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  • Despite it not being the character's name, it actually IS okay to refer to the Doctor as "Doctor Who". The British media, the BBC, series materials and the original credits (until the end of the Fourth Doctor's tenure) use the term in this way.
  • Of the 253 episodes of "Doctor Who" that were produced in the 1960s, 97 no longer exist in the BBC Television Archives due to an archive purge in the 1970s.
    • In addition to 97 episodes that no longer exist, some episodes no longer exist in their original format. Four episodes only survive in an edited state — The Time Meddler: "Checkmate", The Celestial Toymaker: "The Final Test", and The War Machines episodes 3 and 4. Furthermore, for decades, twelve episodes only survived in black and white whilst originally filmed in colour — The Ambassadors of Death episodes 2, 3, 4 and 7, The Mind of Evil (all six episodes), Planet of the Daleks: Episode 3, and Invasion of the Dinosaurs: Part 1 (also titled "Invasion"). All have since been restored to colour, using a variety of techniques:
      • '"Planet of the Daleks" episode 3 has been restored to colour for DVD by a combination of two different techniques: one based on computer matching between shots in the b/w episode and similar shots in the surviving colour ones, and another which can actually extract the original colour information from traces of the original colour remaining on the b/w films thanks to a quirk (usually a fault) in the telecine process. There was also a LOT of manual tweaking and colourising. The result is impressive to say the least. Unfortunately this was too expensive to be feasible for the other black-and-white episodes. The second process only was used on the first episode of Invasion of the Dinosaurs for DVD, with noticeably inferior results, and on the episodes 2-4, 6, and 7 of "The Ambassadors of Death" and episodes 2-6 of The Mind of Evil, with mixed results. Episode 1 of "The Mind of Evil" was manually recolourised using a different process provided by a colourisation expert who goes by the handle Babelcolour and has subjected other classic episodes that were filmed in black and white to the same treatment just for fun.
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    • While great chunks of the first and second are missing, thanks to enterprising fans recording the series to tape off the air, we do have soundtracks to all the lost episodes. Other enterprising fans have reconstructed the missing episodes with production stills and CGI. The BBC has also used these recordings to animated numerous missing episodes for DVD release, starting with "The Invasion" in 2006.
    • William Hartnell's regeneration at the end of "The Tenth Planet" survives only as a clip that was shown on the children's programme Blue Peter.
    • The Beatles make a cameo appearance in the 1965 story "The Chase", in which they're seen on the Time-Space Visualizer performing "Ticket to Ride" on their only ever appearance on the venerable UK chart show Top of the Pops in 1964. Originally, the plan was to have the actual musicians appear as themselves as old men in the future, but the idea was vetoed by Beatles' manager Brian Epstein. Ironically, the live footage used in the episode is all that remains of this performance, as said Top of the Pops episode was erased.
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    • A print of the 1965 episode The Daleks' Master Plan: "Day of Armageddon" was returned by former BBC engineer Francis Watson in January 2004.
  • The format of the show's entire run before cancellation was a series of cliff-hanger adventure serials. Although, as originally conceived, the series would have only run for fifty-two episodes (i.e. one a week for a year), which would have made up one single extra-length serial. The series' format evolved out of this. Each of the Doctor's adventures would be told across several 25 minute episodes, with a cliff-hanger ending each one. Each "season" of the show would be broken into several stories, taking usually 4 to 6 episodes to play out — on-screen, each individual episode would begin with the title of the story, followed by the story's author, then what episode number of the story the audience were watching. This method of titling wasn't established until late in the third season; prior to this every episode was given its own unique title. There are no definitive official story titles for many of the earliest adventures, though semi-official ones have been consistently used on DVDs, books, etc.
    • The show was not alone in using the 25-minute serial format in 1963, but by the time it ended in 1989 it was still using the same format even though it had been hopelessly outdated for years.
  • When the series was first syndicated in the US, many stations did not show it in its original cliffhanger format. Instead, a "movie version", made up of all episodes of one adventure, but with the cliff-hanger endings edited out, would be shown. Since the number of episodes used to tell one story would sometimes vary (usually four episodes, but sometimes 6, 7, or only 2), the "movie versions" varied in length. Because of this, many stations showed the movie versions on weekends, in late-night or early-morning slots, where their schedules were more flexible.
    • On one occasion ("Silver Nemesis" in 1988), the "movie version" was shown in New Zealand at the same time that Episode 1 was aired by the BBC, marking one of the few instances of episodes premiering outside the UK.
      • A second rare instance of episodes premiering outside the UK was for "The Five Doctors" in 1983, which aired for Children in Need in the UK a day or two after the anniversary. In the US (and likely elsewhere in the world too), it aired on the actual anniversary on the 23rd.
