with spoken lyrics, titled, "Who Is The Doctor". In 1988 the band The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (later known as The KLF) released the single "Doctorin' the Tardis" under the name The Timelords, which reached No. 1 in the UK. Others who have covered or reinterpreted the theme include Orbital, the Australian string ensemble Fourplay, The Pogues, Pink Floyd and the comedians Bill Bailey and Mitch Benn, and satirised on The Chaser's War on Everything. The theme tune has also appeared on many compilation CDs and has made its way into mobile phone ring tones. Fans have also produced and distributed their own remixes of the theme.

For the new series in 2005, Murray Gold provided a new arrangement which featured samples from the 1963 original with further elements added. A soundtrack CD of Gold's music for the new series was released on 4 December 2006 by Silva Screen Records.[14]. Gold also created a variation on his arrangement for the closing credits of The Christmas Invasion, which was performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Unlike his arrangement for the 2005 series, this version restored the 'middle eight'; it was also used for the closing credits of the 2006 series.


Doctor Who has always appeared on the BBC's mainstream BBC One channel, drawing audiences of many millions of viewers. It was most popular in the late 1970s, with audiences frequently as high as 12 million. During the ITV network strike of 1979, viewership peaked at 16 million. No first-run episode of Doctor Who has ever drawn fewer than three million viewers on BBC One, although its late 1980s performance of three to five million viewers was seen as poor at the time, and was according to the BBC Board of Control, a leading cause of the programme's 1989 suspension. Some fans considered this disingenuous, since the programme was scheduled against the soap opera Coronation Street, the most popular show at the time. The all-time highest chart placing for an episode of Doctor Who is fifth, for episode two of The Ark in Space in 1975.

The programme also gained a strong following in Australia, possibly as a result of the close connection between the BBC and Australia's major public broadcaster, the ABC. The latest repeat of the classic series in Australia ran from September 2003 to February 2006.

The series also has a fan base in the United States, where it was shown in syndication from the 1970s to the 1990s, particularly on PBS stations (see Doctor Who in America). New Zealand was the first country outside the UK to screen Doctor Who beginning in September 1964, and continued to screen the series for many years. In Canada, the series debuted in January 1965, but the CBC only aired the first twenty-six episodes. TVOntario picked up the show in the 1976 beginning with Inferno and aired it through to Season 24 in 1991. TVO's schedule ran several years behind the BBC's throughout this period. In the 1970s TVO airings were bookended by a host who would introduce the episode and then, after the episode concluded, try to place it in an educational context in keeping with TVO's status as an educational channel. The airing of The Talons of Weng Chiang resulted in controversy for TVOntario as a result of accusations that the story was racist. Consequently the story was not rebroadcast.

Only four episodes have ever had their premiere showings on channels other than BBC One. The 1983 twentieth anniversary special The Five Doctors had its debut on November 23 (the actual date of the anniversary) on the Chicago PBS station WTTW in the United States and various other PBS members two days prior to its BBC One broadcast. The 1988 story Silver Nemesis was broadcast with all three episodes edited together in compilation form on TVNZ in New Zealand in November, after the first episode had been shown in the UK but before the final two instalments had aired there. Finally, the 1996 television movie premiered on May 12 on CITV in Edmonton, Canada, fifteen days before the BBC One showing, and two days before it aired on Fox in the USA.

A wide selection of serials is available from BBC Video on VHS and DVD, on sale in the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States. Every fully extant serial has been released on VHS, and BBC Worldwide continues to regularly release serials on DVD.

Doctor Who has always appeared on the BBC's mainstream BBC One channel, drawing audiences of many millions of viewers. The BBC One broadcast of Rose, the first episode of the 2005 revival, drew an average audience of 10.81 million, third highest for BBC One that week and seventh across all channels. The 2005 series had an average audience of 7.95 million viewers, and the 2006 series achieved an average audience of about 7.71 million in the context of declining year-to-year viewership for all television channels. The episode Rise of the Cybermen managed sixth place in the charts across the week with 9.22 million viewers.[15]

The programme has been widely sold abroad, both in the English-speaking world and further afield with dubbing or subtitling.[16] The Japanese version, for example, includes a new logo in the native katakana writing system: ドクター・フー (Dokutaa Fuu)[17]

The series has been released on DVD as both boxed sets of the first two seasons, with extras including a documentary for most episodes, and as single no-frills discs, for both Region 1 and Region 2 players. The 2005 series is also available on UMD for the PlayStation Portable.


