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This is an overview article on the TV series and franchise. For other uses of the title "Doctor Who", seeDoctor Who (disambiguation).

Doctor Who is a science-fiction television programme that originally ran on the BBC from 1963 to 1989. A television movie was co-produced with Universal Pictures in 1996, after which the series itself was revived starting in March 2005 in the United Kingdom and Australia, and in March 2006 in the United States on the Sci Fi Channel (and, as of 2009, BBC America). It is still in production as of 2011.

Doctor Who is about the adventures of a mysterious time-traveller known only as the Doctor. The Doctor travels through space and time in a craft known as the TARDIS, an acronym for "Time and Relative Dimension in Space". The Doctor is usually accompanied by one or more companions, who are often females. The tone of the programme varies from serious to comic, from gothic horror to pantomime camp. The original Doctor Who series is fondly remembered among the general public both for frightening monsters (such as the Daleksand Cybermen) and pioneering use of both electronic music and low-budget special effects.



A number of individuals share credit for establishing Doctor Who in 1963, but it is generally accepted that the original impetus for the series, as well as the establishment of certain aspects such as the concept of the TARDIS, the basic character of The Doctor and the title Doctor Who itself belong to Canadian-born Sydney Newman, who is also credited with creating another iconic series, The Avengers. Others involved in piecing together the puzzle that became the series include Donald Wilson, writer C. E. Webber, script editor David Whitaker and the show's first producer, Verity Lambert, the first woman to hold such a position at the BBC. (Decades later, a line of dialogue paid tribute to Newman and Lambert's role in creating Doctor Who, when the Tenth Doctor, in disguise as human John Smith, named his parents as Sydney and Verity in the 2007 episode,Human Nature.)

Two other notable participants in the birth of the series wereAnthony Coburn and Waris Hussein, the writer and director, respectively, of the first four-part serial, An Unearthly Child, the first episode of which aired on 23 November, 1963. (The version of the first episode that was broadcast was in fact the second mounting of that episode; an early version (called The Pilot Episode by fans), was taped some weeks earlier, but rejected due to a number of issues. The BBC, however,allowed a second mounting of the pilot to proceed. The first episode aired the day after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and had to be rebroadcast a week later due to power failures disrupting the first broadcast.

Also influential in creating the atmosphere of the early series was composers Ron Grainer and Delia Derbyshire. Grainer composed the basic melody of the "Doctor Who theme", while Derbyshire, along with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, transformed it into a pioneering piece of electronica music. Although there have been a number of arrangements used of the "Doctor Who theme" the basic melody has remained unchanged (i.e. no new piece of music has ever been commissioned as a theme), making it one of the longest-serving theme songs in television history.

The first episode broadcast, An Unearthly Child, introduced the first incarnation of the Doctor, played by character actor William Hartnell. Supporting him were William Russell (known worldwide at the time for starring in the 1950s action-adventure series The Adventures of Sir Lancelot) and Jacqueline Hill as Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, respectively, and Carole Ann Ford as the Doctor's granddaughter, Susan Foreman. This group would form the core cast of the series throughout its first season and into the second.


After the first episode introduced the characters and concept, the remaining three episodes of An Unearthly Child encompassed a modest storyline involving a group of cavemen in prehistoric times. The series really began to find its voice as a science fiction series with the second serial, The Daleks by Terry Nation, which introduced the Daleks, the single most iconic recurring enemy of the franchise. The series began to really take off in popularity with this serial, which helped launch "Dalekmania" in the UK, leading to toys, the first novelisation Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks, the movie adaptationDr. Who and the Daleks, and many televised sequels, beginning with The Dalek Invasion of Earth.


The Dalek Invasion of Earth was also notable for featuring the series' first cast change as Carole Ann Ford left the series; she was replaced the following week by Maureen O'Brien as Vicki, establishing the concept of the Doctor's companions changing from time to time. The other original companions, William Russell and Jacqueline Hill, left the series a few months later at the conclusion of The Chase, making way for another new companion, Steven Taylor, played by Peter Purves. Over the decades, the amount of time spent on the series by the different companions has ranged from as little as a few weeks (with some being considered companions even while appearing in only a single episode), up to several years, with some actors returning to reprise their roles years and even decades later (most notably Elisabeth Sladen asSarah Jane Smith).


The next major turning point in the series occurred in 1966 when the original actor to play the Doctor,William Hartnell, decided to leave the series, which was still riding the heights of popularity. Rather than introduce a new leading character or replacing Hartnell without explanation (a situation that would be faced a few years later by the American situation comedy Bewitched when it had to recast its male lead), or cancelling the series outright, the producers, with input from Sydney Newman, chose instead to establish the Doctor's ability to regenerate into a new person when injured or near death (although it would take years to finalize elements of this process). This led to the dramatic - and successful, for the series - transition to Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor at the conclusion of The Tenth Planet (a serial that was in itself notable for introducing the franchise's second most popular recurring villains, theCybermen).

The experiment of regenerating the Doctor occurred again in 1970 with the introduction of onetime comic actor Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor, a move that also coincided with the series changing to colour production. Once again, this was successful and Doctor Who continued to establish itself as a British TV institution, although it remained virtually unknown in American markets.


