British science fiction TV series
This article is about the television series. For other uses, see Doctor Who (disambiguation).
Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme broadcast by BBC One since 1963. The programme depicts the adventures of a Time Lord called the Doctor, an extraterrestrial being who appears to be human. The Doctor explores the universe in a time-travellingspace ship called the TARDIS. The TARDIS exterior appears as a blue British police box, which was a common sight in Britain in 1963 when the series first aired. With various companions, the Doctor combats foes, works to save civilisations and helps people in need.
Beginning with William Hartnell, thirteen actors have headlined the series as the Doctor, and in 2017 Jodie Whittaker became the first woman to play the role. The transition from one actor to another is written into the plot of the show with the concept of regeneration into a new incarnation, a plot device in which a Time Lord "transforms" into a new body when the current one is too badly harmed to heal normally. Each actor's portrayal is unique, but all represent stages in the life of the same character, and together, they form a single lifetime with a single narrative. The time-travelling feature of the plot means that different incarnations of the Doctor occasionally meet.
The show is a significant part of British popular culture, and elsewhere it has gained a cult following. It has influenced generations of British television professionals, many of whom grew up watching the series.Fans of the series are sometimes referred to as Whovians. The programme is listed in Guinness World Records as the longest-running science fiction television show in the world, as well as the "most successful" science fiction series of all time, based on its overall broadcast ratings, DVD and book sales, and iTunes traffic.
The programme originally ran from 1963 to 1989. There was an unsuccessful attempt to revive regular production in 1996 with a backdoor pilot, in the form of a television film titled Doctor Who. The programme was relaunched in 2005, and since then has been produced in-house by BBC Wales in Cardiff. Doctor Who has also spawned numerous spin-offs, including comic books, films, novels, audio dramas, and the television series Torchwood (2006–2011), The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007–2011), K-9 (2009–2010), and Class (2016), and has been the subject of many parodies and references in popular culture.
Doctor Who follows the adventures of the title character, a rogue Time Lord with somewhat unknown origins who goes by the name "the Doctor". The Doctor fled Gallifrey, the planet of the Time Lords, in a stolen TARDIS ("Time and Relative Dimension in Space"), a time machine that travels by materialising into, and dematerialising out of, the time vortex. The TARDIS has a vast interior but appears smaller on the outside, and is equipped with a "chameleon circuit" intended to make the machine take on the appearance of local objects as a disguise; due to a malfunction, the Doctor's TARDIS remains fixed as a blue British police box.
Across time and space, the Doctor's many incarnations often find events that pique their curiosity, and try to prevent evil forces from harming innocent people or changing history, using only ingenuity and minimal resources, such as the versatile sonic screwdriver. The Doctor rarely travels alone and is often joined by one or more companions on these adventures; these companions are usually humans, owing to the Doctor's fascination with planet Earth, which also leads to frequent collaborations with the international military task force UNIT when Earth is threatened. The Doctor is centuries old and, as a Time Lord, has the ability to regenerate in case of mortal damage to the body, taking on a new appearance, personality and (from 2017 onwards) gender identity. The Doctor's various incarnations have gained numerous recurring enemies during their travels, including the Daleks, their creator Davros, the Cybermen, and the Master, another renegade Time Lord.
Main article: History of Doctor Who
Doctor Who first appeared on BBC TV at 17:16:20 GMT on Saturday, 23 November 1963; this was eighty seconds later than the scheduled programme time, because of the assassination of John F. Kennedy the previous day. It was to be a regular weekly programme, each episode 25 minutes of transmission length. Discussions and plans for the programme had been in progress for a year. The head of dramaSydney 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 editorDavid Whitaker and initial producer Verity Lambert also heavily contributed to the development of the series.[note 1]
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". 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 (also known as 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.
We had to rely on the story because there was little we could do with the effects. Star Wars in a way was the turning point. Once Star Wars had happened, Doctor Who effectively was out of date from that moment on really, judged by that level of technological expertise.
—Philip Hinchcliffe, producer of Doctor Who from 1974 to 1977, on why the "classic series" eventually fell behind other science fiction in production values and reputation, leading to its cancellation.
The BBC drama department's serials division produced the programme for 26 seasons, broadcast on BBC 1. Due to his increasingly poor health, the first actor to play the Doctor, William Hartnell, was replaced by the younger Patrick Troughton in 1966. In 1970 Jon Pertwee replaced Troughton and the series at that point moved from black and white to colour. In 1974 Tom Baker was cast as the Doctor. His eccentric style of dress and quirky personality became hugely popular, with viewing figures for the show returning to a level not seen since the height of "Dalekmania" a decade earlier. In 1981, after a record seven years in the role, Baker was replaced by Peter Davison, at 29 by far the youngest actor to be cast as the character in the series' first run, and in 1984 Colin Baker replaced Davison. In 1985 the channel's controller Michael Grade attempted to cancel the series, but this became an 18-month hiatus instead. He also had Colin Baker removed from the starring role in 1986. The role was recast with Sylvester McCoy, but falling viewing numbers, a decline in the public perception of the show and a less-prominent transmission slot saw production ended in 1989 by Peter Cregeen, the BBC's new head of series. Although it was effectively cancelled with the decision not to commission a planned 27th season, which would have been broadcast in 1990, the BBC repeatedly affirmed, over several years, 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 season was still in production. Segal's negotiations eventually led to a Doctor Who television film, broadcast on the Fox Network in 1996 as an international co-production between Fox, Universal Pictures, the BBC and BBC Worldwide. Starring Paul McGann as the Doctor, the film was successful in the UK (with 9.1 million viewers), but 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.
Starring Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor, Doctor Who finally returned with the episode "Rose" on BBC One on 26 March 2005. Eccleston left after one series and was replaced by David Tennant. There have since been eleven further series in 2006–2008, 2010–2015, 2017–2018, 2020, and Christmas/New Year's Day specials every year since 2005. No full series was broadcast in 2009, although four additional specials starring Tennant were made. Davies left the show in 2010 after the end of series 4 and the David Tennant specials were completed. Steven Moffat, a writer under Davies, was announced as his successor, along with Matt Smith as the new Doctor. Smith decided to leave the role of the Doctor in the 50th anniversary year. He was replaced by Peter Capaldi.
In January 2016, Moffat announced that he would step down after the 2017 finale, to be replaced by Chris Chibnall in 2018. The tenth series debuted in April 2017, with a Christmas special preceding it in 2016.Jodie Whittaker was announced as the first female Doctor, and has appeared in two series and is scheduled to reprise her role in a third, shorter series due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both Whittaker and Chibnall announced that they would depart the show after a series of 2022 specials following the 13th series. Davies will return as showrunner for the show's 14th series, twelve years after he had left the show previously, at which point Bad Wolf will take over production of the series. Bad Wolf's involvement will see Gardner return to the series alongside Davies, as well as Jane Tranter, who recommissioned the series in 2005.
The 2005 version of Doctor Who is a direct plot continuation of the original 1963–1989 series[note 2] and the 1996 telefilm. This is similar to the 1988 continuation of Mission Impossible, but differs from most other series relaunches which have either been reboots (for example, Battlestar Galactica and Bionic Woman) or set in the same universe as the original but in a different time period and with different characters (for example, Star Trek: The Next Generation and spin-offs).
The programme has been sold to many other countries worldwide (see Viewership).
It has been claimed 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; in fact it went out after a delay of eighty seconds. The BBC believed that coverage of the assassination, as well as a series of power blackouts across the country, had caused many viewers to miss this introduction to a new series, and it was broadcast again on 30 November 1963, just before episode two.
The programme soon became a national institution in the United Kingdom, with a large following among the general viewing audience. With popularity came controversy over the show's suitability for children. Morality campaigner Mary Whitehouse repeatedly complained to the BBC over what she saw as the show's violent, frightening and gory content. According to Radio Times, the series "never had a more implacable foe than Mary Whitehouse".
A BBC audience research survey conducted in 1972 found that, by their own definition of violence ("any act[s] which may cause physical and/or psychological injury, hurt or death to persons, animals or property, whether intentional or accidental") Doctor Who was the most violent of the drama programmes the corporation produced at the time. 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."
During Jon Pertwee's second season as the Doctor, in the serial Terror of the Autons (1971), images of murderous plastic dolls, daffodils killing unsuspecting victims, and blank-featured policemen marked the apex of the show's ability to frighten children. Other notable moments in that decade include a disembodied brain falling to the floor in The Brain of Morbius and the Doctor apparently being drowned by a villain in The Deadly Assassin (both 1976). Mary Whitehouse's complaint about the latter incident prompted a change in BBC policy towards the series, with much tighter controls imposed on the production team, and the series' next producer, Graham Williams, was under a directive to take out "anything graphic in the depiction of violence".John Nathan-Turner produced the series during the 1980s and said in the documentary More Than Thirty Years in the TARDIS that he looked forward to Whitehouse's comments because the show's ratings would increase soon after she had made them. Nevertheless, Nathan-Turner also got into trouble with BBC executives over the violence he allowed to be depicted for season 22 of the series in 1985, which was publicly criticised by controller Michael Grade and given as one of his reasons for suspending the series for 18 months.
The phrase "Hiding behind (or 'watching from behind') the sofa" entered British pop culture, signifying in humour the stereotypical early-series behaviour of children who wanted to avoid seeing frightening parts of a television programme while remaining in the room to watch the remainder of it. The phrase retains this association with Doctor Who, to the point that in 1991 the Museum of the Moving Image in London named their exhibition celebrating the programme "Behind the Sofa". The electronic theme music too was perceived as eerie, novel, and frightening, at the time. A 2012 article placed this childhood juxtaposition of fear and thrill "at the center of many people's relationship with the show", and a 2011 online vote at Digital Spy deemed the series the "scariest TV show of all time".
The image of the TARDIS has become firmly linked to the show in the public's consciousness; BBC scriptwriter Anthony Coburn, who lived in the resort of Herne Bay, Kent, was one of the people who conceived the idea of a police box as a time machine. In 1996, the BBC applied for a trademark to use the TARDIS' 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 21st century revival of the programme became the centrepiece of BBC One's Saturday schedule and "defined the channel". Many renowned actors asked for or were offered guest-starring roles in various stories. According to an article in The Daily Telegraph in 2009, the revival of Doctor Who had 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". According to Steven Moffat, the American film director Steven Spielberg has commented that "the world would be a poorer place without Doctor Who".
