Who is Dr. Who?

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  • Written By: Garry Crystal
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2019
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Dr. Who, more accurately spelled Doctor Who, is the name of one of the longest running British Broadcasting Corporations (BBC) television series. The main plot involves a Time Lord known only as "The Doctor" and a usually female companion journeying through time and space to fight evil foes. Although the program was originally designed specifically as a children's television show, it is also very popular among adults.

The show first appeared in black and white on 23 November 1963. Since that time, it has gone through many changes and has broadcast over 700 episodes. Eleven actors have taken on the role of the Doctor over the years. The spawning of a new Doctor is called regeneration. The Doctor regenerates his body, conveniently allowing a new actor to take on the role.

The show was originally intended to present an educational view of history for children. The educational theme was soon dropped, and science fiction elements quickly took over as the main plotline. The Doctor would battle many villains, such as his nemeses the Daleks and the Cybermen.


Before it became a cult favorite, Dr. Who was regarded as long-running joke. The special effects used in the early series quickly became dated, making them seem laughable by modern standards. Comparing the special effects at the time to the effects used in films today is similar to comparing two tin cans and a piece of string with a mobile phone. The Doctor only needed to run upstairs to escape the terrifying force that was the tin can on wheels, the Daleks.

Even though the special effects were laughable, the show was considered by some to be too upsetting for children. Mary Whitehouse, a moral campaigner in the 1970s, made a number of complaints to the BBC. These complaints only led to an increase in the popularity of the show.

The vehicle used to transport The Doctor and his companions around the universe was known as the TARDIS. This appeared to be a 1950s London police box. Although about the size of a portable toilet cubicle from the outside, once inside, it became very spacious. Although the interior appearance changed dramatically over the years, in its early days it had a white interior and hi-tech chrome feel.

After being off the air for several years, Dr. Who returned in 2005 to great success. The actor playing The Doctor has already changed several times since the show was revived, but ratings remain strong. Dr. Who has a strong cult following in Australia, Canada, and America. The show has also spawned several spin-offs, including The Sarah Jane Adventures, which is more specifically directed toward kids, and Torchwood, a much more adult program.


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Post 2

Another nitpick: he is the Doctor, not Doctor Who. He is referred to as "Doctor Who" when someone is trying to find out who the hell he is, e.g.:

Mickey: Who is he? Where's the Doctor?

Rose: That's him - right in front of you. That's the Doctor.

Jackie: What d'you mean that's the Doctor? Doctor WHO?

Post 1

I realize that it may seem nit-picky, but the article is incorrect in two respects: Doctor Who is, and always has been, too popular to be considered a 'cult' TV show; and the Doctor's companion(s) is/are not "always female". One of the first companions was a man (Ian Chesterton, who joined the Doctor in the first episode) and many more followed.

It also seems odd to say that a show which has been on (mostly uninterrupted) since 1963 "inexplicably looks set" to continue having a large fan base. There should be no surprise that one of Britain's biggest icons will continue to draw in new fans over the coming years.

Thank you,

Sam Wise

Founder, Sacramento Whovians

Moderator's reply: Thank you for your comment! We've edited our article to better address these issues.

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