Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a Time Lord—a time travelling, humanoid alien known as the Doctor. He explores the universe in his TARDIS—a sentient, telepathic time machine that flies through time and space. Its exterior appears as a blue British police box, which were common in 1963, when the series first aired. Along with a succession of companions, the Doctor faces a variety of foes while working to save civilisations, help ordinary people, and right wrongs.
The Doctor has been principally played by eleven actors. The transition from one actor to another is written into the plot of the show as regeneration, whereby the character of the Doctor takes on a new body and, to some extent, new personality. Although each portrayal is different, and on occasions the various incarnations have even met one another, they are all meant to be aspects of the same character. The Doctor is currently portrayed by Matt Smith, who took up the role after David Tennant's final appearance in an episode broadcast on 1 January 2010. The series will mark its 50th anniversary in 2013.
Doctor Who first appeared on BBC television at 17:16:20 GMT on 23 November 1963, following discussions and plans that had been in progress for a year. The Head of Drama, Canadian Sydney Newman, was mainly responsible for developing the programme, with the first format document for the series being written by Newman along with the Head of the Script Department (later Head of Serials) Donald Wilson and staff writer C. E. Webber.
Writer Anthony Coburn, story editor David Whitaker and initial producer Verity Lambert also heavily contributed to the development of the series. The programme was originally intended to appeal to a family audience. The BBC drama department's Serials division produced the programme for 26 seasons, broadcast on BBC One. Falling viewing numbers, 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 (as series co-star Sophie Aldred reported in the documentary Doctor Who: More Than 30 Years in the TARDIS) it was effectively, if not formally, cancelled with the decision not to commission a planned 27th series of the show for transmission in 1990, the BBC repeatedly affirmed that the series would return.
While in-house production had ceased, the BBC hoped to find an independent production company to relaunch the show. Philip Segal, a British expatriate who worked for Columbia Pictures' television arm in the United States, had approached the BBC about such a venture as early as July 1989, while the 26th series was still in production. Segal's negotiations eventually led to a Doctor Who television film, 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 attempts by BBC Worldwide to find backing for a feature film version. The executive producers of the new incarnation of the series were writer Russell T Davies and BBC Cymru Wales Head of Drama Julie Gardner.
It has been sold to many other countries worldwide (see Viewership).
Doctor Who finally returned with the episode "Rose" on BBC One on 26 March 2005. There have since been five further series in 2006–2008 and 2010–2011, and Christmas Day specials every year since 2005. No full series was filmed in 2009 although four additional specials starring David Tennant were made. In spring 2010 Steven Moffat replaced Davies as head writer and executive producer.
The 2005 version of Doctor Who is a direct continuation of the 1963–1989 series, as is the 1996 telefilm. This differs from other series relaunches that have either been reimaginings or reboots (for example, Battlestar Galactica and Bionic Woman) or series taking place in the same universe as the original but in a different period and with different characters (for example, Star Trek: The Next Generation and spin-offs).
Doctor Who Films:
There are two "Dr. Who" feature films: Dr. Who and the Daleks, released in 1965 and Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. in 1966. Both are retellings of existing television stories (specifically, the first two Dalek serials, The Daleks andThe Dalek Invasion of Earth respectively) with a larger budget and alterations to the series concept.
In these films, Peter Cushing plays a human scientist named "Dr. Who", who travels with his two granddaughters and other companions in a time machine he has invented. The Cushing version of the character reappears in both comic strips and a short story, the latter attempting to reconcile the film continuity with that of the series.
In addition, several planned films were proposed, including a sequel, The Chase, loosely based on the original series story, for the Cushing Doctor, plus many attempted television movie and big screen productions to revive the originalDoctor Who, after the original series was cancelled.
Paul McGann starred in the only straight to television film as the 8th incarnation of the Doctor. Although he only appeared within Doctor Who: The Movie, he continued the role in audio books and was confirmed as the Eighth incarnation through flashback footage and other materials in the 2005 revival, effectively linking the two series and the television movie.
In 2011, David Yates announced that he had started work with the BBC on a Doctor Who film, a project that would take three or more years to complete. Yates indicated that the film would take a different approach to Doctor Who, although the current Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat stated later that any such film would not be a reboot of the series and a film should be made by the BBC team and star the current TV Doctor.
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" series, celebrating 60 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 20th century, produced by theBritish 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' TV shows (a Channel 4 countdown in 2001), the 1963–1989 run was placed at number eight.
The Doctors [1-8]
|The Doctor||Portrayed by||Tenure|
|First Doctor||William Hartnell||1963–66|
|Second Doctor||Patrick Troughton||1966–69|
|Third Doctor||Jon Pertwee||1970–74|
|Fourth Doctor||Tom Baker||1974–81|
|Fifth Doctor||Peter Davison||1981–84|
|Sixth Doctor||Colin Baker||1984–86|
|Seventh Doctor||Sylvester McCoy||1987–89, 1996|
|Eighth Doctor||Paul McGann||1996|
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