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Doctor Who: The Many Faces of The Amazing BBC Show

Updated on June 24, 2014
HLKeeley profile image

HL Keeley has received a Bachelors degree in middle grade education. She is currently teaching high school.


I first heard about this show seven years ago from my neighbor and friend Rachel. At the time, I was like "I am not into medical shows." How wrong was I? Right before my freshman year of college I started watching the show on Netflix and I was hooked! So what exactly is it about this show that makes people a little crazy?

Well, this article is going to give you an insight into the world of Doctor Who starting with the history of the show, the brains behind the show, and the many faces of the show from Doctors to villains to companions!

Doctor Who?

The Doctor is not named "Doctor Who." This is just a constant question that the characters ask. Who is this Doctor? Many people do not go around with just their title, but the Doctor is not human.

The Doctor is an alien called a Time Lord. The Time Lords are an advance race that are able to see into time and observe the universe. They are like rulers that observe and "never" interfere. In the older series, they were in the show more, but for the 2005 renewal of the show, the Time Lords are stuck in a time lock war with the Daleks. The Doctor is the last of his kind.

He travels with companions, mostly female humans throughout time freely, but usually lands where he is needed to help stop an alien from destroying Earth and other worlds.

He is over a 1000 years old now and has had many faces. A Time Lord trick to living longer is called regeneration. This process allows the Doctor to change form and heal into a new body. While he is in his 12th regeneration currently, he has had many more faces, but in this article we will focus on 13 of them!

William Hartnell as the first Doctor
William Hartnell as the first Doctor | Source

The First Doctor

The First Doctor was portrayed by William Hartnell. Hartnell had became typecast for tough sergeant roles. He saw the opportunity to break the typecast by playing the Doctor.This Doctor was a lot crueler than the other Doctors. He was a scientist and did not care for his companions which you will see has definitely changed in the future regeneration.

William Hartnell had become very ill and forgetful at the end of playing the Doctor deciding to retire. The show was still successful and had a major following. The creators had made the idea of regeneration possible to keep the show going and keeping the Doctor in "Doctor Who."

Patrick Troughton as the second Doctor
Patrick Troughton as the second Doctor | Source

The Second Doctor

Patrick Troughton took over the role of the Doctor after William Hartnell becoming known as the second Doctor in 1966. He was more lighthearted than the first Doctor and became to be described as a "Cosmic Hobo" for his attire. He became known for his recorder which he played during times of stress.

It was during his time that the audience learns that the Doctor is part of the Time Lord race.The Time Lords did not like how he meddled in affairs and exiled him to Earth.

Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor
Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor | Source

The Third Doctor

Patrick Troughton decided he was finished after three years of playing the Doctor and passed on the role to Jon Pertwee. The Third Doctor was a lot more flamboyant and colorful. He was interested in technology and gadgets. He even drove a vintage, yellow car nicknamed Bessie. After being exiled he joins U.N.I.T. (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce), an Earth military organization.

It was during this time that the Master, a new villain for the Doctor, was introduced. He will be talked about down in the "Villains" section.

Tom Baker as the fourth Doctor
Tom Baker as the fourth Doctor | Source

The Fourth Doctor

Jon Pertwee played the Doctor for five years before deciding to move on finding fame as the title character of Worzel Gummidge in a children's show. When leaving, the role was given to Tom Baker, a fan favorite (and my favorite!).

The Fourth Doctor is trademarked with a long, multicolored scarf and his curly hair. He reinvented the character to be fascinated with himself and what he could do. The Doctor basically became a little more narcissistic and enforced that he was different from his companions. There was more humor on the show and a more of a rambling side of the Doctor.

Under his reign, the Doctor acquired K9, a robotic dog.

Tom Baker as the Fifth Doctor
Tom Baker as the Fifth Doctor | Source

The Fifth Doctor

Tom Baker made his farewell and regenerated into the fifth doctor portrayed by Peter Davison. Peter Davison became the youngest actor to play the Doctor (of the time). He brought his boyish charm to the Doctor and made the Doctor a boy scout. He fixed problems with whatever was handy. One of the Doctor's most trusty tools is his sonic screwdriver, but the writers at the time felt like the device was too easy for the Doctor to solve a problem. "Oh look a locked door, how can we get in?" Sonic Screwdriver. For the fifth Doctor, he had to be more creative in problem solving.

The fifth Doctor is known for wearing a celery stalk on his jacket. He gave the Doctor a quieter, calmer demeanor. He always appeared to be somewhere else in his mind, like he wasn't in the same world.

Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor
Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor | Source

The Sixth Doctor

Peter Davison took the advice from Jon Pertwee and ended his time as the Doctor after three years to avoid being typecasted bringing in Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor. If you thought the Third Doctor was colorful, he doesn't shine a light to the Sixth Doctor. He honestly reminded me of a clown with his curly red hair and multicolored jacket.This Doctor had violent mood swings and had a temper not seen before.

This was the time that the views began to fall because of the violent stories and BBC decided to take a break from the show gaining an outcry from the loyal viewers.

Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor
Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor | Source

The Seventh Doctor

Radagast, I mean Sylvester McCoy, became the Seventh Doctor in 1987. (Radagast is a Hobbit reference, for those like 'what?') He brought physical comedy into the show. He made the role more light-hearted, but was a lot more manipulative and darker than the other Doctors. Definitely not a children's show, anymore. What I love about this Doctor is his umbrella. It is seriously awesome. The handle is shaped like a question mark poking fun at the question of "Doctor Who?"

He was accompanied by Ace. I have not mentioned other companions, but this one could hold her own in a fight. This is why she is one of my favorite companions.

Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor
Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor | Source

The Eighth Doctor

After 26 seasons, Doctor Who was cancelled with the seventh Doctor despite major reactions from fans.

In 1996, Paul McGann portrayed the eighth Doctor in a made for television movie backed by America (Go USA!). While he needed some persuading, once he became the Doctor he loved the character. It was a highly successful movie in the UK, but not in the US.

The movie was to renew the series which did not happen until 2003 when it was announced that the show was coming back in 2005!

Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor
Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor | Source

The Ninth Doctor

The Doctor made his appearance in 2005 in the first episode titled "Rose." He was portrayed by Christopher Eccleston and with the companion of Rose played by British pop sensation (or in my head British Britney Spears), Billie Piper. With the writing of Russel T. Davies, Steven Moffat, and Mark Gatiss, the plots become more elegant and complicated keeping the audience watching.

The Ninth Doctor is known for his lack of hair (not bald), big ears, and black leather jacket. He is more gruff, but playful. He is serious, yet goofy. He is completely lovable, but only around for one season opening the doors for the Tenth Doctor.

David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor
David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor | Source

The Tenth Doctor

The tenth Doctor is portrayed by David Tennant. He is the most popular of the Doctors for the new generation because he was around for 5 years and many companions. There was also the whole love story that followed him throughout his time on television. It is obvious, but I do not want to spoil it for those who will watch it.

The Doctor has been described as scrawny and like a "matchstick." He puts his glasses on when examining a problem and in deep concentration. He was passionate and constantly moving in space and in the T.A.R.D.I.S. (see Tools).

David Tennant with his new found fame realized that he had been the Doctor for too long and decided to hang up his brown, blue striped jacket and hand his sonic screwdriver to the Eleventh Doctor.

Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor
Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor | Source

The Eleventh Doctor

Matt Smith walked into pretty big shoes following the powerful portrayal by David Tennant becoming the youngest actor to portray the Doctor beating Peter Davison. It was the introduction of the Doctor that brought bow ties back into style. Unlike the two new generations of the Doctor fitting the style of the times, the eleventh Doctor has an odd fashion sense. He is constantly searching for a new headpiece from a fez to a stetson back to a fez. They never last long thanks to his companions Amy Pond and River Song.

This is not the first Doctor to visit to United States however this Doctor filmed in the United States exciting the new US fan base that helps fuel the show into international success. Children love this Doctor in the show and outside of the show because that is exactly how you can describe the Doctor; a child playing dress up and in denial.

He is the Doctor during the fiftieth anniversary and has recently has hung up his bow tie for the newest regeneration.

Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor
Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor | Source

The Twelfth Doctor

Not much is known about this new Doctor played by Peter Capaldi. There is however a lot of speculation. His wardrobe resembles the Third Doctor's, but not completely. It fits with the older actor and gives him a classy look, also he is bow-less.

There is much excitement surrounding the introduction of the new Doctor. Just like before most new Doctors, there is also resistance and hesitation from the die hards, but I am honestly exited to see what he does with the character.

Doctor: "Kidneys! I've got new kidneys! I don't like the color!"

Clara: "Of your kidneys?"

To start with humor always wins me over!

With some television magic, the Doctors are all together.
With some television magic, the Doctors are all together. | Source

Anniversaries and The War Doctor

The first special of multiple Doctors together was in "The Three Doctors" in the tenth anniversary with William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee. Hartnell was too sick to be on set with the two, so he appeared on a screen talking to his future selves. He makes fun of how young they are.

The second special is in the twentieth anniversary special "The Five Doctors" with Peter Davison, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Richard Hurndall as the first Doctor, and Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor (clips, he refused to appear in it).

