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Doctor Who

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Doctor Who
Doctor Who - Current Titlecard.png
Genre Science fiction drama
Created by
  • Sydney Newman
  • C. E. Webber
  • Donald Wilson
Directed by Various
Starring Various Doctors
(currently Matt Smith)
Various companions
(currently Jenna-Louise Coleman)
Theme music composer
  • Ron Grainer
  • Delia Derbyshire
Opening theme Doctor Who theme music
Composer(s) Various composers
(currently Murray Gold)
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of seasons 26 (1963–89) plus one TV film (1996)
No. of series 7 (2005–present)
No. of episodes 790 ( 106 missing) ( List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Various
(currently Steven Moffat and Caroline Skinner)
Camera setup Single/Multi-Camera hybrid
Running time
  • 25 minutes (1963–84, 1986–89)
  • 45 minutes (1985, 2005–present)
  • Various other lengths
Original channel BBC
BBC One HD (2010–present)
BBC HD (2009–10)
BBC America (2010–present)
Picture format
  • 405-line Black-and-white (1963–67)
  • 625-line Black-and-white (1968–69)
  • 625-line PAL (1970–89)
  • 525-line NTSC (1996)
  • 576i 16:9 DTV (2005–08)
  • 1080i HDTV (2009–present)
Audio format Monaural (1963–87)
Stereo (1988–89; 1996; 2005–8)
5.1 Surround Sound (2009–present)
Original run Classic series:
23 November 1963 (1963-11-23)
6 December 1989
Television film:
12 May 1996
Revived series:
26 March 2005 – present
Related shows
  • K-9 and Company (1981)
  • Torchwood (2006–11)
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007–11)
  • K-9 (2009–present)
  • Doctor Who Confidential (2005–11)
  • Totally Doctor Who (2006–7)
  • Sarah Jane's Alien Files (2010)
External links
Doctor Who at the BBC

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

The show has received recognition from critics and the public as one of the finest British television programmes, winning the 2006 British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series and five consecutive (2005–10) awards at the National Television Awards during Russell T Davies's tenure as Executive Producer. In 2011, Matt Smith became the first Doctor to be nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. The programme is listed in Guinness World Records as the longest-running science fiction television show in the world and as the "most successful" science fiction series of all time—based on its over-all broadcast ratings, DVD and book sales, and iTunes traffic. 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).

The show is a significant part of British popular culture; 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. 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. Series 1 in the 21st century, featuring Christopher Eccleston as the ninth incarnation, was produced by the BBC. Series 2 and 3 had some development money contributed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which was credited as a co-producer. Doctor Who also spawned spin-offs in multiple media, including Torchwood (2006) and The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007) – both created by Russell T Davies, K-9 (2009), the four-part video series P.R.O.B.E. (1994), 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.

Eleven actors have headlined the series as the Doctor. The transition from one actor to another is written into the plot of the show as regeneration, 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 when sustaining injury which would be fatal to most other species. Although each portrayal is different, and on occasions the various incarnations have even met one another, they are all meant to be aspects of the same character. The Doctor is currently portrayed by Matt Smith, who took up the role after David Tennant's final appearance in an episode broadcast on 1 January 2010.


Doctor Who first appeared on BBC television at 17:16:20 GMT on 23 November 1963, following discussions and plans that 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. The programme was originally intended to appeal to a family audience, 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" (aka "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.

The BBC drama department's Serials division produced the programme for 26 series, 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. 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.

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. 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.

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, 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. It has been sold to many other countries worldwide (see Viewership).

Doctor Who finally returned with the episode "Rose" on BBC One on 26 March 2005. There have since been six further series in 2006–2008 and 2010–2012, and Christmas Day specials every year since 2005. No full series was filmed in 2009 due to actor David Tennant's commitments to Hamlet, although four additional specials starring Tennant were made. In spring 2010 Steven Moffat replaced Davies as head writer and executive producer.

The 2005 version of Doctor Who is a direct continuation of the 1963–1989 series, 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).

Public consciousness

It has been written 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 just eighty seconds late. Due to it being felt 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.

The programme soon became a national institution in the United Kingdom, with a large following among the general viewing audience. Many renowned actors asked for or were offered and accepted guest starring roles in various stories.

