Sunday, 23 November 2008

45 Years of Doctor Who 1963 - 2008

Where it all began: BBC One, Saturday, 23rd November 1963

Babelcolour tribute

Doctor Who

William Hartnell

A mysterious Grandfather figure known only as ‘The Doctor’. Doctor Who?

celebrates 45 years today. The show's pilot episode "An Unearthly Child" aired at 5.15pm on BBC ONE. The producers were hoping for a good 3 year run. The show's star, William Hartnell, although initially sceptical about the character and the series, became increasingly more confidant that the show would succeed to five years. The rest of the cast, however (Jacqueline Hill, William Russell and Carol Anne Ford), were sure that the show would not complete its first season.

The Daily Herald 1963

The episode was over looked due to the assassination of US President John F Kennedy on the 22nd November 1963. People were glued to their televisions and radios so as to be kept up to date on the latest news. Ratings were low and the producers pleaded with the bosses at the BBC to repeat the episode the following week, they did. An Unearthly Child was re-shown prior to episode 2 "The Dead Planet". Their determination worked and Doctor Who found a home in many a Whovian's heart!

Pilot Episode: Ian & Barbara barge into the TARDIS

Ian Chesterton:"Let me get this right. A thing that looks like a Police Box, can move anywhere in time and space?"

21st December 1963 - 1st February 1964 began a 7 part story beginning with "The Dead Planet". The TARDIS has a malfunction and materialises on an unknown barren planet. It was this episode that ended with one of the show's most memorable cliff-hangers - Barbara, separated from herthe TARDIS crew and lost in an apparently dead city, is backed up against the wall, and something sinister is advancing towards her. As the scene fades to black, Barbara lets out a terrified scream... The following weeks episode "The Survivors" had double the viewing figures as a nation tuned in to learn what terrified Barbara.... Dalek mania took a hold, and the rest, as they say is history!

William Hartnell was the first TV Doctor. A veteran of stage and screen, Hartnell saw the role as an ideal opportunity to break away from the tough sergeant major roles he often found himself cast in. He got to wear a long grey wig too.

Far less cosy than future Doctors, this first incarnation definitely started out as something of an anti-hero. In stories such as The Daleks, Hartnells’ Doctor would place his companions in jeopardy for the sake of his own curiosity.

A combination of ill-health and changing production team influenced William Hartnell’s decision to retire from the role that had made him a hero to millions of children.

Rather than end the show, the producers hit upon an inspired solution. They decided to re-cast the lead role, explaining that the Doctor could ‘regenerate’ a tired or injured body, taking on a new persona along the way.We would see this special effect spectacular in Hartnell's final story "The Tenth Planet" the Doctor has 2 new companions Ben & Polly who witness the Doctor regenerate for the first time....

The FIRST TARDIS materialization with sound.... 20th January 1965 'The Powerful Enemy'

From 'The Crusade', 27th March 1965, a unique materialization sound never used again...

Above videos from

The first regeneration 1966 - Hartnell into Troughton. The regeneration "effect" was accomplished during the series' original run from 1963–1989 primarily through the use of video mixing. Originally, the plan was to have Hartnell collapse at the end of The Tenth Planet with his cloak over his face, which would then be pulled back to reveal Troughton in the next serial. However, vision mixer Shirley Coward discovered and took advantage of a malfunction in the mixing desk which allowed Hartnell's image to be overexposed to the point of almost whiting out the screen, then fading back in to reveal Troughton's face. This also meant that the regeneration scene could take place with both actors at the conclusion of The Tenth Planet, and Troughton was accordingly signed up to participate.

"This old body of mine is wearing a bit thin..."

Doctor Who (1966–1969)

Patrick Troughton In 1966, Doctor Who producer Innes Lloyd decided to replace Hartnell in the series' lead role. The continued survival of the show depended on audiences accepting another actor in the role, especially given the bold decision that the replacement would not be a Hartnell lookalike or soundalike. Lloyd later stated that Hartnell had approved of the choice, saying, "There's only one man in England who can take over, and that's Patrick Troughton"

Troughton thought how best he could portray the Doctor different to that of Hartnell, it was decided that the doctor could be a 'cosmic hobo'. With this incarnation of the Doctor we got to see the sonic screwdriver for the very first time and that the Doctor could play a musical instrument - a flute! Troughton found Doctor Who's schedule (at this time, 40 to 44 episodes per season) gruelling, and decided to leave the series in 1969, after three years in the role. This decision was also motivated in part by fear of being typecast.