On 4 August 2013, a live programme titled Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor was broadcast on BBC One, during which the actor who was going to play the Twelfth Doctor was revealed. The live show was watched by an average of 6.27 million in the UK, and was also simulcast in the United States, Canada and Australia.
Further information: List of Doctor Who episodes (1963–1989) and List of Doctor Who episodes (2005–present)
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. Some notable exceptions were: The Daleks' Master Plan, which aired twelve episodes (plus an earlier one-episode teaser, "Mission to the Unknown", featuring none of the regular cast); almost an entire season of seven-episode serials (season 7); the ten-episode serial The War Games; and The Trial of a Time Lord, which ran for fourteen episodes (albeit divided into three production codes and four narrative segments) during season 23. Occasionally serials were loosely connected by a story-line, such as season 8 focusing on the Doctor battling a rogue Time Lord called the Master,season 16's quest for the Key to Time,season 18's journey through E-Space and the theme of entropy, and season 20's Black Guardian trilogy.
The programme was intended to be educational and for family viewing on the early Saturday evening schedule. It initially alternated stories set in the past, which taught younger audience members about history, and with those in the future or outer space, focusing on 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 history-orientated episodes, which were not popular with the production team, were dropped after The Highlanders (1967). While the show continued to use historical settings, they were generally used as a backdrop for science fiction tales, with one exception: Black Orchid (1982), set in 1920s England.
The early stories were serialised 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, and the individual parts were simply assigned episode numbers.
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 works.
The serial format changed for the 2005 revival, with what was now called a series usually consisting of thirteen 45-minute, self-contained episodes (60 minutes with adverts, on overseas commercial channels), and an extended 60-minute episode broadcast on Christmas Day. This system was shortened to twelve episodes and one Christmas special following the revival's eighth series, and ten episodes from the eleventh series. Each series includes both standalone and multiple episodic stories, often linked with a loose story arc that is resolved in the series finale. As in the early "classic" era, each episode, whether standalone or part of a larger story, has its own title. Occasionally, regular-series episodes will exceed the 45-minute run time; notably, the episodes "Journey's End" from 2008 and "The Eleventh Hour" from 2010 exceeded an hour in length.
862 Doctor Who instalments have been televised since 1963, ranging between 25-minute episodes (the most common format for the classic era), 45/50-minute episodes (for Resurrection of the Daleks in the 1984 series, a single season in 1985, and the most common format for the revival era since 2005), two feature-length productions (1983's The Five Doctors and the 1996 television film), twelve Christmas specials (most of 60 minutes' duration, one of 72 minutes), and four additional specials ranging from 60 to 75 minutes in 2009, 2010 and 2013. Four mini-episodes, running about eight minutes each, were also produced for the 1993, 2005 and 2007 Children in Need charity appeals, while another mini-episode was produced in 2008 for a Doctor Who–themed edition of The Proms. The 1993 two-part story, entitled Dimensions in Time, was made in collaboration with the cast of the BBC soap-opera EastEnders and was filmed partly on the EastEnders set. A two-part mini-episode was also produced for the 2011 edition of Comic Relief. Starting with the 2009 special "Planet of the Dead", the series was filmed in 1080i for HDTV, and broadcast simultaneously on BBC One and BBC HD.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the show, a special 3D episode, "The Day of the Doctor", was broadcast in 2013. In March 2013, it was announced that Tennant and Piper would be returning, and that the episode would have a limited cinematic release worldwide.
In June 2017, it was announced that due to the terms of a deal between BBC Worldwide and SMG Pictures in China, the company has first right of refusal on the purchase for the Chinese market of future series of the programme until and including Series 15.
Main article: Doctor Who missing episodes
Between about 1967 and 1978, large amounts of older material stored in the BBC's various video tape and film libraries were either destroyed,[note 3]wiped, or suffered from poor storage which led to severe deterioration from broadcast quality. This included many old episodes of Doctor Who, mostly stories featuring the first two Doctors: William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton. In all, 97 of 253 episodes produced during the first six years of the programme are not held in the BBC's archives (most notably seasons 3, 4, and 5, from which 79 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 prints being film transfers), though some were transferred to film for editing before transmission, and exist in their broadcast form.
Some episodes have been returned to the BBC from the archives of other countries who bought prints for broadcast, or by private individuals who acquired them by various means. Early colour videotape recordings made off-air by fans have also been retrieved, as well as excerpts filmed from the television screen onto 8 mm cine film and clips that were shown on other programmes. Audio versions of all of the lost episodes exist from home viewers who made tape recordings of the show. Short clips from every story with the exception of Marco Polo (1964), "Mission to the Unknown" (1965) and The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve (1966) also exist.
In addition to these, there are off-screen photographs made by photographer John Cura, who was hired by various production personnel to document many of their programmes during the 1950s and 1960s, including Doctor Who. These have been used in fan reconstructions of the serials. These amateur reconstructions have been tolerated by the BBC, provided they are not sold for profit and are distributed as low-quality 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 special features on DVD. The BBC, in conjunction with animation studio Cosgrove Hall, reconstructed the missing episodes 1 and 4 of The Invasion (1968), using remastered audio tracks and the comprehensive stage notes for the original filming, for the serial's DVD release in November 2006. The missing episodes of The Reign of Terror were animated by animation company Theta-Sigma, in collaboration with Big Finish, and became available for purchase in May 2013 through Amazon.com. Subsequent animations made in 2013 include The Tenth Planet, The Ice Warriors (1967) and The Moonbase (1967).
In April 2006, Blue Peter launched a challenge to find missing Doctor Who episodes with the promise of a full-scale Dalek model as a reward. In December 2011, it was announced that part 3 of Galaxy 4 (1965) and part 2 of The Underwater Menace (1967) 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.
On 10 October 2013, the BBC announced that films of eleven episodes, including nine missing episodes, had been found in a Nigerian television relay station in Jos. Six of the eleven films discovered were the six-part serial The Enemy of the World (1968), from which all but the third episode had been missing. The remaining films were from another six-part serial, The Web of Fear (1968), and included the previously missing episodes 2, 4, 5, and 6. Episode 3 of The Web of Fear is still missing.
See also: List of Doctor Who cast members
Main article: The Doctor (Doctor Who)
The Doctor was initially shrouded in mystery. In the programme's early days, the character 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 in Space), which notably appears much larger on the inside than on the outside (a quality referred to as "dimensionally transcendental").[note 4]
The initially irascible and slightly sinister Doctor quickly mellowed into a more compassionate figure and was eventually revealed to be a Time Lord, whose race are from the planet Gallifrey, which the Doctor fled by stealing the TARDIS.
Changes of appearance
Main article: Regeneration (Doctor Who)
Producers introduced the concept of regeneration to permit the recasting of the main character. This was prompted by the poor health of the original star, William Hartnell. The term "regeneration" was not conceived until the Doctor's third on-screen regeneration; Hartnell's Doctor merely described undergoing a "renewal", and the Second Doctor underwent a "change of appearance". The device has allowed for the recasting of the actor various times in the show's history, as well as the depiction of alternative Doctors either from the Doctor's relative past or future.
The serials The Deadly Assassin (1976) and Mawdryn Undead (1983) established that a Time Lord can only regenerate 12 times, for a total of 13 incarnations. This line became stuck in the public consciousness despite not often being repeated, and was recognised by producers of the show as a plot obstacle for when the show finally had to regenerate the Doctor a thirteenth time. The episode "The Time of the Doctor" (2013) depicted the Doctor acquiring a new cycle of regenerations, starting from the Twelfth Doctor, due to the Eleventh Doctor being the product of the Doctor's twelfth regeneration from his original set.
Although the idea of casting a woman as the Doctor had been suggested by the show's writers several times, including by Newman in 1986 and Davies in 2008, until 2017, all official depictions were played by men.Jodie Whittaker took over the role as the Thirteenth Doctor at the end of the 2017 Christmas special, and is the first woman to be cast as the character. Whittaker had previously starred in television series such as Return to Cranford, Broadchurch alongside David Tennant (Tenth Doctor) and the dystopian anthology Black Mirror. The show introduced the Time Lords' ability to change gender on regeneration in earlier episodes, first in dialogue, then with Michelle Gomez's version of The Master.
In addition to those actors who have headlined the series, others have portrayed versions of the Doctor in guest roles. Notably, in 2013, John Hurt guest-starred as a hitherto unknown incarnation of the Doctor known as the War Doctor in the run-up to the show's 50th anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor". He is shown in mini-episode "The Night of the Doctor" retroactively inserted into the show's fictional chronology between McGann and Eccleston's Doctors, although his introduction was written so as not to disturb the established numerical naming of the Doctors. Another example is from the 1986 serial The Trial of a Time Lord, where Michael Jayston portrayed the Valeyard, who is described as an amalgamation of the darker sides of the Doctor's nature, somewhere between the twelfth and final incarnation.
On rare occasions, other actors have stood in for the lead. In The Five Doctors, Richard Hurndall played the First Doctor due to William Hartnell's death in 1975; 34 years later David Bradley similarly replaced Hartnell in Twice Upon a Time. In Time and the Rani, Sylvester McCoy briefly played the Sixth Doctor during the regeneration sequence, carrying on as the Seventh. For more information, see the list of actors who have played the Doctor. In other media, the Doctor has been played by various other actors, including Peter Cushing in two films.
The casting of a new Doctor has often inspired debate and speculation. Common topics of focus include the Doctor's gender (prior to the casting of Whittaker, all official incarnations were male), race (all Doctors were white prior to the casting of Jo Martin in "Fugitive of the Judoon") and age (the youngest actor to be cast is Smith at 26, and the oldest are Capaldi and Hartnell, both 55).
Meetings of different incarnations
There have been instances of actors returning at later dates to reprise the role of their specific Doctor. In 1973's The Three Doctors, William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton returned alongside Jon Pertwee. For 1983's The Five Doctors, Troughton and Pertwee returned to star with Peter Davison, and Tom Baker appeared in previously unseen footage from the uncompleted Shada serial. For this episode, Richard Hurndall replaced William Hartnell. Patrick Troughton again returned in 1985's The Two Doctors with Colin Baker. In 2007, Peter Davison returned in the Children in Need short "Time Crash" alongside David Tennant. In "The Name of the Doctor" (2013), the Eleventh Doctor meets a previously unseen incarnation of himself, subsequently revealed to be the War Doctor. In the following episode, "The Day of the Doctor", David Tennant's Tenth Doctor appeared alongside Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor and John Hurt as the War Doctor, as well as brief footage from all of the previous actors. Additionally, multiple incarnations of the Doctor have met in various audio dramas and novels based on the television show. In 2017, the First Doctor (this time portrayed by David Bradley) returned alongside Peter Capaldi in "The Doctor Falls" and "Twice Upon a Time". In 2020’s “Fugitive of the Judoon”, Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor meets Jo Martin’s incarnation of the Doctor, subsequently known as the Fugitive Doctor. They met, albeit briefly, in “The Timeless Children” later that year.
