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Doctor Who

This article is about the television series. For other uses, see Doctor Who (disambiguation).

Doctor Who
Doctor Who title card since 2014
Genre Science fiction
Created by
Written by Various
Directed by Various
Starring Various Doctors
(as of 2014, Peter Capaldi)
Various companions
(as of 2014, Jenna Coleman)
Theme music composer
Opening theme Doctor Who theme music
Composer(s) Various composers
(since 2005, Murray Gold)
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of seasons 26 (1963–89)
+ 1 TV film (1996)
No. of series 8 (2005–present)
No. of episodes 813 (97 missing) (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Various
(as of 2014, Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin[1])
Camera setup Single/multiple-camera hybrid
Running time Regular episodes:
  • 25 minutes (1963–84, 1986–89)
  • 45 minutes (1985, 2005–present)
Various: 50–90 minutes
Original channel
Picture format
Audio format
Original release Classic series:
23 November 1963 (1963-11-23) –
6 December 1989
Television film:
12 May 1996
Revived series:
26 March 2005 – present
Related shows
External links
Doctor Who at the BBC

Doctor Who is a British science-fiction television programme produced by the BBC from 1963 to the present day. The programme depicts the adventures of the Doctor, a Time Lord—a time-travelling humanoid alien. He explores the universe in his TARDIS, a sentient time-travelling space ship. Its exterior appears as a blue British police box, which was a common sight in Britain in 1963 when the series first aired. Along with a succession of companions, the Doctor combats a variety of foes while working to save civilisations and help people in need.

The show is a significant part of British popular culture,[2][3] and elsewhere it has become a cult television favourite. The show has influenced generations of British television professionals, many of whom grew up watching the series.[4] The programme originally ran from 1963 to 1989. After an unsuccessful attempt to revive regular production in 1996 with a backdoor pilot in the form of a television film, the programme was relaunched in 2005 by Russell T Davies who was showrunner and head writer for the first five years of its revival, produced in-house by BBC Wales in Cardiff. The first series of the 21st century, featuring Christopher Eccleston in the title role, was produced by the BBC. Series two and three had some development money contributed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which was credited as a co-producer.[5] Doctor Who also spawned spin-offs in multiple media, including Torchwood (2006–11) and The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007–11), both created by Russell T Davies; K-9 (2009–10); and a single pilot episode of K-9 and Company (1981). There also have been many spoofs and cultural references of the character in other media.

Twelve actors have headlined the series as the Doctor. The transition from one actor to another, and the differing approach to the role that they bring, is written into the plot of the show as regeneration into a new incarnation, a life process of Time Lords through which the character of the Doctor takes on a new body and, to some extent, new personality, which occurs after sustaining injury which would be fatal to most other species. While each actor's portrayal differs, they are all intended to be aspects of the same character, and form part of the same storyline. The time-travelling nature of the plot means that on occasion, story arcs have involved different Doctors meeting each other. Peter Capaldi took on the role after Matt Smith's exit in the 2013 Christmas special, "The Time of the Doctor".[6]


Doctor Who follows the adventures of the primary character, a rogue Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who simply goes by the name "The Doctor". He fled from Gallifrey in a stolen Mark I Type 40 TARDIS time machine - "Time and Relative Dimension in Space" - which allows him to travel across time and space. Due to a malfunction of the TARDIS' "chameleon circuit", which normally allows the TARDIS to take on the appearance of local objects to disguise it from others, the Doctor's TARDIS remains fixed as a blue British Police box. The Doctor rarely travels alone, and often brings one or more companions to share these adventures with, typically humans as he has found a fascination with the planet Earth. He often finds events that pique his curiosity while trying to prevent evil forces from harming innocent people or changing history, using only his ingenuity and minimal resources, such as his versatile sonic screwdriver. As a Time Lord, the Doctor has the ability to regenerate when his body is mortally damaged, taking on a new appearance and personality. The Doctor has gained numerous reoccurring enemies during his travels, including the Daleks, the Cybermen, and another renegade Time Lord, the Master.


Main article: History of Doctor Who

Doctor Who first appeared on BBC1 television at 17:16:20 GMT, eighty seconds after the scheduled programme time, 5:15 pm, on Saturday, 23 November 1963.[7][8] It was to be a regular weekly programme, each episode 25 minutes of transmission length. Discussions and plans for the programme had been in progress for a year. The head of drama, Canadian Sydney Newman, was mainly responsible for developing the programme, with the first format document for the series being written by Newman along with the head of the script department (later head of serials) Donald Wilson and staff writer C. E. Webber. Writer Anthony Coburn, story editor David Whitaker and initial producer Verity Lambert also heavily contributed to the development of the series.[9][note 1] The programme was originally intended to appeal to a family audience,[10] as an educational programme using time travel as a means to explore scientific ideas and famous moments in history. On 31 July 1963 Whitaker commissioned Terry Nation to write a story under the title The Mutants. As originally written, the Daleks and Thals were the victims of an alien neutron bomb attack but Nation later dropped the aliens and made the Daleks the aggressors. When the script was presented to Newman and Wilson it was immediately rejected as the programme was not permitted to contain any "bug-eyed monsters". The first serial had been completed and the BBC believed it was crucial that the next one be a success, however, The Mutants was the only script ready to go so the show had little choice but to use it. According to producer Verity Lambert; "We didn't have a lot of choice — we only had the Dalek serial to go ... We had a bit of a crisis of confidence because Donald [Wilson] was so adamant that we shouldn't make it. Had we had anything else ready we would have made that." Nation's script became the second Doctor Who serial – The Daleks (a.k.a. The Mutants). The serial introduced the eponymous aliens that would become the series' most popular monsters, and was responsible for the BBC's first merchandising boom.[11]

The BBC drama department's serials division produced the programme for 26 seasons, broadcast on BBC 1. Falling viewing numbers, 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 1.[12] Although (as series co-star Sophie Aldred reported in the documentary Doctor Who: More Than 30 Years in the TARDIS) it was effectively, if not formally, cancelled with the decision not to commission a planned 27th series of the show for transmission in 1990, the BBC repeatedly affirmed that the series would return.[13]

While in-house production had ceased, the BBC hoped to find an independent production company to relaunch the show. Philip Segal, a British expatriate who worked for Columbia Pictures' television arm in the United States, had approached the BBC about such a venture as early as July 1989, while the 26th series was still in production.[13] Segal's negotiations eventually led to a Doctor Who television film, 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.[13]

Licensed media such as novels and audio plays provided new stories, but as a television programme Doctor Who remained dormant until 2003. In September of that year,[14] BBC Television announced the in-house production of a new series after several years of attempts by BBC Worldwide to find backing for a feature film version. The executive producers of the new incarnation of the series were writer Russell T Davies and BBC Cymru Wales head of drama Julie Gardner.

Doctor Who finally returned with the episode "Rose" on BBC One on 26 March 2005.[15] There have since been eight further series in 2006–2008 and 2010–2014, and Christmas Day specials every year since 2005. No full series was filmed in 2009,[16] although four additional specials starring Tennant were made. In 2010, Steven Moffat replaced Davies as head writer and executive producer.[17]

The 2005 version of Doctor Who is a direct plot continuation of the original 1963–1989 series,[note 2] as is the 1996 telefilm. This differs from other series relaunches that have either been reimaginings or reboots (for example, Battlestar Galactica and Bionic Woman) or series taking place in the same universe as the original but in a different period and with different characters (for example, Star Trek: The Next Generation and spin-offs).[18]

The programme has been sold to many other countries worldwide (see Viewership).