"..Stop.You're making me dizzy. No, you can't do this to me. No..No..No..No.."

Troughton returned to Doctor Who three times after he originally left the programme, becoming the only former "Doctor" to have reprised the role that many times after his original run. The first time was in 'The Three Doctors', in 1973 celebrating the programme's 10th anniversary. Ten years later, Troughton overcame some reluctance to reprise his role and agreed to appear in the 20th anniversary special 'The Five Doctors' at the request of series producer John Nathan-Turner. Troughton enjoyed the return to the programme so much that he readily agreed to appear one more time as the Second Doctor with Colin Baker in 1985's 'The Two Doctors'.

Doctor Who (1970–1974)

Jon Pertwee In 1969, Pertwee was selected by producer Peter Bryant to take over as the Doctor from Patrick Troughton. Pertwee audition for the role and was surprised to find that he had been shortlisted for the it. He played the Doctor as a 'swash-buckling cavalier 'type, which was far removed to how Hartnell and Troughton portrayed the character. Pertwee's Doctor became known as 'the dandy'.

The Doctor was forced to regenerate and was exiled to Earth in the latter half of the 20th Century by his own people - the Time Lords. This was of course due to budget cuts at the time. So to save money, the concept of the Doctor being stranded on Earth was introduced. Jon Pertwee stayed in the role for a total of 5 seasons, surpassing both Hartnell and Troughton's 3 years each.

His swan story was entitled 'Planet of the Spiders', which had the Doctor battle giant spiders from the planet Metabelis III (The Blue Planet is where the Third Doctor takes a perfect blue crystal (a Metabelis Sapphire, which contains strange powers) It is also mentioned in Carnival Of Monsters). We were introduced to the series' all time favourite companion - Sarah Jane Smith, played by Elizabeth Sladen (who now has 2 series of 'The Sarah Jane Adventures' under her belt, and of course the 1981 pilot 'K9 & Company').

In order to win, the Doctor must face his fears. The Doctor travels to Metabelis III with the blue crystatal. On landing, the Doctor heads to the cave of the Great One and gives her the crystal, which she uses to complete a lattice that begins to magnify her mental powers. However, the forces unleashed are too strong for the Great One and the positive feedback kills her and the other spiders. A vast radiation wave from the blue cave spills over the Doctor, destroying his cells and weakening him…

The Brigadier: "Well, here we go again!"

Three weeks later, Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewert and Sarah are in the Doctor's laboratory when the Doctor returns and promptly collapses. The Doctor dies, and Sarah cries. The abbot K’Anpo arrives in his new body, having regenerated into the form of Cho-Je, who was a sort of forward projection of his soul. He tells them that the Doctor will change too and before their eyes the Doctor starts to regenerate. Sarah tells the Brigadier that she thinks The Doctor is starting to regenerate. The Doctor regenerates into a younger man. The abbot comments on his brain cells being rattled around a bit, perhaps to account for the Fourth Doctors radically eccentric personality.

Doctor Who (1974–1981)

Tom Baker

In 1974, 40-year-old Baker took on the role of Doctor. He was cast because of his performance in 'The golden Voyage of Sinbad'. Baker was working on a construction site at the time. He was dubbed "Boiler SuitTom" by the media, as he had been supplied for a press conference with some old studio set clothes to replace his modest garments.

Doctor: "Mother, Mother I feel sick. Send for the doctor, quick quick quick"

As the Doctor, his eccentric dress and speech — particularly his long scarf and fondness of jelly babies — made him immediately recognisable. Baker played the Doctor for seven consecutive seasons, the longest-serving actor in the part on-screen. Baker suggested many aspects of the Doctor's personality. The scarf came by accident: James Acheson, the costume designer, had provided more wool than necessary to the knitter, Begonia Pope, who knitted all she was given; Baker suggested he wear the ridiculously long scarf.

Baker's early stories were dark and gritty at times. Self proclaimed TV moralist campaigned against the show's grittiness and violence. Season 14, particularly in a four-part story called 'The Deadly Assassin' in which the Doctor travels alone to his home planet of Gallifrey in an attempt to thwart the assassination of the President of the Time Lords. In a Gallifreyan virtual reality construct known - curiously enough - as the Matrix, the Doctor fought the assassin in a variety of tense situations, most of them requiring the application of brute force. Episode 3's cliffhanger concluded on a shot of the assassin holding the Doctor's head underwater. Mary Whitehouse again complained. The BBC bosses acted and producer Philip Hinchcliffe was transferred to an adult police drama the network felt was more suited to that level of gritty violence. The Season's remaining episodes had been completed and were aired as cut.

