Doctor Who

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Doctor Who
Format Science Fiction
Created by Sydney Newman
C. E. Webber
Donald Wilson
Starring Various
Opening theme Doctor Who theme music
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 798 (As of 18 May 2013)
Running time about 25 minutes (1963–1984, 1986–1989)
about 45 minutes (1985, 2005–now)
also other lengths
Original channel BBC One
Original run Original Series:
23 November 1963 – 6 December 1989
Television Movie:
12 May 1996
Current Series:
26 March 2005 – now
Related shows K-9 and Company
The Sarah Jane Adventures
Other websites
Official website

Doctor Who is a British science fiction television series. The series is about an alien time-traveller known as "the Doctor". In his space-and-time-ship, the TARDIS, the Doctor and his companions travel through space and time.

The television series ran from 1963–1989 and started running again in 2005. It is the oldest and the longest running science fiction television series in the world.

There were also two Doctor Who movies made in the 1960s. Peter Cushing played the Doctor in these movies. In 1996, there was a television movie starring Paul McGann. There have also been many Doctor Who books, comics, etc.

Story outline[change | edit source]

The story is about a man who calls himself "The Doctor". He travels in his space-time-ship TARDIS ("Time And Relative Dimension In Space"), with which he can go anywhere in time and space. Because of an error in its chameleon circuit, the outside of the TARDIS always looks like a 1960s-style British police box (similar to a blue telephone box), but on the inside the TARDIS is much bigger.

The Doctor is an alien, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. At first, he travelled only with his granddaughter Susan Foreman. Later, the Doctor took other people with him. They are usually called "companions" or "assistants". The Doctor and his companions travel through space and time, have a lot of adventures, and often save many people.

Some people think that it is not okay to call the Doctor "Doctor Who", but there is no mistake. The character was named Doctor Who in the titles until the Fifth Doctor, and after the 2005 restart the Ninth Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston, is called Doctor Who in the titles too. The Second Doctor once signed a letter as "Dr W.".

History[change | edit source]

Doctor Who was first shown in 1963. William Hartnell played the First Doctor. The series went on with different actors as The Doctor. The 2005 restart is currently on the Eleventh Doctor. In 1989, the series stopped. A television movie, also called Doctor Who, was made in 1996. Actor Paul McGann played the Eighth Doctor, who had regenerated from the Seventh Doctor in the beginning of the movie. In 2005, the show started again, with Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor. In the Guinness World Records, Doctor Who is listed as the longest running science fiction television series in the world.

The Doctor[change | edit source]

The Doctor is the central character of Doctor Who. He is an alien, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. The Doctor often takes other people with him, who are usually called "companions" or "assistants". They are most often human. The most recent companion was Clara Oswald, played by Jenna-Louise Coleman.

As a Gallifreyan, The Doctor looks human on the surface. However, there are differences. For example, he has two hearts. Also, if badly injured or dying, he can regenerate. During the regeneration, his body heals and renews itself. Then, he takes on a different appearance and personality. He is the same person with the same memories and knowledge. But, he looks different and has a new personality. Because of this, the Doctor can be played by different actors. And in nearly fifty years, this is why the character has not actually "changed".

Incarnations and Actors of the Doctor[change | edit source]

Up until now, the Doctor has regenerated twelve times, and each "incarnation" was played by a different actor.

  1. First Doctor - William Hartnell (1963–1966)
  2. Second Doctor - Patrick Troughton (1966–1969, 1983)
  3. Third Doctor - Jon Pertwee (1970–1974, 1983)
  4. Fourth Doctor - Tom Baker (1974–1981, 1983)
  5. Fifth Doctor - Peter Davison (1982–1984)
  6. Sixth Doctor - Colin Baker (1984–1986)
  7. Seventh Doctor - Sylvester McCoy (1987–1996)
  8. Eighth Doctor - Paul McGann (1996–2005)
  9. War Doctor - John Hurt (2013)
  10. Ninth Doctor - Christopher Eccleston (2005)
  11. Tenth Doctor - David Tennant (2005–2010)
  12. Meta-Crisis Doctor - David Tennant (2008)
  13. Eleventh Doctor - Matt Smith (2010–2013)
  14. Twelfth Doctor - Peter Capaldi (2014–)

The Doctor has been played by 11 actors in other media: theatre plays, parodies, etc. These are not officially part of the Doctor Who story. The movies Dr.Who & the Daleks and Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. star Peter Cushing as a human scientist named Doctor Who. Shortly after it was announced that the series would return from its nineties hiatus, Richard E. Grant voiced The Doctor in an animated serial. The BBC issued press releases identifying Grant as the "ninth Doctor" but this was later disregarded by the revived BBC television series.