Revelations about the Doctor
See also: The Doctor: Inconsistencies
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 might not have been the first incarnation (although the other faces depicted might have been incarnations of the Time Lord Morbius). In subsequent stories, the First Doctor was depicted as the earliest incarnation of the Doctor. In Mawdryn Undead (1983), the Fifth Doctor explicitly confirmed that he was then currently in his fifth incarnation. Later that same year, during 1983's 20th Anniversary special The Five Doctors, the First Doctor enquires as to the Fifth Doctor's regeneration; when the Fifth Doctor confirms "Fourth", the First Doctor excitedly replies "Goodness me. So there are five of me now." In 2010, the Eleventh Doctor similarly calls himself "the Eleventh" in "The Lodger". In the 2013 episode "The Time of the Doctor", the Eleventh Doctor clarified that he was the product of the twelfth regeneration, due to a previous incarnation which he chose not to count and one other aborted regeneration. The name Eleventh is still used for this incarnation; the same episode depicts the prophesied "Fall of the Eleventh" which had been trailed throughout the series. While the Doctor was early on described as from the planet Gallifrey, as first mentioned in The Time Warrior (1973), these origins were retconned in The Timeless Children (2020), and the Doctor was shown as from another unknown dimension or universe. In the same story, it was revealed that First Doctor was not actually the earliest incarnation of the Doctor.
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), Dr. Constantine states that, "Before the war even began, I was a father and a grandfather. Now I am neither." The Doctor remarks in response, "Yeah, I know the feeling." In "Smith and Jones" (2007), when asked if he had a brother, he replied, "No, not any more." In both "Fear Her" (2006) and "The Doctor's Daughter" (2008), he states that he had, in the past, been a father.
In "The Wedding of River Song" (2011), it is implied that the Doctor's true name is a secret that must never be revealed; this is explored further in "The Name of the Doctor" (2013), when River Song speaking his name allows the Great Intelligence to enter his tomb, and in "The Time of the Doctor" (2013) where speaking his true name becomes the signal by which the Time Lords would know they can safely return to the universe.
Main article: Companion (Doctor Who)
The companion figure – generally a human – has been a constant feature in Doctor Who since the programme's inception in 1963. One of the roles of the companion is to be a reminder for the Doctor's "moral duty". The Doctor's first companions seen on screen were his granddaughter Susan Foreman (Carole Ann Ford) and her teachers Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill) and Ian Chesterton (William Russell). These characters were intended to act as audience surrogates, through which the audience would discover information about the Doctor who was to act as a mysterious father figure. The only story from the original series in which the Doctor travels alone is The Deadly Assassin (1976). Notable companions from the earlier series included Romana (Mary Tamm and Lalla Ward), a Time Lady; Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen); and Jo Grant (Katy Manning). Dramatically, these characters provide a figure with whom the audience can identify, and serve to further the story by requesting exposition from the Doctor and manufacturing peril for the Doctor to resolve. The Doctor regularly gains new companions and loses old ones; sometimes they return home or find new causes—or loves—on worlds they have visited. Some have died during the course of the series. Companions are usually human, or humanoid aliens.
Since the 2005 revival, the Doctor generally travels with a primary female companion, who occupies a larger narrative role. Steven Moffat described the companion as the main character of the show, as the story begins anew with each companion and she undergoes more change than the Doctor. The primary companions of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors were Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman), and Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) with Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke) and Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) recurring as secondary companion figures. The Eleventh Doctor became the first to travel with a married couple, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill), whilst out-of-sync meetings with River Song (Alex Kingston) and Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) provided ongoing story arcs. The tenth series introduced Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts, the Doctor's first openly gay companion. Pearl Mackie said that the increased representation for LGBTQ people is important on a mainstream show.
Some companions have gone on to re-appear, either in the main series or in spin-offs. Sarah Jane Smith became the central character in The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007–11) following a return to Doctor Who in 2006. Guest stars in the series included former companions Jo Grant, K9, and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney). The character of Jack Harkness also served to launch a spin-off, Torchwood, (2006–2011) in which Martha Jones also appeared.
See also: List of Doctor Who universe creatures and aliens and List of Doctor Who villains
When Sydney Newman commissioned the series, he specifically did not want to perpetuate the cliché of the "bug-eyed monster" of science fiction. However, monsters were 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. The Autons with the Nestene Consciousness and Daleks returned 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 including Rassilon in the 2009–10 Specials. Davies' successor, Steven Moffat, has continued the trend by reviving the Silurians in series 5, Cybermats in series 6, the Great Intelligence and the Ice Warriors in Series 7, and Zygons in the 50th Anniversary Special. Since its 2005 return, the series has also introduced new recurring aliens: Slitheen (Raxacoricofallapatorians), Ood, Judoon, Weeping Angels and the Silence.
Besides infrequent appearances by enemies such as the Ice Warriors, Ogrons, the Rani, and Black Guardian, three adversaries have become particularly iconic: the Daleks, the Cybermen, and the Master.
Main article: Dalek
The Dalek race, which first appeared in the show's second serial in 1963, are Doctor Who's oldest villains. The Daleks are Kaleds from the planet Skaro, mutated by the scientist Davros and housed in mechanical armour shells for mobility. The actual creatures resemble octopuses with large, pronounced brains. Their armour shells have a single eye-stalk, a sink-plunger-like device that serves the purpose of a hand, and a directed-energy weapon. Their main weakness is their eyestalk; attacks upon them using various weapons can blind a Dalek, making it go mad. Their chief role in the series plot, as they frequently remark in their instantly recognisable metallic voices, is to "exterminate" all non-Dalek beings. They even attack the Time Lords in the Time War, as shown during the 50th Anniversary of the show. They continue to be a recurring 'monster' within the Doctor Who franchise, their most recent appearance being the 2021 episode "Revolution of the Daleks". Davros 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 "Victory of the Daleks" a new set of Daleks were introduced that come in a range of colours; the colour denoting its role within the species.
Main article: Cyberman
Cybermen were originally a wholly organic species of humanoids originating on Earth's twin planet Mondas that began to implant more and more artificial parts into their bodies. This led to the race becoming coldly logical and calculating cyborgs, with emotions usually only shown when naked aggression was called for. With the demise of Mondas, they acquired Telos as their new home planet. They continue to be a recurring 'monster' within the Doctor Who franchise.
The 2006 series introduced a totally new variation of Cybermen. These Cybus Cybermen were created in a parallel universe by the mad inventor John Lumic; he was attempting to preserve the humans by transplanting their brains into powerful metal bodies, sending them orders using a mobile phone network and inhibiting their emotions with an electronic chip.
Main article: The Master (Doctor Who)
The Master is the Doctor's archenemy, a renegade Time Lord who desires to rule the universe. Conceived as "Professor Moriarty to the Doctor's Sherlock Holmes", the character first appeared in 1971. As with the Doctor, the role has been portrayed by several actors, since the Master is a Time Lord as well and able to regenerate; the first of these actors was Roger Delgado, who continued in the role until his death in 1973. The Master was briefly played by Peter Pratt and Geoffrey Beevers until Anthony Ainley took over and continued to play the character until Doctor Who's hiatus in 1989. The Master returned in the 1996 television movie of Doctor Who, and was played by American actor Eric Roberts.
Following the series revival in 2005, Derek Jacobi provided the character's re-introduction in the 2007 episode "Utopia". During that story, the role was then assumed by John Simm who returned to the role multiple times through the Tenth Doctor's tenure. As of the 2014 episode "Dark Water", it was revealed that the Master had become a female incarnation or "Time Lady", going by the name of "Missy" (short for Mistress, the feminine equivalent of "Master"). This incarnation is played by Michelle Gomez.
John Simm returned in his role as the Master in the tenth series.
See also: List of Doctor Who composers
Main article: Doctor Who theme music
The Doctor Who theme music was one of the first electronic music signature tunes for television, and after more than a half century remains one of the most easily recognised. The original theme was composed by Ron Grainer and realised by Delia Derbyshire of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, with assistance from Dick Mills and was released as a single on Decca F 11837 in 1964. The various parts were built up using musique concrète techniques, by creating tape loops of an individually struck piano string and individual test oscillators and filters. The Derbyshire arrangement served, with minor edits, as the theme tune up to the end of season 17 (1979–80). It is regarded as a significant and innovative piece of electronic music, recorded well before the availability of commercial synthesisers or multitrack mixers. Each note was individually created by cutting, splicing, speeding up and slowing down segments of analogue tape containing recordings of a single plucked string, white noise, and the simple harmonic waveforms of test-tone oscillators, intended for calibrating equipment and rooms, not creating music. New techniques were invented to allow mixing of the music, as this was before the era of multitrack tape machines. On hearing the finished result, Grainer asked, "Jeez, Delia, did I write that?" She answered "Most of it." Although Grainer was willing to give Derbyshire the co-composer credit, it was against BBC policy at the time.
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".
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 series. 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", and a further revision of the arrangement was made for the 50th Anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor" in November 2013.
Versions of the "Doctor Who Theme" have also been released as pop music over the years. In the early 1970s, Jon Pertwee, who had played the Third Doctor, recorded a version of the Doctor Who theme with spoken lyrics, titled, "Who Is the Doctor".[note 6] In 1978, a disco version of the theme was released in the UK, Denmark and Australia by the group Mankind, which reached number 24 in the UK charts. In 1988, the band The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (later known as The KLF) released the single "Doctorin' the Tardis" under the name The Timelords, which reached No. 1 in the UK and No. 2 in Australia; this version incorporated several other songs, including "Rock and Roll Part 2" by Gary Glitter (who recorded vocals for some of the CD-single remix versions of "Doctorin' the Tardis"). 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. Both the theme and obsessive fans were satirised on The Chaser's War on Everything. The theme tune has also appeared on many compilation CDs, and has made its way into mobile-phone ringtones. Fans have also produced and distributed their own remixes of the theme. In January 2011, the Mankind version was released as a digital download on the album Gallifrey And Beyond.
On 26 June 2018, producer Chris Chibnall announced that the musical score for series 11 would be provided by Royal Birmingham Conservatoire alumnus Segun Akinola.
