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Doctor Who is based around the principle of time travel.


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Doctor Who is a long-running British science fiction television programme (and 1996 television movie). Doctor Who is produced by the BBC about the adventures of a mysterious time-traveller known as "the Doctor". Doctor Who explores time and space with his companions, solving problems and righting wrongs.

Doctor Who logo.
A multicoloured variant of the familiar Doctor Who "diamond" logo which was used in the show's titles from Series 11 to 17.

Doctor Who is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-running science fiction television series in the world and is also a significant part of British popular culture. It has been recognised for its imaginative stories, creative low-budget special effects during its original run, and pioneering use of electronic music (originally produced by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop). In Britain and elsewhere, the show has become a cult television favourite and has influenced generations of British television professionals, many of whom grew up watching the series. It has received recognition from critics and the public as one of the finest British television programmes, including the BAFTA Award for Best Drama Series in 2006.

Doctor Who originally ran from 1963 to 1989. A television movie was made in 1996, and the programme was successfully relaunched in 2005, produced in-house by BBC Wales. (Some development money for the new series is contributed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which is credited as a co-producer, although they do not have creative input into the show.) Doctor Who has also spawned spin-offs in multiple media, including the current television series Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.

The relaunch of Doctor Who has seen Christmas Day special episodes broadcast between series, the most recent being The Runaway Bride. Series 3 of the relaunched programme, starring David Tennant as the Doctor and Freema Agyeman as his companion Martha Jones, started on 31 March 2007 at 7pm on BBC One. A fourth series has been commissioned, to air in 2008.

History of Doctor Who.

Doctor Who first appeared on BBC television at 5.15 pm (GMT) on 23 November 1963 following discussions and plans that had been going on for a year. The Head of Drama, Sydney Newman was mainly responsible for developing it, with contributions by the Head of the Script Department (later Head of Serials), Donald Wilson, staff writer C. E. 'Bunny' Webber, writer Anthony Coburn, story editor David Whitaker and initial producer, Verity Lambert. The series' title theme was composed by Ron Grainer and realised by Delia Derbyshire of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. The TV programme was originally intended to appeal to both children and adults.

The BBC drama department's Serials division produced the programme for twenty-six series, broadcast on BBC One. Viewing numbers that had fallen (though comparably increased at some points), a decline in the public perception of the show and a less prominent transmission slot saw production suspended in 1989 by Jonathan Powell, Controller of BBC One. Although it was for all intents and purposes cancelled (as series co-star Sophie Aldred reported in the documentary Doctor Who: More Than 30 Years in the TARDIS), the BBC maintained the series was merely "on hiatus" and insisted the show would return.

While in-house production had ceased, the BBC was hopeful of finding an independent production company to re-launch the show. Philip Segal, a British expatriate who worked for Columbia Pictures' television arm in the United States, approached the BBC about such a venture. Segal's negotiations eventually led to a television movie. The Doctor Who television movie was broadcast on the Fox Network in 1996 as a co-production between Fox, Universal Pictures, the BBC, and BBC Worldwide. Although the film was successful in the UK (with 9.1 million viewers), it 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 unsuccessful attempts by BBC Worldwide to find backing for a feature film version. The new incarnation of the series is executively-produced by writer Russell T. Davies and BBC Wales Head of Drama / BBC Television Controller of Drama Commissioning Julie Gardner.

The new series debuted with the episode Rose on BBC One on 26 March 2005 and the show has since been sold to many other countries (see Viewership). The BBC subsequently commissioned two more series and Christmas specials. The Christmas specials aired in 2005 and 2006, and Series 3 commenced in the UK at 7pm on 31 March 2007. A fourth series has been commissioned as well as a Christmas 2007 episode.

Public consciousness of Doctor Who.