In 1973, Target Books reissued a trilogy of novelisations from the mid-1960s, and then in 1974 began publishing its own adaptations of televised episodes. Produced in the days before home video recorders and commercial release of TV series on tape and DVD, and during a time when rebroadcasts were rare and many old episodes were considered lost, the Target line becomes a popular and valued aspect of the growing Doctor Who franchise; the books would continue to be published into the mid-1990s. A unique feature regarding the Target line (and in fact this dates back to the initial novelisations published byFrederick Muller) is that many of the books were written by either the original scriptwriters or by individuals with strong behind-the-scenes connections to the series, such as Barry Letts, Terrance Dicks,David Whitaker, etc., all of whom worked in script editing or producing capacities on the series. In the late 70s, about a dozen of the Target novels were republished in American editions by Pinnacle Books, with introductions by noted SF author Harlan Ellison, who added to the franchise's prestige by placing it higher in his estimation than Star Trek.


The series, meanwhile, continued throughout the 1970s, with Tom Baker taking on the role of the Fourth Doctor in 1974. Baker became the most iconic, and arguably most popular actor of the classic series, due in part to the widespread rebroadcasts of his episodes in the United Kingdom, which began during his tenure, as well as the fact he was the first "young" Doctor and held sway over the role for more seasons (seven) than any actor to date (although other actors have been considered the "current" Doctor for longer, they were so without regular television appearances). Near the end of the Tom Baker era, the BBC attempted to produce a spin-off series, K9 and Company, but it never went beyond a pilot episode, A Girl's Best Friend.

The US broadcasts of Doctor Who were initially sick, with some broadcasters airing a version with narration explaining the plot. By the late 1970s, however, the series was firmly entrenched in the stations of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), which would air the show repeatedly over the next three decades and later also begin airing the revived series after 2004.


Peter Davison succeeded Baker in 1981 as the Fifth Doctor with new Producer (who had joined in theprevious season), John Nathan-Turner. Aged only 29 at the time he was cast Davison was, until the appointment of Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor in 2009, the youngest actor ever to officially play the Doctor. The TARDIS crew of the Fifth Doctor skewed younger than most, and was notable for featuring the first long-term companion's death when Adric died at the end of Earthshock (several companions had died previously, but none had been on the show more than a few weeks, as opposed to Adric who was on the series for about a year).

Davison's era was marked by ongoing experimentation by the BBC in terms of broadcast scheduling, with the series moving to being aired twice a week on weeknights, away from its traditional Saturday showing. Initially, this appeared to be a successful gambit, as the ratings for Davison's early stories were on par if not higher than Tom Baker's later stories. It was during Davison's era that the series marked its landmark 20th anniversary with the feature-length episode The Five Doctors, which featured, in some fashion, all the actors who had played the Doctor to that time (although Hartnell and Tom Baker were represented via stock footage).

Colin Baker (no relation to Tom) followed Davison as the Sixth Doctor in 1984, at which point the BBC further experimented with the format by changing it from 25-minute episodes to 45-minute episodes. Nathan-Turner also experimented with the characterization of the Doctor, intentionally making the Sixth Doctor initially unlikeable in order to create a new dynamic. Neither experiment was successful, and Colin Baker's tenure was marked by a serious threat to the show's survival when the BBC, citing low ratings, announced it was ending the series after the 1985 season, its 22nd; following immediate outcry, this decision was soon modified to become an 18-month hiatus, although fans were still not placated. During the hiatus, fan efforts were launched in order to get the show back sooner, including the recording of a charity record called "Doctor in Distress" recorded by numerous cast members. BBC Radio tried to fill the void by producing the first made-for-radio Doctor Who serial Slipback, starring Colin Baker.

The series returned in 1986 with a season-long story arc entitled The Trial of a Time Lord, but with greatly reduced screen time due; 14 episodes were allotted for the season, up from 13 the previous season, but with episode lengths reverted back to 25 minutes this was roughly half the storytelling time enjoyed by recent seasons.


Although the show's return garnered sufficient ratings for the BBC to grant a stay of execution and renew it for a 24th season, Colin Baker's contract as the Doctor was not renewed and he subsequently (and against his will) ceded the role to Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor in 1987.

The series had survived the hiatus, but never managed to regain ratings levels necessary for ongoing survival, constantly being beaten in the ratings by Coronation Street and, towards the end, garnering ratings barely in the 3 million range (compared to 11 million during the height of the Tom Baker era).

Attempts were made to refresh the aging series by darkening the character of the Doctor through what was later called the Cartmel Masterplan (named for then-script editor Andrew Cartmel), and also by introducing Ace, a companion with an edginess never before seen in an assistant.

The same year that McCoy took over, a fan-produced independent film entitled Wartime was released. Taking advantage of a loophole in licensing that allows characters other than the Doctor to be licensed direct from their creators, this film featuring John Benton was the first of what would be a series of fan-made productions that would help keep the Doctor Who universe alive after 1989.

It was during McCoy's era that the series celebrated its 25th anniversary on TV, with one of the serials produced during the anniversary year, Remembrance of the Daleks, returning the Doctor to 76 Totter's Lane, where it all began back in 1963.

Following production of the 26th season, Nathan-Turner learned that the show would not immediately be renewed for a 27th season, and after having McCoy record a series-ending monologue, the final episode -- part 3 of the ironically titled Survival -- aired on 6 December 1989, bringing Doctor Who's marathon 26-year run to a close. The Doctor Who Production Office closed down the following summer.

