They’re the time-travelling extraterrestrial from the planet Gallifrey who has been entrancing audiences around the world since 1963. Since it premiered over 50 years ago, Doctor Who has been portrayed by twelve different actors, with the thirteenth – Jodie Whitaker – due to debut as the series’ first female lead later this year. To get ready for the new era, we’re dug up some fun facts you might not have known about this beloved British series.
1. Whitaker might not have been the first female doctor
In the 1980s, producers were looking for a way to revitalise the show. Series producer Sydney Newman wanted to cast a woman in the lead, but the idea didn’t come to fruition. Fast forward to 2008, when the series lead was David Tennant, showrunner Russel T. Davies wanted the Doctor to regenerate as a woman – with Catherine Zeta Jones atop his list of choices for the role.
2. “The Doctor” is actually a doctor
As well as being the lead character’s name, The Doctor really is a doctor. When asked by his companion, Polly, he told her that he was fairly sure he “took a degree once in Glasgow. 1888 I think.”
3. If one of the show’s creators had his way, we wouldn’t have the Daleks
BBC executive, and one of Doctor Who’s creators, Sydney Newman, was an avid science fiction fan, but didn’t like “buy-eyed monsters”, as he called them. When series producer Verity Lambert pitched the idea of the Daleks (created by Terry Nation), Newman pushed back. Lambert won the argument, and the Doctor’s most iconic enemy was born.
4. More than 100 episodes have been lost
When the series was first airing, storing and archiving media was a more difficult process, so over 100 of Doctor Who’s original episodes have been lost – living on only on videotaped copies in living rooms around the world.
5. Regeneration wasn’t in the original plan
The series’ first Doctor, William Hartnell, was experiencing ill health after a few seasons of the show, and producers worried that simply recasting the role would upset loyal viewers. To make the process more palatable, they incorporated the idea of regeneration into the overall mythology of Doctor Who’s universe.
6. The King of Pop was almost a Time Lord
In the late 1980s, Paramount Pictures looked into creating a Doctor Who movie featuring Michael Jackson as a Time Lord.
7. The TARDIS is a trademark
In 1996, the BBC began the process to trademark the Doctor’s iconic mode of transport – the blue police box. However, the Metropolitan Police fought against the attempt, and it became a legal dispute. It took six years, but the BBC won the case.
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