Doctor Who
Doctor Who.
Current Doctor Who series logo
Genre science fiction
drama
Creator(s) Sydney Newman
C. E. Webber
Donald Wilson
Starring Various Doctors
David Tennant
Various companions
Freema Agyeman
Opening theme Doctor Who theme music
Ending theme Doctor Who theme music (Reprise)
Country of origin Flag of United Kingdom. United Kingdom
No. of episodes 726 (as of 7 April 2007) (List of episodes)
Production
Running time 25 min. (1963-1984, 1986-1989)
45 min. (1985, 2005-present)
various other lengths
Broadcast
Original channel BBC One
Picture format 405-line black & white (1963-1967)
625-line black & white (1968-1969)
PAL 625-line colour (1970-1989)
720x576 16:9 (2005-present)
Original run Original Series:
23 November 1963 - 6 December 1989
Television Movie:
12 May 1996
Current Series:
26 March 2005 - present
Links
IMDb profile
TV.com summary

Doctor Who rapidly became a national institution, the subject of countless jokes, newspaper mentions and other popular culture references. Many renowned actors asked for or were offered and accepted guest starring roles in various stories.

However, with popularity came controversy over the show's suitability for children. The moral campaigner Mary Whitehouse made a series of complaints to the BBC in the 1970s over its sometimes frightening or gory content. Ironically, her actions made the programme even more popular, especially with children. John Nathan-Turner, who produced the series during the 1980s, was heard to say that he looked forward to Whitehouse's comments, as the show's ratings would increase soon after she had made them. During the 1970s, the Radio Times, the BBC's listings magazine, announced that a child's mother said the theme music terrified her son. The Radio Times was apologetic, but the theme music remained.

There were more complaints about the programme's content than its music. 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 android policemen marked the apex of the show's ability to frighten children. Other notable moments in that decade included the Doctor apparently being drowned by Chancellor Goth in The Deadly Assassin (1976), and the allegedly negative portrayal of Chinese people in The Talons of Weng-Chiang (1977).

It has been said that watching Doctor Who from a position of safety "behind the sofa" (as the Doctor Who exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image in London was titled) and peering cautiously out to see if the frightening part was over is one of the great shared experiences of British childhood. The phrase has become commonly used in association with the programme and occasionally elsewhere.

A BBC audience research survey conducted in 1972 found that by their own definition of "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 all the drama programmes the corporation then produced. The same report found that 3% of the surveyed audience regarded the show as "very unsuitable" for family viewing. However, 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."

The image of the TARDIS has become firmly linked to the show in the public's consciousness. 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 filed an objection to the trademark claim; in 2002 the Patent Office ruled in favour of the BBC, indicating that the police box image was more associated with Doctor Who than with the police.

The 21st-century revival of the programme has become the centrepiece of BBC One's Saturday schedule, and has "defined the channel".

Episodes of Doctor Who.

Doctor Who originally ran for 26 seasons on BBC1, 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. Three notable exceptions were the epic The Daleks' Master Plan, which aired in 12 episodes (plus an earlier one-episode teaser, "Mission to the Unknown", featuring none of the regular cast); the 10-episode serial The War Games and The Trial of a Time Lord which ran for 14 episodes (containing four stories often referred to by individual titles, and connected by framing sequences) during Season 23. Occasionally serials were loosely connected by a storyline, such as Season 16's quest for the Key to Time.

The programme was intended to be educational and for family viewing on the early Saturday evening schedule. Initially, it alternated stories set in the past, which would teach younger audience members about history, with stories set either in the future or in outer space to teach them about 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 "historicals", 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 set in 1920s Britain.

The early stories were more serial-like 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, with the individual parts simply being assigned episode numbers. What to name these earlier stories is often a subject of fan debate.

Writers during the original run included Terry Nation, Henry Lincoln, Douglas Adams, Robert Holmes, Terrance Dicks, Dennis Spooner, Eric Saward, Malcolm Hulke, Christopher H. Bidmead, Stephen Gallagher, Brian Hayles, Chris Boucher, Marc Platt and Ben Aaronovitch.

The serial format changed for the 2005 revival, with each series consisting of thirteen 45-minute, self-contained episodes (60 minutes with adverts on commercial channels overseas). This includes three two-parters and a loose story arc per season whose elements are brought together in the season finale. Like the original serial format, two-part episodes have separate titles.

726 Doctor Who instalments have been televised since 1963, ranging from 25-minute episodes (the most common format), to 45-minute episodes (for a single season in 1985 and the revival), to two feature-length productions (1983's The Five Doctors and the 1996 television movie), to the two 60-minute Christmas specials produced for the revival. Doctor Who, having already completed 726 episodes, will surpass the number of individual instalments of the Star Trek franchise (726 episodes over five programmes) by the third episode of the 2007 series.