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 or gory content; however, the programme became 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 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. Other notable moments in that decade included a disembodied brain falling to the floor in The Brain of Morbius and the Doctor apparently being drowned by Chancellor Goth in The Deadly Assassin (both 1976).

The fibreglass TARDIS prop used between 1980 and 1989.

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. The same report found that 3% of the surveyed audience regarded the show as "very unsuitable" for family viewing. 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."

The image of the TARDIS has become firmly linked to the show in the public's consciousness. In 1996, the BBC applied for a trademark to use the TARDIS's blue police box design in merchandising associated with Doctor Who. In 1998, the Metropolitan Police Authority filed an objection to the trademark claim; but in 2002, the Patent Office ruled in favour of the BBC.

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

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


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; " Mission to the Unknown", featuring none of the regular cast;) almost an entire series of 7-episode serials (series 7); the 10-episode serial The War Games; and The Trial of a Time Lord, which ran for 14 episodes (albeit divided into three production codes and four narrative segments) during Series 23. Occasionally serials were loosely connected by a storyline, such as Series 8 being devoted to the Doctor battling a rogue Time Lord called The Master, Series 16's quest for The Key to Time, Series 18's journey through E-Space and the theme of entropy, and Series 20's Black Guardian Trilogy.

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 taught 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 set in 1920s England.

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. 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.

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

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; examples have included a few episodes being five to ten minutes longer and also the episodes " Journey's End" from 2008 and " The Eleventh Hour" from 2010, have exceeded an hour in length.

790 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), five 60-minute Christmas specials, and four specials ranging from 60 to 75 minutes in 2007 and 2009. 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. In the 2009 special " Planet of the Dead", the series is filmed in 1080i for HDTV, and broadcast simultaneously on BBC One and BBC HD.

A special episode, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the show, will be broadcast in late 2013. As with the 30th anniversary Dimensions in Time, this special will be broadcast in 3D.

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, 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, 106 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 88 episodes are missing). In 1972, almost all episodes then made were known to exist at the BBC, while by 1978 the practice of wiping tapes and destroying 'spare' film copies had been brought to a stop.

No 1960s episodes exist on their original videotapes (all surviving copies being film copies), though some were transferred to film for editing before transmission, and these exist as originally transmitted.

Some episodes have been returned to the BBC from the archives of other countries who bought copies 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.

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.

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. 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 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), using remastered audio tracks and the comprehensive stage notes for the original filming, for the serial's DVD release in November 2006. Although no similar reconstructions had been announced as of 2010, Cosgrove Hall has expressed an interest in animating more lost episodes in the future. Announced in June 2011, the missing episodes of The Reign of Terror will be animated by animation company Theta-Sigma in collaboration with Big Finish.

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

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.


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 "dimensionally transcendental").

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

As a Time Lord, the Doctor has the ability to regenerate his body when near death. Introduced into the storyline as a way of continuing the series when the writers were faced with the departure of lead actor William Hartnell in 1966, it has continued to be a major element of the series, allowing for the recasting of the lead actor when the need arises. The serials The Deadly Assassin and Mawdryn Undead and the 1996 TV film suggest that a Time Lord can regenerate 12 times, for a total of 13 incarnations. Death of the Doctor, a 2010 episode of the spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures, has the Doctor claiming that he can regenerate 507 times, but episode writer Russell T Davies later indicated that this was intended as a joke, not to be taken seriously.

The Doctor has fully gone through this process and its resulting after-effects on ten occasions, with each of his incarnations having their own quirks and abilities but otherwise sharing the consciousness, memories, experience and basic personality of the previous incarnations.

The Doctor Portrayed by Tenure
First Doctor William Hartnell 1963–66
Second Doctor Patrick Troughton 1966–69
Third Doctor Jon Pertwee 1970–74
Fourth Doctor Tom Baker 1974–81
Fifth Doctor Peter Davison 1981–84
Sixth Doctor Colin Baker 1984–86
Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy 1987–89, 1996
Eighth Doctor Paul McGann 1996
Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston 2005
Tenth Doctor David Tennant 2005–10
Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith 2010–present

In other media, the Doctor has been played by various other actors which are not considered to be canonical incarnations of the Doctor. 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.