Main article: List of music featured on Doctor Who
See also: List of Doctor Who music releases
Most of the innovative incidental music for Doctor Who has been specially commissioned from freelance composers, although in the early years some episodes also used stock music, as well as occasional excerpts from original recordings or cover versions of songs by popular music acts such as The Beatles and The Beach Boys. Since its 2005 return, the series has featured occasional use of excerpts of pop music from the 1970s to the 2000s.
The incidental music for the first Doctor Who adventure, An Unearthly Child, was written by Norman Kay. Many of the stories of the William Hartnell period were scored by electronic music pioneer Tristram Cary, whose Doctor Who credits include The Daleks, Marco Polo, The Daleks' Master Plan, The Gunfighters and The Mutants. Other composers in this early period included Richard Rodney Bennett, Carey Blyton and Geoffrey Burgon.
The most frequent musical contributor during the first 15 years was Dudley Simpson, who is also well known for his theme and incidental music for Blake's 7, and for his haunting theme music and score for the original 1970s version of The Tomorrow People. Simpson's first Doctor Who score was Planet of Giants (1964) and he went on to write music for many adventures of the 1960s and 1970s, including most of the stories of the Jon Pertwee/Tom Baker periods, ending with The Horns of Nimon (1979). He also made a cameo appearance in The Talons of Weng-Chiang (as a Music hall conductor).
In 1980 starting with the serial The Leisure Hive the task of creating incidental music was assigned to the Radiophonic Workshop. Paddy Kingsland and Peter Howell contributed many scores in this period and other contributors included Roger Limb, Malcolm Clarke and Jonathan Gibbs.
The Radiophonic Workshop was dropped after 1986's The Trial of a Time Lord series, and Keff McCulloch took over as the series' main composer until the end of its run, with Dominic Glynn and Mark Ayres also contributing scores.
From the 2005 revival to the 2017 Christmas episode "Twice Upon a Time", all incidental music for the series was 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.
On 26 June 2018, producer Chris Chibnall announced that the musical score for the eleventh series would be provided by Royal Birmingham Conservatoire alumnus Segun Akinola.
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.
In 2013, a 50th-anniversary boxed set of audio CDs was released featuring music and sound effects from Doctor Who's 50-year history. The celebration continued in 2016 with the release of Doctor Who: The 50th Anniversary Collection Four LP Box Set by New York City-based Spacelab9. The company pressed 1,000 copies of the set on "Metallic Silver" vinyl, dubbed the "Cyberman Edition".
Main article: Doctor Who fandom
Premiering the day after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the first episode of Doctor Who was repeated with the second episode the following week. Doctor Who has always appeared initially on the BBC's mainstream BBC One channel, where it is regarded as a family show, drawing audiences of many millions of viewers; episodes were also repeated on BBC Three, before its transition to an online-only channel. 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 mid to 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. During Tennant's run (the third notable period of high ratings), the show had consistently high viewership; with the Christmas specials regularly attracting over 10 million.
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.
Doctor Who has been broadcast internationally outside of the United Kingdom since 1964, a year after the show first aired. As of 1 January 2013[update], the modern series has been broadcast in more than 50 countries. The 50th anniversary was broadcast In 94 countries and screened to more than half a million people in cinemas across Australia, Latin America, North America and Europe. The scope of the broadcast was a world record, according to Guinness World Records.
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.
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.
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 revived series that aired on Prime Television from 2005 – 2017. In 2018, the series is aired on Fridays on TVNZ 2, and on TVNZ On Demand on the same episode as the UK. The series moved to TVNZ 1 in 2021.
In Australia, the show has had a strong fan base since its inception, having been exclusively first run by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) since January 1965. (See Doctor Who in Australia) The ABC has periodically repeated episodes; of note were the weekly screenings of all available classic episodes starting in 2003, for the show's 40th anniversary, and the weekdaily screenings of all available revived episodes in 2013 for the show's 50th anniversary. The ABC broadcasts the modern series first run on ABC1 and ABC ME, with repeats on ABC2 and streaming available on ABC iview.
Main article: Doctor Who in Canada and the United States
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.
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 introduced the episode and then, after the episode concluded, tried 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.
Series three 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 (now known as CTV Sci-Fi Channel) broadcast "The Next Doctor" (in March 2009) and all subsequent series and specials.
Series 1 through 3 of Doctor Who were broadcast on various NHK channels from 2006 to 2008 with Japanese subtitles. Beginning in 2 August 2009, upon the launch of Disney XD in Japan, the series has been broadcast with Japanese dubbing.
Main article: List of Doctor Who home video releases
A wide selection of serials are available from BBC Video on DVD, on sale in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and the United States. Every fully extant serial has been released on VHS, and BBC Worldwide continues to regularly release serials on DVD. The 2005 series is also available in its entirety on UMD for the PlayStation Portable. Eight original series serials have been released on Laserdisc and many have also been released on Betamax tape and Video 2000. One episode of Doctor Who (The Infinite Quest) was released on VCD. Only the series from 2005 onwards are also available on Blu-ray, except for the 1970 story Spearhead from Space, released in July 2013 and the 1996 TV film Doctor Who released in September 2016.
Over 600 episodes of the classic series (the first 8 Doctors, from 1963 to 1996) are available to stream on BritBox (launched in 2017) and Pluto TV. From 2020, the revival series is available for streaming on HBO Max.
Adaptations and other appearances
Dr. Who films
Main article: Dr. Who (Dalek films)
There are two Dr. Who [sic] 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, niece and other companions in a time machine he has invented. The Cushing version of the character reappears in both comic strips and a short story, the latter attempting to reconcile the film continuity with that of the series.
In addition, several planned films were proposed, including a sequel, The Chase, loosely based on the original series story, for the Cushing Doctor, plus many attempted television movie and big screen productions to revive the original Doctor Who, after the original series was cancelled.
Paul McGann starred in the only television film as the eighth incarnation of the Doctor. After the film, he continued the role in audio books and was confirmed as the eighth incarnation through flashback footage and a mini episode in the 2005 revival, effectively linking the two series and the television movie.
In 2011, David Yates announced that he had started work with the BBC on a Doctor Who film, a project that would take three or more years to complete. Yates indicated that the film would take a different approach to Doctor Who, although then 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.
Main article: Doctor Who spin-offs
Doctor Who has appeared on stage numerous times. In the early 1970s, Trevor Martin played the role in Doctor Who and the Daleks in the Seven Keys to Doomsday. In the late 1980s, Jon Pertwee and Colin Baker both played the Doctor at different times during the run of a play titled Doctor Who – The Ultimate Adventure. For two performances, while Pertwee was ill, David Banks (better known for playing Cybermen) played the Doctor. Other original plays have been staged as amateur productions, with other actors playing the Doctor, while Terry Nation wrote The Curse of the Daleks, a stage play mounted in the late 1960s, but without the Doctor.
A pilot episode ("A Girl's Best Friend") for a potential spinoff series, K-9 and Company, was aired in 1981 with Elisabeth Sladen reprising her role as companion Sarah Jane Smith and John Leeson as the voice of K9, 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.
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.
Class, featuring students of Coal Hill School, was first aired on-line on BBC Three from 22 October 2016, as a series of eight 45 minute episodes, written by Patrick Ness. Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor appears in the show's first episode. The series was picked up by BBC America on 8 January 2016 and by BBC One a day later. On 7 September 2017, BBC Three controller Damian Kavanagh confirmed that the series had officially been cancelled.
Numerous other spin-off series have been created not by the BBC but by the respective owners of the characters and concepts. Such spin-offs include the novel and audio drama series Faction Paradox, Iris Wildthyme and Bernice Summerfield; as well as the made-for-video series P.R.O.B.E.; the Australian-produced television series K-9, which aired a 26-episode first season on Disney XD; and the audio spin-off Counter-Measures.
When the revived series of Doctor Who was brought back, an aftershow series was created by the BBC, titled Doctor Who Confidential. There have been three aftershow series created, with the latest one titled Doctor Who: The Fan Show, which began airing from the tenth series. Each series follows behind-the-scenes footage on the making of Doctor Who through clips and interviews with the cast, production crew and other people, including those who have participated in the television series in some manner. Each episode deals with a different topic, and in most cases refers to the Doctor Who episode that preceded it.
|Series||Episodes||First aired||Last aired||Narrator / Presenter|
|Doctor Who Confidential||87||26 March 2005||1 October 2011||David Tennant (2005)|
Simon Pegg (2005)
Mark Gatiss (2005–06)
Anthony Head (2006–10)
Noel Clarke (2009)
Alex Price (2010)
Russell Tovey (2010–11)
|Doctor Who Extra||90||23 August 2014||5 December 2015||Matt Botten|
|Doctor Who: The Fan Show||166||8 May 2015||3 August 2018||Christel Dee (main host)|
Luke Spillane (co-host)
|Doctor Who: Access All Areas||10||13 October 2018||13 December 2018||Yinka Bokinni|
In 1983, coinciding with the series' 20th anniversary, The Five Doctors was shown as part of the annual BBC Children in Need Appeal, however it was not a charity-based production, simply scheduled within the line-up of Friday 25 November 1983. This was the programme's first co-production with Australian broadcaster ABC. At 90 minutes long it was the longest single episode of Doctor Who produced to date. Featuring three of the first five Doctors, a new actor to replace the deceased William Hartnell, and unused footage to represent Tom Baker.
In 1993, for the franchise's 30th anniversary, another charity special, titled Dimensions in Time was produced for Children in Need, featuring all of the surviving actors who played the Doctor and a number of previous companions. It also featured a crossover with the soap opera EastEnders, the action taking place in the latter's Albert Square location and around Greenwich. The special was one of several special 3D programmes the BBC produced at the time, using a 3D system that made use of the Pulfrich effect requiring glasses with one darkened lens; the picture would look normal to those viewers who watched without the glasses.
In 1999, another special, Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death, was made for Comic Relief and later released on VHS. An affectionate parody of the television series, it was split into four segments, mimicking the traditional serial format, complete with cliffhangers, and running down the same corridor several times when being chased (the version released on video was split into only two episodes). In the story, the Doctor (Rowan Atkinson) encounters both the Master (Jonathan Pryce) and the Daleks. During the special the Doctor is forced to regenerate several times, with his subsequent incarnations played by, in order, Richard E. Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Joanna Lumley. The script was written by Steven Moffat, later to be head writer and executive producer to the revived series.