Sometimes different incarnations of the Doctor meet each other. Usually episodes with several Doctors are made when the program celebrates an anniversary. In 1973, when the show was 10 years old, "The Three Doctors" episode was shown. It featured the first three Doctors. In 1983, there was the 20th anniversary special titled "The Five Doctors" with Patrick Troughton, John Pertwee, Peter Davison and Richard Hundall replacing William Hartnell. Tom Baker refused to play in it, so they used the old footage of uncomplete "Shada" episode to show him. In 1985, there was "The Two Doctors" episode, featuring the Second and the Sixth Doctors. The fifth Doctor met the tenth incarnation in mini-episode named "Time Crush". It was aired in 2007. Tenth and Eleventh Doctors are going to meet each other in upcoming 50th anniversary special in November 2013. On August 4, 2013, Peter Capaldi was revealed as the actor who will play the Twelfth Doctor.[1]

TARDIS[change | edit source]

The TARDIS model used for filming in the 1980s.

The TARDIS is the Doctor's time and space machine. There are different types of models. The best to appear in the series is type 70 (used by the upper class time lords of Gallifrey). The Doctor's TARDIS is a type 40. It does not really belong to him. He stole it from a Gallifrey museum. The TARDIS can travel through time and space. It normally has a special feature called the Chameleon Circuit. The Chameleon Circuit makes the TARDIS' outside change shape to disguise it in whatever time and place it appears. However, the Chameleon Circuit on the Doctor's TARDIS is broken. It is stuck in the shape of a police telephone box. (Real police-boxes were like telephone boxes, except they were only used for people to call the police. Sometimes, they were used by the police as workstations until the 1960s.)

The Doctor mentioned that TARDISes are not built. But, they are grown like plants. In fact, his TARDIS is alive. And, it can be stubborn. It rarely takes the Doctor to a place and time he wants to go. Instead, it usually goes to where he is needed.

The farthest the Doctor has ever travelled in the TARDIS is to the Big Bang (the beginning of the Universe) and 100 trillion years into the future (the end of the Universe)(in the episode "Utopia"). The inside of the TARDIS is much bigger than its outside (it is "dimensionally transcendental"). It has a lot of different rooms. The most important of which is the "console room" where the Doctor pilots the TARDIS.

The TARDIS stands for "Time And Relative Dimension/s In Space".

Companions[change | edit source]

The Doctor usually takes other people with him, who are usually called "companions" or "assistants". The Doctor and his companions travel through space and time, have a lot of adventures, and often save many people. The character of the companion was there so that the people watching the series could identify and feel close to a character. The companions were often present-time humans, so people could feel close to them, and they knew as much as the viewers. Because of this, the Doctor could explain things to his companions, and at the same time to the viewers. Almost all the Doctor's companions have been human, or human-looking aliens. Two companions were robots.

Races[change | edit source]

Daleks[change | edit source]

The Daleks are one of the most powerful races in the Doctor Who history and are the Doctor's worst enemies. They cry "EX-TER-MIN-ATE!" when they are about to kill someone. They look like small tanks or very large pepper pots. They first appeared in the first season episode of the series (in "The Daleks") and they were last seen in the recent episode "Asylum of the Daleks" (2012). They are not robots, but horrible aliens kept in a metal casing, because they were mutated from Kaleds by their creator Davros during a war on their planet, Skaro. They can not be easily hurt by guns as their casing reflects or destroys the bullets.

Cybermen[change | edit source]

Cybermen are another of the enemies of the Doctor. In the original series, they come from the planet Mondas and in the new series they come from a parallel universe. Cybermen travel across the universe taking people and turning them into machines. They stomp around saying "DELETE!" and kill by electrocution. They are also vulnerable to the metal gold, and thus can be killed by gold bullets. They change their look over time but stay recognizable by "handlebars" on their heads.

The Doctor has faced them many times: the first was in "The Tenth Planet" (William Hartnell's final episode) and most recently in "A Nightmare in Silver" (Matt Smith). They are one of his worst enemies.

Sontarans[change | edit source]

The Sontarans are a group of aliens that believe in war over anything else. They must face their enemy in combat because of their weak spot on the back of their neck. They have been mentioned to look like baked potatoes.

The Doctor first met them in The Time Warrior (Jon Pertwee). They have been on the show and its spinoffs repeatedly.