Doctor Who has amassed a large number of fans[18] from all over the world, and appears to have won a new generation of followers of varying ages: the UK children's magazine show Blue Peter reported that their 'Design a Doctor Who Monster' competition received the largest number of entries for any such event since 1993.[19] The series is more a mainstream part of popular culture in its native UK, where it is regarded as a family show and is shown on the main public service broadcasting channel, BBC One. In an example of how British culture has taken the programme to heart, on the occasion when London's Metropolitan Police challenged the BBC's ownership of the police box design, they lost as the court ruled that people associate such boxes with time machines rather than the police.[20]

Celebrity fans include comedians Jon Culshaw, David Walliams,[21] Mitch Benn, Peter Kay (who appeared in Love & Monsters), Mark Gatiss (writer of several episodes, who also appears in the third series), Stewart Lee and Matt Lucas, cricketers Mike Gatting and Graham Gooch, singer and actress Toyah Willcox, Cedric Bixler-Zavala of the Mars Volta, singer Meat Loaf, Simpsons creator Matt Groening, graphic novelist and fantasy writer Neil Gaiman, horror novelist Brian Keene, and science-fiction writer and critic Harlan Ellison.

Adaptations and other appearances

Other media

The BBC, who own the rights in Doctor Who, have authorized many appearances in other media. these appaearances often contradict the Tv programmes much more seriously than the Tv programmes contradict each other.


Annuals have appeared roughly contemporaneously with the television series from the beginning, including new stories usually featuring the current or immediately past Doctor and companions. Nearly all the stories of the original production, and the 1996 movie, have been novelized. After the programme was suspended in 1989, a series of novels featuring the 7th Doctor appeared. This was terminated when the 1996 movie came out, with the last book being written so as to link in to the beginning of the movie. Afterwards, a similar series appeared, continuing the adventures of the 8th Doctor. This was terminated with the start of the new series, but in this case no attempt was made to link, and there are serious contradictions between this series and the backstory of the new TV series. Books and short stories continue to appear featuring past and present Doctors.

There has been some influence of print appearances on the Tv series. For example, the character sara Kingdom appeared in print before TV. More recently, some stories that had previously appeared in print have been screened in the new series.


Doctor Who has appeared on stage numerous times. In the early 1970s, Trevor Martin played the role in Doctor Who and the Daleks in the Seven Keys to Doomsday which also featured former companion actress Wendy Padbury (Pertwee's Doctor made a cameo appearance via film). In the early 1990s, Jon Pertwee and Colin Baker both played the Doctor at different times during the run of a musical play entitled Doctor Who - The Ultimate Adventure. For two performances while Pertwee was ill, David Banks (best known for playing various Cybermen) played the Doctor. Other original plays have been staged as amateur productions, with other actors playing the Doctor, while Terry Nation wrote The Curse of the Daleks, a stage play mounted in the late 1960s, but without the Doctor.

Film and video

The Doctor has also appeared in two cinema films: Dr. Who and the Daleks in 1965 and Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 AD in 1966. Both were essentially retellings of existing stories on the big screen, with a larger budget and numerous alterations to the series concept. In these films, Peter Cushing played a human scientist named Dr. Who, who travelled with his two granddaughters and other companions in a time machine he invented. Due to this and numerous other changes (not to mention the storylines that duplicated televised episodes), the movies are not regarded as part of the ongoing continuity of the series, although the Cushing version of the character would reappear in both comic strip and literary form, the latter attempting to reconcile the film continuity with that of the series.

All surviving TV episodes (see #Missing episodes) apart from the most recent have been issued on video. These have now been withdrawn, and the BBC have begun reissuing them on DVD.


A comic strip started soon after the TV programme, and lasted slightly longer. It featured the current TV Doctor, but often with different companions. A few webcast animations have been produced in recent years. the first of them, appearing before the new series, featured a different "Ninth Doctor".

Radio and audio

After the suspension of the TV series, two stories appeared on BBC radio featuring Jon Pertwee. These were billed in Radio Times as if they were part of the series, but are of course out of sequence and are not usually counted.

More recently a series featuring Paul McGann has been running on BBC Radio 7.

Audio recordings have been issued of all episodes whose film has been lost. there have also been many new stories on audio, particularly featuring the 8th Doctor.


A pilot episode for a potential spin-off series, K-9 and Company, was aired in 1981 with Elisabeth Sladen reprising her role as companion Sarah Jane Smith and John Leeson as the voice of K-9, but was not picked up as a regular series.