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  • On a number of occasions, past Doctor actors have to returned to the series as the Doctor in stories known as "multi-Doctor" stories, meaning that they feature multiple incarnations of the Doctor.
    1. In 1973, the 10th-Anniversary story "The Three Doctors" saw William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton return to the role alongside Jon Pertwee. William Hartnell had a significantly reduced role compared to the other two due to failing health.
    2. In 1983, the 20th-Anniversary story "The Five Doctors" saw Troughton and Jon Pertwee return to the role alongside Peter Davison whilst Richard Hurndall played the First Doctor (Hartnell having passed away some years earlier) and Tom Baker appeared only in footage filmed for "Shada", which was abandoned due to strike action.
    3. Troughton reprised his role as the Second Doctor alongside Colin Baker's Sixth in "The Two Doctors".
    4. The 30th-Anniversary special, 1993's "Dimensions in Time", had five of the seven Doctors (William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton both gave it a miss, what with them being dead at the time and all that, but their waxworks gladly attended the festivities).
    5. Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor met David Tennant's Tenth in the 2007 Children in Need special "Time Crash".
    6. Tennant returned to join forces with Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor and John Hurt's War Doctor for the 50th Anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor". With Peter Capaldi making a split-second cameo, Tom Baker reappearing as a Museum Curator heavily implied to be a retired version of the Doctor from the far future, and Paul McGann's appearance in a short prologue episode that finally gave him a regeneration scene, the 50th anniversary featured the participation of six different actors playing the role — and that's not even counting the use of stock footage in the special, a brief bit of new dialogue recorded for Hartnell's Doctor, or Davison, Baker and McCoy's comedy tribute!
    7. David Bradley joined the outgoing Peter Capaldi and his replacement Jodie Whittaker for the 2017 Christmas special, "Twice Upon a Time".
  • Asteroid 3325, a small main belt asteroid discovered in 1984, is named TARDIS after the Doctor's time/space machine.
  • Many actors have been considered for the role of the Doctor over the years but only Ron Moody has twice declined the role. He was first choice after Hartnell left but refused (as did Peter Jeffrey), and he also turned down the chance again in 1969 when Troughton left. Graham Crowden turned down the role after Pertwee and veteran British comedian Richard Hearne was also considered but rejected for insurance purposes. In the revived version, Bill Nighy came closest to assuming the role after Christopher Eccleston left but was rejected at the last minute in favour of David Tennant (Nighy amusingly blamed Tennant for being better-looking).
    • Bill Nighy was also in the running to play the Ninth Doctor, to the extent that some media sources inaccurately reported that he'd been given the role when Eccleston's casting was announced.
  • Jon Pertwee had incredible difficulty learning some of the Techno Babble that the Doctor is famous for. The crew hid cue cards around the set and Pertwee would write some of his lines in Biro on the TARDIS console.
  • "The Celestial Toymaker" received complaints that the character Cyril was based on the Billy Bunter character created by Frank Richards, whose lawyers were incensed. The BBC issued a statement saying that Cyril was merely a Bunter-like character.
  • The original pilot episode was rediscovered in 1978 in a mislabeled film can. After an archive purge by the BBC between 1972 and 1978, the film survived by chance and was originally thought to be lost.
  • When the BBC attempted to register the appearance of the TARDIS as a trademark, the Metropolitan Police complained and they went to court. The judge decided that the image was more recognisable with Doctor Who, and the police had never actually used the Police Box as a brand for commercial purposes, so the BBC was allowed to register it.
  • The pilot episode of the series would have been the first transmitted edition had it not been remounted on the recommendations of BBC executives. It has been shown on television in the UK once, in 1991, and remains the only surviving episode from the 1960s held in its original unedited format.
  • When it became clear that failing health was affecting his performance and relationship with the cast and crew, William Hartnell, the first actor to play the Doctor, was asked to leave the show. Rather than cancel the successful series, the writers came up with the Doctor's ability to regenerate his body when he is near death, which allows for the smooth transition from one actor to another playing the role. Their first attempt to eject Hartnell from the show happened some time earlier in "The Celestial Toymaker", where the Doctor was made invisible at one point in the story. The original intention was for the Doctor to come back played by a different actor as part of the Toymaker's games, but this was vetoed and it was Hartnell that reappeared.
  • Originally, the Doctor's time machine, the TARDIS, was to have a different appearance in order to blend in wherever and whenever it materializes due to its "chameleon circuit". However, it was realized that this constant changing of a regular prop would be too expensive, and so it was decided that the circuit would be permanently disabled due to the TARDIS' age, thus retaining the appearance of a 1963 Police Box. A few decades later, the in-story reason for why the Doctor didn't keep trying to fix the circuit was that he'd grown fond of the shape.