Public consciousness

It has been suggested that the transmission of the first episode was delayed by ten minutes due to extended news coverage of the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy the previous day; whereas in fact, it went out after a delay of eighty seconds.[19] Because it was believed that the coverage of the events of the assassination as well as a series of power blackouts across the country may have caused too many viewers to miss this introduction to a new series, the BBC broadcast it again on 30 November 1963, just before the broadcast of episode two.[20][21]

The programme soon became a national institution in the United Kingdom, with a large following among the general viewing audience.[22][23] Many renowned actors asked for, or were offered and accepted, guest-starring roles in various stories.[24][25][26][27]

With popularity came controversy over the show's suitability for children. Morality campaigner Mary Whitehouse repeatedly complained to the BBC in the 1970s over what she saw as the show's frightening and gory content.[28] 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.[29]

The phrase "Hiding behind (or 'watching from behind') the sofa" became coined and entered British pop culture, signifying in humour the stereotypical early-series behaviour of children who wanted to avoid seeing frightening parts of a television programme while remaining in the room to watch the remainder of it.[30] The phrase retains this association with Doctor Who, to the point that in 1991 the Museum of the Moving Image in London named their exhibition celebrating the programme "Behind the Sofa". The electronic theme music too was perceived as eerie, novel, and frightening, at the time. A 2012 article placed this childhood juxtaposition of fear and thrill "at the center of many people's relationship with the show",[31] and a 2011 online vote at Digital Spy deemed the series the "scariest TV show of all time".[32]

During Jon Pertwee's second series as the Doctor, in the serial Terror of the Autons (1971), images of murderous plastic dolls, daffodils killing unsuspecting victims, and blank-featured policemen marked the apex of the show's ability to frighten children.[33] Other notable moments in that decade include a disembodied brain falling to the floor in The Brain of Morbius[34] and the Doctor apparently being drowned by Chancellor Goth in The Deadly Assassin (both 1976).[35]

The fibreglass TARDIS prop used between 1980 and 1989.

A BBC audience research survey conducted in 1972 found that, by their own definition of violence ("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 the drama programmes the corporation produced at the time.[36] The same report found that 3% of the surveyed audience regarded the show as "very unsuitable" for family viewing.[37] 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."[36]

The image of the TARDIS has become firmly linked to the show in the public's consciousness; BBC scriptwriter Anthony Coburn, who lived in the resort of Herne Bay, Kent, was one of the people who conceived the idea of a police box as a time machine.[38] In 1996, the BBC applied for a trade mark to use the TARDIS' blue police box design in merchandising associated with Doctor Who.[39] In 1998, the Metropolitan Police Authority filed an objection to the trade mark claim; but in 2002, the Patent Office ruled in favour of the BBC.[40]

The programme's broad appeal attracts audiences of children and families as well as science fiction fans.[41]

The 21st century revival of the programme has become the centrepiece of BBC One's Saturday schedule, and has, "defined the channel".[42] Since its return, Doctor Who has consistently received high ratings, both in number of viewers and as measured by the Appreciation Index.[43] In 2007, Caitlin Moran, television reviewer for The Times, wrote that Doctor Who is, "quintessential to being British".[3] Director Steven Spielberg has commented that, "the world would be a poorer place without Doctor Who".[44]

On 4 August 2013, a live programme titled Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor was broadcast on BBC One, during which the actor playing the Twelfth Doctor was revealed.[45] The show was simultaneously broadcast in the US and Australia.[46]


Further information: List of Doctor Who serials

Doctor Who originally ran for 26 seasons on BBC One, from 23 November 1963 until 6 December 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. Notable exceptions were: The Daleks' Master Plan, which aired in 12 episodes (plus an earlier one-episode teaser,[47] "Mission to the Unknown", featuring none of the regular cast[48]); almost an entire season of seven-episode serials (season 7); the 10-episode serial The War Games;[49] and The Trial of a Time Lord, which ran for 14 episodes (albeit divided into three production codes and four narrative segments) during season 23.[50] Occasionally serials were loosely connected by a storyline, such as season 8 being devoted to the Doctor battling a rogue Time Lord called The Master,[51][52] season 16's quest for The Key to Time,[53] season 18's journey through E-Space and the theme of entropy,[54] and season 20's Black Guardian Trilogy.[55]

The programme was intended to be educational and for family viewing on the early Saturday evening schedule.[56] Initially, it alternated stories set in the past, which were intended to teach younger audience members about history, with stories set either in the future or in outer space to teach them about science.[56] This was also reflected in the Doctor's original companions, one of whom was a science teacher and another a history teacher.[56]

However, science fiction stories came to dominate the programme and the "historicals", which were not popular with the production team,[56] 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 set in 1920s England.[57]

The early stories were 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.[58] Following The Gunfighters (1966), however, each serial was given its own title, with the individual parts simply being assigned episode numbers.[58]

Of the programme's many writers, Robert Holmes was the most prolific,[59] while Douglas Adams became the most well-known outside Doctor Who itself, due to the popularity of his Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.[60][61]

The serial format changed for the 2005 revival, with each series usually consisting of 13 45-minute, self-contained episodes (60 minutes with adverts, on overseas commercial channels), and an extended episode broadcast on Christmas Day. Each series includes several standalone and multi-part stories, linked with a loose story arc that resolves in the series finale. As in the early "classic" era, each episode, whether standalone or part of a larger story, has its own title. Occasionally, regular-series episodes will exceed the 45-minute run time; notably, the episodes "Journey's End" from 2008 and "The Eleventh Hour" from 2010 exceeded an hour in length.

813 Doctor Who instalments have been televised since 1963, ranging between 25-minute episodes (the most common format), 45-minute episodes (for Resurrection of the Daleks in the 1984 series, a single season in 1985, and the revival), two feature-length productions (1983's The Five Doctors and the 1996 television film), eight Christmas specials (most of 60 minutes' duration, one of 72 minutes), and four additional specials ranging from 60 to 75 minutes in 2009, 2010 and 2013. Four mini-episodes, running about eight minutes each, were also produced for the 1993, 2005 and 2007 Children in Need charity appeals, while another mini-episode was produced in 2008 for a Doctor Who-themed edition of The Proms. The 1993 2-part story, entitled Dimensions in Time, was made in collaboration with the cast of the BBC soap-opera EastEnders and was filmed partly on the EastEnders set. A two-part mini-episode was also produced for the 2011 edition of Comic Relief. Starting with the 2009 special "Planet of the Dead", the series was filmed in 1080i for HDTV,[62] and broadcast simultaneously on BBC One and BBC HD.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the show, a special 3D episode, "The Day of the Doctor", was broadcast in 2013.[63] In March 2013, it was announced that Tennant and Piper would be returning,[64] and that the episode would have a limited cinematic release worldwide.[65]

In April 2015, Steven Moffat confirmed that Doctor Who would run for at least another five years, extending the show until 2020.[66]

Missing episodes

Between about 1964 and 1973, large amounts of older material stored in the BBC's various video tape and film libraries were either destroyed,[note 3] wiped, or suffered from poor storage which led to severe deterioration from broadcast quality. This included many old episodes of Doctor Who, mostly stories featuring the first two Doctors: William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton. In all, 97 of 253 episodes produced during the first six years of the programme are not held in the BBC's archives (most notably seasons 3, 4, & 5, from which 79 episodes are missing). In 1972, almost all episodes then made were known to exist at the BBC,[67] while by 1978 the practice of wiping tapes and destroying "spare" film copies had been brought to a stop.[68]

No 1960s episodes exist on their original videotapes (all surviving prints being film transfers), though some were transferred to film for editing before transmission, and exist in their broadcast form.[69]

Some episodes have been returned to the BBC from the archives of other countries who bought prints for broadcast, or by private individuals who acquired them by various means. Early colour videotape recordings made off-air by fans have also been retrieved, as well as excerpts filmed from 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. Short clips from every story with the exception of Marco Polo, "Mission to the Unknown" and The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve also exist.