Following the success of the 2005 series produced by Russell T. Davies, the BBC commissioned Davies to produce a 13-part spin-off series titled Torchwood (an anagram of "Doctor Who"), set in modern-day Wales and investigating alien activities and crime. The series debuted on BBC Three on 22 October 2006. John Barrowman reprises his role of Jack Harkness from the 2005 series of Doctor Who. [22] Eve Myles, who was in the 2005 Doctor Who episode The Unquiet Dead, and Naoko Mori (Aliens of London) also star, the latter reprising her role as Toshiko Sato.[23] Torchwood returned for a second series in 2008, followed by a BBC Radio 4 play that year. A third, shorter series is to follow.

The Sarah Jane Adventures

The Sarah Jane Adventures, starring Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, has been developed by CBBC; a special aired on New Year's Day 2007, and a full series followed later in 2007.[24]

Other episodes

A new K-9 children's series, K-9 Adventures, is in development, but not by the BBC.[25]


Although Doctor Who was fondly regarded during its original 1963–1989 run, it received little critical recognition at the time. In 1975, Season 11 of the series won a Writers' Guild of Great Britain award for Best Writing in a Children's Serial. In 1996, BBC television held the "Auntie Awards" as the culmination of their "TV60" season, celebrating sixty years of BBC television broadcasting, where Doctor Who was voted as the "Best Popular Drama" the corporation had ever produced, ahead of such ratings heavyweights as EastEnders and Casualty. In 2000, Doctor Who was ranked third in a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes of the twentieth century, produced by the British Film Institute and voted on by industry professionals. In 2005, the series came first in a survey by SFX magazine of "The Greatest UK Science Fiction and Fantasy Television Series Ever". Also, in the 100 Greatest Kids' Shows (a Channel 4 countdown in 2001), the 1963–1989 run was placed at number eight.

The revived series has received particular recognition from critics and the public. In 2005, at the National Television Awards (voted on by members of the British public), Doctor Who won "Most Popular Drama", Christopher Eccleston won "Most Popular Actor" and Billie Piper won "Most Popular Actress". The series and Piper repeated their wins at the 2006 National Television Awards, and David Tennant won "Most Popular Actor".[26] A scene from The Doctor Dances won "Golden Moment" in the BBC's "2005 TV Moments" awards,[27] and Doctor Who swept all the categories in's online "Best of Drama" poll in both 2005[28] and 2006.[29] The programme also won the Broadcast Magazine Award for Best Drama.[30][31] Eccleston was awarded the TV Quick and TV Choice award for Best Actor in 2005; in the same awards in 2006 Tennant won Best Actor, Piper won Best Actress and Doctor Who won Best-Loved Drama.[32][33]

Doctor Who was nominated in the Best Drama Series category at the 2006 Royal Television Society awards,[34] but lost to BBC Three's medical drama Bodies.[35]

Doctor Who also received several nominations for the 2006 Broadcasting Press Guild Awards: the programme for Best Drama, Eccleston for Best Actor (David Tennant was also nominated for Secret Smile), Piper for Best Actress and Davies for Best Writer, but it did not win any of these categories.[36]

Several episodes of the 2005 series of Doctor Who were nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Dalek, Father's Day and the double episode The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances. At a ceremony at the Worldcon (64th World Science Fiction Convention) in Los Angeles on 27 August 2006, the Hugo was awarded to The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances.[37] Dalek and Father's Day came in second and third places respectively.[38]

The British Academy Television Awards (BAFTA) nominations, released on March 27 2006, revealed that Doctor Who had been shortlisted in the category of Best Drama Series. This is the highest-profile and most prestigious British television award for which the series has ever been nominated. Doctor Who was also nominated in several other categories in the BAFTA Craft Awards, including Best Writer (Russell T. Davies), Best Director (Joe Ahearne), and Break-through Talent (production designer Edward Thomas). However, it did not eventually win any of its categories at the Craft Awards.

On Sunday May 7 2006, the main BAFTA award winners were announced, and Doctor Who won both of the categories it was nominated for, the Best Drama Series and audience-voted Pioneer Award. Russell T. Davies also won the Dennis Potter Award for Outstanding Writing for Television.[39]

On April 22 2006, the programme won five categories (of fourteen nominations) at the BAFTA Cymru awards, given to programmes made in Wales. It won Best Drama Series, Drama Director (James Hawes), Costume, Make-up and Photography Direction. Russell T Davies also won the Sian Phillips Award for Outstanding Contribution to Network Television.[40]

Missing episodes

Between about 1967 and 1978, large amounts of older material stored in the BBC's video tape and film libraries were destroyed or wiped. This included many old episodes of Doctor Who, mostly stories featuring the first two Doctors - William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton. Archives are complete from the programme's move to colour television (starting from Jon Pertwee's time as the Doctor), although a few Pertwee episodes have required substantial restoration; a handful have only been recovered in black and white and several only survive as NTSC copies recovered from North America. In all, 108 of 253 episodes produced during the first six years of the programme are not held in the BBC's archives.