The current series is filmed in 576i25 DigiBeta widescreen format and then filmised to give a 25p image in post-production using a Snell and Wilcox Alchemist Platinum.

Doctor Who missing episodes.

First Doctor Who.
The First Doctor Who (William Hartnell) collapses prior to his regeneration. (From the surviving clip of The Tenth Planet, episode 4.)

Between about 1967 and 1978, large amounts of older material stored in the BBC's video tape and film libraries were destroyed or wiped. This included many old episodes of Doctor Who, mostly stories featuring the first two Doctors - William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton. Archives are complete from the programme's move to colour television (starting from Jon Pertwee's time as the Doctor), although a few Pertwee episodes have required substantial restoration; a handful have only been recovered in black and white and several only survive as NTSC copies recovered from North America. In all, 108 of 253 episodes produced during the first six years of the programme are not held in the BBC's archives. It has been reported that in 1972 all episodes then made were known to exist at the BBC, whilst by 1978 the practice of wiping tapes had ended.

Some episodes have been returned to the BBC from the archives of other countries who bought copies for broadcast, or by private individuals who got them by various means. Early colour videotape recordings made off-air by fans have also been retrieved, as well as excerpts filmed off 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.

In addition to these, there are photographs made by photographer John Cura, who was hired by the BBC to document the filming of many of their most popular 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 VHS copies.

The Invasion.
Screenshot of the animated reconstruction of The Invasion.

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, thanks to it having been 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. Starting in the early 1990s, the BBC began to release audio recordings of missing serials on cassette and compact disc, with linking narration provided by former series actors. "Official" reconstructions have also been released by the BBC on VHS, on MP3 CD-ROM and as a special feature on a DVD. The BBC, in conjunction with animation studio Cosgrove Hall has reconstructed the missing Episodes 1 and 4 of The Invasion (1968) in animated form, using remastered audio tracks and the comprehensive stage notes for the original filming, for the serial's DVD release in November 2006. Although no similar reconstructions have been announced as of early 2007, Cosgrove Hall has expressed an interest in animating more lost episodes in the future.

In April 2006, Blue Peter launched a challenge to find these missing episodes with the promise of a full scale Dalek model.

Characters in Dr Who.

faces of Dr Who.
The ten faces of the Doctor. Clockwise from top-left: William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant.

The character of the Doctor was initially shrouded in mystery. All that was known about him in the programme's early days was that he was an eccentric alien traveller of great intelligence who battled injustice while exploring time and space in an unreliable old time machine called the TARDIS. The TARDIS is much larger on the inside than on the outside and, due to a chronic malfunction, stuck in the shape of a 1950s-style British police box.

However, not only did the initially irascible and slightly sinister Doctor quickly mellow into a more compassionate figure, it was eventually revealed that he had been "on the run" from his own people, the Time Lords of the planet Gallifrey.

As a Time Lord, the Doctor has the ability to "regenerate" his body when near death, allowing for the convenient recasting of the lead actor. A Time Lord can regenerate twelve times, for a total of thirteen incarnations. The Doctor has gone through this process and its resulting after-effects on nine occasions, with each of his incarnations having his own quirks and abilities:

  • First Doctor Who, played by William Hartnell (1963-1966).
  • Second Doctor Who, played by Patrick Troughton (1966-1969).
  • Third Doctor Who, played by Jon Pertwee (1970-1974).
  • Fourth Doctor Who, played by Tom Baker (1974-1981).
  • Fifth Doctor Who, played by Peter Davison (1981-1984).
  • Sixth Doctor Who, played by Colin Baker (1984-1986).
  • Seventh Doctor Who, played by Sylvester McCoy (1987-1989, 1996).
  • Eighth Doctor Who, played by Paul McGann (1996).
  • Ninth Doctor Who, played by Christopher Eccleston (2005).
  • Tenth Doctor Who, played by David Tennant (2005-present).
  • Other actors have also played the Doctor, though rarely more than once.

Despite these shifts in personality, the Doctor has always remained an intensely curious and highly moral adventurer, who would rather solve problems with his wits than through violence.

