Doctor Who was created by a committee in the back room of the BBC Drama Department,
inspired by HG Wells' "The Time Traveler", and kick started into
being by Sidney Newman. Then the BBC's head of drama, and a controversial
figure, Newman was a fresh wind blowing through the old corporation, and
what's more he was a Canadian, thereby annoying all jingoistic Who fans.
The basic idea of the series was a "mad professor" type, named only
The Doctor, who leads his young companions through, alternately,
historical and futuristic adventures. The show was to be educational,
and just to make the message clear, a science teacher and a history
teacher were to accompany the Doctor. To get the "audience relating"
aspect spot on a teenage girl was present to engage the
youngsters. She became the Doctor's granddaughter by the time the show
aired, as the BBC had very strict ideas on the prospect of an old man
hanging around with a school girl. The Doctor was originally a fussy,
easily annoyed old dodderer who practically kidnapped the two school
teachers, so that his secret would be safe.
And his secret was the TARDIS. Outside it looks like a police box,
inside it is a highly technological craft. What the hell is a
police box? Don't worry, most people in the UK have forgotten their
original purpose, to most, it's always been the TARDIS. The police
public call box was designed in the pre-walkie-talkie days, and a
box on the door contained a phone line connected to a police
operator, and could be used by members of the public, or a police
officer, should his trusty whistle prove inadequate in summoning
assistance. If all else failed, the local bobby could pop a hapless
criminal inside, and lock him up. The blue light would then
The TARDIS can travel anywhere in time and space, unfortunately, the
Doctor as we first meet him, is unsure exactly how to control it,
and he's on the run. It's bigger on the inside.
As the show evolved the Doctor became much more lovable, and less the
anti-hero. Traveling companions came and went, and now anyone joining
the Doctor is generally labeled "a companion", though this is no
"official term". Much to the viewers astonishment, and, apparently,
the original star's disgruntlement, the Doctor himself
changed his appearance. He regenerated. These changes, which happened
every time a star wished to leave, (or was sacked) changed the Doctor's
outward appearance and mannerisms, but by and large the Doctor remained
an out and out goody. The show has gone through so many changes, and
featured so many genres, from high farce, to space opera, to intense
character led drama, historical pastiche, political satire, that it's
pointless to catalogue it's evolution here. My articles will begin to
discuss the nature of the show, and there are plenty of reference
sources to give you the dry facts of the show's history.
A Timelord from Gallifrey. That will probably mean nothing -- don't
worry. As introduced, he was a grumpy mad professor on the run from his people.
As the show went on, more and more was revealed of who indeed the Doctor
was. As above, this will be explored in my articles.
|What happened to the show?|
It ran, with only one major break, from 1963 to 1989. It was
canceled when ratings fell, and has only reappeared as a TV movie
with Paul McGann since. The TV Movie failed to gain enough viewers
Stateside (because viewers SHOULD be attracted to a one off, barely
advertised pilot, obviously) and despite being a promising, but
flawed production, all has gone terribly quiet about Who's
future. Eight actors have played the Doctor for BBC productions:
As well as Richard Hurndall stepping in for the sadly departed William
Hartnell in the twentieth anniversary extravaganza The Five Doctors. Troughton
and Pertwee are now also no longer with us, the TV movie aired within a
week of Jon Pertwee's death, and was thus dedicated to his memory.
- William Hartnell
- Patrick Troughton
- Jon Pertwee
- Tom Baker
- Peter Davison
- Colin Baker
- Sylvester McCoy
- Paul McGann
Also worth noting are the two Sixties films released on the back of the success
of the show's first monsters, the cyborg pepperpot Daleks, wherein the
first Doctor was played by noted film actor Peter Cushing. (That's Grand Moff Tarkin to you).
The BBC's Doctor Who Site
The BBC finally start to feel guilty about leaving Who fans in the
cold and give them some kind of Doctor Who experience that they don't
have to pay for. Now make some new stories please. Includes a forum,
where your very own guide to Who can often be found being asked to leave for swearing.
Bevis and Duncans' Doctor Who Guide
For all the niggling facts you need to know, and a guide to each Who story.
The Doctor Who Image Archive
For all Who fan PC wallpaper needs, and a chance for newcomers to see
what those monsters actually looked like. Prepare to be disappointed though,
the BBC visual effects department didn't have a massive budget!
Doctor Who Chronology
A chronology of what the Doctor actually got up to, put together by a Canadian Who fan.
The Doctor Who Cuttings Archive
A fascinating site dedicated to tracking down all the Doctor's forays into
the world of newspapers and magazines. Kind of like an online scrap book.
The Doctor Who Shop
A place to track down Who merchandise, including "storybooks, program guides, mugs and keyrings."