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Doctor Who - A Complete Guide

Updated on December 9, 2011

The mysterious Doctor: Who?

Sometime hero, renegade, destroyer of worlds, keeper of jelly babies and compasionate bringer of justice.  The Doctor is always clever, getting involved, righting wrongs and having a really amazing time of it all. 

Adventure serials of this 900-something year-old Time Lord were first broadcast by the BBC in 1963 and, tell the stories of nearly 200 adventures in time and space.  When he reaches the end of one life, another begins, for at least 13 (and possibly more) lives lived by the same amazing über-man who just happens to have a thing for Earth and human beings. 

Learn more about the lives of the Doctor (as seen in the televised Doctor Who serials) and the actors who bring them to life.

Doctor Who is one of the longest running television shows in history. Originally aired on BBC-1 from 1963 to 1989, the show was reborn on BBC Wales in 2005 and continues, to this day.

This series of articles will explore the different actors and the different Doctors, as well as a panoply of companions, villains, aliens and technology.

The First Doctor

Already a crotchety old man when we meet him and his granddaughter Susan on Trotters Lane, the First Doctor (played by William Hartnell) is the original runaway, looking for new frontiers in science and opportunities to make impassioned speeches on nature of the Universe.  “The genuine article,” he might say.  Go to the First Doctor hub page for more details. 

William Hartnell - The First Doctor Who

The First Doctor Who
The First Doctor Who | Source

The Second Doctor

Described by his creator as a “Space Hobo,” Patrick Troughton's Second Doctor redefined the landmark role as an alien with many lives. Willing to let others underestimate him, he plays the fool and the recorder. He seems to be far more comfortable with human companions and is notable for being good at explaining things to them. Eventually, he sacrifices his freedom to save countless others. For the full story just visit the Second Doctor hub page.

Patrick Troughton - The Second Doctor Who

The Second Doctor Who
The Second Doctor Who | Source

The Third Doctor

Jon Pertwee played the Third Doctor, as the show made the additional transformation to colour in 1970.  The Doctor was now an exile, unable to use his TARDIS for much more than storage, and stuck on 1970s Earth.  In association with UNIT, he was able to let plenty of adventure come to him while trying to remember what the Time Lords erased from his mind when they forcibly regenerated him.  Click here to visit the Third Doctor hub page

Jon Pertwee - The Third Doctor Who

 The Third Doctor Who
The Third Doctor Who | Source

The Fourth Doctor

Tom Baker famously played the Fourth Doctor, who was the incarnation of the character that the US was first introduced to, with his long scarf, coat and floppy hat. Part child, part philosopher and part bringer of justice, this Doctor endured for a record 7 years and established a tradition of affable confidence and a tendency to get lost in thought in the character that has endured since. Visit the Fourth Doctor hub here.

Tom Baker - The Fourth Doctor

The Fourth Doctor
The Fourth Doctor | Source

The Fifth Doctor

Looking as if he'd been plucked from a cricket match, the Fifth Doctor was portrayed by Peter Davidson to be nearly as unlike his very popular predecessor. This blonder, more sensitive Doctor still has plenty of the heroics and darn handy know-how that make the Doctor worth cheering for. Check out the Fifth Doctor hub page here.

Peter Davidson - The Fifth Doctor

(c) BBC
(c) BBC

The Sixth Doctor

Regeneration into the slightly askew, authoritarian and vociferous Sixth Doctor portrayed by Colin (no relation to Tom Baker) Baker was a rough affair. But his wits weren't damaged in the slightest, and that's how he continues to fight his battles. Several old enemies come forward to gang up on this Doctor, including a future version of himself who presumably puts the Doctor on trial. Go to the Sixth Doctor hub page for more details.

Colin Baker - The Sixth Doctor

The Sixth Doctor
The Sixth Doctor | Source

The Seventh Doctor

While he initially regenerates into a bit of a fool, Sylvester McCoy's portrayal of the Seventh Doctor is one of growth and change into a more methodical and pragmatic Doctor. Old enemies continue to plague the Time Lord who is now paired with an explosives expert, but this Doctor also was able to dish it out, finally destroying Skaro after he retrieved the Hand of Rassilon. See the full details of the Seventh Doctor here.

Sylvester McCoy - The Seventh Doctor

The Seventh Doctor
The Seventh Doctor | Source

The Eighth Doctor

It is suggested that much of what happened to the Eighth Doctor, played by Paul McGann, happened after we see him leaving San Francisco in the only television film he appeared in. However, we do know that this Doctor is responsible for the events that lead up to and take place during the Time War. The Eighth Doctor has his own hub page here.

Paul McGann - The Eighth Doctor

(c) BBC
(c) BBC

The Ninth Doctor

Reborn and visiting Earth, the Ninth Doctor (as played by Christopher Eccleston) is perhaps the most tight-lipped of the Doctors, constantly alluding to the regret over what happened in his war-time experiences. His entire existence winds up being directed by the Daleks, waiting to be reborn themselves. AT LAST! The Doctor had finally come of age. Aimed equally at grownups and children wholeheartedly for the first time. The Ninth Doctor hub page is where you'll find the full story.

Christopher Eccleston - The Ninth Doctor

The ninth Doctor Who
The ninth Doctor Who | Source

The Tenth Doctor

David Tennant is the actor behind the manic, funny, clever and terribly handsome Tenth Doctor who seems to be going out of his way to put himself in danger sometimes. While amassing a large group of friends on Earth, he relies upon their help to try and sort out both big and small problems. My personal favourite, and his relationship with Rose Tyler that kept us on tenterhooks... need we say more? ICONIC. Go to the Tenth Doctor web page here.

David Tennant - The Tenth Doctor

Tenth Doctor Who
Tenth Doctor Who | Source

The Eleventh Doctor

Beginning in 2010, the Eleventh Doctor was be played by young (and virtually unknown) actor Matt Smith. The Eleventh Doctor information will shortly to be found here.

Matt Smith - The Eleventh Doctor

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    • Tiger Mom profile image

      Tiger Mom 6 years ago from New York

      A very definitive hub, Julie-Ann Amos. Well done. The Christmas Special just aired in the US and I linked my hub to yours. Voted up and awesome! Happy Christmas!

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

      We were really into Dr. Who around here when Tom Baker was the doctor. Now, reading this, I'd love to see the first and the 8th as well (or do I just like the outfit and the backdrop?) I am hearing that a movie is in the offing?

    • Julie-Ann Amos profile image

      Julie-Ann Amos 6 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      Donna... Nooooooo!

      Kylie..... Pah!

      We want ROSE TYLER!

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 6 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      I love my Doctor Who :) But I still miss David...and Donna.