The Doc­tors are in house for fab 50

At least three ver­sions of Doc­tor Who’s hero join for an­niver­sary

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TELEVISION -

BRI­TISH sci­ence fic­tion tele­vi­sion show Doc­tor Who turns 50 years old with a spe­cial episode, The Day of the Doc­tor. It will be simul­cast glob­ally to more than 75 coun­tries, Aus­tralia in­cluded. The ABC will air it Sun­day at 5.30am, with an en­core at 7.30pm.

It will also be shown in se­lect movie the­aters. The Doc­tor, a man more than 900 years old, has ex­pe­ri­enced love, lost friends, and faced sev­eral apoc­a­lypses and death. Even his own – 11 times as of this year. The new Doc­tor, Peter Ca­paldi, the 12th in the se­ries, will be in­tro­duced in the 2013 Christ­mas Spe­cial on De­cem­ber 25.

The birth­day celebration starts Novem­ber 22 with the broad­cast of An Ad­ven­ture in Space and Time, a fic­tion­alised bi­og­ra­phy that re­counts the 1963 cre­ation of Doc­tor Who and its first few years.

The Doc­tor, an alien Time Lord from Gallifrey who trav­els the universe in his dis­guised blue 1960s po­lice box-space­ship, the TARDIS, has a well-doc­u­mented his­tory. And like most his­to­ries, the de­tails are in­con­sis­tent. New screen­writ­ers have rewrit­ten his life sev­eral times. He has had many com­pan­ions – his daugh­ter Su­san, other women, men, aliens and one ro­bot dog named K-9.

Over the half-cen­tury, Doc­tor Who has had its con­tro­ver­sies and suc­cesses.

Doc­tor Who was first broad­cast the day af­ter Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy was as­sas­si­nated in Dal­las. The as­sas­si­na­tion, and a power out­age, led to lower than ex­pected rat­ings of 4.4 mil­lion on the BBC, ac­cord­ing to a new book, Doc­tor Who: The Vault by Mar­cus Hearn, which takes a chrono­log­i­cal look at the pro­gram.

A week later, the first episode, An Un­earthly Child, was re­broad­cast be­fore a new in­stal­ment, and the view­er­ship rose to 6.6 mil­lion.

The show took off af­ter in­tro­duc­ing the Doc­tor’s pri­mary vil­lains, the Daleks, aliens en­cased in metal shells with a fond­ness for scream­ing ‘‘Ex­ter­mi­nate!’’ When Wil­liam Hart­nell, the ac­tor play­ing the first Doc­tor, started hav­ing health prob­lems, he was re­placed – re­gen­er­ated, as it is called in the show – into a new Doc­tor played by Pa­trick Troughton.

In due time, Troughton was re­placed by Jon Per­twee and so on up to the lat­est, Matt Smith, who is due to leave as of the 2013 Christ­mas Spe­cial.

With a small hia­tus in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the show it­self re­gen­er­ated, once as a tele­vi­sion movie in 1996 star­ring Paul McGann, then as a new BBC se­ries in 2005, with in­creas­ingly com­plex sto­ries and multi-faceted char­ac­ters.

The Vault is a mar­vel­lous cor­nu­copia of Doc­tor Who trivia. It has ex­ten­sive story notes, pic­tures of var­i­ous books, toys and other para­pher­na­lia pro­duced by the BBC over the show’s life. When the se­ries was re­booted in 2005, the dev­as­tat­ing af­ter­math of the Time War was the ma­jor back­ground for a new ver­sion of the Doc­tor, played by Christo­pher Ec­cle­ston.

Fol­low­ing the mini-episode The Night of the Doc­tor, re­leased online on Novem­ber 14 and star­ring McGann, The Day of the Doc­tor also deals with the Time War, where his home planet, Gallifrey, and the Dalek em­pire went to war. Both were de­stroyed. Well, sort of. It’s very hard to kill a Dalek – or a Doc­tor.

Doc­tor Who: The Day of the Doc­tor: Sun­day, 5.30am; 7.30pm, ABC1; Sun­day, var­i­ous times, Event Cine­mas, Robina.

Matt Smith, David Ten­nant and John Hurt

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