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.

Meetings of past and present 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. Finally, Peter Davison returned in 2007's Children in Need short " Time Crash" alongside David Tennant. 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 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".

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. Again in 2003, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy appeared together in the audio adventure Project: Lazarus. 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 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!".

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". The BBC's FAQ for the programme notes that "purists tend to disregard this", 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), Constantine makes a statement that "before this war began, I was a father and a grandfather. Now I am neither." The Doctor remarks in response, "Yeah, I know the feeling." In Smith & 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.


The Doctor almost always shares his adventures with up to three companions, and since 1963 more than 35 actors have been featured in these roles. The First Doctor's first companions were his granddaughter Susan Foreman ( Carole Ann Ford) and her teachers Barbara Wright ( Jacqueline Hill) and Ian Chesterton ( William Russell). 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, a Time Lady; Sarah Jane Smith ( Elisabeth Sladen); and Jo Grant ( Katy Manning).

Dramatically, the companions' characters provide a surrogate 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.

In the 2005 revival, The Doctor generally travels with a single companion, although others may join later in the series. Companions of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors included Rose Tyler ( Billie Piper) and Donna Noble ( Catherine Tate). The current Doctor's companions have included Amy Pond ( Karen Gillan) and Clara Oswin Oswald ( Jenna-Louise Coleman).

Less frequent companions, who may only appear for a few episodes, rather than an entire series, have included Mickey Smith ( Noel Clarke), Rory Williams ( Arthur Darvill), and River Song ( Alex Kingston). Since 2005, companions from the earlier series have also made returns alongside the new regulars. Sarah Jane Smith was the first of these, returning in 2005, and going on to feature in a Doctor Who spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures. Other companions have also appeared in this, along with other spin-offs, including Jo Grant, K-9, and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. More recent companions Captain Jack Harkness ( John Barrowman) and Martha Jones ( Freema Agyeman) featured in a further spin-off, Torchwood.


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 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 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 and the Great Intelligence in the 2012 Christmas special. Since its 2005 return, the series has also introduced new recurring aliens: Slitheen (Raxacoricofallapatorian), Ood, Judoon, Weeping Angels and the Silence.

Matt Smith, the current Doctor, stated during a question-and-answer session at the 11th Hour convention in Birmingham on 17 June 2012 that he would like to see the Ice Warriors return, as they are the only major villain from the classic series to fail to appear in the revived series to date.

Besides infrequent appearances by the Ice Warriors, Ogrons, the Rani, and Black Guardian, several adversaries have become particularly iconic:


The Dalek race, which first appeared in the show's second serial in 1963, are Doctor Who's oldest antagonists. 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 suction-cup-like device that serves the purpose of a hand, and a directed-energy weapon. Their chief role in the plot of the series, as they frequently remark in their instantly recognisable metallic voices, is to "exterminate" all beings inferior to themselves, even attacking the Time Lords in the often-referred-to-but-never-shown Time War. The Daleks' most recent appearance was in the 2012 episode Asylum of the Daleks. 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) and BBC designer Raymond Cusick. 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.

In the series seven episode Asylum of the Daleks, every generation of the Dalek species made an appearance.


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. In November 2012, Neil Gaiman confirmed that the Cybermen would feature in an upcoming series 7 episode he has written.

The Master

The Master is a renegade Time Lord who desires to rule the universe, and the Doctor's archenemy. Conceived as " Professor Moriarty to the Doctor's Sherlock Holmes", 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.

The Master has appeared in the revived series, portrayed for one episode by Derek Jacobi before the character regenerated, and otherwise John Simm since then.


Theme music

The original theme was composed by Ron Grainer and realised by Delia Derbyshire at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, with assistance from Dick Mills. The various parts were built up 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).

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.

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. He was responsible for a new version of the theme which was reported to have had a hostile reception from some viewers. 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.

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". 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"). Others who have covered or reinterpreted the theme include Orbital, Pink Floyd, 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, and it 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 ring tones. 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).

Beginning with The Leisure Hive (1980), 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.

Six soundtrack releases have been released since 2005. The first featured tracks from the first two series, 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). The soundtrack for Series 5 was released on 8 November 2010. In February 2011, a soundtrack was released for the 2010 Christmas Special: "A Christmas Carol", and in December 2011 the soundtrack for Series 6 was released, both by Silva Screen Records.


