In the world of sci-fi adventures, there are several “time machines.” A few are instantly recognizable. The DeLorean from Back to the Future, the time machine from HG Wells’ The Time Machine, the phone booth from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and a blue police call box called the TARDIS from Doctor Who.
The TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension In Space) was originally supposed to blend it with its background. Budgeting issues, however, caused the showrunner to write in the scripts that the cloaking mechanism was stuck, thus giving us the iconic phone box design we still see today.
In 1963 Sidney Newman of the BBC developed the idea for a family-friendly sci-fi serial show. A show was planned to be educational, with 2 of the original characters being teachers. The 1st season (series) follows The Doctor, a Time Lord of the planet Gallifrey (William Hartnell), his grand-daughter Susan (Carol Ann Ford), and her teachers, companions Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright (William Russell and Jacqueline Hill).
By 1966, Hartnell’s health was not good, and he decided to step down. This led the BBC to come up with the idea of regeneration. After this, the lore of the show was that when a Time Lord’s body has taken too much damage to go on, the individual will regenerate. Going from one body to another. This small change has allowed the show to continue for as long as it has. To date, we have had 13 Doctors. They are, in order:
The latest Doctor’s (Whittaker) run came to an end just this past year.
This year, the show celebrates its 60th anniversary. We do not have a confirmed date at the time of writing this article. We only know it will be sometime in November as the original premiered in November, back in ’63. We also know from the last episode and from the trailer that the 10th Doctor (Tennant) is back, at least briefly, as the 14th Doctor. This will certainly make fans of Tennant’s doctor and his later companion, Donna (Catherine Tate), happy as we get to see them together again. You can see the trailer here.
If you have never ventured into the Whoniverse, now is a great time to check it out. Who is a great, family friendly, sci-fi adventure show. If you have children in the home, it makes for a good family evening show. When my children were young, they loved seeing different historical figures and time periods. This helped them develop a love of history and science. It’s also a good conversation starter for topics of emotions, fairness, technology, friendship, and kindness. If you do not have children, but like sci-fi, robots, ghosts, time travel, or creepy angel statues, you have nothing to lose!
If you have never watched Doctor Who, or if you’re behind, you have plenty of time to binge before November.
The classic series (Hartnell through McCoy) is available on britbox.
Paul McGann did not have an entire series, but a made for tv film. It is also available to stream on britbox.
You can learn more about the show, its history, and cast at the Official Doctor Who site.
Here are a few of my favorite episodes:
The Empty Child: 2005
Set in the middle of the London Blitz, the Doctor (Eccleston) and companion, Rose (Billie Piper), come across a little boy in a gas mask who may not be quite what he seems. We also meet a recurring character who was so popular he got his own spin-off; Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman).
Silence in the Library: 2008
The Doctor (Tennant) and Donna (Tate) visit a library that shouldn’t be void of people…but it is. This is one of the creepier episodes. Moving shadows and a mystery or 2. This is also our introduction to River Song (Alex Kingston), the Doctor’s wife.
This episode was the Christmas special in 2015. The 12th Doctor (Capaldi) gets recruited by his wife, River Song (Kingston), who doesn’t recognize his new face, to help with a con job. This episode is all the things you want from a Who special. Adventure, comedy, great 1 liners, and the emotion that only a person with 2 hearts can bring.
Are you a Whovian? What are your favorite episodes? Got a favorite Doctor or Companion? Tell us in the comments!