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Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space

Updated on August 20, 2010

Doctor Who

Matt Smith as Doctor 11

Saga of a Time Lord

DOCTOR WHO is a triumph of the imagination. A premise that is elegantly simple with an enigmatic hero, who is staggeringly brilliant and yet endearingly flawed. The show's strength has always been its consistently imaginative writing, and the performance of the lead actor,
of who there have been many. (Seven in the original series; 11 all together.)

The show was conceived by Sidney Newman and Verity Lambert (who would go on to become one of the most well known and respected producers in BBC history) as a show that would appeal to male "tween" audiences. It would be both adventurous and educational. It was originally supposed to consist merely of time travel and remain only on Earth, but they soon realized the commercial possibilities of making it a planet-spanning adventure, as well as historic.

The premise: A time traveler from an advanced race flees his suffocating,antiseptic society, to experience the wonders of the universe in his time/space vehicle, the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimensions in Space).He starts out as purely an explorer, but soon becomes a galactic crusader, using his amazing science and resourceful ingenuity to defend
the weak and fight evil.

The main character was conceived as being an enigmatic being, so the idea of having him always travel with human companions was thought up. The companions were the ones the audience could relate to. They also served as an "ear"--which is a TV term for a character who exists to have things explained to him/her, and thus the viewers are supplied with much needed exposition. There have been 40 companions so far.

The Character's name was never revealed and he always traveled under the alias of "The Doctor". People naturally asked "Doctor Who?", hence the title of the series.

The first Doctor (Played by William Hartnell) was an aging, eccentric curmudgeon. He had little patience and he didn't suffer fools gladly. He could be very intolerant and dismissive of his traveling companions (except for his beloved Granddaughter Susan) although he started to lighten up as the show went on, learning to enjoy a bemused chuckle once in a while.

When the series first star, William Hartnell, became too ill to continue on in the role, (He was suffering from arterial sclerosis) the writers came up with the ingenious concept of "regeneration". Whenever the Doctor is dying, he can regenerate into a newer, healthy form. This explains the eleven varying actors, who not only don't look alike, but have decidedly differing personalities.

Doctor # two (Played by Patrick Troughton) was a complete reversal. He was friendly, funny and frivolous. He liked to play his flute, wear disguises and use lots of puns. He was like a mischievous little imp. He would certainly show fear at a frightening moment and was not adverse to running away when the situation warranted it. He often played the fool, making himself seem like a bungler...but this was all an act, designed to make people underestimate him. And he knew when to stop playing games. When he was all business, he was very formidable.

After three years, Patrick Troughton had become so popular as the Doctor, he was afraid that type-casting would damage his career. Also, he missed doing live stage performances (The long shooting schedule of Dr. Who didn't allow Troughton sufficient time to do stage gigs between seasons) which was his real love. He decided to quit after year 6.

Radio comedian John Pertwee was chosen to play the Third Doctor. Doctor Three Was the most physical and action oriented of the Doctors. Although he was certainly not a young kid, Pertwee was very athletic. Doctor Three was a master of a unique form of martian arts. This Doctor was a product of the James Bond era, relying on gadgets, like his cars "Bessie" and the Whomobile. He was elegant and classy looking, in his ruffled shirt and opera cloak. He exuded a sense of supreme confidence. He always seemed to be in control, no matter what the odds against him.

Pertwee decided to quit after 5 years due to personal reasons. Most of the cast he'd started working with 5 years earlier had moved on. And his close friend Roger Delgado (Who played the Doctor's arch-enemy "the Master") had died after the end of year 10. Pertwee found the set suddenly a very lonely and depressing place to be so he stepped down after year 11.

The 12th year introduced audiences to the man who would become arguably the most popular of all the Doctors...Tom Baker. His long scarf, curly hair and big grin became the trademark symbol of Doctor Who for years.

Doctor Four was eccentric, unpredictable and maybe just a little bit crazy. There was no telling what he'd do or say next. He had a childlike enthusiasm and a sometimes a childish petulance. He would frequently enrage an enemy with his verbals barbs. Wrapped in his long, multi-colored scarf, he'd bound recklessly into danger, grinning that big boyish grin, as if the idea of defeat had never occurred to him. He was as fearless as he was curious.

Tom Baker stayed on for seven years until he got bored with the role. He said he could "play the Doctor in his sleep" by this point and left in search of new challenges. He was replaced by the youngest actor to portray the Doctor at the time, Peter Davison.

Doctor Five was a kinder gentler Doctor. He was patient, gentle, and displayed more vulnerability than other Doctors. His amiable nature was often put to the test, since he was saddled with the most disagreeable and argumentative group of traveling companions that any Doctor had ever been burdened with. He tried to play the adult and keep peace among his squabbling crew, but sometimes he just had to storm out and get away from these pests. He was a big sports lover and always dressed in a Cricketers outfit.

Peter Davison took Patrick Troughton's advice about not staying too long in the role, or the Doctor would over-shadow his career. He'd told the producers that he would only stay for three years and he stuck to that mandate.