The third special is the fiftieth anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor" with Matt Smith and David Tennant. This was where fans found out about the Time War. John Hurt played the Doctor during the war as the War Doctor, not 8.5 as some joke. He gave up the name of the Doctor and declared himself Warrior as seen in the specials that led up to the anniversary, "The Dawn of the Doctor." Now really don't want to spoil this, but watch up to it because there are special appearances! There was also the special "The Five-ish Doctors" that Peter Davison wrote and produced starring himself, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy that tease about not being in the special with appearances by John Barrowman, Paul McGann, Russel T. Davies, Peter Moffat, and the actors families along with other big names!

The Companions

The Doctor's Companions
The Doctor's Companions | Source

The Doctor has had many companions, so I will not write about ALL of them because then this will be a book. I am going to just list each character. The most important thing about the companions, especially recently is that each is very important to the Doctor. They challenge him and help him in ways that help him from becoming a truly "Mad Man in a Box." It is also amazing to follow the Doctor to figure out who they are and why they are so important.

There are many companions! So I am going to provide a link to Wikipedia that has great lists of the companions with when they were around.

My favorite companions (not in order) are Donna Noble, Jo Grant, Clara Oswald, and Sarah Jane Smith. If you are a Doctor Who fan, tell me your favorites below!



It pains me to list these as "tools" when I see them as companions, so they are more like non-human or resembling human companions (Yes some of the Doctor's companions appear human, but are alien). These tools are alien and one does "live," so it is hard to classify.

The first to list and the most important is the T.A.R.D.I.S. (Time and Relative Dimension in Space). It is known to be "bigger on the inside" which is a trait of Time Lord technology. The T.A.R.D.I.S. is the spacecraft for the Doctor to travel through time. This is the "living" one. It does have a conscious as seen in "The Doctor's Wife." The Doctor has been the companion of the T.A.R.D.I.S. since the beginning when the T.A.R.D.I.S. stole him instead of him stealing the T.A.R.D.I.S. The chameleon circuit is broke in the T.A.R.D.I.S. keeping the appearance of a blue, 1960s Police Box.

The Doctor's second most reliable tool is his sonic screwdriver. Just like the Doctor, this tool is constantly changing in appearance and breaking. It works on everything except wood which seems to baffle the companions and the audience. It really is a creative "get out of jail" card for the writers, but it works and the audience loves it. It is an extension of the Doctor.

K9, an oldie, but a goody. He is seen also on the spin-off series, The Sarah Jane Adventures. He is a metal, robot dog that can shoot a laser out of its snout. He is a hovering lab and another creative "get out of jail" card, but went with Sarah Jane and appears when Sarah Jane later makes appearances in the show.

Daleks throughout the years
Daleks throughout the years | Source

Monsters and Villains

The monsters of Doctor Who are as creepy as it can get or as lovable. The adipose are so adorable and if not abused could be the best diet to hit the market!

The most creepy for me of the monsters are The Weeping Angels. When looking they appear to be stone angels, but if you are not looking they move! Even if you blink, they move. As long as you do not see them, they can move! It is creepy. They first appeared in "Blink" and became the main monster that scares companion Amelia Pond.

Below is a video of the monsters, which I thought was compiled nicely. I also added a link of the monsters provided by BBC.

The most important of all villains, though, is the Master. As spoken of before, the Master is the ultimate villain to the Doctor. Again, this will be hard to describe without spoilers. I can honestly describe the Master as the anti-Doctor. Just as lovable and crazy, but an evil crazy. The Master is a very dark, twister character that reminds the Doctor who he could become if he lets himself. The Master has been portrayed by:

  • Roger Delgado (1971–73)
  • Peter Pratt (1976)
  • Geoffrey Beevers (1981)
  • Anthony Ainley (1981–89)
  • Gordon Tipple (1996)
  • Eric Roberts (1996)
  • Derek Jacobi (2007)
  • John Simm (2007–10)
  • William Hughes (child, 2007)

Last and definitely not the least to mention are the Daleks, the Doctor's worst enemies. This race of aliens were supposed to be locked in the Time War with the Time Lord's, but just like the Doctor one had slipped out and they are constantly figuring out new ways to create more of the race. They are like a bad pimple. You pop one and five more appear. Their appearance is actually a suit that protects them. They can hover and shoot beams out of the eye which is their Achilles' heel. The rest is protected by a force field. They have no emotions. Emotions are a flaw to the "perfect" race. They hate the Time Lords, but they hate the Doctor most of all because the Doctor is unpredictable.