In addition to these, there are off-screen photographs made by photographer John Cura, who was hired by various production personnel to document many of their 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.[70]

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, as it was shown on the children's magazine show Blue Peter.[71] With the approval of the BBC, efforts are now under way to restore as many of the episodes as possible from the extant material.

"Official" reconstructions have also been released by the BBC on VHS, on MP3 CD-ROM, and as special features on DVD. The BBC, in conjunction with animation studio Cosgrove Hall, reconstructed the missing episodes 1 and 4 of The Invasion (1968), using remastered audio tracks and the comprehensive stage notes for the original filming, for the serial's DVD release in November 2006. The missing episodes of The Reign of Terror were animated by animation company Theta-Sigma, in collaboration with Big Finish, and became available for purchase in May 2013 through[72] Subsequent animations made in 2013 include The Tenth Planet, The Ice Warriors and The Moonbase.

In April 2006, Blue Peter launched a challenge to find missing Doctor Who episodes with the promise of a full-scale Dalek model as a reward.[73]

In December 2011, it was announced that part 3 of Galaxy 4 and part 2 of The Underwater Menace had been returned to the BBC by a fan who had purchased them in the mid-1980s without realising that the BBC did not hold copies of them.[74]

On 10 October 2013, the BBC announced that films of eleven episodes, including nine missing episodes, had been found in a Nigerian television relay station in Jos.[75] Six of the eleven films discovered were the six-part serial The Enemy of the World, from which all but the third episode had been missing.[76] The remaining films were from another six-part serial, The Web of Fear, and included the previously missing episodes 2, 4, 5, and 6. Episode 3 of The Web of Fear is still missing.[77]


The Doctor

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 time machine, the "TARDIS" (an acronym for time and relative dimension(s) in space), which notably appears much larger on the inside than on the outside (a quality referred to as "dimensional transcendentality").[note 4][78]

The initially irascible and slightly sinister Doctor quickly mellowed 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.

Changes of appearance

Producers introduced the concept of regeneration to permit the recasting of the main character. This was first prompted by original star William Hartnell's poor health. The actual term "regeneration" was not initially conceived of until the Doctor's third on-screen regeneration however; Hartnell's Doctor had merely described undergoing a "renewal," and the Second Doctor underwent a "change of appearance".[citation needed] The device has allowed for the recasting of the actor various times in the show's history, as well as the depiction of alternative Doctors either from the Doctor's relative past or future.[citation needed]

The serials The Deadly Assassin and Mawdryn Undead and the 1996 TV film would later establish that a Time Lord can only regenerate 12 times, for a total of 13 incarnations. This line became stuck in the public consciousness despite not often being repeated, and was recognised by producers of the show as a plot obstacle for when the show finally had to regenerate the Doctor a thirteenth time.[79][80] The episode "The Time of the Doctor" depicted the Doctor acquiring a new cycle of regenerations, starting from the Twelfth Doctor, due to the Eleventh Doctor being the product of the Doctor's twelfth regeneration from his original set.[citation needed]

Series lead Incarnation Tenure
William Hartnell First Doctor 1963–66[note 5]
Patrick Troughton Second Doctor 1966–69[note 5]
Jon Pertwee Third Doctor 1970–74[note 5]
Tom Baker Fourth Doctor 1974–81[note 5]
Peter Davison Fifth Doctor 1982–84[note 5]
Colin Baker Sixth Doctor 1984–86
Sylvester McCoy Seventh Doctor 1987–89[81][82][83]
Paul McGann Eighth Doctor 1996[note 5]
Christopher Eccleston Ninth Doctor 2005
David Tennant Tenth Doctor 2005–10[note 5]
Matt Smith Eleventh Doctor 2010–13
Peter Capaldi Twelfth Doctor 2014–

In addition to those actors who have headlined the series, others have portrayed versions of the Doctor in guest roles. Notably, in 2013, John Hurt guest-starred as a hitherto unknown incarnation of the Doctor known as the War Doctor in the run-up to the show's 50th anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor".[84] He is shown in mini-episode "The Night of the Doctor" to have been retroactively inserted into the show's fictional chronology between McGann and Eccleston's Doctors, although his introduction was written so as not to disturb the established numerical naming of the Doctors.[85] Another example is from the 1986 serial The Trial of a Time Lord, where Michael Jayston portrayed the Valeyard, who is described as an amalgamation of the darker sides of the Doctor's nature, somewhere between his twelfth and final incarnation.

On rare occasions, other actors have stood in for the lead. In The Five Doctors, Richard Hurndall played the First Doctor due to William Hartnell's death in 1975. In Time and the Rani, Sylvester McCoy briefly played the Sixth Doctor during the regeneration sequence, carrying on as the Seventh. For more information, see the list of actors who have played the Doctor. In other media, the Doctor has been played by various other actors, including Peter Cushing in two films.

The casting of a new Doctor has often inspired debate and speculation: in particular, the desirability or possibility of a new Doctor being played by a woman.[86][87] In October 2010, the Sunday Telegraph revealed that the series' co-creator, Sydney Newman, had urged the BBC to recast the role of the Doctor as a female "Time Lady" during the ratings crisis of the late 1980s.[88]

Meetings of different incarnations

There have been instances of actors returning at later dates to reprise the role of their specific Doctor. In 1973's The Three Doctors, William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton returned alongside Jon Pertwee. For 1983's The Five Doctors, Troughton and Pertwee returned to star with Peter Davison, and Tom Baker appeared in previously unseen footage from the uncompleted Shada episode. For this episode, Richard Hurndall replaced William Hartnell. Patrick Troughton again returned in 1985's The Two Doctors with Colin Baker. In 2007, Peter Davison returned in the Children in Need short "Time Crash" alongside David Tennant, and most recently in 2013's 50th anniversary special episode, "The Day of the Doctor", David Tennant's Tenth Doctor appeared alongside Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor and John Hurt as the War Doctor, as well as brief footage from all of the previous actors.[89] In addition, the Doctor has occasionally encountered himself in the form of his own incarnation, from the near future or past. The First Doctor encounters himself in the story The Space Museum (albeit frozen and as an exhibit), the Third Doctor encounters and interacts with himself in the story Day of the Daleks, the Fourth Doctor encounters and interacts with the future incarnation of himself (the 'Watcher') in the story Logopolis, the Ninth Doctor observes a former version of his current incarnation in "Father's Day", and the Eleventh Doctor briefly comes face to face with himself in "The Big Bang". In "The Almost People" the Doctor comes face-to-face with himself although it is found out that this incarnation is in fact just a flesh replica. In "The Name of the Doctor", the Eleventh Doctor meets an unknown incarnation of himself, whom he refers to as "his secret" and who is subsequently revealed to be the War Doctor.[84]

Additionally, multiple Doctors have returned in new adventures together in audio dramas based on the series. Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy appeared together in the 1999 audio adventure The Sirens of Time. To celebrate the 40th anniversary in 2003, an audio drama titled Zagreus featuring Paul McGann, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Peter Davison was released with additional archive recordings of Jon Pertwee.[90] Again in 2003, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy appeared together in the audio adventure Project: Lazarus.[91] In 2010, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann came together again to star in the audio drama The Four Doctors.