Some episodes have been returned to the BBC from the archives of other countries who bought copies for broadcast, or by private individuals who got them by various means. Early colour videotape recordings made off-air by fans have also been retrieved, as well as excerpts filmed off the television screen onto 8 mm cine film and clips that were shown on other programmes. Audio versions of all of the lost episodes exist from home viewers who made tape recordings of the show.

In addition to these, there are photographs made by photographer John Cura, who was hired by the BBC to document the filming of many of their most popular programmes during the 1950s and 1960s, including Doctor Who. These have been used in fan reconstructions of the serials. These amateur reconstructions have been tolerated by the BBC, provided they are not sold for profit and are distributed as low quality VHS copies.

One of the most sought-after lost episodes is Part Four of the last William Hartnell serial, The Tenth Planet (1966), which ends with the First Doctor transforming into the Second. The only portion of this in existence, barring a few poor quality silent 8 mm clips, is the few seconds of the regeneration scene, thanks to it having been shown on the children's magazine show Blue Peter. With the approval of the BBC, efforts are now under way to restore as many of the episodes as possible from the extant material. Starting in the early 1990s, the BBC began to release audio recordings of missing serials on cassette and compact disc, with linking narration provided by former series actors. "Official" reconstructions have also been released by the BBC on VHS, on MP3 CD-ROM and as a special feature on a DVD. The BBC, in conjunction with animation studio Cosgrove Hall has reconstructed the missing Episodes 1 and 4 of The Invasion (1968) in animated form, using remastered audio tracks and the comprehensive stage notes for the original filming, for the serial's DVD release in November 2006.

In April 2006, Blue Peter launched a challenge to find these missing episodes with the promise of a full scale Dalek model.[41]


Doctor Who has been satirised and spoofed on many occasions by comedians including Spike Milligan and Lenny Henry. Doctor Who fandom has also been lampooned on programmes such as Saturday Night Live and Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The Doctor in his fourth incarnation (the one most Americans associate the Doctor with) has been represented on several episodes of The Simpsons, starting with the episode "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming".

Jon Culshaw frequently impersonates the Fourth Doctor in the BBC Dead Ringers series. Culshaw's "Doctor" has telephoned four of the "real" Doctors — Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy — in character as the Fourth Doctor. In the 2005 Dead Ringers Christmas special, broadcast shortly before The Christmas Invasion, Culshaw impersonated both the Fourth and Tenth Doctors, while the Second, Seventh and Ninth Doctors were impersonated by Mark Perry, Kevin Connelly and Phil Cornwell, respectively.

Less a spoof and more of a pastiche is the character of Professor Gamble, a renegade from the Time Variance Authority, appeared in Marvel Comics' Power Man and Iron Fist #79 and Avengers Annual #22. His enemies include the rogue robots known as the Incinerators. Professor Gamble was created by Jo Duffy, Kerry Gammill, and Ricardo Villamonte.[42]

There have also been many references to Doctor Who in popular culture and other science fiction franchises, including Star Trek: The Next Generation ("The Neutral Zone", among others).