  • The name of the Doctor's time machine, the TARDIS, is short for "Time And Relative Dimension In Space". In later serials, this was changed to "Time and Relative Dimensions in Space" (Dimensions in plural), but the series revamp in 2005 has reverted to the singular usage.
  • Ian Marter, who played Surgeon Lt. Harry Sullivan, also wrote the novelizations of several Doctor Who stories.
  • Julia Sawalha auditioned for the role of Ace.
  • As William Hartnell's illness progressed, he started to have memory problems and often forgot his lines. Many unusual ad-libbed lines in place of those scripted were passed off as part of the Doctor's character.
  • The distinctive TARDIS sound effect is officially classified as a piece of music and was created by rubbing the bass strings of a piano with a key.
  • Two reasons are given for the first episode of the first season being repeated the following week: a) it aired the day after John F. Kennedy's assassination and as a result drew lower than expected audiences. b) there was a widespread power failure and the episode was not seen nationwide.
  • Jon Pertwee's catchphrase, "Reverse the Polarity of the neutron flow", is a Beam Me Up, Scotty! (he said that specific phrase once in four years, although "reverse the polarity" was more common), but that didn't prevent it being used in Shout Outs and Mythology Gags later in the series.
  • The series was originally devised as an educational program for kids, with co-creator Sydney Newman having no intention of featuring "bug-eyed monsters". The first episodes featured cavemen. But when the Daleks were introduced, the attitude of the program was forever changed. Even so, the series continued to alternate between science fiction and purely historical stories for several seasons.
  • During the 1970s, series star Tom Baker and Ian Marter(who had played his companion Harry Sullivan) co-wrote and attempted to have produced a feature film entitled Doctor Who Meets Scratchman, which would have co-starred Vincent Price. When a copy of the script was discovered in John Nathan-Turner's archives, it turned out to consist of non-stop surrealism more reminiscent of the weirder episodes of The Avengers (1960s) or The Prisoner than Doctor Who, making "The Mind Robber" look Mundane Dogmatic.
  • The series was in part inspired by the British Quatermass TV serials of the 1950s. In 1988, the show paid homage by referring to Quatermass in the 1988 serial "Remembrance of the Daleks"… where it's also implied that this episode takes place the day Doctor Who made its debut.
    • Quatermass was alluded to again in 2009's "Planet of the Dead".
    • In a weird but fitting piece of coincidence, David Tennant was starring in a modern day Live Episode remake of The Quatermass Experiment the day when he learned that he had been cast as the Tenth Doctor.
  • Although a number of televised spin-offs were considered throughout the course of the programme (including vehicles for the Daleks,note  for UNIT, and for the Jago and Litefoot characters from the Tom Baker serial "The Talons of Weng-Chiang"), only one was ever produced before the show's 2005 return — K-9 and Company: "A Girl's Best Friend", aired initially as a Christmas special in 1981. Although the pilot fared well in the ratings, the BBC decided not to proceed with a series. After the 2005 return of the series, four spinoffs were made — Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures, K9 and Class. Or six spinoffs, if you count Doctor Who Confidential and Totally Doctor Who (featuring the animated adventure The Infinite Quest).
  • When the script called for him to recite coordinates to program the TARDIS, Tom Baker would sometimes rattle off a string of digits that was actually the telephone number to the Doctor Who production office; no one ever caught on.
  • "Dalek" and "TARDIS" became so familiar to British audiences that they were added to the Oxford English Dictionary.
  • Several versions of the theme tune were used over the years, with the most famous being used from 1963 to 1980 (albeit with a slight rearrangement and the addition of an echo chamber effect being added in 1966). A disco version of the tune became a hit in the UK in 1978, and in 1988, The Timelords (later to be famous as the art rock/techno act The KLF) had a #1 hit with "Doctorin' the Tardis", a song that mashed the theme song together with Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Part 2" and Sweet's "Blockbuster".
  • The version of the Doctor Who logo that was used from 1970 to 1973 during the Jon Pertwee era would later resurface as the logo for the 1996 revival film, after which it once again became the official logo for most Doctor Who-related merchandise (on the grounds that it was the logo of the "current" Doctor). Until 2018, it was used as the official logo for the "classic series" with a brand new logo used on all merchandise relating to the Russell T Davies era and a second new one used on all merchandise relating to the Steven Moffat era. By 2014, even merchandise relating to the Eccleston, Tennant and Smith seasons used the same logo (as they were now part of the "heritage" license, which covered everything except the current Doctor). In 2018 a new logo was bought in for Jodie Whittaker's Doctor, and the BBC took the opportunity to unify all DW merchandise under that one.