Doctor: "It's the end...but the moment's been prepared for"

In October, 1980, the BBC announced just before the 3 part story 'Full Circle' that Baker was leaving at the end of the 1981 season. Baker's departure was based partly on his feeling that he could not develop his role further, and partly on the new producer, John Nathan-Turner's, dislike of Baker's portrayal. Baker's last regular appearance as the Doctor was on 21 March 1981 at the conclusion of the story 'Logopolis'. JNT brought in the '?' on the Doctor's clothing, which Baker did not particularily like, nor did a lot of fans. The '?' remained until the show ended in 1989.

Doctor Who

Peter Davison

I1981, Davison signed a contract to play the Doctor for three years, and, at age 29, is still the youngest actor to assume the lead role. Attracting such a high-profile actor as Davison was as much of a coup for the programme's producers as getting the role was for him, but he did not renew his contract because he feared being typecast. Reportedly, Patrick Troughton had recommended to Davison that he leave the role after three years, and Davison followed his advice. However, Peter Davison has since stated that he also felt too young for the role, and if given the chance at the role now he would have made a better Doctor.

Doctor: "Zero Room? Oh, it's very big...empty and sort of grey, pinkish grey"

The story 'Earthshock' was the only episode to not have the Doctor Who theme over the end credits. This was due toone of the Doctor's companions, Adric, died at the end trying to prevent the freighter ship crashing into Earth (of the past). He failed and we learn that the freighter caused the obliteration of the dinosaurs.

Peter Davison did, in fact, return to play the Fifth Doctor in the 1993 multi-doctor Children In Need special 'Dimensions In Time' . He continues to reprise the role in a series of audio plays by Big Finish Productions. He returned once again for the Stephen Moffett written Children In Need mini episode 'Time Crash', which aired on 16 November 2007, the Fifth Doctor met his future 10th self, played by current Doctor David Tennant.

Davison swan song was 'The Caves Of Androzani'. As the planet erupts around him, the Doctor manages to carry Peri back to the TARDIS. However, he accidentally spills the precious antidote while his blister filled hands were searching for the TARDIS key. The Doctor manages to save only half of the milk, meaning that only one of them could be cured. Without hesitation, he gives Peri the milk. She recovers quickly and sees the Doctor lying on the TARDIS's floor. The Doctor sees that Peri is well and says "Peri, well I see that Professor Jackij knew his stuff." Peri then asks the Doctor if he got the bat's milk and he confirms that he did. Peri then presses the Doctor into telling her where the antidote was. He simply tells her "Finished...Only enough for you." Peri looks on in horror and urges the Doctor not to give up and that there must be something they can do to save him. The Doctor becomes doubtful and says "I might regenerate, I don't know... It feels different this time."

Doctor: "Is this death?"

As the Doctor slowly rests his head, he enters a hallucinatory state., and sees images of his previous compnaions - Tegan, Nyssa, Turlough, Kamelion and Adric. The Doctor, who has long been haunted by the tragic loss of his Alzarian companion, cries out his name. However, the Doctor hears a cold and sinister laugh which drives all of the images of his companions away. It is the image of the Master. The Master begins to goad and taunt the Doctor, saying; "No my dear Doctor, you must die. Die, Doctor. Die, Doctor!" As the Master continues to laugh, his image becomes larger and the Doctor's face begins to glow. In a flash, the Doctor regenerates and awakens in the TARDIS to a new face and a shocked Peri. Peri attempts to ask the Doctor what happened. The Doctor turns towards the camera and says "Change, my dear, and it seems not a moment too soon..."

Doctor Who (1983–1986)

Colin Baker

Baker made his first appearance in Doctor Who as Commander Maxil in the story 'Arc of Infinity'. Baker's performance was described by producer John Nathan-Turner as being "quite arch" and a little sassy. Despite this, Baker's character became one of the few characters to actually shoot the Doctor, then played by Peter Davison.

When Baker was officially cast as Davison's successor, he became the only "Doctor" actor to have appeared in the television series as another character prior to taking on the leading role. Baker's first appearance as the Doctor occurred at the final minutes of 'The Caves of Androzani', where he delivered his first few lines. The closing title sequence for episode four featured Baker's face instead of Peter Davison, and credits him as the Doctor before Davison's own credit. This was the first (and, to date, only) time that the new lead received top billing in the final story of an outgoing Doctor.