Revelations about the Doctor

Throughout the programme's long history, there have been revelations about the Doctor that have raised additional questions. In The Brain of Morbius (1976), it was hinted that the First Doctor may not have been the first incarnation (although the other faces depicted may have been incarnations of the Time Lord Morbius). In subsequent stories the First Doctor was depicted as the earliest incarnation of the Doctor. In Mawdryn Undead (1983), the Fifth Doctor explicitly confirmed that he was then currently in his fifth incarnation. Later that same year, during 1983's 20th Anniversary special The Five Doctors, the First Doctor enquires as to the Fifth Doctor's regeneration; when the Fifth Doctor confirms "Fourth", the First Doctor excitedly replies "Goodness me. So there are five of me now." In 2010, the Eleventh Doctor similarly calls himself "the Eleventh" in "The Lodger". In the 2013 episode "The Time of the Doctor," the Eleventh Doctor clarified he was the product of the twelfth regeneration, due to a previous incarnation which he chose not to count and one other aborted regeneration. The name Eleventh is still used for this incarnation; the same episode depicts the prophesied "Fall of the Eleventh" which had been trailed throughout the series.

During the Seventh Doctor's era, it was hinted that the Doctor was more than just an ordinary Time Lord. In the 1996 television film, the Eighth Doctor describes himself as being "half human".[92] The BBC's FAQ for the programme notes that "purists tend to disregard this",[93] instead focusing on his Gallifreyan heritage.

The programme's first serial, An Unearthly Child, shows that the Doctor has a granddaughter, Susan Foreman. In the 1967 serial, Tomb of the Cybermen, when Victoria Waterfield doubts the Doctor can remember his family because of, "being so ancient", the Doctor says that he can when he really wants to—"The rest of the time they sleep in my mind". The 2005 series reveals that the Ninth Doctor thought he was the last surviving Time Lord, and that his home planet had been destroyed; in "The Empty Child" (2005), Dr. Constantine states that, "Before the war even began, I was a father and a grandfather. Now I am neither." The Doctor remarks in response, "Yeah, I know the feeling." In "Smith and Jones" (2007), when asked if he had a brother, he replied, "No, not any more." In both "Fear Her" (2006) and "The Doctor's Daughter" (2008), he states that he had, in the past, been a father.

In "The Wedding of River Song" (2011), it is implied that the Doctor's true name is a secret that must never be revealed; this is explored further in "The Name of the Doctor" (2013), when River Song speaking his name allows the Great Intelligence to enter his tomb, and in "The Time of the Doctor" (2013) where speaking his true name becomes the signal by which the Time Lords would know they can safely return to the universe, an event opposed by many species.


The companion figure - generally a human - has been a constant feature in Doctor Who since the programme's inception in 1963. One of the roles of the companion is to remind the Doctor of his "moral duty".[94] The Doctor's first companions seen on screen were his granddaughter Susan Foreman (Carole Ann Ford) and her teachers Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill) and Ian Chesterton (William Russell). These characters were intended to act as audience surrogates, through which the audience would discover information about the Doctor who was to act as a mysterious father figure.[94] The only story from the original series in which the Doctor travels alone is The Deadly Assassin. Notable companions from the earlier series included Romana (Mary Tamm and Lalla Ward), a Time Lady; Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen); and Jo Grant (Katy Manning). Dramatically, these characters provide a figure with whom the audience can identify, and serve to further the story by requesting exposition from the Doctor and manufacturing peril for the Doctor to resolve. 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 died during the course of the series. Companions are usually human, or humanoid aliens.

Since the 2005 revival, The Doctor generally travels with a primary female companion, who occupies a larger narrative role. Steven Moffat described the companion as the main character of the show, as the story begins anew with each companion and she undergoes more change than the Doctor.[95][96] The primary companions of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors were Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman), and Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) with Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke), Jackie Tyler (Camille Coduri) and Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) recurring as secondary companion figures.[97] The Eleventh Doctor became the first to travel with a married couple (Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill)) whilst out-of-sync meetings with River Song (Alex Kingston) and Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) provided ongoing story arcs.

Some companions have gone on to re-appear either in the main series, or in spin-offs. Sarah Jane Smith became the central character in The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007-2011) following a return to Doctor Who in 2006. Guest stars in the series included former companions Jo Grant, K-9, and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney). The character of Jack Harkness also served to launch a spin-off, Torchwood, (2006-2011) in which Martha Jones also appeared.


When Sydney Newman commissioned the series, he specifically did not want to perpetuate the cliché of the "bug-eyed monster" of science fiction.[98] However, monsters were popular with audiences and so became a staple of Doctor Who almost from the beginning.

With the show's 2005 revival, executive producer Russell T Davies stated[99] his intention to reintroduce classic icons of Doctor Who one step at a time: the Autons with the Nestene Consciousness and Daleks in series 1, Cybermen in series 2, the Macra and the Master in series 3, the Sontarans and Davros in series 4, and the Time Lords (Rassilon) in the 2009–10 Specials. Davies' successor, Steven Moffat, has continued the trend by reviving the Silurians in series 5, Cybermats in series 6, the Great Intelligence and the Ice Warriors in Series 7, and Zygons in the 50th Anniversary Special.[100] Since its 2005 return, the series has also introduced new recurring aliens: Slitheen (Raxacoricofallapatorian), Ood, Judoon, Weeping Angels and the Silence.

Besides infrequent appearances by the Ice Warriors, Ogrons, the Rani, and Black Guardian, three adversaries have become particularly iconic: the Daleks, the Cybermen, and the Master.


Main article: Dalek

The Dalek race, which first appeared in the show's second serial in 1963,[101] are Doctor Who‍ '​s oldest villains. The Daleks were Kaleds from the planet Skaro, mutated by the scientist Davros and housed in tank-like mechanical armour shells for mobility. The actual creatures resemble octopuses with large, pronounced brains. Their armour shells contain a single eye-stalk to allow them vision, a sink-plunger-like device that serves the purpose of a hand, and a directed-energy weapon. Their main weakness is their eyestalk; most attacks on them, including those from guns and baseball bats, will blind them, making them go mad. Their chief role in the plot of the series, as they frequently remark in their instantly recognisable metallic voices, is to "exterminate" all non-Dalek beings, even attacking the Time Lords in the Time War, which was not shown until the 50th Anniversary celebrating the show, where some snippets of the Time War are shown. The Daleks' most recent appearance was in the 2014 episode "Into the Dalek". They continue to be a recurring 'monster' within the Doctor Who franchise. Davros himself has also been a recurring figure since his debut in Genesis of the Daleks, although played by several different actors.

The Daleks were created by writer Terry Nation (who intended them to be an allegory of the Nazis)[102] and BBC designer Raymond Cusick.[103] The Daleks' début in the programme's second serial, The Daleks (1963–64), made both the Daleks and Doctor Who very popular. A Dalek appeared on a postage stamp celebrating British popular culture in 1999, photographed by Lord Snowdon. In the new series, Daleks come in a range of colours; the colour of a Dalek denotes its role within the species.[citation needed]

In the 2012 episode "Asylum of the Daleks", every generation of the Dalek species made an appearance.[104]


Main article: Cyberman

Cybermen were originally a wholly organic species of humanoids originating on Earth's twin planet Mondas that began to implant more and more artificial parts into their bodies. This led to the race becoming coldly logical and calculating cyborgs, with emotions usually only shown when naked aggression was called for. With the demise of Mondas, they acquired Telos as their new home planet. They continue to be a recurring 'monster' within the Doctor Who franchise.

The 2006 series introduced a totally new variation of Cybermen. These Cybus Cybermen were created in a parallel universe by the mad inventor John Lumic; he was attempting to preserve the life of a human by transplanting their brains into powerful metal bodies, sending them orders using a mobile phone network and inhibiting their emotions with an electronic chip.

