Doctor Who (1963–1989)

TV Series   |  TV-PG   |    |  Adventure, Drama, Family


Episode Guide
Doctor Who (1963) Poster

The adventures in time and space of the Doctor, a Time Lord who changes appearance and personality by regenerating when near death, and is joined by companions in battles against aliens and other megalomaniacs.

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  • Doctor Who (1963)
  • One of the Mechonoid operators inside his machine during the filming of 'The Chase', a six-part serial from the popular British television sci-fi series 'Doctor Who', 15th April 1965. In this scene, the Daleks and the Mechonoids become embroiled in conflict.
  • Bonnie Langford in Doctor Who (1963)
  • Ronald Leigh-Hunt and Philip Ray in Doctor Who (1963)
  • Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant in Doctor Who (1963)
  • Tape reels of the 'Doctor Who' science fiction series at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop at the BBC's Maida Vale studios, London, 22nd March 1969.

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Cast & Crew

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Creator:

Sydney Newman

Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


7 May 2002 | Theo Robertson
The Greatest Show In The Universe
Without doubt the best thing about DOCTOR WHO is its format. The premise of a space craft being able to visit any time period or any planet means the possibilities are limitless . However it`s a series often ridiculed and no television show is producer proof , a fact that shows up in the late 70s and 80s

Created in 1963 by Sydney Newman the first producer was Verity Lambert a woman who would later become a legend of broadcasting in the 70s up till today. Lambert`s talent shines through in the early episodes with William Hartnell as the Doctor. True it`s got a budget of sixpence and the sets are as big as a cupboard but the production has excellent writers and is treated with absolute respect most of all from the actors who always manage to suspend our disbelief with convincing acting , especially William Russell who plays Ian Chesterton . Ian plays the typical heroic figure to Hartnell`s atypical antihero, and it`s intresting to note the antagonistic approach towards the early tardis crew. Also interesting to note that each SF story was followed by a historical story . Strangely the SF ones have dated very badly

By the time Patrick Troughton took over as the Doctor , Dalekmania , antagonism between the changing tardis crew , and historical stories had disappeared and in it`s place we had more formuliac and scarier stories in their place. Unfortunately the BBC junked most of this eras mastertapes so we only have a brief taste of this era, but Troughton never gave a bad performance and his assistants were sexy

Jon Pertwee , colour , and an entirely Earthbound format was introduced in 1970 . I`m not alone in saying this was the best era and was when I first started watching the show aged about four years old though I had to watch it behind the couch. Every Saturday afternoon was the highlight of my life , all my friends watched it as the viewing figures climbed. Alas the Pertwee era hasn`t aged very well as I found out watching the repeats over 20 years later.

Tom Baker had an era of two halves when he took over from Pertwee. Coinciding with the change of actors we had a change of producers as Barry Letts gave way to Phillip Hinchcliffe who took DOCTOR WHO to even greater heights 14 million viewers would tune in as the show became more adult and terrifying , concerned mothers and viewers pressure groups would bombard the BBC with complaints about the horror on show which meant when Hinchcliffe was replaced with Graham Williams in 1977 and with it ended the programme`s most acclaimed period. It probably wasn`t William`s fault but DOCTOR WHO soon started becoming very silly , the monsters were laughable and Tom Baker seemed to be taking the p***.

In 1980 John Nathan Turner took over the producer reins and when Baker left the following year he cast Peter Davison as the Doctor. The early Davison episodes were certainly an improvement on the latter Baker era , KINDA for example features a guest appearance by Simon Rouse of THE BILL fame and gives the greatest performance in the show`s history , while THE CAVES OF ANDROZANI often wins fan polls as the greatest ever DOCTOR WHO story but the cracks were starting to show as Nathan Turner started introducing more and more old foes and when Colin Baker was ( Mis)cast as the Doctor in 1984 his whole first season featured old enemies and anorakish references to the past. This led to the BBC putting the show on hold for a year

The show returned in 1986 worse than ever and now cut to 14 episodes a year, Colin Baker was sacked and replaced by Sylvester McCoy who was an even bigger disaster than Baker and by the time the show was axed in 1989 it only had something like 3 million viewers. As a fan I`d describe it as a mercy killing.

So ended a once great television series . It has become a fondly remembered legend and there`s often rumours of a Hollywood remake , but as the American 1996 TVM showed megabuck budgets can`t enhance a poor script. DOCTOR WHO works best as a memory

Critic Reviews



Did You Know?

Trivia

Michael Grade, Controller of BBC One (1984-1987), put the series on an 18 month hiatus in early 1985 and explained his decision at the time by claiming the series was producing disappointing ratings (averaging about seven million during this period) and he accused the series of becoming too violent, losing its imagination and wit and the people making it of becoming complacent. He has admitted in a number of interviews since that he wanted to cancel the series outright in 1985 because he thought the cheap production values were pathetic compared with films like Star Wars (1977), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). After pressure from fans and a campaign by the British press, Grade brought the series back after the hiatus the following year, although he insisted that star Colin Baker was replaced at the end of that season. Grade, along with BBC Drama Head Jonathan Powell, approved the casting of Sylvester McCoy as the new Doctor and oversaw his first season in the role before leaving for Channel Four in 1987. Powell replaced Grade as BBC One Controller and oversaw two more seasons with McCoy before it was permanently cancelled in 1989 by the BBC's new Head of Series, Peter Cregeen, following four seasons of very poor ratings since Grade's hiatus (only two episodes from these four seasons had won more than six million viewers, proving that the hiatus and the subsequent firing of Colin Baker had completely failed to improve the series' appeal). The last three seasons had been scheduled against Coronation Street (1960), the most popular series on the BBC's rival channel, ITV.


Quotes

Stor: I am Commander Stor of the Sontaran Special Space Service.
The Doctor: The SSSS. Eh, isn't that carrying alliteration a little far?


Crazy Credits

For most of the Hartnell era, the episode title appeared superimposed over the first scene (after the title sequence had completed). Later, and continuing on occasion during the Troughton era, the episode title and writer credit would be presented in a unique format (i.e. in the form of a computer print-out for "The War Machine", for example). When the opening credits were redesigned during the Troughton era (and now incorporated an image of the Doctor's face), the episode title and writer credit were usually included during this sequence.


Alternate Versions

In the original version of the concluding episode of the story, "Earthshock," where the Doctor and his companions see their companion, Adric, apparently dying when the ship he was on explodes, the end credits roll silently without the theme music and features the character's ruined math achievement award pin on the TARDIS floor instead of the normal starfield sequence. In the later syndication version, the regular score begins as normal as the end credits roll and the picture of the pin soon cuts to the normal starfield sequence.

Storyline

Plot Summary


Genres

Adventure | Drama | Family | Sci-Fi

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