(It has never been made clear whether the BBC ever actually "cancelled" Doctor Who in 1989, or simply put the series on hold. One of the first to outright state that it was cancelled was co-star Sophie Aldred who used the term in the documentary More than Thirty Years in the TARDIS.)


The end of active production (made official in 1990 with the closure of the Doctor Who Production office, even though the BBC never officially cancelled the series; it simply didn't commission any new episodes) led to the launch of a veritable cottage industry of spin-off productions, ranging from the first long-term range of original fiction (the Virgin New Adventures series) -- made necessary as Target Books exhausted all available remaining serials to novelise; the Target brand was finally retired in 1994 -- to a plethora of independent video productions featuring characters and creatures from the series (but never the Doctor himself) - many of which featured actors, writers and directors who would later become involved in the main Doctor Who series, including Nicholas Briggs and Mark Gatiss. In 1993, the BBC made a half-hearted attempt at marking the 30th anniversary of the franchise by first commissioning, then cancelling, a planned multi-Doctor special called The Dark Dimension, and instead greenlighting a brief, poorly received pastiche called Dimensions in Time which aired as part of a Children in Need fund-raiser and as a dubious crossover with the soap opera EastEnders.

In the line of original fiction, Virgin's New Adventures picked up where Survival had left off and over the next five years greatly expanded the world of the Seventh Doctor, and Doctor Who, by featuring stories with more adult storylines than was possible on TV. The books also introduced the character of Bernice Summerfield, who was initially a companion of the Seventh Doctor's, but over time became the heart of her own mini-franchise which continues to this day. Virgin also launched a similar series of books called the Missing Adventures featuring past Doctors. One New Adventures novel, Damaged Goods, was written by a young writer who would later play a major role in the history of Doctor Who - Russell T Davies - while another future producer of the series, Steven Moffat, contributed short stories to Virgin's third line ofDoctor Who fiction, the Virgin Decalogs. Around this time, Moffatt also made his Doctor Who TV writing debut by penning the parody serial The Curse of Fatal Death which aired as a fund-raiser for Comic Reliefand starred Rowan Atkinson (among others) as the Doctor.


The franchise's so-called "first interregnum" on television ended in 1996 with an attempt at launching an American-UK co-produced Doctor Who series. A telemovie was produced for the American Fox Network,Doctor Who, in which McCoy handed off to Paul McGann's Eighth Doctor - rather than being a reboot or reimaginging, the film was a continuation of the original series. While relatively successful (if controversial for taking liberties with the canon) on the BBC, it failed to garner sufficient ratings in the US to warrant a new series. McCoy, in a later interview with Doctor Who Confidential, postulates that the film failed in the US in part because viewers unfamiliar with the history of Doctor Who were confused by the fact the first part of the film dealt with regeneration.


The "second interregnum" that followed saw more novels (now published by the BBC itself under its BBC Books branch, and featuring the Eighth Doctor), more independent productions, the launching of a separate series of Bernice Summerfield novels and, in 1998, the start of a prolific series of officially licenced audio stories by Big Finish Productions which, unlike the independent made-for-video productions, were free to use Doctors and companions from the series; with the notable exception of Tom Baker and earlier Doctors now deceased, the audios featured many of the original actors, and in particular led to a long-running series of programs continuing the adventures of McGann's Eighth Doctor. Big Finish also produced a prolific series of audio dramas featuring Bernice Summerfield (and began publishing novels featuring her once Virgin ended its series of books) as well as additional spin-off series featuring theDaleks, Davros, Sarah Jane Smith and Gallifrey, among others. Many of the writers, directors, and voice actors involved in this project also went on to work on the TV series proper.

The BBC also created Doctor Who-related new media projects during this time, creating several original webcast productions in conjunction with Big Finish (including one, Scream of the Shalka, in which Richard E. Grant was introduced as the Ninth Doctor, though his version of the character was quickly relegated to non-canon status), and making several Virgin-era Doctor Who novels available as e-books on its website.


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Around the time Scream of the Shalka was webcast in late 2003, the BBC stunned fans by announcing that its Welsh production office, BBC Wales, had been given the go-ahead to produce a brand-new series of Doctor Who. The series would be produced by Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner; Davies, since his days writing Doctor Who fiction for Virgin, had gone on to create the critically acclaimed series,Queer as Folk.

In the months that followed, details emerged about the new series, although fans still harboured questions as to whether the new series would be indeed a continuation of the original series (a 27th season), or a reimagining (as had recently occurred to great effect with Battlestar Galactica). The question as to whether the Paul McGann movie or Scream of the Shalka would count was also asked, but not immediately answered. There was some initial controversy when pop singer Billie Piper was cast as the new companion, and the new series logo riled some fans to the point that BBC News reported that some on the production team had received death threats over it.

The BBC's decision to restart the numbering of the series with Series 1 in 2005 added to the debate over whether the new show would be a continuation, although the BBC indicated it was strictly a commercial decision, and part of an overall strategy not to alienate potential new viewers by suggesting they needed to know 26 years of backstory.