Throughout the programme's long history certain controversial revelations about the Doctor have been made. For example, in The Brain of Morbius (1976), it was hinted that the First Doctor may not have been the Doctor's first incarnation (although the other faces depicted may have been incarnations of the Time Lord Morbius); throughout the Seventh Doctor's era it was hinted that the Doctor was more than just an ordinary Time Lord, and in the 1996 television movie it was revealed that the Doctor is actually half-human on his mother's side. The very first episode, An Unearthly Child, revealed that the Doctor has a granddaughter, Susan Foreman, and in Fear Her (2006), he said he was once a father. The 2005 series revealed that the Ninth Doctor had become the last known surviving Time Lord, and that his home planet had been destroyed. Asked in Smith and Jones (2007) whether he had a brother, the Doctor replied, "Not any more."

Companions of Dr Who.

Martha Jones.
Freema Agyeman appears as the Doctor's newest companion, Martha Jones.

The Doctor almost always shares his adventures with up to three companions and since 1964 more than 35 actors and actresses have featured in these roles. The First Doctor's original companions were his granddaughter Susan Foreman (Carole Ann Ford) and school teachers Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill) and Ian Chesterton (William Russell). The current companion of the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) is Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman).

The only exception in the original series was The Deadly Assassin, in which the Doctor travels alone. One can also make an argument that the Doctor was companionless during Season Seven, as Liz Shaw never travelled in the TARDIS. This puts her in the same category as Sgt. Benton and the Brigadier (a UNIT regular). Officially, however, she is considered a companion.

The purpose of the companion is to provide a surrogate with whom the audience can identify and to further the story by asking questions and getting into trouble. 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 even died during the course of the series.

"Companion" is more generally used as a technical term in fandom; the press normally refers to them either as companions or assistants. The series does not apply the term consistently to those travelling with the Doctor, with him just as often introducing them simply as his friends. In the 2005 series, the Ninth Doctor states he "employed Rose [Tyler] as his companion" and then was promptly asked if it was sexual.

Despite the fact that the majority of the Doctor's companions are young, attractive females, the production team for the 1963-1989 series maintained a long-standing taboo against any overt romantic involvement in the TARDIS. The taboo was controversially broken in the 1996 television movie when the Eighth Doctor was shown kissing companion Grace Holloway. The 2005 series played with this idea by having various characters think that the Ninth Doctor and Rose (played by Billie Piper) were a couple, which they vehemently denied although the contrary was suggested by the finale of series one (2005) and in numerous episodes following the Tenth Doctor's regeneration (see also "The Doctor and romance"). The subject was expanded upon further in Smith and Jones, when the Tenth Doctor kisses his new companion Martha Jones, although he claims it was purely for the purpose of 'genetic transfer'.

Previous companions have reappeared in the series, usually for anniversary specials. One former companion, Sarah Jane Smith (played by Elisabeth Sladen), together with the robotic dog K-9, appeared in an episode of the 2006 series more than twenty years after their last appearances in the 20th Anniversary story The Five Doctors (1983). Sarah Jane Smith will soon be featured in a dedicated series, named The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Since the first 2007 episode Smith and Jones, Freema Agyeman plays Martha Jones, the Doctor's latest companion. She is a 23-year-old medical student and, as with Rose, her family members are depicted in the series.

Adversaries of Dr Who.

Daleks.
The Daleks are perhaps the best-known adversaries faced by the Doctor.

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 a staple of Doctor Who almost from the beginning and were popular with audiences.

Notable adversaries of the Doctor include the Autons, the Cybermen, the Sontarans, the Sea Devils, the Ice Warriors, the Yeti, the Silurians, the Slitheen and the Master, a rival Time Lord with a thirst for universal conquest. Of all the monsters and villains, the ones that most secured the series' place in the public's imagination were the Daleks. The Daleks are mutants in tank-like mechanical armour from the planet Skaro. Their chief role in the great scheme of things, as they frequently remark in their instantly recognisable metallic voices, is to "Exterminate!", even destroying the Time Lords in the often referenced but never shown Time War. Davros, the Daleks' creator, also became a recurring villain after he was introduced in Genesis of the Daleks, where the Time Lords send the Doctor back to either destroy the Daleks, avert their creation or tamper with their genetic structure to make them less war-like.

