Doctor Who is not a TV show, it is the Doctor’s TV show. And therefore, it tells the story of a mysterious space/time traveller simply known as “The Doctor”. How can he do this? Thanks to the TARDIS (“Time And Relative Dimension In Space”) and his companions (mostly women).
But there is something even more curious about this series than the plot itself, and that’s the wide range of genres it covers: you can go from laughter to panic in just one second. Serious and comical, sad and happy… You never know how you are going to feel while watching it. What you do know that you will feel is nostalgia, since Doctor Who is the series that introduced us to low Budget special effects, scary monsters (like Daleks and Cybermen) and, surprisingly, electronic music.
Doctor Who has become a remarkable franchise. It has given birth to two successful BBC spinoffs: Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, both concerning the adventures of old companions. And a third one called K9 which was not produced by BBC.
The First Doctor
The first episode ever, An Unearthly Child, introduced the first incarnation of the Doctor, interpreted by William Hartnell, who travelled along with William Russell (known for starring “The Adventures of Sir Lancelot” in the 50s), Jacqueline Hill as both Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright and Carole Ann Ford as Susan Foreman, the Doctor’s granddaughter. This team of four would make up the nucleus of the series during its first two seasons.
The Second Doctor
In 1966, William Hartnell decided to leave the series, and things got serious here; fortunately, everything ended up well. Instead of introducing a new main actor or just cancelling the TV show, the producers decided to give the Doctor a new power: the power of regeneration. The Doctor can now regenerate into a new person when he is deeply hurt. This accident, which turned out to be a fortunate one, led the successful show to Patrick Troughton: the second Doctor.
The Third Doctor
This regenerating experiment was repeated in 1970 when the comedian Jon Pertwee was selected as the third Doctor, a change which coincided with the introduction of colour to the show. Once again, this was a total success and Doctor Who kept continued to become the institution it is now for British television.
The Fourth Doctor
Tom Baker was the next man to play the role of The Doctor. Baker became the most iconic and most popular Doctor of the original series; mainly thanks to the frequent retransmissions on TV which started during his reign. He was the first “young” Doctor and maintained the throne Turing seven seasons, more than any other Doctor so far.
The Fifth Doctor
Peter Davison succeeded Tom Baker in 1981 as the fifth Doctor with the arrival of John Nathan Turner, the new producer of the series. At just 29, Davison was, until Matt Smith was chosen in 2009, the youngest actor to officially play the role of the Doctor.
The Sixth Doctor
In 1984, Colin Baker was named the sixth Doctor. BBC then introduced some changes to the format of the series by making the episodes 25 minutes longer and, especially, by experimenting with the Doctor’s personality. Thus giving the show a new style. This is why the sixth Doctor was so obnoxious. Unexpectedly, Whovians didn’t like this change, which almost caused the cancellation of the series.
The Seventh Doctor
Three years later, Sylvester McCoy took Colin Baker’s place and became the seventh Doctor. The experiments continued and this time, the Doctor’s personality turned darker. Besides, Ace, his new companion, was more nervous than what Whovians were used to. These changes didn’t work either so the series was cancelled until the 90s.
The Eighth Doctor
In 1996, the UK and the US worked together on a Doctor Who film which was broadcast on TV and produced by American Fox Network. In it, we could see how Paul McGann was named the eighth Doctor. It was neither a restart nor a reinvention, just a continuation of the original series.
The Ninth Doctor
Doctor Who came back like it was before in 2005. Christopher Eccleston succeeded McGann and thus became the ninth Doctor. After some initial confusion, it was made clear that the new series was a follow up of the original one.
These new episodes, apart from breaking all the previous audience ratings, obtained awards that the original ones had never even dreamed of.
The Tenth Doctor
David Tennant, the tenth Doctor, held the title during three whole seasons. During his reign, Doctor Who was dominated by the relationship between the Doctor and his companion, Rose Tyler, something completely new. We could also see the comeback of Sarah Jane Smith in “School Reunion”, the most quoted episode since it finally and definitely established that the “New Who” was a direct follow up of the 1963-89 series. David Tennant was voted the nation’s favourite Doctor in a poll to celebrate the show’s 50th Anniversary in 2013.
The Eleventh Doctor
Finally, the tenth Doctor’s reign came to an end with the double episode “The End of Time”, in which David Tennant passed his role to Matt Smith. Matt Smith’s first episode was broadcast on the 3rd of April 2010 and, as a way of support, it was broadcast in Canada, the US and New Zealand only a couple of weeks later. It was the first time an international show made its retransmissions coincide in such a way.
The Future of the Doctor: The Twelfth Doctor
The future of the Doctor is still uncertain, all we know for now is who will take up the baton next: Peter Capaldi has been announced as the twelfth Doctor and we think, oh yes, this is good news! :D