The British sci-fi phenomenon Doctor Who featuring the mysterious,optimistic, time and space traveling alien known as The Doctor first aired 50 years ago on November 23, 1963.
It’s mix of British-ness, humor, time and travel, hope, heart and adventure have made this show more than just a show to generations of fans. The initial run of the show lasted 26 seasons and is referred to as “Classic Who.”
Doctor Who‘s ability to adapt and embrace change is essential to it’s continuing success. The premise of an alien who can travel through space and time gives the show the ability to crash into Elizabethan London and help Shakespeare in one episode and fight evil robots from the future in another. The ability to change isn’t limited to the locations of adventures– eleven actors have stepped into the role of The Doctor. It is similar in this respect to more well known British pop culture icon James Bond. Unlike Bond, there is an in story acknowledgement of the change. The Doctor is an alien who instead of dying regenerates, changes his face and body and personality, but retains his memories and the traits that make him The Doctor.
The updated continuation of the series in 2005 was masterminded by writer Russel T. Davies brought Doctor Who into the 21st century.This era (which includes the current season of the show) is sometimes referred to as “New Who.”
Multiple events are planned by the creators of Doctor Who media and the fans themselves to celebrate the occasion:
The Royal Mail service has issued commemorative stamps featuring the 11 Doctors.
Big Finish is producing an audio drama called “The Light at the End” featuring 5 previous Doctors. It is due out in November. One of the strengths of audio dramas is even decades after an actor has left a role, their voice remains the same. Big Finish has produced multiple Doctor Who audio dramas and many former Doctor actors have returned to slip back into what, for some of them, was a career making role.
The BBC is producing two television movies.The second BBC television movie is a brand new adventure featuring the current Doctor played by Matt Smith. The details of this 60 minute special are a closely guarded secret by current headwriter Steven Moffat.
The second is “An Adventure in Space and Time” about the making of the very first episode of Doctor Who. David Bradley, known to Harry Potter fans as the man who played Filch, will portray William Hartnell. Hartnell was the first actor to step into the role of The Doctor.
Doctor Who is now in it’s 7th season of the revived series. The second part of it premieres Saturday, March 30th at 8pm Eastern Time on BBC America here in the U.S.
Embedded below is a map featuring the locations of Doctor Who 50th Anniversary celebrations and places significant to Doctor Who.