The Daleks were created by writer Terry Nation (who intended them as an allegory of the Nazis) and BBC designer Raymond Cusick. The Daleks' début in the programme's second serial, The Daleks (1963-64), caused a tremendous reaction in the viewing figures and the public, putting Doctor Who on the cultural map. A Dalek even appeared on a postage stamp celebrating British popular culture in 1999, photographed by Lord Snowdon.

Music for Dr Who. Theme music of Dr Who.

The original 1963 radiophonic arrangement of the Doctor Who theme is widely regarded as a significant and innovative piece of electronic music, and Doctor Who was the first television series in the world to have a theme entirely realised through electronic means.

The original theme was composed by Ron Grainer and realised by Delia Derbyshire at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, with assistance from Dick Mills. The various parts were built up 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).

A more modern and dynamic arrangement was composed by Peter Howell for Season 18 (1980), which was in turn replaced by Dominic Glynn's arrangement for Season 23's The Trial of a Time Lord (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. For the new 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, Gold introduced a modified closing credits arrangement that has been used ever since.

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". 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. Others who have covered or reinterpreted the theme include Orbital, the Australian string ensemble Fourplay, The Pogues, Pink Floyd (incorporated into the middle section of "One of these days", when played live) and the comedians Bill Bailey and Mitch Benn, and satirised on The Chaser's War on Everything. A reggae/ska version of the Dr Who theme tune was released on the Explosion label in 1969 by Bongo Herman and Les. The theme tune has also appeared on many compilation CDs and has made its way into mobile phone ring tones. Fans have also produced and distributed their own remixes of the theme.

Incidental music for Dr Who.

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.

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 (Doctor Who), The Daleks' Master Plan, The Gunfighters and The Mutants. Other composers in this early period were included Richard Rodney Bennett, Carey Blyton and Geoffrey Burgon.

The most frequent musical contributor during the first fifteen years was Dudley Simpson, who is also well known for his theme and incidental music for Blake's 7. Simpson's first Doctor Who score was Planet of Giants (1964) and he went on to write music for many adventures of the Sixties and Seventies, 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).

After The Leisure Hive (1980), 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 the Trial of a Time Lord season, and Keff McCulloch took over as the series' main composer, with Dominic Glynn and Mark Ayres also contributing scores.

All the incidental music for both the Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant series has been composed by Murray Gold. Both series have featured occasional use of excerpts of pop music from the Eighties, Nineties and early 2000s.

A soundtrack CD of Gold's music for the new series was released on 4 December 2006 by Silva Screen Records.

Dr Who "Special sound".

Doctor Who's science-fiction themes and settings meant that many sound effects had to be specially created for the series, although some common sound effects (such as crowds, horses and jungle noises) were sourced from stock recordings. Because Doctor Who began several years before the advent of the first mass-produced synthesisers, much of the equipment used to create electronic sound effects in the early days was custom-built by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and until the early 1970s audio effects were realised using a combination of electronic and radiophonic techniques.

Almost all of the original sound effects and audio backgrounds during the 1960s were realised by the Radiophonic Workshop's Brian Hodgson, who worked on Doctor Who from its inception until the middle of Jon Pertwee's tenure in the early 1970s, when he was succeeded by Dick Mills. Hodgson created hundreds of pieces of "special sound" ranging from ray-gun blasts to dinosaurs, but without doubt his best known sound effects are the sound of the TARDIS as it de-materialises and re-appears, and the voices of the Daleks.

The basic audio source Hodgson used for the TARDIS effect was the sound of his house keys being scraped up and down along the strings of an old gutted piano. The famous Dalek voice effect was obtained by passing the actors' voices through a device called a ring modulator, and it was further enhanced by exploiting the distortion inherent in the microphones and amplifiers then in use. However, the precise sonic character of the Daleks' voices varied somewhat over time because the original frequency settings used on the ring modulator were never noted down.

Viewership of Dr Who.

TARDIS.
The image of the TARDIS is iconic in British popular culture.

Doctor Who has always appeared on the BBC's mainstream BBC One channel, drawing audiences of many millions of viewers. It was most popular in the late 1970s, with audiences frequently as high as 12 million. During the ITV network strike of 1979, viewership peaked at 16 million. No first-run episode of Doctor Who has ever drawn fewer than three million viewers on BBC One, although 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. 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 2005 series had an average audience of 7.95 million viewers, and the 2006 series achieved an average audience of about 7.71 million in the context of declining year-to-year viewership for all television channels. The episode Rise of the Cybermen managed sixth place in the charts across the week with 9.22 million viewers. The all-time highest chart placing for an episode of Doctor Who is fifth, for episode two of The Ark in Space in 1975.