Doctor Six (Played by Colin Baker) was the most unlikable and irritating of all the Doctors. Six was the 'Bad Boy' of doctors. He had no time to be polite--he had a universe to save! He
was bombastic, boastful and belligerent. He showed little sympathy for his companions, and was quicker to use lethal force to defeat an enemy than any other Doctor.

Colin Baker's era as the Doctor was not popular. He was not well liked by fans and critics at the time (although he's had a resurgence of popularity in recent years) and he was fired after only two years worth of episodes.

Doctor Seven (Sylvester McCoy) began an a comical, impish fun lover, but soon revealed a
darker side. He was the most enigmatic Doctor since Hartnell and displayed many layers of mystery beneath his smiling exterior.

The series was canceled in 1989 after 26 years. There were constant rumors of it being brought back. In 1996, an American television network brought the rights to Doctor Who and created a pilot for their own Doctor Who series. The film starred Paul McGann (They stuck with a British actor) as the 8th Doctor and it was a continuation of the classic BBC series. However, even though McGann gave an brilliant one-time performance as the Doctor, the TV film was not well written and did poorly in the ratings. The series wasn't picked up by American TV and the rights eventually reverted to the BBC.

The BBC finally resurrected the series in 2004. Once again, it was a continuation of the classic series. Popular movie actor Christopher Eccleston agreed to star in the premier year of the 'New Who' show as the Ninth Doctor.

Doctor # 9 was a morose Doctor, altering between grim darkness and fits of exuberant energy. In his long, black coat, this version of the Doctor was supposed to be suffering the equivalent of battle fatigue, having just survived the "Time War" which wiped out his home world.

Eccleston had only agreed to do one year, to get the new series started. He left after the premier season (Or the 27th season, depending on how you look at it.)

Eccleston was replaced by David Tennant. who rivals Tom Baker for the role of most popular Doctor. The series took advantage of Tennant's good looks to turn the Doctor into a space Casanova, irresistible to women. The tenth Doctor had a romance with his teenage companion. The producers were trying to make the series appeal to teen girls by using the Twilight approach.

Doctor 10 was a ball of manic energy. He was hyper active, fast talking and full of quirks. He had a lot of catches-phrases. He had a "geek-chic" look, with spiky hair. After the actress who played his love interest left the show, the 10th Doctor lost his young paramour. He then became lovelorn and melancholy (Yet still hyper.)

Tennant decided to leave after four years (Plus one years worth of TV specials) and was replaced by the youngest actor yet...Matt Smith.

Doctor 11 (Smith) comes across as an old soul in a very young body. He's like a wacky college Professor who looks like a student. He seems more alien and odd than many of his predecessors in the role. He's very laid back and yet with a zest for adventure bursting out of every pore.

The tone of the franchise changes with each Doctor, and that has allowed the writers to reinvent the show over and over again, keeping it as fresh in it's 47th year as it was in it's first. 2013 will be the 50 anniversary and the Doctor is still going strong.


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    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      I'm a huge fan, too. I think the current Doctor, Matt Smith is one of the best ever. And I love the new companion Amy.

      Thanks for reading, Peg.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      7 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thanks for the great rundown on the Dr. Who series. We are huge fans. I thought David Tennant was the best Doctor until Matt Smith came along. I think my hubby has a crush on Rose Tyler ;-)

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Always good to hear from you, Pinkchic. It's a good show, though not for everyone's taste. I prefer the "Classic" episodes (from the 60s to the 80s) but the newest Doctor, played by Matt Smith, is certainly a lot of fun.

      Thanks for your comments.

    • Pinkchic18 profile image

      Sarah Carlsley 

      8 years ago from Minnesota

      Great hub, I've never seen it but it looks interesting!

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Thanks prasetio. I know the show airs in many countries but I guess it never found its way to Indonesia. I appreciate your taking time to leave a comment, if though you've never seen the show.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I never know about this before. Because I live in far country, Indonesia. But I like your review and I really enjoy with this hub. Thanks for share with us. Rate Up.


    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Thanks for reading, Zakmoonbeam. From everything I've heard, Colin Baker is an exceptionally nice guy. He's good to the fans and I've heard a lot of people say he's a great guy.

      It's just his interpretation of the Doctor that was not well received at the time. He languished at the bottom of most popularity polls for years. However, he's made a comeback in recent years because of the 'Big Finish' Audio tapes (Continued adventures of some of the ex-Doctors sold on audio cassette). Many 'Who' fans say he is so good in the Audio adventures that he's vindicated his TV performance.

    • Zakmoonbeam profile image

      Michael Murchie 

      8 years ago from Parts Unknown

    • Zakmoonbeam profile image

      Michael Murchie 

      8 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Informative and well written, and pressed the old nostalgia button in a big way. Tom Baker was "my Doctor" back in the day, but tell me, am I the only one who actually liked Colin Baker?!?!? Met him once, nice bloke to be fair :)

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Thanks, Habee. Always good to hear from another Dr. Who fan.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      I used to love this show! Great review!

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Good to hear from you again, HH. I'm a long time Dr. Who fan. Glad you liked the article.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      You gave it a great review. Thank you.


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