Since the return of Doctor Who in 2005, the franchise has produced two original "mini-episodes" to support Children in Need. The first, aired in November 2005, was an untitled seven-minute scene which introduced David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor. It was followed in November 2007 by "Time Crash", a 7-minute scene which featured the Tenth Doctor meeting the Fifth DoctorPeter Davison.
A set of two mini-episodes, titled "Space" and "Time" respectively, were produced to support Comic Relief. They were aired during the Comic Relief 2011 event. During Children in Need 2011, 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. Children in Need 2012 featured the mini-episode "The Great Detective".
Spoofs and cultural references
Main article: Doctor Who spoofs
Doctor Who has been satirised and spoofed on many occasions by comedians including Spike Milligan (a Dalek invades his bathroom—Milligan, naked, hurls a soap sponge at it) and Lenny Henry. Jon Culshaw frequently impersonates the Fourth Doctor in the BBCDead Ringers series.Doctor Who fandom has also been lampooned on programs such as Saturday Night Live, The Chaser's War on Everything, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Family Guy, American Dad!, Futurama, South Park, Community as Inspector Spacetime, The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory. As part of the 50th anniversary programmes, former Fifth Doctor Peter Davison directed, wrote and co-starred in the parody The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, which also starred two other former Doctors, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy, and cameo appearances from cast and crew involved in the programme, including showrunner Steven Moffat and Doctors Paul McGann, David Tennant and Matt Smith.
The Doctor in his fourth incarnation has been represented on several episodes of The Simpsons and Matt Groening's other animated series Futurama. A fan of Doctor Who since childhood, Groening favours Tom Baker’s fourth Doctor, with Simpsons writer Ron Hauge stating, "There are several Doctor Who actors but Tom Baker is the one we always go with."
There have also been many references to Doctor Who in popular culture and other science fiction, including Star Trek: The Next Generation ("The Neutral Zone") and Leverage. In the Channel 4 series Queer as Folk (created by later Doctor Who executive producer Russell T. Davies), the character of Vince was portrayed as an avid Doctor Who fan, with references appearing many times throughout in the form of clips from the programme. In a similar manner, the character of Oliver on Coupling (created and written by Steven Moffat) is portrayed as a Doctor Who collector and enthusiast. References to Doctor Who have also appeared in the young adult fantasy novels Brisingr and High Wizardry, the video game Rock Band, the Adult Swim comedy show Robot Chicken, the Family Guy episodes "Blue Harvest" and "420", and the game RuneScape. It has also be referenced in Destroy All Humans! 2, by civilians in the game's variation of England, and multiple times throughout the Ace Attorney series.
Doctor Who has been a reference in several political cartoons, from a 1964 cartoon in the Daily Mail depicting Charles de Gaulle as a Dalek to a 2008 edition of This Modern World by Tom Tomorrow in which the Tenth Doctor informs an incredulous character from 2003 that the Democratic Party will nominate an African-American as its presidential candidate.
The word "TARDIS" is an entry in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, and the iOS dictionary.
Museums and exhibitions
Main article: Doctor Who exhibitions
There have been various exhibitions of Doctor Who in the United Kingdom, including the now closed exhibitions at:
The exhibition closed down on 9 September 2017
Main article: Doctor Who merchandise
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.
See also: List of Doctor Who audio releases, List of Doctor Who audiobooks, and List of Doctor Who audio plays by Big Finish
The earliest Doctor Who–related audio release was a 21-minute narrated abridgement of the First Doctor television story The Chase released in 1966. Ten years later, the first original Doctor Who audio was released on LP record; Doctor Who and the Pescatons featuring the Fourth Doctor. The first commercially available audiobook was an abridged reading of the Fourth Doctor story State of Decay in 1981. In 1988, during a hiatus in the television show, Slipback, the first radio drama, was transmitted.
Since 1999, Big Finish Productions has released several different series of Doctor Who audios on CD. The earliest of these featured the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors, with Paul McGann's Eight Doctor joining the line in 2001. Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor began appearing for Big Finish in 2012. Along with the main range, adventures of the First, Second and Third Doctors have been produced in both limited cast and full cast formats, as well as audiobooks. The 2013 series Destiny of the Doctor, produced as part of the series' 50th Anniversary celebrations, marked the first time Big Finish created stories (in this case audiobooks) featuring the Doctors from the revived show. Along with this, in May 2016 the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant, appeared alongside Catherine Tate in a collection of three audio adventures. In August 2020, Big Finish announced a new series of audios beginning release in May 2021, featuring Christopher Eccleston reprising his role as the Ninth Doctor.
In addition to these main lines, both the BBC and Big Finish have produced original audio dramas and audiobooks based on spin-off material, such as Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures series.
The main range, Doctor Who: The Monthly Adventures, holds the Guinness World Record for the longest-running science fiction audio play series.
See also: List of Doctor Who novelists
Doctor Who books have been published from the mid-sixties through to the present day. From 1965 to 1991 the books published were primarily novelised adaptations of broadcast episodes; beginning in 1991 an extensive line of original fiction was launched, the Virgin New Adventures and Virgin Missing Adventures. Since the relaunch of the programme in 2005, a new range of novels have been published by BBC Books. Numerous non-fiction books about the series, including guidebooks and critical studies, have also been published, and a dedicated Doctor Who Magazine with newsstand circulation has been published regularly since 1979. This is published by Panini, as is the Doctor Who Adventures magazine for younger fans.
See also: Category:Video games based on Doctor Who
Numerous Doctor Whovideo games have been created from the mid-80s through to the present day. A Doctor Who game was planned for the Sega Mega Drive but never released. One of the recent ones is a match-3 game released in November 2013 for iOS, Android, Amazon App Store and Facebook called Doctor Who: Legacy. It has been constantly updated since its release and features all of the Doctors as playable characters as well as over 100 companions.
Another video game instalment is LEGO Dimensions – in which Doctor Who is one of the many "Level Packs" in the game. The pack contains the Twelfth Doctor (who can reincarnate into the others), K9, the TARDIS and a Victorian London adventure level area. The game and pack released in November 2015.
Doctor Who: Battle of Time was a digital collectible card game developed by Bandai Namco Entertainment and released for iOS and Android. It was soft-launched on May 30th, 2018 in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Thailand, but was shutdown on November 26th of that same year.
Doctor Who Infinity was released on Steam on 7 August 2018. It was nominated for "Best Start-up" at The Independent Game Developers' Association Awards 2018.
Chronology and canonicity
Since the creation of the Doctor Who character by BBC Television in the early 1960s, a myriad of stories have been published about Doctor Who, in different media: apart from the actual television episodes that continue to be produced by the BBC, there have also been novels, comics, short stories, audio books, radio plays, interactive video games, game books, webcasts, DVD extras, and stage performances. The BBC takes no position on the canonicity of any of such stories, and producers of the show have expressed distaste for the idea of canonicity.
Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Doctor Who
The show has received recognition as one of Britain's finest television programmes, winning the 2006 British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series and five consecutive (2005–2010) awards at the National Television Awards during Russell T Davies' tenure as executive producer. In 2011, Matt Smith became the first Doctor to be nominated for a BAFTA Television Award for Best Actor and in 2016, Michelle Gomez became the first female to receive a BAFTA nomination for the series, getting a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her work as Missy.
In 2013, the Peabody Awards honoured Doctor Who with an Institutional Peabody "for evolving with technology and the times like nothing else in the known television universe." The programme is listed in Guinness World Records as the longest-running science fiction television show in the world, the "most successful" science fiction series of all time—based on its overall broadcast ratings, DVD and book sales, and iTunes traffic— and for the largest ever simulcast of a TV drama with its 50th anniversary special. During its original run, it was recognised for its imaginative stories, creative low-budget special effects, and pioneering use of electronic music (originally produced by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop).
In 1975, Season 11 of the series won a Writers' Guild of Great Britain award for Best Writing in a Children's Serial. In 1996, BBC television held the "Auntie Awards" as the culmination of their "TV60" series, celebrating 60 years of BBC television broadcasting, where Doctor Who was voted as the "Best Popular Drama" the corporation had ever produced, ahead of such ratings heavyweights as EastEnders and Casualty. 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.
Given that Doctor Who has been wowing fans on TV since 1963, it's safe to assume that the TARDIS isn't flying off for good anytime soon.
Still, the Whovian fandom couldn't help but let out a sigh of relief when showrunner Chris Chibnall confirmed that the Thirteenth Doctor would be returning for the show's thirteenth season since its 2005 comeback.
When asked if he was leaving the show, he told Radio Times: "It's categorically untrue [that I'm leaving]. We're already planning the next series after this series."
But that might have been a tad misleading because the BBC has now announced that Chibnall is leaving, but not till after season 13 – and Jodie Whittaker is going with him. So, what do Chibnall and his team have in store for the good Doctor in Whittaker's final outing? And how wibbly-wobbly, not to say timey-wimey, will things get in season 13?
Here's everything we here at Digital Spy know about Doctor Who's future on screen.
Doctor Who season 13 cast: Who's coming back?
Aside from Christopher Eccleston, every Doctor in the modern era has stuck around for three seasons, and Jodie Whittaker is honouring that tradition.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly in early 2020, the Thirteenth Doctor revealed that she would definitely be returning for another round in the TARDIS, saying: "I'm doing another season. That might be a massive exclusive that I'm not supposed to say, but it's unhelpful for me to say [I don't know] because it would be a massive lie! At some point, these shoes are going to be handed on, but it's not yet. I'm clinging on tight!"
For a while now, there's been some speculation that this will be Whittaker's last outing as the Doctor – and it turns out those rumours are now true, because Jodie is indeed packing her bags after season 13 and leaving the TARDIS for good.
In an official statement, Whittaker had this to say about her impending departure:
"In 2017 I opened my glorious gift box of size 13 shoes. I could not have guessed the brilliant adventures, worlds and wonders I was to see in them. My heart is so full of love for this show, for the team who make it, for the fans who watch it and for what it has brought to my life. And I cannot thank Chris enough for entrusting me with his incredible stories. We knew that we wanted to ride this wave side by side, and pass on the baton together.
"So here we are, weeks away from wrapping on the best job I have ever had. I don't think I'll ever be able to express what this role has given me. I will carry the Doctor and the lessons I've learnt forever. I know change can be scary and none of us know what's out there. That's why we keep looking. Travel Hopefully. The Universe will surprise you. Constantly."