The Master

Main article: Master (Doctor Who)

The Master is the Doctor's archenemy, a renegade Time Lord who desires to rule the universe. Conceived as "Professor Moriarty to the Doctor's Sherlock Holmes",[105] the character first appeared in 1971. As with the Doctor, the role has been portrayed by several actors, since the Master is a Time Lord as well and able to regenerate; the first of these actors was Roger Delgado, who continued in the role until his death in 1973. The Master was briefly played by Peter Pratt and Geoffrey Beevers until Anthony Ainley took over and continued to play the character until Doctor Who's hiatus in 1989. The Master returned in the 1996 television movie of Doctor Who, and was played by American actor Eric Roberts.

Following the series revival in 2005, Derek Jacobi provided the character's re-introduction in the 2007 episode "Utopia". During that story the role was then assumed by John Simm who returned to the role multiple times through the Tenth Doctor's tenure.[106] As of the 2014 episode "Dark Water," it was revealed that the Master had become a female incarnation or "Time Lady," going by the name of "Missy" (short for Mistress, the feminine equivalent of "Master"). This incarnation is played by Michelle Gomez.


Theme music

An excerpt from the original (1963) classic theme music to Doctor Who

Problems playing this file? See media help.

The Doctor Who theme music was one of the first electronic music signature tunes for television, and after five decades remains one of the most easily recognised. It has been often called both memorable and frightening, priming the viewer for what was to follow. During the 1970s, the Radio Times, the BBC's own 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.[citation needed]

The original theme was composed by Ron Grainer and realised by Delia Derbyshire of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, with assistance from Dick Mills. The various parts were built up using musique concrète techniques, by creating 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). It is regarded as a significant and innovative piece of electronic music, recorded well before the availability of commercial synthesisers or multitrack mixers. Each note was individually created by cutting, splicing, speeding up and slowing down segments of analogue tape containing recordings of a single plucked string, white noise, and the simple harmonic waveforms of test-tone oscillators, intended for calibrating equipment and rooms, not creating music. New techniques were invented to allow mixing of the music, as this was before the era of multitrack tape machines. On hearing the finished result, Grainer asked, "Did I write that?"[citation needed]

A different arrangement was recorded by Peter Howell for season 18 (1980), which was in turn replaced by Dominic Glynn's arrangement for the season-long serial The Trial of a Time Lord in season 23 (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. American composer John Debney created a new arrangement of Ron Grainer's original theme for Doctor Who in 1996. For the return of the series in 2005, Murray Gold provided a new arrangement which featured samples from the 1963 original with further elements added; in the 2005 Christmas episode "The Christmas Invasion", Gold introduced a modified closing credits arrangement that was used up until the conclusion of the 2007 series.[citation needed]

A new arrangement of the theme, once again by Gold, was introduced in the 2007 Christmas special episode, "Voyage of the Damned"; Gold returned as composer for the 2010 season.[107] He was responsible for a new version of the theme which was reported to have had a hostile reception from some viewers.[108] In 2011, the theme tune charted at number 228 of radio station Classic FM's Hall of Fame, a survey of classical music tastes. A revised version of Gold's 2010 arrangement had its debut over the opening titles of the 2012 Christmas special "The Snowmen", and a further revision of the arrangement was made for the 50th Anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor" in November 2013.[citation needed]

Versions of the "Doctor Who Theme" have also been released as pop music over the years. 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".[note 6] In 1978 a disco version of the theme was released in the UK, Denmark and Australia by the group Mankind, which reached number 24 in the UK charts. 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 and No. 2 in Australia; this version incorporated several other songs, including "Rock and Roll Part 2" by Gary Glitter (who recorded vocals for some of the CD-single remix versions of "Doctorin' the Tardis").[109] Others who have covered or reinterpreted the theme include Orbital,[109] Pink Floyd,[109] the Australian string ensemble Fourplay, New Zealand punk band Blam Blam Blam, The Pogues, Thin Lizzy, Dub Syndicate, and the comedians Bill Bailey and Mitch Benn. Both the theme and obsessive fans were 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 ringtones. Fans have also produced and distributed their own remixes of the theme. In January 2011 the Mankind version was released as a digital download on the album Gallifrey And Beyond.

Incidental music

Most of the innovative incidental music for Doctor Who has been specially commissioned from freelance composers, although in the early years some episodes also used stock music, as well as occasional excerpts from original recordings or cover versions of songs by popular music acts such as The Beatles and The Beach Boys. Since its 2005 return, the series has featured occasional use of excerpts of pop music from the 1970s to the 2000s.

The incidental music for the first Doctor Who adventure, An Unearthly Child, was written by Norman Kay. Many of the stories of the William Hartnell period were scored by electronic music pioneer Tristram Cary, whose Doctor Who credits include The Daleks, Marco Polo, The Daleks' Master Plan, The Gunfighters and The Mutants. Other composers in this early period included Richard Rodney Bennett, Carey Blyton and Geoffrey Burgon.

The most frequent musical contributor during the first 15 years was Dudley Simpson, who is also well known for his theme and incidental music for Blake's 7, and for his haunting theme music and score for the original 1970s version of The Tomorrow People. Simpson's first Doctor Who score was Planet of Giants (1964) and he went on to write music for many adventures of the 1960s and 1970s, including most of the stories of the Jon Pertwee/Tom Baker periods, ending with The Horns of Nimon (1979). He also made a cameo appearance in The Talons of Weng-Chiang (as a Music hall conductor).

In 1980 starting with the serial The Leisure Hive the task of creating incidental music was assigned to the Radiophonic Workshop. Paddy Kingsland and Peter Howell contributed many scores in this period and other contributors included Roger Limb, Malcolm Clarke and Jonathan Gibbs.

The Radiophonic Workshop was dropped after 1986's The Trial of a Time Lord series, and Keff McCulloch took over as the series' main composer until the end of its run, with Dominic Glynn and Mark Ayres also contributing scores.

All the incidental music for the 2005 revived series has been composed by Murray Gold and Ben Foster and has been performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales from the 2005 Christmas episode "The Christmas Invasion" onwards. A concert featuring the orchestra performing music from the first two series took place on 19 November 2006 to raise money for Children in Need. David Tennant hosted the event, introducing the different sections of the concert. Murray Gold and Russell T Davies answered questions during the interval and Daleks and Cybermen appeared whilst music from their stories was played. The concert aired on BBCi on Christmas Day 2006. A Doctor Who Prom was celebrated on 27 July 2008 in the Royal Albert Hall as part of the annual BBC Proms. The BBC Philharmonic and the London Philharmonic Choir performed Murray Gold's compositions for the series, conducted by Ben Foster, as well as a selection of classics based on the theme of space and time. The event was presented by Freema Agyeman and guest-presented by various other stars of the show with numerous monsters participating in the proceedings. It also featured the specially filmed mini-episode "Music of the Spheres", written by Russell T Davies and starring David Tennant.[110]

Six soundtrack releases have been released since 2005. The first featured tracks from the first two series,[111] the second and third featured music from the third and fourth series respectively. The fourth was released on 4 October 2010 as a two disc special edition and contained music from the 2008–2010 specials (The Next Doctor to End of Time Part 2).[112][113] The soundtrack for Series 5 was released on 8 November 2010.[114] In February 2011, a soundtrack was released for the 2010 Christmas special: "A Christmas Carol",[115] and in December 2011 the soundtrack for Series 6 was released, both by Silva Screen Records.[116]

Logo history

Below is a collection of current and past Doctor Who logos from the classic and current series. The different doctors have been named below the logos that have appeared during their tenure (e.g. The diamond logo from 1973-1980 was used for the Third Doctor in his final season (5 serials). However, he is more commonly associated with the 1970-1973 logo used for four seasons (7-10).