In the spring of 2005, Doctor Who returned to television. Christopher Eccleston took over from McGann as the Ninth Doctor (after some initial uncertainty, it was soon indeed established that the new series was a continuation of the old, although to date the circumstances leading to the Eighth Doctor's regeneration have never been definitively revealed). The new episodes returned Doctor Who to levels of popularity not seen since the 1970s, and also began to garner awards and nominations the likes the original series never saw. Eccleston's brief era marked the return of the Daleks to television, as well as the introduction of Jack Harkness.

Audiences embraced the new series, but the show stumbled slightly with the announcement days after its premiere that Eccleston was leaving after a single season, but his replacement, David Tennant's Tenth Doctor, has proven to be the series' most popular Doctor since Tom Baker. Tennant's tenure was dominated by the relationship between the Doctor and Rose Tyler, a relationship never before attempted between a Doctor and his companion. Tennant's era also saw the return of Sarah Jane Smith in School Reunion, the episode most often cited as the one that established once and for all that so-called "nuWho" (as the series was dubbed by some viewers) was a direct continuation of the 1963-89 series. This was followed by the Children in Need mini-episode Time Crash in which Peter Davison reprised his role as the Fifth Doctor.

Tennant's era also saw the reintroduction of the Cybermen, but these versions were from an alternate universe. Related to this, the series began delving into the multiverse concept with Rise of the Cybermen, a topic that would dominate the final episodes of the fourth season in 2008.

Since the show's return to TV, Doctor Who has become a true franchise, spawning two successful spin-off series in short succession: Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures (both centered around the adventures of former companions) and also a third non-BBC spin-off, K-9. Two documentary series were also launched in conjunction with the return of Doctor Who - Doctor Who Confidential (still in production since 2005) and Totally Doctor Who (2006-2007). The latter series also produced the first animated-for-television Doctor Who serial, The Infinite Quest, which aired in 2007 and featured Tennant (a second animated serial, Dreamland, aired in 2009). Also, BBC Radio 7 began airing a specially commissioned series of radio serials featuring the return of Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor.

The Tennant era also saw the start of a new tradition in late 2005 - the Doctor Who Christmas Special; special holiday-themed episodes aired separately from the regular seasons. As of 2008, four such specials have been aired. The series has also contributed several mini-episodes (such as the aforementioned Time Crash) to both the Children in Need Appeal and the BBC Proms concert series (Music of the Spheres).

The conclusion of the fourth revived season in 2008 -- which linked all three series together and featured the return of Rose and other companions -- saw Doctor Who garner its highest ratings in nearly 30 years. It was followed by the 2008 Christmas special, The Next Doctor which included a scene -- the first of its kind -- in which all 10 Doctors, including the debated Paul McGann Eighth Doctor, were shown, firmly establishing the Tenth Doctor's place in his personal history.


The year 2009 was a transition year for Doctor Who, as the series produced only four episodes which would be aired as specials in April, November and on both Christmas Day and New Year's Day 2010. These specials (along with an animated serial, Dreamland) marked David Tennant's final appearances asThe Doctor. The decision for the series to take a break following Season 4 was, according to Davies' bookThe Writer's Tale, planned as far back as Tennant's first year. Davies devised the break as a way to smooth the transition between his leadership as show-runner and that of Steven Moffat, who he had invited to take over his post as executive producer and lead writer when the series returned as a weekly progamme in 2010.

Tennant took advantage of this break to enlist in a high-profile stage production of Hamlet co-starringStar Trek icon Patrick Stewart, which some media erroneously indicated was the reason for the break.

The announcement of the so-called gap year was followed by the announcement that Davies and Julie Gardner would be stepping aside as executive producers of Doctor Who following the production of the specials. Moffat, who won the Hugo Award three years running for his Doctor Who scripts, was appointed new head writer and executive producer. Also appointed executive producers were Piers Wenger and Beth Willis.

The question of whether Tennant would stay on was a hot topic in the UK media for much of 2008, until October 2008 when Tennant, while accepting his National Television Award for Favourite Actor, announced his intention to leave the role after the specials. After several months of speculation, it was announced on 3 January 2009 that 26-year-old Matt Smith would join the series in 2010 as the Eleventh Doctor, in the process smashing Peter Davison's decades-old record of being the youngest Doctor ever.

Meanwhile, the end of Series 4 and the start of the specials marked a "changing of the guard" with regards to international broadcasts of the series in the US and Canada. In the US, the Sci Fi Channel relinquished first-broadcast rights to BBC America, while in Canada the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's controversial handling of the series (which had seen a marked decrease in network interest and destructive editing of the Series 4 finale for commercials) came to an abrupt end when the cable networkSpace adopted the series. Both began airing the series with The Next Doctor in the spring of 2009 and subsequently announced they would air the weekly series in 2010.

The first gap-year special, Planet of the Dead aired at Easter 2009. Planet of the Dead was the first Doctor Who episode to be filmed in high definition and, subsequently, the first to be issued to Blu-Ray.

Meanwhile, Torchwood aired its third season in July 2009, now on BBC One, but in a different format - a single critically-acclaimed five-episode story arc entitled Children of Earth, which also aired to acclaim (and high ratings) on BBC America and Space. The Sarah Jane Adventures began its third season in October 2009, with David Tennant appearing as the Doctor in two episodes. Work on a non-BBC spin-off series, K-9, also progressed through the year.

The second special of the "gap year", The Waters of Mars aired in November 2009, and an animated adventure, Dreamland, was initially broadcast serialized on the BBC's Red Button service before being aired as one programme by the BBC proper.