In the same statement, Chibnall has revealed that these twin departures were actually planned out all along:
"Jodie and I made a 'three series and out' pact with each other at the start of this once-in-a-lifetime blast. So now our shift is done, and we're handing back the TARDIS keys. Jodie's magnificent, iconic Doctor has exceeded all our high expectations. She's been the gold standard leading actor, shouldering the responsibility of being the first female Doctor with style, strength, warmth, generosity and humour. She captured the public imagination and continues to inspire adoration around the world, as well as from everyone on the production. I can't imagine working with a more inspiring Doctor – so I'm not going to!"
"For me, leading this exceptional team has been unrivalled creative fun, and one of the great joys of my career. I'm so proud of the people we've worked with and the stories we’ve told. To finish our time on the show with an additional Special, after the pandemic changed and challenged our production plans, is a lovely bonus. It's great that the climax of the Thirteenth Doctor's story will be at the heart(s) of the BBC's centenary celebrations. I wish our successors – whoever the BBC and BBC Studios choose – as much fun as we've had. They're in for a treat!"
Two of Whittaker's companion trio, Graham (Bradley Walsh) and Ryan (Tosin Cole), are no more after leaving at the end of the festive special, 'Revolution of the Daleks'.
However Yaz, played by Mandeep Gill, is back for season 13 – and we have a couple of new faces to get excited about.
Actor and comedian John Bishop is joining the fold as companion Dan Lewis.
"If I could tell my younger self that one day I would be asked to step on board the TARDIS, I would never have believed it," he said in a statement. "It's an absolute dream come true to be joining Doctor Who and I couldn't wish for better company than Jodie and Mandip."
Chibnall added: "It's time for the next chapter of Doctor Who, and it starts with a man called Dan. Oh, we've had to keep this one secret for a long, long time. Our conversations started with John even before the pandemic hit. The character of Dan was built for him, and it's a joy to have him aboard the TARDIS."
Initially, Bishop had his hands full with another project, which meant that he had to reject Chibnall's first offer.
"I met Chris Chibnall and he had this idea, and this character," he said (via Radio Times)."He'd seen me in a few things, and he wanted to know if I'd be interested in Doctor Who. I was flattered but the problem was I was on tour when they were meant to be filming. So although I fancied it, I had to say no.
"And then the whole COVID thing happened. Lockdown arrived so I made a phone call and fortunately they had moved their filming dates.
"It now fits in perfectly – I'm doing Doctor Who up until July and then I go on the road again in September."
Jacob Anderson, who played Grey Worm in Game of Thrones, has also been cast as a character called Vinder, who links up with the Doctor and her companions in their fight against evil.
"The Doctor has been a part of my life forever, from watching and rewatching the serials on VHS as a kid and being terrified, to unexpectedly finding my eyes watering when the Tenth Doctor said: 'I don't want to go,' I always wanted to live in the Whoniverse," said Anderson.
"Not only has a lifelong dream of mine now been fulfilled, but to be playing a character as fun, adventurous, and dynamic as Vinder is the cherry on top. This is very cool."
Doctor Who season 13 release date: When will it air?
Chris is currently writing and producing Doctor Who season 13, which will consist of six episodes scheduled to air later this year. We don't have an exact date yet but as soon as we do, we'll pop it right here.
Actually, hold on, we’ll jump into our TARDIS and return with the date. Give us two seconds…
We’re back! The official air date is October 31, 1923. Hang on, that’s not right…
Sorry, timey-wimey troubles, fixed now - you’ll be watching Doctor Who season 13 on October 31, 2021. Yeah, that makes much more sense!
The season also has an official title: Doctor Who: Flux. Ooooh, mysterious! We’d jump further forward to give you a complete breakdown of the plot, but… Spoilers.
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These six Flux episodes will be followed by three Specials, the first of which will air on New Year’s Day 2022, followed soon after by another in spring 2022. Jodie’s final feature-length Special, where the Thirteenth Doctor will regenerate and be replaced, is scheduled to air in autumn 2022 as part of the BBC's Centenary celebrations (the BBC was first formed on October 18, 1922, and daily radio broadcasting started the following month).
The BBC previously confirmed that the number of episodes had been cut from 11 to eight due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic – although the addition of the centenary special takes the Thirteenth Doctor's final run of episode up to nine.
Doctor Who season 13 plot: What will happen?
We’ve had a fresh teaser (following the first trailer, which you can watch below), which actually reveals a surprising amount about the season’s focus.
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"Can you hear me? Listen carefully, we don't have much time," the Doctor says. "The Flux is coming. It's bringing with it the Sontarans, Weeping Angels, creatures known as the Ravagers and enemies from across the Universe. This is the fight of our lives.”
Die-hard Who-heads will instantly be reminded of David Tennant’s video messages in the brilliant Blink (aka Steven Moffat’s sole contribution to season three). Blink also featured the debut of the Weeping Angels, name-checked in the Doctor’s teaser speech.
Could this broadcast teaser be a reference to that episode (which also featured a companion interrupting a dire warning)? If so, is it a clue? Perhaps the Weeping Angels are more connected to the titular Flux than meets the eye…
Speaking of theories – and we do like a theory – Chibnall teased a possible return of another classic villain back in July, when asked to describe season 13 in one word, he said ‘swarm’.
Now, this is either a reference to an obscure alien prawn from 1977’s fourth season, or Chibbers is being slightly sneakier. Fans (via RadioTimes) picked up on a pattern in the Doctor’s speech, which could be a major clue to the presence of another nasty.
If you take the first letter of each of the confirmed big bads - Sontarans, Weeping Angels, Ravagers - we’re just missing an M to spell Swarm… If only there was an iconic Doctor Who villain whose name began with ‘M’ – that would be truly masterful!
And Chibnall spilled some more goss at Comic-Con.
"I can tell you that we pick it up with the Doctor and Yaz, who have been travelling together for some time, and we come and meet them mid-adventure," he said. "Then they stumble across a man called Dan Lewis."
He also revealed that the upcoming episodes will see a change in the structure of the show: "I can tell you that the big thing that we're going to be doing this year is that it's all one story, so each episode is a chapter in a bigger story. So we've changed the shape of the series for this year."
Remember that big Timeless Child reveal? Course you do! Well that also set up some whole new mysteries which will undoubtedly run over into future series, including the Doctor's true origin and the nature of The Division organisation.
Chibnall previously described the upcoming episodes as "mad, exciting, funny and scary" in his Doctor Who column, adding: "And look, there's the Doctor. There's the TARDIS in new places, new locations. Just seeing that lifts the soul. She's on new adventures. She's back saving people and worlds."
Doctor Who season 13 trailer: When can we see it?
We have our first official look at season 13, which will be the Doctor's "biggest adventure yet". Watch it below.
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Doctor Who airs on BBC One in the UK. In the US, the show airs on BBC America, with series 1-12 available on HBO Max. Series 13 is due to premiere later this year.
For more information on Doctor Who: Time Fracture, head this way – tickets are also available via retailers including LOVEtheatre, London Theatre Direct, Fever and Ticketmaster.
Doctor Who TARDIS advent calendar
Doctor Who - The Web of Fear [Blu-ray]  (Limited Edition)
Doctor Who: Time Fracture tickets
Doctor Who - The Collection - Season 8 [Blu-ray] 
Doctor Who - Fury From The Deep [DVD] 
Doctor Who - Complete Series 12 [DVD] 
Doctor Who - 50th Anniversary Steelbook [Blu-ray]  (Limited Edition)
Doctor Who - The Collection - Season 26 [Blu-ray] 
Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks (Special Edition)
Doctor Who - The Complete Series 7 Steelbook [Blu-ray] 
Doctor Who - The Collection - Season 14 [Blu-ray] 
Doctor Who - The Complete Series 11 [DVD] 
Doctor Who - The Collection - Season 23 [Blu-ray] 
Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor by Steven Moffat (Target Collection)
Doctor Who: TARDIS Type 40 Instruction Manual by Richard Atkinson, Mike Tucker and Gavin Rymill
Doctor Who: Thirteenth Doctor Sonic Screwdriver Toy
Doctor Who - Complete Specials (The Next Doctor/ Planet of the Dead/ Waters of Mars & Winter Specials) [DVD]
Doctor Who The Complete Series 10 [DVD] 
Doctor Who: Thirteenth Doctor action figure
Doctor Who: Rose by Russell T Davies (Target Collection)
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List of Doctor Who cast members
Wikipedia list article
This is a list of actors who have appeared in the long-running British science fiction television series, Doctor Who. For other related lists see below.
Series main cast
The following tables are an overview of all the regular cast members that have appeared throughout the show since 1963.
William Hartnell, Carole Ann Ford, William Russell and Jacqueline Hill first appeared as the Doctor, Susan Foreman, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright respectively in the show's debut serial; An Unearthly Child. Ford departed in The Dalek Invasion of Earth in 1964 and was replaced by Maureen O'Brien playing a character called Vicki. Russell and Hill departed together the following year in The Chase and were subsequently replaced by Peter Purves as Steven Taylor. Adrienne Hill took over from O'Brien for a short period of time as Katarina. Jean Marsh subsequently played the character of Sara Kingdom also for a short period of time before being replaced by Jackie Lane as Dodo Chaplet in The Ark in 1966. Purves and Lane stepped down from their roles at around the same time and were replaced by Anneke Wills and Michael Craze who played Polly and Ben Jackson. Patrick Troughton took over from Hartnell in the fourth season as the Second Doctor and starred alongside Wills and Craze and, after they stepped down, Deborah Watling, Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury who respectively played Victoria Waterfield, Jamie McCrimmon and Zoe Heriot. At the end of The War Games, Troughton was replaced by Jon Pertwee who began his run as the Third Doctor alongside Caroline John as Liz Shaw in the 1970 serial; Spearhead from Space. John departed in Inferno and Katy Manning as Jo Grant, her replacement, appeared in the following serial Terror of the Autons. Throughout Pertwee's run, Nicholas Courtney, Richard Franklin and John Levene made regular appearances as The Brigadier, Mike Yates and Sergeant Benton respectively.