The original logo used for the First Doctor (and briefly for the Second Doctor) was reused in a slightly modified format for the 50th anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor" during the Eleventh Doctor's run. The logo used in the television movie featuring the Eighth Doctor was an edited version of the logo used for the Third Doctor. The logo from 1973–80 was used for the Third Doctor's final season and for the majority of the Fourth Doctor's tenure. The following logo, while most associated with the Fifth Doctor, was also used for the Fourth Doctor's final season. The logo used for the Ninth Doctor was slightly edited for the Tenth Doctor, but it retained the same general appearance. The logo used for the Eleventh Doctor had the "DW" TARDIS portion removed in 2012, but the same font remained (hence the date for until 2014), and the font was later altered for the Twelfth Doctor. As of 2014, the logo used for the Third and Eighth Doctors is the primary logo used on all media and merchandise relating to past Doctors, and the current Doctor Who logo is used for all merchandise relating to the current Doctor.


Main article: Doctor Who fandom

United Kingdom

File:Dr Who (316350537).jpg
The image of the TARDIS is iconic in British popular culture.

Premiering the day after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the first episode of Doctor Who was repeated with the second episode the following week. Doctor Who has always appeared initially on the BBC's mainstream BBC One channel, where it is regarded as a family show, drawing audiences of many millions of viewers; episodes are now repeated on BBC Three. The programme's popularity has waxed and waned over the decades, with three notable periods of high ratings.[117] The first of these was the "Dalekmania" period (circa 1964–1965), when the popularity of the Daleks regularly brought Doctor Who ratings of between 9 and 14 million, even for stories which did not feature them.[117][118] The second was the late 1970s, when Tom Baker occasionally drew audiences of over 12 million.[117]

During the ITV network strike of 1979, viewership peaked at 16 million.[citation needed] Figures remained respectable into the 1980s, but fell noticeably after the programme's 23rd series was postponed in 1985 and the show was off the air for 18 months. 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. After the series' revival in 2005 (the third notable period of high ratings), it has consistently had high viewership levels for the evening on which the episode is broadcast.[117]

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.[117][119][120] The current revival also garners the highest audience Appreciation Index of any drama on television.[121]


File:DoctorWhoWorld Map.svg
Map of countries that have or currently broadcast Doctor Who in either its current or classic incarnation (map correct as of October 2014)

Doctor Who has been broadcast internationally outside of the United Kingdom since 1964, a year after the show first aired. As of 1 January 2013, the modern series has been or is currently broadcast weekly in more than 50 countries.

Doctor Who is one of the five top grossing titles for BBC Worldwide, the BBC's commercial arm.[122] BBC Worldwide CEO John Smith has said that Doctor Who is one of a small number of "Superbrands" which Worldwide will promote heavily.[123]

Only four episodes have ever had their premiere showings on channels other than BBC One. The 1983 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors had its début on 23 November (the actual date of the anniversary) on a number of PBS stations two days prior to its BBC One broadcast. The 1988 story Silver Nemesis was broadcast with all three episodes airing back to back 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 film premièred on 12 May 1996 on CITV in Edmonton, Canada, 15 days before the BBC One showing, and two days before it aired on Fox in the United States.[citation needed]


New Zealand was the first country outside the United Kingdom to screen Doctor Who, beginning in September 1964, and continued to screen the series for many years, including the new series from 2005.

In Australia, the show has had a strong fan base since its inception, having been exclusively first run by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) since January 1965. The ABC has periodically repeated episodes; of note were the weekly screenings of all available classic episodes starting in 2003, for the show's 40th anniversary. The ABC broadcasts the modern series first run on ABC1, with repeats on ABC2. The ABC also provided partial funding for the 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors in 1983. Repeats of both the classic and modern series have also been shown on subscription television channels BBC UKTV, SF and later on SyFy upon SF's closure.[citation needed]

North America

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.[citation needed]

TVOntario picked up the show in 1976 beginning with The Three Doctors and aired each series (several years late) through to series 24 in 1991. From 1979 to 1981, TVO airings were bookended by science-fiction writer Judith Merril 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. Its airing of The Talons of Weng-Chiang was cancelled as a result of accusations that the story was racist; the story was later broadcast in the 1990s on cable station YTV. CBC began showing the series again in 2005. The series moved to the Canadian cable channel Space in 2009.[citation needed]

For the Canadian broadcast, Christopher Eccleston recorded special video introductions for each episode (including a trivia question as part of a viewer contest) and excerpts from the Doctor Who Confidential documentary were played over the closing credits; for the broadcast of "The Christmas Invasion" on 26 December 2005, Billie Piper recorded a special video introduction. CBC began airing series two on 9 October 2006 at 20:00 E/P (20:30 in Newfoundland and Labrador), shortly after that day's CFL double header on Thanksgiving in most of the country.[citation needed]

Series three began broadcasting on CBC on 18 June 2007 followed by the second Christmas special, "The Runaway Bride" at midnight,[124] and the Sci Fi Channel began on 6 July 2007 starting with the second Christmas special at 8:00 pm E/P followed by the first episode.[125]

Series four aired in the United States on the Sci Fi Channel (now known as Syfy), beginning in April 2008.[126] It aired on CBC beginning 19 September 2008, although the CBC did not air the Voyage of the Damned special.[127] The Canadian cable network Space broadcast "The Next Doctor" (in March 2009) and all subsequent series and specials.[128]

Other countries

In Latin America, the original series — known as Doctor Misterio – was shown in Venezuela from 1967; Mexico (Canal 13) from 1968, then later syndicated from 1979; and Chile from 1969.

A special logo has been designed for the Japanese broadcast with the katakana "ドクター・フー" (romanised as Dokutā Fū).[129] The series has apparently "mystified" viewers in Japan where it has been broadcast in a late evening time slot, leading to some not realising it is a family show.[130]

DVD and video

A wide selection of serials are available from BBC Video on DVD, on sale in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and the United States. Every fully extant serial has been released on VHS, and BBC Worldwide continues to regularly release serials on DVD. The 2005 series is also available in its entirety on UMD for the PlayStation Portable. Eight original series serials have been released on Laserdisc[131] and many have also been released on Betamax tape and Video 2000. One episode of Doctor Who The Infinite Quest was released on VCD. So far only the new series from 2009 onwards are available on Blu-ray. The 1970 classic series story Spearhead from Space was released on Blu-ray in July 2013. Many early releases have been re-released on special edition with more bonus features.

Adaptations and other appearances

Doctor Who films

Main article: Dr. Who (Dalek films)

There are two Doctor Who feature films: Dr. Who and the Daleks, released in 1965 and Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. in 1966. Both are retellings of existing television stories (specifically, the first two Dalek serials, The Daleks and The Dalek Invasion of Earth respectively) with a larger budget and alterations to the series concept.

In these films, Peter Cushing plays a human scientist[132] named "Dr. Who", who travels with his granddaughter and niece and other companions in a time machine he has invented. The Cushing version of the character reappears in both comic strips and a short story, the latter attempting to reconcile the film continuity with that of the series.

In addition, several planned films were proposed, including a sequel, The Chase, loosely based on the original series story, for the Cushing Doctor, plus many attempted television movie and big screen productions to revive the original Doctor Who, after the original series was cancelled.

Paul McGann starred in the only television film as the eighth incarnation of the Doctor. After the film, he continued the role in audio books and was confirmed as the eighth incarnation through flashback footage and a mini episode in the 2005 revival, effectively linking the two series and the television movie.