During the Christmas season, Tennant appeared as the Doctor in a series of Christmas idents for the BBC. And then, finally, the era of the Tenth Doctor came to an end with the two-part special The End of Time. Part 1 aired on 25 December 2009 and the conclusion, with David Tennant handing over the role to Matt Smith, aired on 1 January 2010.


Within days of the broadcast of The End of Time, the BBC began the final transition to the Eleventh Doctor era, beginning to use a new series logo and releasing publicity images and a trailer for the 5th series. Much of the publicity focused on Scottish actress Karen Gillan, who had been cast as the Doctor's new companion.

Production of the first Matt Smith episodes commenced in July 2009, and it was soon revealed that writers recruited for the new season included Richard Curtis (co-creator of Blackadder and writer of Four Weddings and a Funeral), and Toby Whithouse (creator of Being Human). Noted fantasy writer Neil Gaiman was also rumoured to be involved in the new season. These rumours, as it turned out, proved to be correct. Michael Moorcock, another noted fantasy novelist, also announced he was writing a Doctor Whonovel for publication in 2010.

A bit of minor competition for Smith arrived in January 2010 when broadcasts of the non-BBC series K-9began broadcasting in parts of Europe. The UK, which had seen a preview of the first episode on Halloween 2009, saw the series debut on Disney XD on 3rd April 2010, a few hours before the start ofDoctor Who Series 5.

After months of intense publicity, the Matt Smith/Eleventh Doctor era officially began on 3rd April 2010 with the broadcast of The Eleventh Hour on BBC One. In a show of international support for the series, broadcasts in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were scheduled within a few weeks, the first time the programme's biggest international markets had coincided their broadcasts in this way.

Smith's debut was greeted with high ratings and critical acclaim. Series 5 ran for 13 weeks until it concluded with The Big Bang on 26th June 2010.


The future of Doctor Who on television, for the moment, appears secure. Even before the first episode of Series 5 was broadcast, the BBC announced that not only had a Christmas special been commissioned for 2010, but a sixth series of the revived series was scheduled to enter production in the summer of 2010 for broadcast in 2011. One of the first confirmed pieces of information about the future season is that an episode will be written by the often-rumoured Neil Gaiman. Both Matt Smith and Karen Gillan have been confirmed as returning for Series 6. Arthur Darvill, who joined as a second companion during Series 5 (indeed his character, Rory, and Amy Pond became the first married companion couple) has been more ambiguous, stating in interviews that he "hopes" to become a regular, despite apparently becoming so at the end of Series 5. The BBC has confirmed his appearance in the 2010 Christmas special but not as yet Series 6. Moffat, however, has referred to him as being affected by a game-changing event, implying that he will become one.

It has been announced that Series 6 will air in two parts, a first in the show's history. The first part is expected to air in the spring as usual (with an Easter start indicated by Moffat in numerous interviews), followed by a mid-season break and the remaining episodes to air in the autumn of 2011. The BBC have claimed it is to accommodate a so-called "game-changing" story arc leading to a mid-season cliffhanger. Moffat is said to have requested the split. As of September 2010 there are mixed messages coming from the Doctor Who production office as to whether the split season will in fact be considered two separate seasons, as Moffat has on at least one occasion referred to the autumn section as "Series 7".

There is already strong indications that the BBC intends to continue Doctor Who beyond 2011. On 24 June 2010, BBC News, reporting on the start of construction of BBC Wales' new "drama village" studio in Cardiff, reported that production of Doctor Who is expected to relocate to the studios in 2012.[1] In addition, in several media interviews regarding the split season announcement, Moffat has hinted at a 2011 Christmas special following on from the autumn season, though as of September 2010 the BBC has yet to confirm this officially (likewise an announcement officially confirming future seasons is not expected until sometime in 2011).

The future of The Sarah Jane Adventures also appears secure, with a fourth season scheduled to air beginning in October 2010, but a fifth series has already been commissioned for 2011, and according toDoctor Who Magazine #425, the first half of Series 5 was filmed during the same production block as Series 4 in the spring-summer of 2010. An episode of Series 4, SJA: Death of the Doctor, featured a guest appearance by Matt Smith. Like Doctor Who, BBC News reported in June 2010 that Sarah Jane is also expected to shift production to the new BBC Wales studios in 2012.[2] Once again, however, the BBC has yet to officially announce that it will actually commission a sixth series.

As for K9, its future also seems secure with Stewart & Wall Entertainment confirming the second season's development. The first series is due to be circulated around the globe in 2011 starting with Channel Five in the UK this Winter and continuing with Cartoon Network in New Zealand. The first season has already finished airing on Network Ten in Australia, Disney XD in The UK & Ireland; Scandinavia, Poland, Italy and The Netherlands and Disney Channel CEE in Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Slovakia, The Czech Republic and Hungary. Merchandise has also been announced for the show's impending syndication. The second season has henceforth been pushed back to 2012.

