Beginners Guide – The Basics

The Greatest Show in the Galaxy – just one of the terms used to describe Doctor Who. But what’s it all about? What’s the big deal about some guy travelling through time and space in a blue box?

What is Doctor Who?

Doctor Who is a BBC television production that ran for 26 years from 1963 until 1989. The basic concept is simple: a humanoid alien who can travel through time and space, having adventures with a collection of mostly human companions.

Who is Doctor Who?

Doctor Who is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, in the constellation of Kasterborous. He may be half-human. He is usually referred to as "the Doctor" and addressed as "Doctor". (The show’s title refers to the fact that we know little about him, including his name). The Doctor is extremely old, possibly over 1000 years old. He is able to regenerate his body whenever he is fatally wounded, a gift shared by the other Time Lords. The Doctor is extremely intelligent, has a wide experience of other life forms, and spends a great deal of his time stopping alien races attacking the Earth. He considers humans his "favourite species". It is established near the beginning of the Ninth Doctor’s adventures that Gallifrey has been destroyed, and that he is the last of his kind. He may be half human

What is a Dalek?

A Dalek is a mutated humanoid that travels in a small tank-like vehicle. They originate from the planet Skaro and are the Doctor’s oldest enemy. The Daleks were created by Davros, an insane scientist who realised the Daleks as the future of his race. The Doctor was present at their conception, and probably caused their destruction during the Time War.

What is the TARDIS?

The TARDIS was a term coined by the Doctor’s grand-daughter, Susan. It is an acronym for Time and Relative Dimensions in Space. It has the ability to transport its occupants to any place in the Universe at any point in history. It has also been known to travel outside of our Universe. Wherever the TARDIS lands, the Doctor will have an adventure.

Why is the TARDIS shaped like a Police Box?

A TARDIS is a product of the highly advanced Time Lord technology. As such they have many special abilities – one of these being the ability to blend in with their surroundings. They are also dimensionally transcendental; the TARDIS is considerably bigger on the inside.

What was the "Time War"?

We don’t really know. We know that it has occured at some point in the Doctor’s recent past (the Daleks were heard in the early moments of the Paul McGann TVM) and resulted in the almost total destruction of the Time Lords and the Daleks. It can quite easily be supposed therefore that the war was between these two races. The Gelth refer to a "time war" in The Unquiet Dead (and the Slitheen later refer to a "galactic recession"… possibly linked?). The Time Lords ae believed to have been wiped out in the conflict – probably due to the Doctor’s attempt to destroy the Daleks.

Why is it famous?

The answers to this question are countless. Here are a few:

Doctor Who is considered by many to be the finest concept for television drama. The format (time travelling to any point in the Universe) allows the telling of virtually any kind of story. The actors who have played Doctor Who have all given varying yet compelling performances. The actresses who have played the Doctor’s companions have always been popular with the male viewers. During the series’ heyday in the 1970s, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker went on to become household names as Doctor Who. The Daleks, Cybermen, Autons, Sontarans, Ice Warriors, giant maggots and the Master have all become lodged in British folklore.

How come other actors have played Doctor Who?

As mentioned above, Time Lords can change their appearance as a mechanism for avoiding death. The Doctor has had eight previous lives, portrayed by William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann. Peter Cushing played "Dr Who" in two 1960s films, "Dr Who and the Daleks" and "Dalek Invasion Earth 2150".

David Tennant will be taking over the role, his first appearance as the Tenth Doctor being in The Christmas Invasion, due to be screened Christmas 2005

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