Tardis Door in a dorm at WCU
Tardis Door in a dorm at WCU
Awesome license plate on a BLUE car at WCU (yeah WCU loves Doctor Who)
Awesome license plate on a BLUE car at WCU (yeah WCU loves Doctor Who)

The Fandom

The Doctor Who fandom is growing thanks to availability on Netflix and BBC finding ways to broadcast it to other countries like with the creation of BBC America. Reruns are constantly being played on BBC and on "Supernatural Saturdays." iTunes has season pass that uploads a new episode the next day for those who do not have BBC America to watch. If you did not have access to any of these, you would have to wait until Netflix updated with the new season which they are pretty loyal at doing unlike other shows (Warehouse 13 cough).

For the Fiftieth Anniversary, the Doctor Who team stepped up the bar by broadcasting the event in theatres in both 2D and 3D! It was broadcasted simultaneously in 94 countries. It won the Guinness World Record for largest ever simulcast of a TV drama (I wonder if another genre beat that? Probably not). It brought 10.2 million American dollars at the box office and had a total of 13.1 million viewers through television. I would say that the fandom is pretty powerful.

To the right are pictures I have taken where I just happened to find something Doctor Who related and fangirled seeing it.

The Mind Behind The Doctor

The show began with Russel T. Davies as the Head Writer. Currently, it is Steven Moffat which fans adoringly get frustrated with because he likes to mess with your mind and emotions. Steven Moffat has given the complexity of the show and the companions that Russel T. Davies did not, but Russel T. Davies had the classic feel to the show. You can tell the difference in the writings and it can be seen with the Tenth Doctor who experiences the change in writing and the Eleventh Doctor who has Steven Moffat's crazy mind.

Mark Gatiss also writes episodes. Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss also created the other mega-hit sensation Sherlock. If you think Doctor Who is frustrating, Sherlock is worse because of how long it takes for a new season to air.

The show was created by Sydney Newman who was fiercely set on it being a children's show and have none of the crazy monsters. The beginning of the show can be seen in the made for TV movie, An Adventure Through Time and Space written by Mark Gatiss and starring David Bradley, Jessica Raine, Sacha Dhawan, Lesley Manville, and Brian Cox. The movie shows how passionate the stars and those involved with the show are.


The world of Doctor Who is very complicated, but a great one! Fans are friendly to each other and passionate. They have thoughtful discussions and are always thinking. They connect everywhere and wear the paraphonelia to identify themselves as a Whovian. When wearing a Doctor Who related shirt, expect to be given a compliment. That is what fans do because they genuinely do love the show. It is not for everyone, but it is addictive in a good way. It is something to check out. Yes it is a Sci-Fi alien show, but then again it's more like a detective show for aliens. Yet it is more like a war show. It is so many different genres that create an elaborate world and characters that you really love or love to hate (cough Rose cough).

I wrote this for those who are like okay tell me more about this show. This is the best I can do without just handing you a book! I honestly encourage to just watch an episode. The first episode is lacking in camera quality and effects especially compared to the show today, but give it a chance before just turning it off at five minutes.

Fun Facts

  • Related Shows and Spinoffs
    • K-9 and Company (1981)
    • Torchwood (2006–11)
    • The Sarah Jane Adventures(2007–11)
    • K-9 (2009–10)
    • Doctor Who Confidential(2005–11)
    • Totally Doctor Who (2006–07)
  • When the first series was being made, television pirates were desperate to acquire the preview tapes. One of the people in the office had the idea of labeling the tapes with the anagram "Torchwood" rather than "Doctor Who", as a security measure to disguise the tapes when they were delivered from Cardiff to London. Writer Russell T. Davies liked this idea so much that it later inspired him to use it as a title when creating the spin-off series, Torchwood (2006).
  • Peter Capaldi had appeared on the show in a completely different role before being cast as the 12th Doctor, but Colin Baker did too in the original, so this is not the first an actor playing the Doctor had previously appeared as a different character on the show. Coincidentally, Capaldi appeared in the episode in which Karen Gillan had a different role before being cast as a full-fledged companion, Doctor Who: The Fires of Pompeii (2008).
  • Names thrown out who were considered to play the Eleventh Doctor include James Nesbitt, Robert Carlyle, Bill Nighy (who expressed interest), David Walliams (who also expressed interest and came extremely close to being cast, but conflicts with Little Britain USA forced him to turn it down), Harry Lloyd, David Morrissey, Paterson Joseph,David Knijnenburg, Daniel Radcliffe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, John Simm, Russell Tovey,Sean Pertwee, Russell Crowe and Randy Orton.
  • Peter Capaldi played a W.H.O. doctor in the film World War Z (2013), before starring in Doctor Who as the Twelfth Doctor.

For more interesting facts visit:

Who is your favorite Doctor?

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© 2014 HL Keeley


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    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      4 years ago

      We watched this show regularly years ago but have not done so lately. When Pertwee and Baker played the characters it caught our attention. I remember watching Baker in James Herriot's series, he was good. Thanks for the memories and I may have to catch this show soon.


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