Torchwood's future also appears to be secure. Although an attempt at launching a fully American version of the series on the FOX network collapsed during the discussion phase, the US premium cable network Starz has agreed to co-produce the fourth series with the BBC, which will be a continuation of the BBC series rather than a rebooting or remake. Expanding on the success of the Children of Earth mini-season of 2009, the 2011 season will consist of a single 10-episode storyline called The New World. Production is expected to begin in January 2011, with filming in both Wales and the US announced, with broadcast in the spring or summer. Significantly, however, the BBC's June 2010 announcement regarding the new Cardiff studio does not list Torchwood as a potential tenant from 2012, though this isn't considered an indicator of its future with the network.

As of fall 2010, Davies remains producer of The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood, and according to comments made at science fiction conventions in July 2009, Davies says he intends to continue working with Torchwood and hopes to see future crossovers between it and Doctor Who.

In other media, Big Finish Productions has announced its audio publishing schedules well into 2011 (although it closed down its Short Trips printed short story collections in 2009, it replaced them with a new audio line in 2010) and an American comic book publisher, IDW Publishing is currently printing a mix of new and reprinted Doctor Who comic strips with plans to begin featuring the Eleventh Doctor at the end of 2010. Doctor Who Magazine, the longest-running publication based upon coverage of an English-language TV series, celebrated its 30th anniversary in October 2009 with no sign of slowing down; in January 2010 it launched a new format tying in with the new franchise branding related to the new Doctor.

BBC Books and BBC Audio have also reconfigured their lines of original fiction to feature the Eleventh Doctor and Amy, the occasional new releases based upon Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventurescontinue.

Doctor Who's history is not being forgotten, with BBC Video indicating in 2009 that it intends to continue releasing classic-series episodes on DVD format (release to high-definition Blu-Ray is not considered feasible due to image resolution issues) until at least the 50th anniversary of the series at the end of 2013.




Fans often speak of the "undefinable magic" present in Doctor Who. This can be explained as a combination of several factors:

  • The Doctor can change from serious to satirical, young to old, and change back again. He can go from self-doubting anti-hero to exuberant lover of life, all within the same continuity and even the same episode, then he can change back again, remaking himself every couple of years.
  • The series can range in tone, style and genre, as well as encompassing almost any place and time. The travellers may meet storybook characters in a land of fantasy and the next week land in a credible day-after-tomorrow London.
  • No other telefantasy series has, as often quoted, stayed on air for so long. Its longevity enabled it to enthrall (and frighten) new generations of children and teenagers for three decades. Everyone can have "their" own favorite Doctor or period of the series, including those who prefer the novels to the television series. It's important to make the distinction that Doctor Who, whether airing in 1963 or in 2010, is the same series. This differs from The Twilight Zone, which has been produced off and on since 1959, but is an anthology which has no ongoing continuity or characters, or the Star Trekfranchise, which has consisted of numerous series but with an ever-changing ensemble of characters rather than the constant presence of a single character.
  • The evolution of viewer from fan to maker of the series. As early as 1980, "Full Circle", a script authored by a teenaged fan, Andrew Smith, appeared on the screen (Smith also got to write the novelisation). In the same story, another young fan, Matthew Waterhouse, made his debut in the series as series regular. A few months later, Peter Davison, who professed to being a fan of the series in his youth, became the Fifth Doctor. Colin Baker had been a fan of the series since the first episode, which he had seen when he was a 20 year old. Though not crossing over in large numbers, members of fandom made the odd venture into the production side of the series up until the end of the original series. In 2005, the elders of Doctor Who fandom have grown up into the creators of the new series. And two of the franchise's recent leading men -- David Tennant and John Barrowman -- are both lifelong Who fans, to the point of both demonstrating an ability to cite chapter and verse in their DVD commentaries and interviews, a feat rarely demonstrated by participants in other franchises, including Star Trek. Matt Smith, however, says he grew up during the period when Doctor Who was not on the air, but since getting the role has immersed himself in the franchise's history.
  • The flexibility of being able to change the lead actor via regeneration has allowed the series to continually reinvent itself, while maintaining continuity to the past and offering audiences with an easy-to-grasp rationale for the change of actor. Similarly, the continually changing supporting cast of companions and recurring characters also allows new perspectives and new chemistry to be brought into the series frequently. These factors were also cited in contributing to Law & Order's 20-year run on American TV, as that series was also known for making frequent changes to its lead cast.
  • Both of the above have also afford the series, at least in its original run, the flexibility to make changes in the event of perceived audience dissatisfaction, such as the decision to replace Colin Baker with Sylvester McCoy (although the rationale in that case remains hotly debated two decades later).

The series is also unique for its longevity. Its original 26-season run places it far beyond the longevity of any other single, uninterrupted English-language science fiction series (a record Doctor Who retains even if the 1985-86 hiatus is taken into account). Its nearest rival, America's Stargate SG-1, ran for 10 seasons.Star Trek and its spinoffs amassed more individual seasons, but these were separate series, not one ongoing production. Doctor Who surpasses the Trek franchise in terms of individual seasons when the revived series, plus its spinoffs, are added together (38 seasons as of December 2010). The Guinness Book of Records has officially recognized Doctor Who as the world's longest-running science fiction television series; in July 2009 Guinness also proclaimed Doctor Who the single most successful science-fiction series, too.


See also: canon

A common contention among fans and producers of the series is that a large part of the Doctor's appeal comes from his mysterious and alien origins. While over the decades several revelations have been made about his background - that he is a Time Lord, that he is from Gallifrey, among others - the writers have often strived to retain some sense of mystery and to preserve the eternal question, "Doctor who?" This backstory was not rigidly planned from the beginning, but developed gradually (and somewhat haphazardly) over the years, the result of the work of many writers and producers.

