The Doctor Who "diamond" logo, used in the show's opening titles from 1973-1980.
|Creator(s)||Sydney Newman, C. E. Webber, Donald Wilson|
|Run dates||Classic series: 1963–89|
Television film: 12 May 1996
Current series: 2005–present
|Genres||science fiction, drama|
|Country of origin||UK|
|TARDIS Index File: Doctor Who Wiki|
Doctor Who is a British science fiction television program produced by the BBC. The series depicts the adventures of a mysterious, humanoid alien known as "the Doctor" who travels through time and space with his companions, exploring, facing a variety of foes, and righting wrongs.
The character of the Doctor was initially shrouded in mystery. All that was known about him in the program'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 (an acronym for Time And Relative Dimension(s) In Space). As it appears much larger on the inside than on the outside, the TARDIS has been described as "dimensionally transcendental". Because of a malfunction in its Chameleon Circuit, is stuck in the shape of a 1950s-style British police box.
The initially irascible and slightly sinister Doctor quickly mellowed into a more compassionate figure; and it was eventually revealed that he is 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. This was actually introduced into the storyline as a way of continuing the series when the writers were faced with the departure of lead actor William Hartnell in 1966. It has continued to be a major element of the series, allowing for the recasting of the lead actor when the need arises. To date, the Doctor has been played by eleven actors. The different portrayals are often treated as distinct characters, to the extent that they have on occasion encountered one another. Despite these shifts in personality, the Doctor remains an intensely curious and highly moral adventurer who would rather solve problems with his wits than by using violence.
The Doctor almost always shares his adventures with up to three companions, and since 1963 more than 35 actors have featured in these roles. Although the majority of these companions have been young, attractive females, the production team for the 1963–1989 series maintained a long-standing taboo against any overt romantic involvement in the TARDIS. Dramatically, the companion characters provide a surrogate with whom the audience can identify, and serve to further the story by requesting exposition from the Doctor and manufacturing peril for the Doctor to resolve. 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.
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. The ones that have most secured the series' place in the public's imagination are the Daleks, who first appeared in 1963. These wear tank-like mechanical armour shells. As they frequently remark in their instantly recognisable metallic voices, their goal is to "Exterminate!" all beings inferior to themselves. The Daleks were created by BBC designer Raymond Cusick and writer Terry Nation, who intended them as an allegory of the Nazis.
Doctor Who originally ran from 23 November 1963 to 6 December 1989. After an unsuccessful attempt to revive regular production with a backdoor pilot in the form of a 1996 television film, the programme was successfully relaunched in 2005. It is listed in Guinness World Records as the longest-running science fiction television show in the world, and as the "most successful" science fiction series of all time. The show is a significant part of British popular culture; and, in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, it has become a cult television favourite.
- Adapted from the Wikipedia article on Doctor Who.