United Kingdom

The image of the TARDIS is iconic in British popular culture.

Premiering the day after the John F. Kennedy assassination, 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. 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. The second was the late 1970s, when Tom Baker occasionally drew audiences of over 12 million. During the ITV network strike of 1979, viewership peaked at 16 million. 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. 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 current revival also garners the highest audience Appreciation Index of any drama on television.


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 Canada, the series debuted in January 1965, but the CBC only aired the first 26 episodes. 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.

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

In Australia, it has been exclusively first run since January 1965 on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's ABC TV (later ABC1), and periodically repeated—including screening all available episodes for the show's 40th anniversary in 2003. Repeats have also been shown on the subscription television channel UK.TV and more recently on the Australian SciFi channel. The station also broadcast the first run of the revived series, on ABC1, with repeats on ABC2. UK.TV also shows repeats of the revived series. ABC also provided partial funding for the 20th anniversary special episode The Five Doctors.

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.

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.

As of 1 January 2013, the revived series has been, or is currently, broadcast weekly in about 48 countries, including the following:

  • Australia ( ABC1, UK.TV)
  • Austria ( Pro 7)
  • Belgium ( Één (canceled after first series), Syfy Universal (new series S01-..), Acht (from series 5), La Deux (dubbed in French))
  • Brazil ( TV Cultura (dubbed in Portuguese))
  • Bulgaria ( AXN Sci Fi, Diema 2 – note: AXN Sci Fi Broadcasts Doctor Who for 5 more countries at the same time)
  • Canada ( Space, Ztélé (dubbed in French))
  • Colombia (On Directv)
  • Chile ( On DirecTV)
  • Croatia ( Croatian Radiotelevision)
  • Czech Republic ( AXN Sci-Fi)
  • Denmark ( Danmarks Radio, TV2)
  • Finland ( TV2, MTV3 Scifi)
  • France ( France 4)
  • Germany ( RTL & VOX – [classic series S21-26]), ( ProSieben & Syfy – [new series S01-02]), Fox Channel – [new series S03-present])
  • Greece ( Skai TV)
  • Guatemala ( BBC Entertainment)
  • Hong Kong ( ATV World, BBC Entertainment)
  • Hungary ( AXN Sci Fi, RTL Klub)
  • Iceland ( RÚV)
  • India ( BBC Entertainment)
  • Indonesia ( RCTI, Global TV (Indonesia), MNCTV Starting in 2013 for Classic Series,TV Movie,New Series)
  • Iran ( BBC persian)
  • Ireland ( TV3)
  • Israel ( yes stars Action HD, BBC Entertainment, Yes SCI FI)
  • Italy ( Rai 4 and Jimmy (new series), Rai 1 (classic series)), La7, Bonsai TV (IPTV channel))
  • Japan ( NHK BS2 (series 1 and 2), LaLa TV (series 1 and 2, series 3 starting from December 2011))
  • Mexico ( BBC Entertainment, Televisión Mexiquense)
  • The Netherlands ( Syfy Universal)
  • New Zealand ( Prime TV, UKTV)
  • Norway ( NRK)
  • Philippines ( Studio 23)
  • Poland ( BBC Entertainment, BBC HD)
  • Portugal ( SIC Radical, BBC Entertainment, SyFy)
  • Romania ( TVR, AXN Sci Fi)
  • Russia ( STS TV, Syfy Universal, NST, Karusel, Nick at Nite)
  • Serbia ( B92)
  • Singapore ( BBC Entertainment)
  • Slovenia ( RTV Slovenia)
  • South Africa ( BBC Entertainment)
  • South Korea ( KBS2 (dubbed in Korean), Fox and BBC Entertainment ( subtitled in Korean))
  • Spain ( Sci Fi Channel and Boing (dubbed in Spanish), TV3, 3XL and BBC Entertainment (dubbed in Catalan), ETB 1 (dubbed in Basque), Telemadrid(dubbed in Spanish))
  • Sweden ( BBC Entertainment, BBC HD, TV4 Guld, Kanal 9, SVT)
  • Switzerland ( Pro 7)
  • Taiwan ( CTS)
  • Thailand ( Channel 7)
  • Turkey ( Cine5, CNBC-e, e2)
  • Ukraine ( ICTV (in 2008), QTV (in 2010))
  • United Arab Emirates ( Dubai 33)
  • United States ( Syfy (first run and repeats of Series 1 – 4), BBC America (first run of 2009/2010 specials and Series 5 – 7, repeats of all Series), and PBS (repeats of classic and new series)
  • Style UK (part of Showtime Arabia) for Middle-Eastern, North Africa and Levant areas