Earth Reptiles[change | edit source]

The Sea Devils and the Silurians lived in the time of the dinosaurs until the catastrophe of the Moon's approach drove them into hibernation. They slept longer than planned and emerged late in the 20th century. The human scientist who discovered the Silurians estimated their era incorrectly. A later Doctor Who story said that they should have been classified as the Eocines. A second species of hibernating Earth reptiles lived primarily underwater. They were labeled "sea devils" by a frightened, superstitious construction worker who encountered them.

Time Lords[change | edit source]

The Time Lords are the alien race the Doctor comes from. They have two hearts and can change their bodies when they get hurt. There are only a couple of them left, because many of them perished in the time war fighting against the Daleks. The Doctor and The Master are the only ones that we know of, aside from the Doctors Daughter who was created artificially. Truly, she is not a Time Lord.

All of the Time Lords, except the Doctor and the Master, were killed in the "Time War". This was a very big war with the Daleks. The Doctor ended the war by blowing up his planet, Gallifrey. He killed the Daleks and his own people. This has made him sad ever since.

The Master[change | edit source]

The Master is a renegade Time Lord, and the Doctor's nemesis. Conceived as "Professor Moriarty to the Doctor's Sherlock Holmes,"[2] the character first appeared in 1971. As with the Doctor, the role has been portrayed by several actors. The first being 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. He continued to play the character until Doctor Who's "hiatus" in 1989. The Master returned in the 1996 television movie of Doctor Who, played by Gordon Tipple in the ultimately unused pre-credits voiceover, then Eric Roberts. And also, in the three-part finale of the 2007 series, portrayed by Derek Jacobi, who then regenerated into John Simm at the conclusion of the episode "Utopia". More recently, he appeared in the last (and two-part) episode of the Tenth Doctor.

Ice warriors[change | edit source]

An ice warrior is a species of war-like alien, which previously lived on the planet Mars and ate Martian fish. When their home planet became too hot for them to live in, they moved to planets such as Peladon.

Regeneration[change | edit source]

The Doctor has been played by thirteen actors so far including William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, John Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, John Hurt, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi.

When Time Lords are dying, they "regenerate." This causes a Time Lord's body to completely change, healing itself at the same time. Each time this happens, Time Lords have a different appearance and a different personality. Even with such big changes, Time Lords do not become different people, and will keep their memories each time they "regenerate." This periodic change greatly extends their longevity.

A Time Lord is believed to only be able to regenerate 12 times. This means that Time Lords can have a total of 13 different incarnations. It is not clear if this was a law that the government on Gallifrey made or if this is just the way Time Lord bodies work.

A criminal incarnation of the Doctor was somehow spawned between his 12th and 13th lives. It tried to sacrifice the sixth Doctor so that he could obtain more "regenerations," allowing himself to live even longer.

The Master was already in his 13th life when he was introduced to the series. His 14th and 15th incarnations were obtained by taking over the bodies of innocent victims. When the character returned to the show in 2007, the Master was in his 16th incarnation. Soon, he regenerates into his 17th incarnation. Later, he explains that the Time Lords resurrected him to be a great soldier when the Time Lords were fighting the Daleks in an event known as the Time War. It is likely that, having been resurrected, he had 12 more regenerations available to him.

A Time Lord can choose not to regenerate. It appears that the process happens all on its own when a Time Lord is dying. But, it can be stopped if the Time Lord does not want to regenerate. This was seen when the 17th incarnation of the Master. He chose to die from a gunshot wound instead of living on as a prisoner in the Doctor's TARDIS.

A Time Lord's body makes a huge amount of energy when regenerating. There is so much of this "regeneration energy" that a Time Lord can regrow a body part that gets removed, as long as it happens soon enough after regenerating. When the Doctor regenerated into his 10th incarnation, his hand was cut off in a sword fight. Because it had been less than 15 hours since he had regenerated into this incarnation, he was able to quickly grow a new hand.

If a Time Lord has kept a part of his or her body that had been removed (like the 10th Doctor's hand, from before), it can be used to keep a Time Lord from regenerating. The 10th incarnation of the Doctor kept the hand that was cut off in the sword fight in a jar on board the TARDIS. Eventually, he was shot by a Dalek, and his body began the regeneration process. After his body had finished healing, but before his body could change into a new one, the Doctor sent all of the extra energy into the hand in the jar.

References[change | edit source]

  1. "Peter Capaldi is new 'Doctor Who' star". C|Net. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  2. Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #2, 5 September 2002, [subtitled The Complete Third Doctor], page 14

Related pages[change | edit source]

Other websites[change | edit source]