On the 23rd of November, 1963 the world was in shock. Just a day prior, President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. Everyone’s eyes were glued to the news. Amidst the drama and tragedy surrounding the assassination, a TV series produces by BBC, was rearing its head. Its name was Doctor Who. It told the tale of a time travelling alien that explores the universe in his sentient ship, the TARDIS ( Time and Relative Dimension in Space ).
The Birth of Doctor Who
Discussions and productions for the TV show had started a year prior. The BBC Head of Drama, Canadian Sydney Newman was the one who came up with the idea for the show. Initially it was meant to be an educational program for children. Time travelling would have been used to explain scientific discoveries and crucial moments in history. The first format of the show was produced by Sydney Newman in collaboration with Head of the Script Department Donald Wilson and staff writer C. E. Webber. The initial producer of the show, Verity Lambert was also a big contributor.
Unfortunately, the first episode of the series din’t have the expected success. The assassination of President Kennedy had stolen Doctor Who’s thunder. People had been more interested in the actual historical event, than in a children’s TV show. The fledgling series was in danger of being canceled. Its only hope was an episode written by Terry Nation entitled “The Mutants.” Newman and Wilson immediately rejected the story, because the show was not permitted to feature “bug-eyed monsters”. However, it was the only script they had. It was imperative that they use it and it had to be a success.
The title of the serial was changed from “The Mutants” to “The Daleks.” The 7 episode serial introduced what would become the series’ most popular monsters. Doctor Who would continue and in time it would amass billions of fans.
Doctor Who has two major production series. The “Classic Series” aired from 1963 to 1989. It is often called “Classic Doctor Who.” In 1989, the show was canceled because its popularity was failing. An attempted reboot took place 7 years later. A movie was released in 1996, a co-production between Universal and BBC. It would only be in 2005 that the series would truly return to life. The second production series is known as “New Who”. It starts with the Ninth Doctor and has led to an impressive surge in popularity for the show.
The Doctor? Doctor Who?
The Doctor is a Time Lord, a humanoid time-travelling alien. He travels in time and space aboard his ship, the TARDIS. Most of the times he is accompanied by one or more companions. In the beginning of the show, the Doctor was a mystery. As episodes passed more was revealed about him and his initially irascible and slightly sinister personality mellowed considerably.
The First Doctor was played by William Hartnell. He was chosen by Verity Lambert who had noticed his performance in “This Sporting Life”. William Hartnell played the Doctor from 1963 to 1966. His failing health forced him, at that time to give up on the show. Faced with the possibility of losing their lead character or having to cancel the show, Sydney Newman came up with an idea that would allow Doctor Who to span decades. The Doctor’s ability to regenerate when injured or near death led to the dramatic transition to Patrick Troughton that would become the Second Doctor. Until today, Eleven Doctors have appeared in the series. BBC announced that the 2013 Christmas Special would feature the appearance of the Twelfth Doctor.
Celebrating 50 Years of Doctor Who
23rd November 2013 celebrated Doctor Who’s fiftieth anniversary. With this occasion, the show’s head writer and executive producer, Steven Moffat and the production team of Doctor Who created a 75 minute long anniversary episode featuring Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor and David Tennant reprising his role as the Tenth Doctor. The episode premiered simultaneously in 94 countries across all continents. It also premiered in over 1500 cinemas worldwide.
The following day, the 50th anniversary episode called “The Day of the Doctor” received a Guinness World Record for the world’s largest simulcast of a television drama.
Doctor Who is one of Britain’s finest television programs. It won the 2006 British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series and five consecutive awards at the National Television Awards from 2005 to 2010. In addition, it is listed in the Guinness World Records as the longest-running science fiction television show in the world and the most successful science fiction series of all times. Did you know that in order to mark the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, Google release a doodle that allowed people to play a game against the terrifying Daleks?
Top incoming search terms:
- tardis in space
- doctor who tardis in space
- impressive space dr