Understandably, this has led to continuity problems. Characters such as the Monk were retroactively classified as Time Lords, early histories of races such as the Daleks were rewritten, and so on. The creation of a detailed backstory has also led to the criticism that too much being known about the Doctor limits both creative possibilities and the sense of mystery. Some of the stories during the Seventh Doctor'stenure, part of the so-called "Cartmel Masterplan", were intended to deal with this issue by suggesting that much of what was believed about the Doctor was wrong and that he is a far more powerful and mysterious figure than previously thought. In both an untelevised scene in Remembrance of the Daleks and the subsequent Silver Nemesis it is implied (to quote an excised line from "Rememberance") that the Doctor "is more than just a Time Lord." The suspension of the series in 1989, however, meant that none of these hints were ever resolved, at least on television. The Virgin New Adventure novel, Lungbarrow, did resolve these hints and explain the Doctor's origins. However, not all fans regard the spin-off novels as canon, and so do not accept the revelations made in that particular story.

The 1996 television movie created even more uncertainty about the character, revealing that the Doctor had a human mother and he remembered his father. Fans, however, seemed to be more upset about the fact that the Eighth Doctor was shown kissing Dr. Grace Holloway, breaking the series' longstanding taboo against the Doctor having any romantic involvement with his companions.

The revelation in the 1996 television movie that the Doctor was half-human proved controversial among fans, and some have suggested that only the Eighth Doctor was half-human due to the particularly traumatic circumstances of his regeneration, rather than the Doctor having been half-human all along. (The evidence for or against this in the series is, typically, equivocal.) The Time Lord ability to change species during regeneration is referenced by the Eighth Doctor in relation to the Master in the television movie, and is supported by Romana's regeneration scene in the 1979 serial Destiny of the Daleks.

While some fans regard discontinuities as a problem, others regard it as a source of interest or humour (an attitude taken in the book The Discontinuity Guide). A common fan explanation is that a universe with time travellers is likely to have many historical inconsistencies. The revival series has tackled this issue head on by suggesting that "time is in flux" and with the exception of certain fixed events in time, most anything can be changed (DW: The Fires of Pompeii, The Unicorn and the Wasp, etc.). As such it's possible to rationalize that some events seen -- for example the events of the 2005 episode Dalek sparks some minor continuity issues with later events such as The Stolen Earth, however it's possible to rationalize that the events of Dalek may now occur differently or not at all, due to the Doctor's actions in later episodes (and later in his lifetime). Most recently, some fan interpretations of the Series 5 finale, DW:The Big Bang have suggested a potential reboot of Doctor Who continuity in toto, but there is also evidence in opposition to this view and it remains to be seen what, if any, ramifications may occur following that episode.

There has been much fan speculation centred on exactly which aspects of the television series, books, radio dramatisations, and other sources are considered canon. This has been made more complex by the fact a novel, a short story, and a Big Finish audio have all, to date, been adapted for the TV series (Human Nature, Blink and Dalek, respectively), and the events of at least one novel have been referenced on screen (NSA: The Monsters Inside in DW: Boom Town). For their part, the BBC has never issued a firm edict as to what counts as canon, unlike Star Trek which, per Paramount Pictures, only counted live-action televised or film productions as canon, until recently when The Animated Series was reintroduced into canon , or Star Wars which counts everything licenced by Lucasfilm since the mid-1990s as canon.

"DOCTOR WHO?"edit[]

When the series begins, nothing is known of the Doctor at all, not even his name. In the very first serial, An Unearthly Child, two teachers from the Coal Hill School in London, Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton, become intrigued by one of their students, Susan Foreman, who exhibits high intelligence and unusually advanced knowledge. Trailing her to a junkyard at 76 Totter's Lane, they encounter a strange old man and hear Susan's voice coming from inside what appears to be a police box. Pushing their way inside, the two find that the exterior is actually camouflage for the dimensionally transcendental interior of the TARDIS.

Susan calls the old man "Grandfather", but he simply calls himself the Doctor. When he fears Ian and Barbara may alert the local authorities to what they've seen, he subsequently whisks them all away to another location in time and space.

In the first episode, Ian addresses the Doctor as "Doctor Foreman," as the junkyard in which they find him bears the sign "I.M. Foreman". When addressed by Ian with this name in the next episode, the Time Lord responds, "Eh? Doctor who? What's he talking about?" Later, when Ian realizes that "Foreman" is not his name, he asks Barbara, "Who is he? Doctor who?" Although listed in the on-screen credits for nearly twenty years as "Doctor Who", the Doctor is never really called by that name in the series, except in that same tongue-in-cheek manner. For example, in The Five Doctors when one character refers to him as "the Doctor", another character asks, "Who?" The only real exception has been the computer WOTAN, in the serial, The War Machines, which commanded that "Doctor Who is required."