Baker's era was interrupted by a long 18 month hiatus which was announced in February 1985, mid way through transmission of his first full season. One new Doctor Who story, 'Slipback' , was made on radio during the hiatus. The Controller of BBC ONE at the time, Michael Grade, criticised the show, saying that the programme had become overly violent and its storylines farcical during season 22 in 1985. After the 18-month hiatus, the program was brought back for its 23rd season in the Autumn of 1986. Season 23 featured a reduction of episodes produced, and the 14 episode long serial 'The Trial of a Time Lord' was felt by some fans to reflect the fact that the series itself was "on trial" at this time.

In 1986, Baker was sacked from the role as the Doctor as the BBC management wanted to refresh the show, and for an actor who appealed more to the audience.

Colin Baker reprised his role as the 6th Doctor in the C.I.N special 'Dimensions In Time' and again as part of Big Finish Productions audio dramas.

Doctor Who (1987–1989 & 1996)

Sylvester McCoy

He took over the lead role of Doctor Who in 1987 and remained until the series went into it's second hiatus in 1989 . He played the Doctor in the 1993 charity special 'Dimensions In Time', and again in 1996, appearing in a cameo at the beginning of the Doctor Who television movie where he handed the role over to Paul McGann. In his first series, McCoy, a comedy actor, portrayed the character with a degree of clown-like humour, but script editor Andrew Carmel soon changed that when fans argued that the character (and plots) were becoming increasingly lightweight. The Seventh Doctor developed into a much darker figure than any of his earlier incarnations, manipulating people like chess pieces and always seeming to be playing a deeper game. McCoy generally approved of this, as it allowed him to play more of a dramatic role.

A distinguishing feature of McCoy's performances was his manner of speech. He used his natural slight Scottish accent and rolled his rs. In 1990, readers of Doctor Who Magazine voted McCoy's Doctor "Best Doctor", over long standingl favourite Tom Baker. He still portrays the Doctor with BFP audio drams.

Doctor Who (television movie 1996)

Paul McGann

On 10 January 1996, it was announced that Paul McGann would play the Eigth iincarnation of the Doctor in the TV movie.

The Doctor Who television movie was a joint venture between the BBC, Universal Studios and Fox Broadcasting Network. McGann had signed a contract to appear as the Eighth Doctor in a new Doctor Who series, if Fox or Universal exercised their option. Thus, the television movie was supposed to be a 'new pilot' in that, if it obtained respectable ratings, the new series would continue to be produced. The movie aired on 14 May 1996 in the US and on 27 May 1996 in the UK. Although it earned 9.08 million viewers and was very successful in the UK, ratings were very low in the USA. As a consequence, Fox did not exercise its option to pick up the series and Universal could not find another network who was interested in airing a new Doctor Who series. Thus no new series was produced , all the contractual rights returned to the BBC, and the movie became McGann's only televised appearance as the Eighth Doctor.

Doctor: "I'm half-human...on my mother's side"

Although McGann played the Doctor on television only once, he gave permission for his likeness to be used on the covers of the BBC's Eigth Doctor Novels and he has reprised the role of the Eighth Doctor in an extensive series of audio plays by BFP.

For nine years, McGann was treated as the "current" Doctor by some fans (1996-2005) is tied with Sylvester McCoy (1987-1996) for serving the longest period of time as the "current" Doctor, at nine years each, though McGann actually had the role for 40 days more. The show was not in production for virtually all of this time, however. McGann's single appearance as the Doctor in the television movie makes him the actor with the shortest "screen time" in that role.

Rumours abounded that Paul McGann would reprise the role of the eighth Doctor in a new series of television films, alongside the current television series. McGann has denied these rumours on the grounds of not having being asked back to play the part but if he were to be asked would be interested as long as he "didn't have to wear a wig". McGann has appeared again as the eighth Doctor in the BBC Radio 7 series Doctor Who in 2007 and 2008.

Doctor Who (2003)

Richard E. Grant Richard E. Grant,McGann's co-star in Withnail, also played the Doctor in the 2003 animated webcast 'Scream of the Shalka'. The official Ninth Doctor until the series returned to our screens in the Spring of 2005., and was relegated to unofficial status. It was produced to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the series and was posted over a 6 week period from 13th November to 18th December 2003 on the bbc Doctor Who website.