The programme also gained a strong following in Australia, possibly as a result of the close connection between the BBC and Australia's major public broadcaster, the ABC. The latest repeat of the classic series in Australia ran from September 2003 to February 2006, and the revived series has also been shown on ABC and UK.TV.

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 (see Doctor Who in America). New Zealand was the first country outside the UK to screen Doctor Who beginning in September 1964, and continued to screen the series for many years, including the new series from 2005. In Canada, the series debuted in January 1965, but the CBC only aired the first twenty-six episodes. TVOntario picked up the show in the 1976 beginning with The Three Doctors and aired it through to Season 24 in 1991. TVO's schedule ran several years behind the BBC's throughout this period. In the 1970s TVO airings were bookended by a host who would introduce the episode and then, after the episode concluded, try to place it in an educational context in keeping with TVO's status as an educational channel. The airing of The Talons of Weng Chiang resulted in controversy for TVOntario as a result of accusations that the story was racist. Consequently the story was not rebroadcast. CBC began showing the series again in 2005.

Only four episodes have ever had their première showings on channels other than BBC One. The 1983 twentieth anniversary special The Five Doctors had its début on November 23 (the actual date of the anniversary) on the Chicago PBS station WTTW in the United States and various other PBS members two days prior to its BBC One broadcast. The 1988 story Silver Nemesis was broadcast with all three episodes edited together in compilation form 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. Finally, the 1996 television movie premiered on May 12 on CITV in Edmonton, Canada, fifteen days before the BBC One showing, and two days before it aired on FOX in the USA.

A wide selection of serials is available from BBC Video on VHS and DVD, on sale in the United Kingdom, Australia, 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

As of October 2006, the second series had been, or was currently, broadcast weekly in Australia (ABC), Belgium (één), Brazil (People+Arts), Canada (in English on CBC and in French on Ztélé), Denmark (Danmarks Radio), Finland (TV2), France (France 4), Hong Kong (ATV World), Hungary (RTL Klub-owned COOL TV), Israel (Yes Weekend), Italy (Jimmy), Japan (BS-2, a channel of NHK), Malaysia (Astro Network), the Netherlands (NED 3), New Zealand (Prime TV), Norway (NRK), Poland (TVP 1), Portugal (People+Arts), Russia (STS TV), Spain and Latin America (People+Arts), South Korea (KBS),Turkey (Cine5) and the United States (Sci Fi Channel and BBC America), Greece (Skai TV), Style UK (part of Showtime Arabia) for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Levant territories. The series has also been sold to, but not yet shown in, Germany (Pro 7), Sweden (SVT)and Romania (TVR). A special logo has been designed for the Japanese broadcast with the katakana (romanised as Dokutaa Fuu). The series has apparently "mystified" viewers in Japan where it has been broadcast in a late evening time slot, leading to some not realising it is a family show.

The 2005 series episodes aired in Canada a couple of weeks after their UK broadcast, a situation made possible by the cancellation of the 2004-2005 National Hockey League season which left vast gaps in CBC's schedule. For the Canadian broadcasts, Christopher Eccleston recorded special video introductions for each episode (including a trivia question as part of a viewer contest) and excerpts from the Doctor Who Confidential documentary were played over the closing credits; for the broadcast of The Christmas Invasion on 26 December 2005, Billie Piper recorded a special video introduction. CBC Television began airing the 2006 series on 9 October 2006 at 8:00 p.m. local (8:30 NT), shortly after that day's Canadian Football League (CFL) Thanksgiving doubleheader in much of the country. The first series is currently being rebroadcast late Tuesday nights/early Wednesday mornings at midnight. Old episodes of Doctor Who are shown nightly on the Canadian station BBC Kids.

Series 3 began broadcasting on BBC 1 in the United Kingdom on 31 March 2007. Series 2 was broadcast on the Sci Fi Channel in the United States, starting with The Christmas Invasion on 29 September 2006, and Series 3 will begin broadcasting on the Sci Fi Channel in the summer of 2007, with the CBC airing the season starting in June 2007. Series 1 was repeated in the US, this time on BBC America. The re-run began on 21 November, 2006. Series 1 is currently being broadcast on BBC Entertainment in Asia.