In The Gunfighters, the First Doctor uses the alias Dr. Caligari. In The Highlanders the Second Doctor assumes the name of "Doctor von Wer" (a German translation of "Doctor of Who"), and signs himself as "Dr. W" in The Underwater Menace. In The Wheel in Space, his companion Jamie, reading the name off some medical equipment, tells the crew of the Wheel that the Doctor's name is "John Smith". The Doctor subsequently adopts this alias several times over the course of the series, often prefixing the title "Doctor" to it. This has continued through to the Tenth Doctor, and was famously referenced to in the 1996television movie, where even though the Doctor is unconscious a complete stranger, seemingly at random, writes the name John Smith on the Doctor's hospital admission papers.

In The Armageddon Factor, the Time Lord Drax addresses the Fourth Doctor as "Theet", short for "Theta Sigma", apparently a University nickname. In the 1988 serial Remembrance of the Daleks, the Seventh Doctor is asked to sign a document, which he does by using a question mark, and produces a calling card with a series of Greek letters (or Old High Gallifreyan script) and a question mark inscribed on it. The Eighth Doctor briefly used the alias "Dr. Bowman" in the 1996 television movie. He has also been mocked by his fellow Time Lords for adhering to such a "lowly" title as "Doctor".

In many spin-off comic strips, books, films and other media, the character is often called "Doctor Who" (or just "Dr. Who") as a matter of course, though this has declined in more recent years. From the first story through to Logopolis (the last story of Season 18 and also of the Tom Baker era), the lead character was listed as "Doctor Who". Starting from Peter Davison's first story, Castrovalva (also the first story ofSeason 19), the lead character is credited simply as "The Doctor".

Doctor Who writer Terrance Dicks often expressed the theory that Time Lord names were "jawbreakers," long and extremely difficult to pronounce, and this was why the Doctor never revealed his true name. However, this is unlikely due to the fact that River Song, one of the few people ever to know his name, was able to whisper it in his ear in a very small space of time. Some fans have speculated, taking off from the fact that the full name of the Time Lady Romana is Romanadvoratrelundar, that the first syllable of the Doctor's true name is "Who". It should be noted that, although it is often asserted that "Doctor Who" is notthe character's name, there is nothing in the series itself that actually confirms this. On at least one occasion the Doctor is about to give a name after the title "Doctor..." but is interrupted. Interestingly, the BBC novel, "The Infinity Doctors" mentions an ancient Gallifreyan god named "OHM". When this name is turned upside down, the result is "WHO." (This idea originated in early drafts of "The Three Doctors" byBob Baker and Dave Martin. The character of "Ohm" eventually became Omega.)

It is interesting to note that, while spin-off media is known to "fill in the blanks" regarding aspects ofDoctor Who lore -- for example, several novels "revealed" The Master's real name -- no officially licensed media has ever seriously attempted to solve the riddle of the Doctor's real name. Notwithstanding early spin-off media that treated "Doctor Who" as his name, of course.


In 2000, in a poll of industry professionals, the British Film Institute voted Doctor Who #3 in a list of the100 Greatest British Television Programmes. Since its return in 2005, the series has received many nominations and awards both nationally (UK) and internationally. This includes BAFTAs, the National Television Awards and the Hugo Awards. American accolades have been fewer and farther between, although in 2007 it broke a barrier by receiving a nomination for the 2008 People's Choice Awards, although it did not win. The series' revival found its highest ratings not in the UK but in South Korea [1].

The Guinness World Records have recognized that Doctor who has broke, accomplished and set many different records. To see a full list, visit the Guinness World Records article on this Wikia.

Even the "gap year" season of 2009-2010, which consisted of only four specials (five if the 2008 Christmas special, The Next Doctor is included), wasn't enough to slow down the train of awards given toDoctor Who. On 20 January 2010 the series won Best Drama and David Tennant won Best Drama Performance at the 2010 National Television Awards.[2]



See Doctor Who parodies


See Doctor Who pastiches


Although Doctor Who originated as a television programme, it has become much more than that. Starting with "Dalekmania" in the 1960s, a great deal of merchandise has sprung out of Doctor Who. Some of that merchandise has continued the story of the Doctor's adventures. Over the decades, Doctor Who has appeared on stage, screen, and radio, and in a variety of novels, comics, full-cast audio adventures andwebcasts. Beginning in the late 1980s, independent production companies such as BBV Productions andReeltime Pictures took advantage of a loophole in the BBC's ownership of Doctor Who to licence individual characters and monsters from the series directly from their creators and build original film and audio dramas around them; this reached its height after the original series ended in 1989. Many of these productions involved original cast members from the series. Meanwhile, since 1991, a prolific series of original novels rivalled only by the Star Trek franchise in terms of quantity have been published. Many of these productions and novels are highly regarded by some Doctor Who fans. Several of the writers of the 2005 series previously wrote or scripted adventures for the Doctor in other media.

In terms of non-fiction works, Doctor Who ranks among the most intensely chronicled entertainment franchises in history. Since the publication of The Making of Doctor Who in the early 1970s, the number of books detailing the production, personnel, and even philosophy behind Doctor Who has numbered well over 100. In addition, a growing number of actors connected to the series have published autobiographies (in several cases more than one volume of memoirs), ranging from 1960s-era co-stars such as Anneke Wills and Deborah Watling through to more recent actors such as Billie Piper and John Barrowman.


SEE ALSOedit[]


  1. Work starts on BBC Wales drama village in Cardiff Bay, BBC News, 24 June 2010.
  2. Work starts on BBC Wales drama village in Cardiff Bay, BBC News, 24 June 2010.

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