Katy Manning stepped down from the role of Jo Grant at the end of the tenth season in The Green Death. She was replaced by Elisabeth Sladen in The Time Warrior as Sarah Jane Smith. Jon Pertwee was subsequently replaced by Tom Baker at the end of Season 11 in Planet of the Spiders. Nicholas Courtney and John Levene reprised their roles as the Brigadier and Sergeant Benton numerous times during Baker's run. The Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane were joined on their adventures by Harry Sullivan, played by Ian Marter, before he left them in Terror of the Zygons. After one more season, Sladen left the role of Sarah Jane Smith in the 1976 serial; The Hand of Fear. Louise Jameson debuted in The Face of Evil portraying a character called Leela. They were joined by K-9 in The Invisible Enemy, a robotic dog voiced by John Leeson and, on a few occasions; David Brierly. Jameson was replaced by Mary Tamm, who played Romana, a Time Lady and one of the Doctor's own species. Tamm stayed on for just one season before her character regenerated in Destiny of the Daleks and was portrayed by Lalla Ward. Baker, Ward and Leeson were joined by Matthew Waterhouse, the actor who played Adric, in Full Circle. Romana and K-9 departed together in Warriors' Gate. The 1981 serial Logopolis was the first to introduce Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding as Nyssa and Tegan Jovanka respectively, but the last to star Tom Baker as the Doctor.
Peter Davison starred as the Fifth Doctor starting in the nineteenth season alongside Matthew Waterhouse, Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding, before Waterhouse departed when Adric was dramatically killed off in Earthshock. In Mawdryn Undead, a new companion called Vislor Turlough was introduced, played by Mark Strickson. Sutton stepped down from the role of Nyssa in Terminus and Kamelion, an unusual robotic character voiced by Gerald Flood, was introduced in The King's Demons.
For The Five Doctors – the show's 20th anniversary special – Carole Ann Ford, Nicholas Courtney, Elisabeth Sladen, Lalla Ward, Wendy Padbury, Caroline John, Richard Franklin, John Leeson and Frazer Hines reprised their roles as, respectively, Susan Foreman, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Sarah Jane Smith, Romana, Zoe Heriot, Liz Shaw, Mike Yates, K-9 and Jamie McCrimmon. The special was broadcast between the twentieth and twenty-first seasons.
Davison, Fielding and Strickson continued on until Fielding stepped down from the role in Resurrection of the Daleks. She was replaced in Planet of Fire by Nicola Bryant as Peri Brown, a serial which also marked the final appearance of Strickson and Flood. Davison was replaced by Colin Baker in The Caves of Androzani and Bryant was replaced with Bonnie Langford as Mel Bush, a few years later, after her character was killed off in Mindwarp. Sylvester McCoy took over from Baker in Time and the Rani and Langford was replaced by Sophie Aldred as Ace at the end of the twenty-fourth season. The series was axed in 1989, but a TV Movie was made in 1996 which saw Paul McGann taking over from McCoy and Daphne Ashbrook making her first and only appearance as Grace Holloway.
Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper made their debut appearances as The Doctor and Rose Tyler in the first episode of the revived series. Eccleston made his final appearance at the end of the first series, in which he was replaced by David Tennant. The following series saw Piper stepping down of her role in "Doomsday".Freema Agyeman and Catherine Tate appeared as regular companions in the third and fourth series', playing Martha Jones and Donna Noble respectively. David Tennant departed in the two-part story "The End of Time" with Matt Smith replacing him as the Doctor. In the following fifth series, he was joined by Karen Gillan as Amy Pond. The fifth series also saw the introduction of Rory Williams, played by Arthur Darvill. Both Gillan and Darvill left their roles at the end of the first part of the seventh series. They were replaced by Jenna Coleman who made her first regular appearance in "The Bells of Saint John" as Clara Oswald. Smith departed from his role as the Doctor in "The Time of the Doctor" in 2013.
"Starring" cast members are here defined as actors whose names appear in the opening titles sequence.
Peter Capaldi made his first regular appearance as the Twelfth Doctor in "Deep Breath".Jenna Coleman continued her role as Clara Oswald alongside this incarnation during the eighth series in 2014. Both Capaldi and Coleman reprised their roles as the Doctor and Clara during the ninth series in 2015, with Coleman departing at the end of that year. Coleman was replaced by Pearl Mackie, who was introduced as Bill Potts.Jodie Whittaker took over the lead role of the Doctor from Peter Capaldi in the 2017 Christmas special "Twice Upon a Time". Her first series as the Thirteenth Doctor began its broadcast in late 2018. Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill replaced Mackie and Matt Lucas as the companions for the show.
"Starring" cast members are here defined as actors whose names appear in the opening titles sequence.
Actors with roles which they have reprised over multiple stories without being part of the main cast.
This is a list of actors who have made guest appearances in Doctor Who. These actors were well-known names at the time of their appearance in the series, which frequently caused interest in the media towards the latest story. Actors who became famous after their Doctor Who appearance are not present in this list.
First Doctor stories
Second Doctor stories
Third Doctor stories
Fourth Doctor stories
Fifth Doctor stories
Doctor Who series 13: release date, cast, trailer and Jodie Whittaker exit news
Happy Wholloween everyone! It has now been confirmed that the spookiest day of the year will be the best one for Doctor Who fans as season 13 will be kicking off its six-episode run on Sunday 31st October.
Get ready for Doctor Who: Flux – though what it means we don’t know just yet.
We do have a special new teaser for it, also (check out below), and now more information than ever is coming out about the series.
Season 13 will run until the first weekend in December, and then we will get three specials in 2022. Episode one will begin in Liverpool, and we have the return of classic monsters the Sontarans and the Weeping Angels to look forward according to a 20-second teaser recently released.
It was announced in July that Jodie Whittaker and Chibnall would be stepping down after the upcoming 13th series and a trilogy of specials – with a regeneration set to happen in a special feature-length episode as part of the BBC’s centenary celebrations in Autumn 2022. That and the news that Russell T Davies is returning to Doctor Who as the replacement for outgoing showrunner Chris Chibnall have kept fans talking for a while now.
But more generally, what can Whovians expect from series 13? Which foes and other characters are returning, which new cast members should we be looking out for and which weird and wonderful points of time and space will the TARDIS be dropping our heroes off in?
Read on to find out everything we currently know about Jodie Whittaker’s next Doctor Who series.
Doctor Who series 13 BBC release date
BBC / Ben Blackall
BBC / Ben Blackall
The official premiere date for series 13 (styled as Doctor Who: Flux) has been revealed as Sunday 31st October. Later episodes will also be released on Sunday nights, with the finale shown on BBC One on Sunday 5th December.
We now know that there will only be six regular episodes in series 13, five less than usual, in a move that allows the show to stick to its usual production cycle despite complicated new health and safety guidelines.
However, there will also be a trilogy of specials in 2022, one at New Year, another later in Spring 2022, and the final one as part of the BBC’s Centenary celebrations in Autumn, which will also serve as Jodie Whittaker’s regeneration episode.
Ex-showrunner Russell T Davies will take over from this point, including special celebrations for the 60th anniversary special.
Doctor Who series 13 trailer
Revealed during [email protected] in July 2021, the first-look teaser is only 43 seconds long but is packed full of action, intriguing mysteries (what IS the Doctor hiding from Yaz) and shots of John Bishop falling down various holes. What more could you ask for?
Check out the full trailer above, and get excited.
Meanwhile in October, a very short teaser was released – this time showing Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor attempting to communicate with someone but struggling to get through. Check it out below:
Later, a 20-second teaser introduced the main threat of the series – the titular Flux – through a desperate plea from the Doctor, who also confirmed the return of classic baddies the Sontarans and the Weeping Angels.
We also got a couple of new images from the new run which shows the Doctor and her companions looking a bit flustered by whatever it is that they are going through.
Which Doctor Who monsters will return for season 13?
It’s been confirmed that classic baddies the Weeping Angels and the Sontarans will be back in series 13, alongside less familiar foes like The Ravagers and the titular Flux itself.
Previously, Jodie Whittaker and Mandip Gill confirmed some “old” monsters would be back, leading to speculation about which baddies they could be referring to.
“I’m excited for our amazing Whovians to see some incredible interactions with old monsters,” Whittaker said during a virtual [email protected] panel.
“Because that part is so good!” added co-star Mandip Gill.
“It’s so special to work with new monsters that we’re the first people to interact with. And old monsters…there’s one in particular, I’m so excited!”
As for the Daleks, it looks like the iconic baddies will be back once again after taking centre stage in the 2020 festive special, at least based on some leaked photos from the set.
Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill and John Bishop were all spotted filming in Bristol in early June – as was long-term voice of the Daleks Nicholas Briggs and Dalek operators Nicholas Pegg and Barnaby Edwards. And what’s more, a photo of crew members unloading a Dalek from a truck was also leaked – as sure a sign as any that they must be returning in season 13.
Is Jodie Whittaker quitting Doctor Who?
Yes – it was confirmed in late July that Jodie Whittaker would be handing in her sonic screwdriver at the close of the new series, becoming the fourth Doctor in a row to leave after three seasons in the role.
Announcing the news, she said, “In 2017 I opened my glorious gift box of size 13 shoes. I could not have guessed the brilliant adventures, worlds and wonders I was to see in them. My heart is so full of love for this show, for the team who make it, for the fans who watch it and for what it has brought to my life. And I cannot thank Chris enough for entrusting me with his incredible stories.
“We knew that we wanted to ride this wave side by side, and pass on the baton together. So here we are, weeks away from wrapping on the best job I have ever had. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to express what this role has given me. I will carry the Doctor and the lessons I’ve learnt forever.
“I know change can be scary and none of us know what’s out there. That’s why we keep looking. Travel Hopefully. The Universe will surprise you. Constantly.”
As for who will be replacing Whittaker in the TARDIS, there has been no suggestion yet – but the BBC has announced that “the new generation of Doctor Who” is coming soon, so watch this space for the latest updates.
Several big names have already been linked to the role, including Years and Years star Olly Alexander, and we’ve compiled a list of some possible options – but bear in mind that this is all speculative at this stage.
Will John Barrowman return to Doctor Who?
While John Barrowman made a major comeback for Revolution of the Daleks, he apparently won’t be back for the next series.
“Listen, I don’t think I’m saying anything out of line – I’m not in the next series. I don’t want to tease the fans,” he told TV Choice Magazine.
Still, it’s possible Barrowman (who managed to keep Jack’s involvement a secret for many months) is pulling our leg again and, even if he isn’t, it may not be long before Captain Jack is back anyway.
“I mean if they ever ask Jack back I’ll come back at the drop of a hat,” Barrowman previously told RadioTimes.com.
However, any possibility of a Barrowman return may have been made less likely by recent controversy, following accusations that the actor had frequently exposed himself on the sets of Torchwood and Doctor Who in the past.
The allegations came to light after a 2014 video featuring his Doctor Who co-star Noel Clarke resurfaced. In the clip, Clarke, who has been accused of sexual harassment on the set of Doctor Who and denies the allegations, said Barrowman would expose himself on the production.
