Doctor Who

September 2011 Maya Winters

I have to say, when I searched through the Alte archives I was somewhat surprised to discover that the closest to a "Doctor Who" article there'd been was some squeeing over John Barrowman by myself and Adeliene Cromwell some years back. If you've never heard of or watched Doctor Who, then keep reading for I will be attempting to give an overview of the Whoniverse in the following paragraphs. If, like me, thoughts of Doctor Who leads to some combination of squeeing, adrenalin, drooling or brain-deadedness from the "omg who what where why...ARGH" side of things - well, I've hunted down some more obscure facts and trivia for your benefit!

Doctor Who..?

Yes that is the show's name. And indeed, the show revolves around a Time-Lord, The Doctor. For those of you unfamiliar with the show let me give you a brief summary:

Aliens. Space travel. Time travel. I think that pretty much covers it.

Brief History of the Show

The first episode of Doctor Who aired on the BBC way back on 23rd November 1963 - the show then ran for 26 seasons until 6th December 1989. Minus a somewhat ignored television movie in 1996, this was it for Doctor Who until March 2005 when it was reborn thanks to Russell T Davies. The sixth season of "New Who" is currently airing and the seventh season is confirmed for 2012-2013 - the show's 50th anniversary. It is, needless to say, the longest running sci-fi show ever.

Doctor Who is not only a TV show though - it is the parent show to both Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures; there are numerous Who exhibitions in the UK; additional adventures in books; and a whole range of merchandise for the true fans.

Doctor Who episodes also contain some fabulous music today with the main theme still strongly based off the original theme from 1963. Back then, Doctor Who was in fact the first TV series ever to have a main theme produced solely using electronic sounds. Since the show came back in 2005, Murray Gold has been the musical director - key characters or species have their own "theme" and the interweaving of these themes throughout the series is beautifully done

The Doctor himself is the main enigma of the show - even now there's an awful lot we don't know about him and his background. It's rare for a long-running show to have one main character as the focus as the actors tend to age and er, well, die (or just retire). The concept of the Time Lord however neatly dodges this problem - when the Doctor's body is damaged a large amount he can simply regenerate. Regeneration involves a complete change in appearance, and to some extent personality - allowing each actor to put their own stamp on the role. The Doctor spends a lot of time travelling in space and "foiling evil plans" so has a fair range of enemies; he himself however is anti-violence which leads to some interesting moral dilemmas.

Random Who Facts

William Hartnell, the first Doctor, earned £315 per episode in 1966 (around £4000 or $6500 per episode nowadays).

The longest-serving Doctor was played by Tom Baker from 1974-1981.

In 1972, BBC research showed viewers considered Doctor Who one of the most violent on television (yes, this was back when the Daleks were stumped by stairs >>).

In 1984, a small asteroid was named TARDIS after the Doctor's time machine.

The first Doctor to be nominated for a BAFTA is actually Matt Smith.

The BBC applied to trademark the blue police box in 1996 (for merchandising purposes) and were met with opposition from the Metropolitan Police Authority - the police lost.

The first episode of Doctor Who premièred the day after US President J.F. Kennedy's assassination.

Fezzes are cool.

Season 6 of "New Who" is currently airing on BBC (UK) and BBC America (USA), however these countries regularly have re-runs of previous series. To fully understand what's going on with "New Who" I suppose one ought to watch from Season 1, however it is possible to simply start from Season 5 where the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, began. I'd highly recommend the show to anyone of any age - even people aren't huge sci-fi fans can enjoy the show. It may be a family show but there's plenty of humour, and plenty of "what the heck?" moments (which the current lead writer Moffat assuredly will eventually clear up). If that's not enough, there's some ridiculously good dialogue, a fabulous range of personalities in the cast and some very clever writing. Steven Moffat is undoubtedly a genius with his intricate plots which will make your brain explode as you try to postulate solutions, which will mos likely turn out to be something you hadn't considered at all. Oh, and for anyone who thinks "time travel stuff" gets too confusing it's simple - it's just "wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey!"

For anyone still in doubt, the Doctor likes Harry Potter - no hating!