Doctor Who fandom.

Doctor Who has amassed a large number of fans from all over the world. For example, The Doctor Who Forum at the website Outpost Gallifrey is ranked within the top 300 most active message boards on the Internet. The series is more a mainstream part of popular culture in its native UK, where it is regarded as a family show and is shown on the main public service broadcasting channel, BBC One.

The term Whovian (similar to Trekkie for Star Trek) is used by the press to refer to Doctor Who fans.

Adaptations and other appearances: 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 which also featured former companion actress Wendy Padbury (Pertwee's Doctor made a cameo appearance via film). In the early 1990s, Jon Pertwee and Colin Baker both played the Doctor at different times during the run of a musical play entitled Doctor Who - The Ultimate Adventure. For two performances while Pertwee was ill, David Banks (best known for playing various 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.

The Doctor has also appeared in two cinema films: Dr. Who and the Daleks in 1965 and Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 AD in 1966. Both were essentially retellings of existing stories on the big screen, with a larger budget and numerous alterations to the series concept. In these films, Peter Cushing played a human scientist named Dr. Who, who travelled with his two granddaughters and other companions in a time machine he invented. Due to this and numerous other changes (not to mention the storylines that duplicated televised episodes), the movies are not regarded as part of the ongoing continuity of the series, although the Cushing version of the character would reappear in both comic strip and literary form, the latter attempting to reconcile the film continuity with that of the series.

A pilot episode for a potential spin-off 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 K-9, but was not picked up as a regular series.

Doctor Who books have been published from the mid-sixties through to the present day. The Doctor has also appeared in many audio plays and in webcasts.

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 Wales and investigating alien activities and crime. The series debuted on BBC Three on 22 October 2006. John Barrowman reprises his role of Jack Harkness from the 2005 series of Doctor Who. It was shot in Summer and Autumn 2006. Two other actresses who appeared in Doctor Who also star in the series; Eve Myles, who was in the 2005 Doctor Who episode The Unquiet Dead, and Naoko Mori who reprises her role as Toshiko Sato.

A new K-9 children's series, K-9 Adventures, is in development, but not by the BBC.

The Sarah Jane Adventures, starring Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, has been developed by CBBC; a special aired on New Year's Day 2007, and a full series will follow later in 2007.

An animated serial, The Infinite Quest, will air alongside the 2007 series of Doctor Who as part of the children's magazine series Totally Doctor Who.

Charity episodes of Doctor Who.

Rowan Atkinson as the Doctor.
Rowan Atkinson as the Doctor and Julia Sawalha as Emma in the parody The Curse of Fatal Death.

In 1993, coinciding with the series' 30th anniversary, a charity special entitled Dimensions in Time was produced in aid of Children in Need, featuring all of the surviving actors who played the Doctor and a number of previous companions. Not taken seriously by many, the story had the Rani opening a hole in time, cycling the Doctor and his companions through his previous incarnations and menacing them with monsters from the show's past. It also featured a crossover with the soap opera EastEnders, the action taking place in the latter's Albert Square location and around Greenwich, including the Cutty Sark. 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 perfectly normal to those viewers who watched without the glasses.

In 1999, another special, Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death, was made for Red Nose Day 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. (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, who contributed two scripts to the 2005 series, one for the 2006 series and one for the 2007 series.

As noted above, on November 18, 2005, an untitled 7-minute "mini-episode", set in the immediate aftermath of The Parting of the Ways and leading directly into The Christmas Invasion, was shown as part of the Children in Need telethon.

Doctor Who spoofs.

Doctor Who Doctor Who has been satirised and spoofed on many occasions by comedians including Spike Milligan and Lenny Henry. Doctor Who fandom has also been lampooned on programmes such as Saturday Night Live, The Chaser and Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The Fourth Doctor on The Simpsons.
The Fourth Doctor on The Simpsons.

The Doctor in his fourth incarnation (the one with whom most Americans associate the Doctor) has been represented on several episodes of The Simpsons, starting with the episode "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming".

