Published on November 18th, 2013 | by admin
50 Years Of British TV’s Most Famous Doctor
As the nation eagerly awaits ‘The Day of the Doctor’ which is a special episode celebrating the last 50 years of Doctor Who, we thought we would take our first delve back into half a century of this much loved science-fiction show which has become a significant part of British popular culture with global appeal.
Dr Who was the brainchild of Canadian TV producer and BBC Head of Drama, Sydney Newman who was also responsible for initiating the hugely popular TV series The Avengers in the 1960’s.
The adventures of Doctor Who began way back in 1963 when a much travelled alien time lord first came to our screens as he embarked on adventures through time in his TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space).
First portrayed by William Hartnell between 1963 and 1966, the first series featured this intrepid traveler with his granddaughter Susan who met several adversaries including the Celestial Toymaker, Roman emperors, Mongol Warlords, French revolutionaries as well as the infamous Daleks. From the outset, Dr Who was a mysterious figure with deceptive, extraordinary powers and the first Doctor famously prevented the Cybermen from absorbing the Earth’s energy before succumbing to his enemies. An Unearthly Child is acknowledged as a classic episode during the first series encapsulating many of the key elements of Dr Who which remained throughout five decades of the TV series including the introduction of the TARDIS. The early days of Dr Who also witnessed the sight of Daleks trundling through London’s most famous landmarks as some of the most memorable sequences in the show’s history.
Patrick Troughton took up the mantle as the second Doctor between 1966 and 1969 with a different persona having been transformed from his predecessor. The second Dr Who was nicknamed the ‘Cosmic Hobo’ reflecting his mercurial persona when he came up against the now familiar Daleks as well as Martian Ice Warriors, Space Pirates and the Great Intelligence. The emergence of the Cybercontroller whilst the Doctor explored planet Telos is one of the show’s most memorable moments. He was put on trial by his own people – The Time Lords – and eventually sentenced to exile on 20th century Earth from where the third Doctor Who emerged.
The third incarnation of Dr Who was played by Jon Pertwee between 1970 and 1974 who served his sentence from the Time Lords but sought a return to the stars from earth and was notable as being the first doctor to use physical force under threat from his enemies. The era of the third Dr Who also saw the introduction of some of the Doctor’s most memorable enemies including the Autons, polluted giant green maggots and the emergence of the Sea Devils which is often cited as one of the best Dr Who episodes of all time.
Tom Baker is the longest standing incarnation of the Dr Who character between 1974 and 1981 who was an intrepid adventurer on an unprecedented scale. As the fourth Doctor, and arguably the most recognised Dr Who for audiences worldwide, his stint as the celebrated science fiction lead character included several notable companions including robotic-dog K-9 who became an iconic character in his own right, synomonous with the long running TV series after first appearing in the 1977 serial ‘The Invisible Enemy’. This fourth Dr Who perished saving the universe from the Master having defeated Sontarans, ancient vampires and the Black Guardian on his journeys.
Remembered ultimately for sacrificing his life to save his friend Peri, the fifth Dr Who was played by Peter Davison between 1981 and 1984 who was dressed as an Edwardian cricketer and often wore an optimo-style Panama hat. As a darker and grittier series than its predecessor, the fifth Doctor witnessed the death of his close companion, Adric as he encountered many of the Time Lord’s most feared enemies including the Silurians and Sea Devils.
Next time we will reminisce about the era of the last six Doctors starting with Colin Baker. Who can forget his multi-coloured frock coat?!