Barrowman addressed allegations in a statement released to The Guardian, saying that his “high-spirited behaviour” was “only ever intended in good humour to entertain colleagues on set and backstage”.
He added: “With the benefit of hindsight, I understand that upset may have been caused by my exuberant behaviour and I have apologised for this previously. Since my apology in November 2008, my understanding and behaviour have also changed.”
The star has already been removed from interactive adventure Doctor Who: Time Fracture, in which he was originally set to reprise the role of Captain Jack Harkness in a pre-recorded clip.
Meanwhile, Doctor Who audio producers Big Finish announced they would not be moving forward with the release of the story Torchwood: Absent Friends, in which Barrowman was set to star.
Who is the new Doctor Who companion?
John Bishop has been unveiled as new companion Dan Lewis, who looks set to play a central role in the series going forward.
“If I could tell my younger self that one day I would be asked to step on board the TARDIS, I would never have believed it,” Bishop said in a release.
“It’s an absolute dream come true to be joining Doctor Who and I couldn’t wish for better company than Jodie and Mandip.”
“It’s time for the next chapter of Doctor Who, and it starts with a man called Dan,” added showrunner Chris Chibnall.
“Oh, we’ve had to keep this one secret for a long, long time. Our conversations started with John even before the pandemic hit. The character of Dan was built for him, and it’s a joy to have him aboard the TARDIS.”
So far, we don’t know much about Dan apart from the fact that he appears to be a painter-decorator, though the BBC did offer a few clues.
“As he becomes embroiled in the Doctor’s adventures, Dan will quickly learn there’s more to the Universe(s) than he could ever believe,” the channel said in a release.
“Travelling through Space and Time alongside the Doctor and Yaz, he’ll face evil alien races beyond his wildest nightmares.”
And more recently, in an online Q&A, Bishop gave some more details about how his character is introduced to Doctor Who.
“Chris Chibnall, who is the showrunner and the main writer of Doctor Who and the Broadchurch showrunner, has got a fantastic pedigree,” Bishop told students of the Liverpool Media Academy.
“He wants to base it in Liverpool because the series always begins from somewhere, the last one from Sheffield. And so he wanted it to be based in Liverpool and that’s where the Doctor is going to get the new companion.”
It also appears we’ll meet Dan’s parents in his first episode, played by actors Sue Murphy and Paul Broughton.
“I did one thing with two Liverpool actors, Paul Broughton and Sue Murphy,” Bishop said.
“They were playing my mum and dad and I swear to God, it was like a masterclass because the was a little bit where there’s these aliens that have come down. They took over the world. My mom has found a way to knock them out with a wok.”
He added: “There’s a scene where we’re in the car with me mum and dad, and what was fantastic for me is they were – watching them play off each other, watching them acting while the other one was speaking – because they work so well together anyway, and honestly I’ve just learned loads from that!”
Sounds like we’re in for some more Who family drama when Dan makes his debut.
Will coronavirus affect Doctor Who series 13?
The COVID-19 pandemic shut down all sorts of TV productions and Doctor Who is among those affected.
It appears that filming on season 13 was delayed by several weeks, but still kicked off at roughly the same time of year as was always intended.
However, due to more complex filming practices necessitated by the health crisis, the upcoming season has had to shorten its run by three episodes to ensure production won’t run over, and is structured as a serialised story rather than the usual one-off episodes.
Doctor Who series 13 cast
Apart from Bishop, the big new addition to Doctor Who series 13 is Game of Thrones star Jacob Anderson, who will play a mysterious space-traveller called Vinder across several episodes.
“The Doctor has been a part of my life forever, from watching and rewatching the serials on VHS as a kid and being terrified, to unexpectedly finding my eyes watering when the Tenth Doctor said ‘I don’t want to go’,” Anderson said.
“I always wanted to live in the Whoniverse. Not only has a lifelong dream of mine now been fulfilled, but to be playing a character as fun, adventurous and dynamic as Vinder is the cherry on top. This is very cool.”
Incumbent Doctor Jodie Whittaker has confirmed she’ll be back for season 13, reuniting with Chris Chibnall for a new series of adventures – their final outing as star and showrunner, respectively.
Companions Tosin Cole and Bradley Walsh will definitely not be back for more, with the pair leaving after the special, having booked big new roles in US legal drama 61st Street and an ITV remake of The Darling Buds of May respectively. Instead, John Bishop’s new character Dan (see above) will take their place at the Doctor’s side.
Meanwhile, Sacha Dhawan has said he’s open to returning again as the Doctor’s nemesis, The Master, assuming fans are keen to have him back.
“There’s been no talk about me coming back,” he told RadioTimes.com. “I know they are planning another series and I’m waiting for that phone call.
“I would really love to come back. I’m just really excited to see, if I do come back, where they’d take the character. The Master is so unpredictable, he can get out of anything! I’m sure he’ll be inclined to make another visit. I hope so!”
Towards the end of the series 12 finale there was also a hint that the Master may have escaped another certain death.
“All of you, through here, now!” he can be heard shouting as the Death Particle activates, suggesting that he may have shepherded his new Cyber-Army into a waiting TARDIS and escaped from Gallifrey.
“The thing is… what I love about the Master is that you can put him in the darkest, most dangerous, most impossible situations… and he’ll always find a way of getting out of them. How, I don’t know!” Dhawan told RadioTimes.com.
If Whittaker is leaving, it seems increasingly likely that Dhawan’s Master could return for one last face-off – and the same logic would suggest that Jo Martin’s mysterious Fugitive Doctor would turn up to resolve her storyline as well.
And indeed Martin has herself gone on record to state that she hopes to return to the show – or perhaps even be given her own spin-off series.
“Of course, of course,” Martin said, when asked by RadioTimes.com if she’d like to reprise her role.
“What’s not to like about that? I would absolutely love it. And they’ve got John Bishop there now, haven’t they? I’m a big fan of his. I want a scene with him.”
She added: “I think there’s so much more story. What they set up opens up a world that we’ve not fully explored within Doctor Who yet.
“And you don’t want to waste that costume. You know what I mean? That costume – it’s a real waste of a costume because it’s so swaggy, as they say. So I think that costume needs to get worn again by me.”
Of course, given the high profile return of John Barrowman last series and again in the festive special, viewers will be wondering if any other fan favourites from years gone by will be returning to the show.
Donna Noble had been mooted for a return by some fans after Catherine Tate was allegedly spotted in Liverpool while a shoot was taking place, however those claims were denied by her representative.
Some other former stars have also revealed they’d love to return, with both Osgood star Ingrid Oliver and River Song actress Alex Kingston claiming they’d love to team up with Jodie Whittaker before her time in the TARDIS is up.
Oliver told RadioTimes.com, “Jodie’s Doctor is so funny and witty and high energy” and said she would love to see how Osgood would interact with her.
“I think it’d be quite funny,” she said. “I think it’d be a really funny dynamic, actually, and quite interesting to watch. Let’s see what happens. I mean, let’s do it. Let’s do it!”
Meanwhile, Kingston told RadioTimes.comit would be a “great shame” if River Song never met Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor.
“It would be a great shame if it were not to happen. Let’s put it that way,” she said. “I’m open to anything. I don’t have an idea about how we should meet or anything like that. But I would like River to meet her, and plant a big, fat kiss on her!”
Apparently, actor Steve Oram will have a role in the new series too, though this has not been officially announced.
What will happen in Doctor Who series 13?
Specific plot details of series 13 remain unknown, though Chibnall has revealed that clues about what to expect are present in the series 12 finale if you know where to find them – and apparently the plan for the next series is “big” and “ambitious”.
“We are already planning the stories,” Chibnall said. “You’ll realise there are some stories we’re already setting in train for next series. We have very big, ambitious plans for our third series together.”
Presumably, with Jodie Whittaker leaving, then the major storyline will be the build-up to the Doctor’s exit, with the Time Lord facing a chilling new threat as she builds to her final adventure.
Meanwhile, rumour has it that the season 13 filming currently underway involves iconic Crimean War nurse Mary Seacole, in keeping with the series’ trend for emotional historical episodes in recent episodes, though this storyline has yet to be confirmed officially.
And of course, certain revelations in the season 12 finale episode The Timeless Children – namely that the Doctor was a being from another dimension who was harvested by the Time Lords for regeneration, and subsequently lived countless lifetimes that were later removed from her mind – are likely to be picked up in season 13 itself, especially after the Doctor mentions these issues again in 2021 festive special Revolution of the Daleks.
Perhaps, after being urged by Ryan (Tosin Cole) in that episode we’ll see the Doctor investigate her past self and work out what missions she completed for the Division, or where she came from in the first place.
As noted, it also seems likely that we’ll see more from the “new” incarnation of the Doctor (Jo Martin) introduced in series 12 episode Fugitive of the Judoon, who we’d expect to cross paths with Whittaker once again before the latter leaves the series behind.
Mandip Gill has suggested the series will also see Yaz continuing to deal with her former mental health issues.
“It’s part of Yaz’s journey now,” she said. “It will affect, basically, her choices in the future.”
And of course, now we know that the series will take the form of one six-part story rather than several standalone episodes – so whatever happens it’s sure to be on a big scale.
All that, plus the introduction of Bishop’s new character Dan, are sure to make for a busy season. Plus, Chris Chibnall offered one clue during a virtual panel about the series: the word “swarm.” Hmmm….any guesses?
Who will write Doctor Who series 13?
Series showrunner Chris Chibnall has confirmed he’ll be back in charge for Jodie Whittaker’s third series and final series, following earlier rumours that he might leave the sci-fi drama behind.
“I do know I’m coming back for a third season,” Chibnall said. “Yeah, absolutely.”
However, we do know that this will be Chibnall’s last series working on the show, with his departure confirmed at the same time as Jodie Whittaker’s in July 2021.
“Jodie and I made a ‘three series and out’ pact with each other at the start of this once-in-a-lifetime blast. So now our shift is done, and we’re handing back the TARDIS keys,” he said.
It’s currently unknown whether other series 12 writers like Vinay Patel, Pete McTighe, Ed Hime, Maxine Alderton, Charlene James or Nina Metivier will also return, or whether series 11’s Malorie Blackman and Joy Wilkinson could make a comeback.
We do know that Jamie Magnus Stone is returning to direct some episodes, while series newcomer Haolu Wang onboard to direct the second 60-minute special in Spring 2o22.
Doctor Who is available to stream on BBC iPlayer and Netflix. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guide to the best TV series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, or visit our TV Guide.
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