In 2011, David Yates announced that he had started work with the BBC on a Doctor Who film, a project that would take three or more years to complete. Yates indicated that the film would take a different approach to Doctor Who,[133] although the current Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat stated later that any such film would not be a reboot of the series and a film should be made by the BBC team and star the current TV Doctor.[134][135]


Main article: Doctor Who spin-offs

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. In the late 1980s, Jon Pertwee and Colin Baker both played the Doctor at different times during the run of a play titled Doctor Who – The Ultimate Adventure. For two performances, while Pertwee was ill, David Banks (better known for playing 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.

A pilot episode ("A Girl's Best Friend") for a potential spinoff 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.

Concept art for an animated Doctor Who series was produced by animation company Nelvana in the 1980s, but the series was not produced.[136]

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 Cardiff and investigating alien activities and crime. The series debuted on BBC Three on 22 October 2006.[137] John Barrowman reprised his role of Jack Harkness from the 2005 series of Doctor Who.[138] Two other actresses who appeared in Doctor Who also star in the series; Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper, who also played the similarly named servant girl Gwyneth in the 2005 Doctor Who episode "The Unquiet Dead",[139] and Naoko Mori who reprised her role as Toshiko Sato first seen in "Aliens of London". A second series of Torchwood aired in 2008; for three episodes, the cast was joined by Freema Agyeman reprising her Doctor Who role of Martha Jones. A third series was broadcast from 6 to 10 July 2009, and consisted of a single five-part story called Children of Earth which was set largely in London. A fourth series, Torchwood: Miracle Day jointly produced by BBC Wales, BBC Worldwide and the American entertainment company Starz debuted in 2011. The series was predominantly set in the United States, though Wales remained part of the show's setting.

The Sarah Jane Adventures, starring Elisabeth Sladen who reprised her role as investigative journalist Sarah Jane Smith, was developed by CBBC; a special aired on New Year's Day 2007 and a full series began on 24 September 2007.[140] A second series followed in 2008, notable for (as noted above) featuring the return of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. A third in 2009 featured a crossover appearance from the main show by David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor. In 2010, a further such appearance featured Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor alongside former companion actress Katy Manning reprising her role as Jo Grant. A final, three-story fifth series was transmitted in autumn 2011 – uncompleted due to the death of Elisabeth Sladen in early 2011.

An animated serial, The Infinite Quest, aired alongside the 2007 series of Doctor Who as part of the children's television series Totally Doctor Who. The serial featured the voices of series regulars David Tennant and Freema Agyeman but is not considered part of the 2007 series.[141] A second animated serial, Dreamland, aired in six parts on the BBC Red Button service, and the official Doctor Who website in 2009.[142]

Numerous other spin-off series have been created not by the BBC but by the respective owners of the characters and concepts. Such spin-offs include the novel and audio drama series Faction Paradox, Iris Wildthyme and Bernice Summerfield; as well as the made-for-video series P.R.O.B.E.; the Australian-produced television series K-9, which aired a 26-episode first season on Disney XD;[143] and the audio spin-off Counter-Measures.[144]

Charity episodes

In 1983, coinciding with the series' 20th anniversary, a charity special titled The Five Doctors was produced in aid of Children in Need, featuring three of the first five Doctors, a new actor to replace the deceased William Hartnell, and unused footage to represent Tom Baker.[145] This was a full-length, 90-minute film, the longest single episode of Doctor Who produced to date (the television movie ran slightly longer on broadcast where it included commercial breaks).[146][147]

In 1993, for the franchise's 30th anniversary, another charity special, titled Dimensions in Time was produced for Children in Need, featuring all of the surviving actors who played the Doctor and a number of previous companions. It also featured a crossover with the soap opera EastEnders, the action taking place in the latter's Albert Square location and around Greenwich. The special was one of several special 3D programmes the BBC produced at the time, using a 3D system that made use of the Pulfrich effect requiring glasses with one darkened lens; the picture would look normal to those viewers who watched without the glasses.

In 1999, another special, Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death, was made for Comic Relief and later released on VHS. An affectionate parody of the television series, it was split into four segments, mimicking the traditional serial format, complete with cliffhangers, and running down the same corridor several times when being chased (the version released on video was split into only two episodes). In the story, the Doctor (Rowan Atkinson) encounters both the Master (Jonathan Pryce) and the Daleks. During the special the Doctor is forced to regenerate several times, with his subsequent incarnations played by, in order, Richard E. Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Joanna Lumley. The script was written by Steven Moffat, later to be head writer and executive producer to the revived series.[17]

Since the return of Doctor Who in 2005, the franchise has produced two original "mini-episodes" to support Children in Need. The first, aired in November 2005, was an untitled seven-minute scene which introduced David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor. It was followed in November 2007 by "Time Crash", a 7-minute scene which featured the Tenth Doctor meeting the Fifth Doctor (played once again by Peter Davison).

A set of two mini-episodes, titled "Space" and "Time" respectively, were produced to support Comic Relief. They were aired during the Comic Relief 2011 event.[148]

During 2011 Children in Need, an exclusively-filmed segment showed the Doctor addressing the viewer, attempting to persuade them to purchase items of his clothing, which were going up for auction for Children in Need. The 2012 edition of CiN featured the mini-episode The Great Detective.

Spoofs and cultural references

Main article: Doctor Who spoofs

Doctor Who has been satirised and spoofed on many occasions by comedians including Spike Milligan (a Dalek invades his bathroom — Milligan, naked, hurls a soap sponge at it) and Lenny Henry. Jon Culshaw frequently impersonates the Fourth Doctor in the BBC Dead Ringers series.[149] Doctor Who fandom has also been lampooned on programs such as Saturday Night Live, The Chaser's War on Everything, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Family Guy, American Dad!, Futurama, South Park, Community as Inspector Spacetime, The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory.

The Doctor in his fourth incarnation has been represented on several episodes of The Simpsons[150] and Matt Groening's other animated series Futurama.[151][152]

There have also been many references to Doctor Who in popular culture and other science fiction, including Star Trek: The Next Generation ("The Neutral Zone")[153] and Leverage. In the Channel 4 series Queer as Folk (created by later Doctor Who executive producer Russell T Davies), the character of Vince was portrayed as an avid Doctor Who fan, with references appearing many times throughout in the form of clips from the programme. In a similar manner, the character of Oliver on Coupling (created and written by current show runner Steven Moffat) is portrayed as a Doctor Who collector and enthusiast. References to Doctor Who have also appeared in the young adult fantasy novels Brisingr[154] and High Wizardry,[155] the video game Rock Band,[156] the soap opera EastEnders,[157] the Adult Swim comedy show Robot Chicken, the Family Guy episodes "Blue Harvest" and "420", and the game RuneScape.

Doctor Who has been a reference in several political cartoons, from a 1964 cartoon in the Daily Mail depicting Charles de Gaulle as a Dalek[158] to a 2008 edition of This Modern World by Tom Tomorrow in which the Tenth Doctor informs an incredulous character from 2003 that the Democratic Party will nominate an African-American as its presidential candidate.[159]

The word "TARDIS" is an entry in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary[160] and the iOS dictionary.

As part of the 50th anniversary programmes, former Fifth Doctor Peter Davison created, wrote and co-starred in a parody The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot featuring cameos from several other former Doctors, companions and people involved in the programme.[161]

Museums and exhibitions

There have been various exhibitions of Doctor Who in the United Kingdom, including the now closed exhibitions at:

There is an exhibition open currently in Cardiff (the city where the series is filmed)[162]


Since its beginnings, Doctor Who has generated hundreds of products related to the show, from toys and games to collectible picture cards and postage stamps. These include board games, card games, gamebooks, computer games, roleplaying games, action figures and a pinball game. Many games have been released that feature the Daleks, including Dalek computer games.


