Doctor Who

Doctor Who

Synopsis of TV Show

“Never believe what is said... only what you know.”

Brits Sydney Newman and Donald Wilson created this sci-fi TV show in 1963—and it was initially conceived as a children’s show that would educate viewers about science while it entertained. But the kids weren’t the only ones who watched. In fact, legions of adults, first in England and then all over the world, became cultishily devoted to this low-budget festival of the weird. It came to America in 1978.

The good Doctor of the title was a 750-year-old native of the planet Gallifrey who traversed the universe in the not-so-reliable time machine TARDIS to explore alien lands and help the oppressed. Often doing the oppressing were the Daleks ("Exterminate!"), a group of wheeled robots led by the evil, wheelchair-bound Davros. The Doctor also found himself in hot water with The Master and other Time Lords, who may not have approved of Who's freewheeling ways and "Look how cool I dress" long scarf.

Though he wasn't exactly human, he took a human form because it was convenient—and most comforting to his human traveling companions. When the show first debuted, the Doctor was played by William Hartnell, but in its more than thirty-year run as a series and as a string of TV movies, there have been eight actors to play the role. And those thirty-plus years make it the longest-running sci-fi show on television.

Each time the Doctor regenerated (which is to say, each time a new actor came aboard for the part), he became a brand new man—though the brilliance, the arrogance that can charm despite his companions’ better judgment, and the endless, sometimes dangerous curiosity remained the same. He always carried around an odd assortment of do-dads, whose usefulness was questionable until one of them would get him out of a jam and prove crucial.

Because the show was restrained by the BBC’s low-budget purse strings, the special effects didn’t drop anyone’s jaw. But no matter how underwhelming the show’s look, no matter who was playing the doctor (though fans argue endlessly as to who did it best), the eerie title music, the unique narratives and those patented cliffhanger endings drew sci-fi fans for years.

Though episodic production ceased in 1989, Doctor Who lived on in a continuing series of television movies. Paperback books have always been available and there is a galaxy of websites out there—let’s just hope your navigation devices are more reliable that the Doctor’s sometimes were.

By popular demand a new series started again 16 years on with all the modern effects. The BBC pulled of a very popular series again and it is now going stronger than ever before.

Release History of Prime Time Show

1963 - 1989 BBC
2005 - ???

TV Sub Categories


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Television Studio


TV Cast

The Doctor #1 (1963-66) William Hartnell
The Doctor #2 (1966-69) Patrick Troughton
The Doctor #3 (1970-74) Jon Pertwee
The Doctor #4 (1974-81) Tom Baker
The Doctor #5 (1981-84) Peter Davison
The Doctor #6 (1984-86) Colin Baker
The Doctor #7 (1987-89) Sylvester McCoy
The Doctor #8 (1996)   Paul McGann The Doctor #9 (2005)  David Tennant
The Doctor #10 (2006- )  Christopher Eccleston

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