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

A special logo has been designed for the Japanese broadcast with the katakana "ドクター・フー" ( romanised as Dokutā Fū). 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.

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.

Series three began broadcasting on BBC One in the United Kingdom on 31 March 2007. It began broadcasting on CBC on 18 June 2007 followed by the second Christmas special, " The Runaway Bride" at midnight, 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.

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

DVD and video

A wide selection of serials is 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 and many have also been released on Betamaxtape 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 is set for Blu-ray release in June 2013.

Adaptations and other appearances

Doctor Who 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 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 straight to television film as the eighth incarnation of the Doctor. Although he only appeared within 1996 film of the same name, he continued the role in audio books and was confirmed as the eighth incarnation through flashback footage and other materials 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, 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.


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.

The Doctor has also appeared in webcasts and in audio plays; prominent among the latter were those produced by Big Finish Productions from 1999 onwards, 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.

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. John Barrowman reprised his role of Jack Harkness from the 2005 series of Doctor Who. 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", 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. 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. A second animated serial, Dreamland, aired in six parts on the BBC Red Button service, and the official Doctor Who website in 2009.

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 audio drama series Faction Paradox, Iris Wildthyme and Bernice Summerfield, P.R.O.B.E. (a made-for-video series), and the Australian-produced television series K-9, which aired a 26-episode first season on Disney XD.

Announced on 20 October 2011, a new audio spin-off series titled Counter-Measures will be released in July 2012. The series is set in 1964 and centres on the characters Captain Gilmore, Rachel Jensen and Allison from the story Remembrance of the Daleks who have been commissioned by the government to be part of a new specialist group to investigate unexplained phenomena and new dangerous technology.

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. 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).

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. Not taken seriously by many, the story featured the Rani opening a hole in time, cycling the Doctor and his companions through his previous incarnations and menacing them with monsters from the show's past. It also featured a crossover with the soap opera EastEnders, the action taking place in the latter's Albert Square location and around Greenwich, including the Cutty Sark. 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 perfectly 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.

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 directly after his regeneration from the previous episode. 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). The Doctor Who production team did not produce a new Children in Need mini-episode for the 2008 and 2009 events; instead, for the 2008 event, the opening scene from the 2008 Christmas special, The Next Doctor was broadcast and for the 2009 event, a scene from the 2009 Christmas Special The End of Time was broadcast.

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.

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. This was followed by a trailer for the upcoming Christmas episode. The 2012 edition of CiN featured the mini-episode The Great Detective, a prequel to the 2012 Christmas special, along with a trailer for the special.

Museums and exhibitions

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


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.


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, featuring the adventures of the Ninth, Tenth and 11th Doctors. 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. In April 2010 Hub Magazine released a Doctor Who Special (Issue 116) which collected new articles and pieces from various writers associated with both Classic and New Series Doctor Who, including Andrew Cartmel, Paul Magrs, Joseph Lidster, Mark Morris, Simon Clarke and Scott Harrison (who also guest-edited the issue).

  • Eighth Doctor Adventures
  • List of Doctor Who novelisations
  • New Series Adventures
  • Past Doctor Adventures

Blackpool Illuminations

In 2007, Doctor Who and a number of his enemies were portrayed in illuminated road features for Blackpool Illuminations. More pictures of the Doctor with his new companion Donna were added in 2008, along with new monsters such as the Ood plus some three dimensional models of the TARDIS and Daleks. Only two actors playing the Doctor have switched on the Illuminations: Tom Baker in 1975 and David Tennant in 2007.


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" 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

It has won every year since 2006 (except in 2009) the Short Form of the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, the oldest science fiction/fantasy award for films and series. 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. 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.

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