Doctor Who (2005)

Christopher Eccleston

Who's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? On 20th March 2004, it was announced that Eccleston was to play the Ninth incarnation of the Doctor in the revival of Doctor Who, which began transmission on 26 March 2005 (postponed by one week).

The Doctor is apparently the sole remaining survivor of the 'Last Great Time War' . His people, the TIME LORDS faught a battle against the evil that are the DALEKS. Their invaded and destroyed his homeworld of GALLIFREY. It is assumed that it was the eigth incarnation of the Doctor that faught in the war, and that he regenerated towards the end or once the war was over.

The war changed him, over run with guilt for survivng when all of his own kind perished, struggling to come to terms with why he remained alive and alone. He came to spend more time on Earth, where he met a certain 19 year old, Rose Tyler.

Rose, a brave, determined teenager with a strong mind of her own, and not afraid to put her life on the line for the Doctor or anyone else. These qualities endeared the Doctor towards her, not only becoming a companion, friend but he began to fall in love with her. Rose helped him to come to terms with is feelings regarding the Time War.

Believing that the Daleks perished, he discovers in the Earth's distant future that they have survived and come to conquer Earth. The Doctor sends Rose back to her own time but she looks into the heart of the TARDIS and returns to him. Her head is filled with the Time Vortex. Rose raises a hand and wipes the Daleks from existance, but the strain is too much and her head can not cope with such power. The Doctor kisses her, removing the vortex from Rose and sending it back into the TARDIS. Once they are both inside the TARDIS, the Doctor explains to Rose that what he is about to do is 'a bit tricky', he tells her thta she was 'FANTASTIC! and so was he'. The Doctor regenerates in a bright yellow/orange light.....

Doctor: "...I may have two heads or no head, imagine me with no head..."

On 30 March 2005, the BBC released a statement, ostensibly from Eccleston, saying that he had decided to leave the role after just one season, because he feared becoming typecast. On 4 April, the BBC revealed that Eccleston's "statement" was falsely attributed and released without his consent. The BBC admitted that they had broken an agreement made in January not to disclose publicly that he only intended to do one season. The statement had been made after journalists made queries to the press office.

On 7 November 2008, at the National Theatre to promote his book 'The Writer's Tale', Russell T. Davies said that Eccleston's contract was for a single year because it was uncertain whether the show would continue beyond a single revival season. In retrospect, he says, it has been an enormous success, but at the time there were doubts within the BBC.

Eccleston was voted "Most Popular Actor" at the 2005 National Television Awards for his portrayal of The Doctor.

Doctor Who (2005-2010)

David Tennant

David Tennant Doctor Who TARDIS.jpgDavid Tennant, a life long fan of Doctor Who, got his dream job when RTD offerred him the role upon the departure of Christopher Eccleston. His first on screen appearance was at the end of Series 1 (aka Season 27) 'The Paeting Of The Ways'.

He began filming the new series of Doctor Who in late July 2005. His first full-length outing as the Doctor was a sixty-minute special, 'The Christmas Invasion', first broadcast on Christmas Day 2005.

Sarah Jane, Doctor, Mickey, Rose

Rose fell head over heels for her new Doctor. In School Reunion, the Doctor takes the place of a teacher to investigate perculiar goings on at a High School. It is here, thta the Doctor meets one of his previous companions, journalist and investigator, Sarah Jane Smith. They meet again a few years later when the Earth is taken out of the solar system and into the Medusa Cascade. They both come face to face with a new breed of Daleks and their creator, DAVROS...

In the 2006 season finale, The Doctor loses Rose to an alternative universe where Rose's father, Pete Tyler, is very much alive and wealthy! Jackie Tyler (alternative mother) is turned into a Cyberman. The Doctor circles a dying sun to send a projection of himself to Rose in Bad Wolf Bay in Norway.

2008, David Tennant performs Hamlet with the The Royal Shakespeare Company, after filming of Doctor Who Sereis 4 is completed. It is also announced that there will be no Series 5 in 2009, instead there will be four, one hour long specials , with Series 5 in 2010. Ho

During the National Television Awards, David announced that he would not be returning to the role after the 2009–2010 specials, saying that they would have to drag him out of the TARDIS at age 70.

Specualation circuals the net and other media as to who will replace Tennant as the 11th Doctor? Rumour has it that an nanouncement is imminent on the 45th anniversary. Ears to the ground.......

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