The Doctor has also appeared in webcasts and in audio plays; among the latter were those produced by Big Finish Productions, who were responsible for a range of audio plays released on CD, as well as 2006's eight-part BBC 7 series starring Paul McGann. Big Finish's productions began with the release of The Sirens of Time in July 1999. These audios feature Doctors 4–8. As well as this, Big Finish also release a range of other audio books read by both Doctors and Companions.


Doctor Who books have been published from the mid-sixties through to the present day. From 1965 to 1991 the books published were primarily novelised adaptations of broadcast episodes; beginning in 1991 an extensive line of original fiction was launched, the Virgin New Adventures and Virgin Missing Adventures. Since the relaunch of the programme in 2005, a new range of novels have been published by BBC Books. Numerous non-fiction books about the series, including guidebooks and critical studies, have also been published, and a dedicated Doctor Who Magazine with newsstand circulation has been published regularly since 1979. There is also a Doctor Who Adventures magazine published by the BBC.

See also:

Video games

Numerous Doctor Who video games have been created from the mid-80s through to the present day. One of the recent ones is a match-3 game released in November 2013 for iOS and Android, called Doctor Who: Legacy. It has been continually updated from its release to February 2015 and features all of the Doctors as playable characters.[163]

Another video game installment is LEGO Dimensions - in which Doctor Who is one of the many "Level Packs" in the game. At the moment, the pack contains the Twelfth Doctor, K9, the TARDIS and a Victorian London adventure level area. The game and pack are due later in 2015. [164]

Chronology and canonicity

Since the creation of the Doctor Who character by BBC Television in the early 1960s, a myriad of stories have been published about Doctor Who, in different media: apart from the actual television episodes that continue to be produced by the BBC, there have also been novels, comics, short stories, audio books, radio plays, interactive video games, game books, webcasts, DVD extras, and even stage performances. In this respect it is noteworthy that the BBC takes no position on the canonicity of any of such stories, and recent producers of the show have expressed distaste for the idea.[165]


The show has received recognition as one of Britain's finest television programmes, winning the 2006 British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series and five consecutive (2005–2010) awards at the National Television Awards during Russell T Davies' tenure as executive producer.[166][167] In 2011, Matt Smith became the first Doctor to be nominated for a BAFTA Television Award for Best Actor. In 2013, the Peabody Awards honoured Doctor Who with an Institutional Peabody "for evolving with technology and the times like nothing else in the known television universe."[168] The programme is listed in Guinness World Records as the longest-running science fiction television show in the world,[169] the "most successful" science fiction series of all time—based on its over-all broadcast ratings, DVD and book sales, and iTunes traffic—[170] and for the largest ever simulcast of a TV drama with its 50th anniversary special.[171] During its original run, it was recognised for its imaginative stories, creative low-budget special effects, and pioneering use of electronic music (originally produced by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop).

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" series, celebrating 60 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.[172] In 2000, Doctor Who was ranked third in a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes of the 20th century, produced by the British Film Institute and voted on by industry professionals.[173] 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' TV shows (a Channel 4 countdown in 2001), the 1963–1989 run was placed at number eight.

The revived series has received recognition from critics and the public, across various awards ceremonies. It won five BAFTA TV Awards, including Best Drama Series, the highest-profile and most prestigious British television award for which the series has ever been nominated.[174] It was very popular at the BAFTA Cymru Awards, with 25 wins overall including Best Drama Series (twice), Best Screenplay/Screenwriter (thrice) and Best Actor.[175] It was also nominated for 7 Saturn Awards, winning the only Best International Series in the ceremony's history. In 2009, Doctor Who was voted the 3rd greatest show of the 2000s by Channel 4, behind Top Gear and The Apprentice.[176] The episode "Vincent and the Doctor" was shortlisted for a Mind Award at the 2010 Mind Mental Health Media Awards for its "touching" portrayal of Vincent van Gogh.[177]

It has won the Short Form of the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, the oldest science fiction/fantasy award for films and series, six times (every year since 2006, except for 2009, 2013 and 2014). The winning episodes were "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances" (2006), "The Girl in the Fireplace" (2007), "Blink" (2008), "The Waters of Mars" (2010), "The Pandorica Opens"/"The Big Bang" (2011), and "The Doctor's Wife" (2012).[178][179][180][181] Doctor Who star Matt Smith won Best Actor in the 2012 National Television awards alongside Karen Gillan who won Best Actress. Doctor Who has been nominated for over 200 awards and has won over a hundred of them.

As a British series, the majority of its nominations and awards have been for national competitions such as the BAFTAs, but it has occasionally received nominations in mainstream American awards, most notably a nomination for "Favorite Sci-Fi Show" in the 2008 People's Choice Awards and the series has been nominated multiple times in the Spike Scream Awards, with Smith winning Best Science Fiction Actor in 2011. The Canadian Constellation Awards have also recognised the series.

See also

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  1. ^ Newman is often given sole creator credit for the series. Some reference works such as The Complete Encyclopedia of Television Programs 1947–1979 by Vincent Terrace erroneously credit Terry Nation with creating Doctor Who, because of the way his name is credited in the two Peter Cushing films.[citation needed]
    Newman and Lambert's role in originating the series was recognised in the 2007 episode "Human Nature", in which the Doctor, in disguise as a human named John Smith, gives his parents' names as Sydney and Verity.[citation needed]
  2. ^ This is often emphasised in the accompanying making-of documentaries in the series Doctor Who Confidential, as well as in occasional flashbacks to images of earlier versions of the Doctor.
  3. ^ The tapes, based on a 405-line broadcast standard, were rendered obsolete when UK television changed to a 625-line signal in preparation for the soon-to-begin colour transmissions.
  4. ^ When it became an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary, the word "TARDIS" often came to be used to describe anything that appeared larger on the inside than its exterior implied.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Earlier incarnations of the Doctor have occasionally appeared with the then current incarnation in later plots. The First and Second Doctors appeared in the 1973 Third Doctor story, The Three Doctors; The First, Second, Third and Fourth appeared in the 1983 Fifth Doctor story, The Five Doctors; the Second appeared with the Sixth in the 1985 story, The Two Doctors; the Fifth appeared with the Tenth in the 2007 mini-episode, "Time Crash"; and the Tenth appeared with the Eleventh in "The Day of the Doctor". The Eighth Doctor also returned in the 2013 mini-episode "The Night of the Doctor".
  6. ^ Often mistitled "I am the Doctor" on YouTube uploads. Originally released as a 7" vinyl single, plain sleeve, December 1972 on label Purple PUR III


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Cited texts


Further reading

  • Matt Hills. Triumph of a Time Lord: Regenerating "Doctor Who" in the Twenty-First Century (I.B. Tauris, 2010) 261 pages. Discusses the revival of the BBC's Doctor Who in 2005 after it had been off the air as a regular series for more than 15 years; topics include the role of "fandom" in the sci-fi programme's return, and notions of "cult" and "mainstream" in television.
  • Tabloid Bintang Indonesia, Doctor Who Pengganti Chalkzone
  • Majalah GADIS, Kenalan Bareng Doctor Who, Ketemu Bareng 1st–11th Doctor

External links

Unknown extension tag "indicator"

Official websites

Past official BBC websites

Reference websites

Preceded by
The Bill
National Television Awards
Most Popular Drama

2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010
Succeeded by
Waterloo Road