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A Brief Beginner's Guide To Doctor Who
by Colin Ravey

Doctor Who
The Creation...
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.

Basic Premise...
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.

The Ship...
Doctor Who Video Cover 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 flash. Engaged!

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.

Evolution...
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.

Who is the Doctor...
Doctor Who Video Cover 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:
William Hartnell
Patrick Troughton
Jon Pertwee
Tom Baker
Peter Davison
Colin Baker
Sylvester McCoy
Paul McGann
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.

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).


Links...
The BBC's Doctor Who Site
(Finally).

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."


Copyright © 1999 by Colin Ravey

Colin Ravey is a twenty two year old Internet journalist, born and bred in Glossop, Derbyshire. Nope, people in the UK haven't heard of it either -- head for Coronation Street, and take a left into the countryside. He isn't half as jingoistic as he sounds, and welcomes your comments.


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