Jon Culshaw frequently impersonates the Fourth Doctor in the BBC Dead Ringers series. Culshaw's "Doctor" has telephoned four of the "real" Doctors - Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy - in character as the Fourth Doctor. In the 2005 Dead Ringers Christmas special, broadcast shortly before The Christmas Invasion, Culshaw impersonated both the Fourth and Tenth Doctors, while the Second, Seventh and Ninth Doctors were impersonated by Mark Perry, Kevin Connelly and Phil Cornwell, respectively.

Less a spoof and more of a pastiche is the character of Professor Gamble, a renegade from the Time Variance Authority, appeared in Marvel Comics' Power Man and Iron Fist #79 and Avengers Annual #22. His enemies include the rogue robots known as the Incinerators. Professor Gamble was created by Jo Duffy, Kerry Gammill, and Ricardo Villamonte.

In the comic Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #10-in a storyline dealing with time-travel and alternate universes-the words "Bad Wolf" can be seen written on the wall.

There have also been many references to Doctor Who in popular culture and other science fiction franchises, including Star Trek: The Next Generation ("The Neutral Zone", among others).

Doctor Who merchandise.

Since its beginnings, Doctor Who has generated many 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 and action figures.

Many games have been released that feature the Daleks. See Dalek computer games.

Awards for Doctor Who.

Although Doctor Who was fondly regarded during its original 1963-1989 run, it received little critical recognition at the time. 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" season, celebrating sixty 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 twentieth century, produced by the British Film Institute and voted on by industry professionals. In 2005, the series came first in a survey by SFX magazine of "The Greatest UK Science Fiction and Fantasy Television Series Ever". Also, in the 100 Greatest Kids' Shows (a Channel 4 countdown in 2001), the 1963-1989 run was placed at number eight.

The revived series has received particular recognition from critics and the public. In 2005, at the National Television Awards (voted on by members of the British public), Doctor Who won "Most Popular Drama", Christopher Eccleston won "Most Popular Actor" and Billie Piper won "Most Popular Actress". The series and Piper repeated their wins at the 2006 National Television Awards, and David Tennant won "Most Popular Actor". A scene from The Doctor Dances won "Golden Moment" in the BBC's "2005 TV Moments" awards, and Doctor Who swept all the categories in BBC.co.uk's online "Best of Drama" poll in both 2005 and 2006. The programme also won the Broadcast Magazine Award for Best Drama. Eccleston was awarded the TV Quick and TV Choice award for Best Actor in 2005; in the same awards in 2006 Tennant won Best Actor, Piper won Best Actress and Doctor Who won Best-Loved Drama.

Doctor Who was nominated in the Best Drama Series category at the 2006 Royal Television Society awards, but lost to BBC Three's medical drama Bodies.

Doctor Who also received several nominations for the 2006 Broadcasting Press Guild Awards: the programme for Best Drama, Eccleston for Best Actor (David Tennant was also nominated for Secret Smile), Piper for Best Actress and Davies for Best Writer. However, it did not win any of these categories.

Several episodes of the 2005 series of Doctor Who were nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Dalek, Father's Day and the double episode The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances. At a ceremony at the Worldcon (L.A. Con IV) in Los Angeles on 27 August 2006, the Hugo was awarded to The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances. Dalek and Father's Day came in second and third places respectively.

The British Academy Television Awards (BAFTA) nominations, released on 27 March 2006, revealed that Doctor Who had been shortlisted in the category of Best Drama Series. This is the highest-profile and most prestigious British television award for which the series has ever been nominated. Doctor Who was also nominated in several other categories in the BAFTA Craft Awards, including Best Writer (Russell T. Davies), Best Director (Joe Ahearne), and Break-through Talent (production designer Edward Thomas). However, it did not eventually win any of its categories at the Craft Awards.

On Sunday 7 May 2006 the main BAFTA award winners were announced, and Doctor Who won both of the categories it was nominated for, the Best Drama Series and audience-voted Pioneer Award. Russell T. Davies also won the Dennis Potter Award for Outstanding Writing for Television.

On 22 April 2006, the programme won five categories (out of fourteen nominations) at the lower-profile BAFTA Cymru awards, given to programmes made in Wales. It won Best Drama Series, Drama Director (James Hawes), Costume, Make-up and Photography Direction. Russell T Davies also won the Sian Phillips Award for Outstanding Contribution to Network Television.




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