  1. Dr Who 'longest-running sci-fi', BBC News, 2006-09-28. Retrieved on 2006-09-30.
  2. (2006-09-14) "The end of Olde Englande: A lament for Blighty". The Economist. Retrieved on 2006-09-18.
  3. ICONS. A Portrait of England. Retrieved on 2007-11-10.
  4. Some development money for the new series is contributed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which is credited as a co-producer, although they do not have creative input into the show.
  5. Born in 1956, Heggessey was amongst the first generation of BBC executives and Doctor Who contributors who had grown up with the original programme. It has been suggested that this childhood love of the series, emerging as these people reached the senior ranks of the BBC, was a factor in the show's resurrection in 2003.
  6. Daily Telegraph: 'Doctor Who ready to come out of the Tardis for Saturday TV series' 26th September 2003.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Howard, Philip. "Violence is not really Dr Who's cup of tea", The Times, 1972-01-29, pp. 2. Retrieved on 2007-01-17.
  8. "The Times Diary - Points of view", The Times, 1972-01-27, pp. 16. Retrieved on 2007-01-17.
  9. Case details for Trade Mark 2104259. UK Patent Office. Retrieved on 2007-01-17.
  10. Trade mark decision. UK Patent Office website. Retrieved on 2007-01-17.
  11. Knight, Mike. IN THE MATTER OF Application No. 2104259 by The British Broadcasting Corporation to register a series of three marks in Classes 9, 16, 25 and 41 AND IN THE MATTER OF Opposition thereto under No. 48452 by The Metropolitan Police Authority (PDF). UK Patent Office. Retrieved on 2007-01-17.
  12. BBC wins police Tardis case. BBC News (2002-10-23). Retrieved on 2007-01-17.
  13. A new, enforced guideline for the new series so far is that all stories must involve humanity in some way.
  14. BBC: Who soundtrack soon. 11th November 2006.
  15. Spilsbury, T.: 'Public Image'. Doctor Who Magazine #373:8, 13th September 2006.
  16. As of October 2006, the new series has been, or is currently, broadcast weekly in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain and Latin America (People+Arts), South Korea, the USA, Greece, the Middle East, North Africa, and the Levant territories. The series has also been sold to, but not yet shown in, Germany (Pro 7), Sweden and Romania.
  17. BBC: Turning Japanese. 30th June 2006. Although Fuu is an accurate romanisation of the Japanese name, the Japanese version of the programme also employs the English name alongside the Japanese equivalent. Additionally, many speakers will pronounce Fuu as Huu. See also NHK's Doctor Who website.
  18. The term 'Whovian' (similar to Trekkie for Star Trek) is often used by the press to refer to Doctor Who fans, although the term is not often used by fans themselves.
  19. BBC: Monster Success. 18th August 2005. The winning entry appeared in 2006's 'Love & Monsters' as the fearsome 'Abzorbaloff'. Its creator, 13-year-old William Grantham, reportedly gave the seal of approval to the BBC's interpretation, though remarked that "it was supposed to be the size of a double-decker bus".
  20. BBC: BBC Wins Police Tardis Case. 23rd October 2002.
  21. Walliams appeared as the programme's creator, Sydney Newman, in a 1999 sketch with Mark Gatiss.
  22. BBC: Doctor Who spin-off made in Wales. 17th October 2005.
  23. BBC: Team Torchwood. 24th February 2006.
  24. BBC (2006-09-14). Russell T Davies creates new series for CBBC, starring Doctor Who's Sarah Jane Smith. Press release. Retrieved on 2006-09-14.
  25. BBC: Doctor Who dog K9 gets spin-off. 26th July 2006.
  26. Dr Who scores TV awards hat-trick, BBC News,, 2006-10-31. Retrieved on 2006-10-31.
  27. 2005 TV Moments. (December 2005). Retrieved on 2006-04-24.
  28. Drama Best of 2005. (December 2005). Retrieved on 2006-04-24.
  29. Drama Best of 2006. (January 2007). Retrieved on 2007-01-16.
  30. Doctor Who wins Broadcast Award. (2006-01-26). Retrieved on 2006-04-24.
  31. 2006 Winners. Broadcast Magazine (2006). Retrieved on 2006-04-24.
  32. Street is best soap at TV awards, BBC News, 2005-09-06. Retrieved on 2006-09-05.
  33. Doctor Who lands three TV awards, BBC News, 2006-09-05. Retrieved on 2006-09-05.
  34. RTS Programme Awards - Nominations, The Guardian, 2006-02-21. Retrieved on 2006-04-24.
  35. Bleak House wins TV drama award, BBC News, 2006-03-15. Retrieved on 2006-04-24.
  36. Broadcasting Press Guild Awards 2006. Broadcasting Press Guild (March 31 2006). Retrieved on 2006-04-24.
  37. Hugo and Campbell Awards Winners. Locus Online (2006-08-26). Retrieved on 2006-08-27.
  38. Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. 2006 Hugo Award & Campbell Award Winners (2006-08-26). Retrieved on 2006-08-28.
  39. Doctor Who is Bafta award winner, BBC News, 2006-05-08. Retrieved on 2006-05-08.
  40. Doctor leads Bafta Cymru winners, BBC News, 2006-04-22. Retrieved on 2006-04-24.
  41. Blue Peter — Missing Doctor Who tapes. (April 2006). Retrieved on 2006-04-24.
  42. Professor Justin Alphone Gamble. The Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe (2004-09-26). Retrieved on 2006-06-22.


See also