  • Due to ill health, William Hartnell was unable to appear in the third episode of "The Tenth Planet", which was also his penultimate episode. Ironically, the final episode of the serial has since been lost and consequently the last surviving episode from the Hartnell era doesn't even feature Hartnell.
  • TV editing was very difficult in the 1960s, and so (in common with most other British TV drama at the time) many early episodes of Doctor Who were recorded "as live". If the actors fluffed their lines, the others had to cover for him/her. There are several obvious instances of this in the series, such as in "The Web Planet" where actor William Hartnell forgot his lines, leading to co-star William Russell to prompt him by asking "What galaxy is that in then, Doctor?". In order to facilitate this style of recording, the actors were allowed a four-day rehearsal period (Monday-Thursday) followed by camera rehearsal on Friday day and the actual studio recording Friday evening. Saturdays were often spent on location recording inserts for future episodes, and the actors were given Sunday off before the process started again for the next episode on Monday morning. Although editing techniques improved over the years, it remained the case that studio scenes would usually be taped almost as live, using a multi-camera system, until the series ended in 1989.
  • Michael Jayston, a Shakespearean actor, played an evil Enemy Without of the Doctor known as the Valeyard who was created somewhere between Doctor's twelfth and final incarnations.
  • In the 1976 season, the Doctor started operating his TARDIS from the craft's secondary control room, an obviously older version of the main control room with wood paneling and a Victorian design motif. This set was abandoned when it was discovered that the paneling warped while in storage during the hiatus and the series had the Doctor begin using the regular control room again.
  • The music playing when the Fifth Doctor visits the Brig in "Mawdryn Undead" is a traditional English dance melody called "Lillibullero". It's sometimes attributed to Henry Purcell.
  • Steven Moffat, who took over Doctor Who in 2010, is the first straight guy to produce the show since 1979.
  • Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith is also the eleventh Matt Smith on IMDb.
  • The regeneration process was based on the negative sides of LSD. Regenerative trauma and Drugs Are Bad indeed.
  • 11th Doctor Matt Smith guest-starred on an episode of Billie Piper'snote  show Secret Diary of a Call Girl as a shopkeep who ends up bedding Piper's character.
  • Troughton's pre-Who career involved a large batch of family television, including appearing in a Robin Hood series (interestingly, his grandson was Much in the 2006 TV version). Later he played Father Brennan in The Omen (1976).
    • Troughton's role in Robin Hood was briefly referenced in the Twelfth Doctor episode "Robot of Sherwood", when the Doctor viewed images of Robin Hood on the TARDIS screen.
  • Pertwee's pre-Who career involved a fairly-well-remembered comedy called The Navy Lark. Later, he would play Worzel Gummidge.
  • Tom Baker played Rasputin in the film Nicholas and Alexandra (1971). Perhaps the most recognisable Doctor voice, impressionist Jon Culshaw has often used the voice for telephone spoofs in Dead Ringers.
  • Peter Davison's pre-Who career included Tristan Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small, while his post-Who career included the title character of Campion.
  • Paul McGann played 'I' in Withnail & I, with Richard E. Grantnote  as Withnail.
  • It has been noted that the cast of ITV's Broadchurch were largely known for roles on Doctor Who, especially when it was announced in January 2016 that Broadchurch showrunner Chris Chibnall would be taking over the Who reins after Moffat. The main cast of Broadchurch is David Tennant (Tenth Doctor), Olivia Colman (Prisoner Zero in "The Eleventh Hour"), Jodie Whittaker, and Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams). Everyone finds great fun in remarking that a year and a half later the only one of these to never previously appear on Who, Whittaker, joined the cast as the 13th (and first female) Doctor.
  • Over its long history, Doctor Who has gone through seven different picture formats. Initially, it was broadcast in 405-line black-and-white. This was upgraded to the higher-quality 625-line black-and-white in 1968. 1970 saw the switch to PAL for colour broadcasting. The TV movie, being in part an American production, was broadcast using the American standard 525-line NTSC format. The 2005 revival was initially broadcast as 576i DTV, with the aspect ratio switching from 4:3 to 16:9. In 2009, this was upgraded to 1080pSF HDTV. In 2018, the aspect ratio shifted again to the wider 2:1 for a more cinematic feel.
  • First TV show to get its own Nightmare Fuel page on TV Tropes.
    • And the first to get its own Foe Yay page.
    • A scene in Remembrance of the Daleks involving Ace inspired the creation of the "Crowning Moment Of Awesome" section, which dropped the "Crowning" later on.
    • First live-action TV show on this site to get its very own gush page since it's so beloved.
    • The vast majority of Wild Mass Guessing pages on this site will have a theory supposing someone is a Time Lord.


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