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Doctor Who (2005)

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Oooo-eeeee-ooooow ... the instantly recognisable theme tune conjures up images of Daleks, time travel in a blue phone box and frightened children hiding behind sofas across Britain.

Doctor Who returns to our screens this weekend after a nine-year absence. And it comes back with a distinctly Welsh flavour to it.

Russell T Davies was born in Swansea in 1963 - the same year Doctor Who first reached British screens. He has written the 27th series, which starts on Saturday at 7pm on BBC1.

Much of the filming for the new series by BBC Wales took place in Cardiff. But the question on everyone's lips is how the new series will compare to those of previous years.

The Doctor's character was always shrouded in mystery. He never had an official name, hence the title of the show.

The role was often played by relatively unknown actors, giving a new meaning to the question Doctor who? But the present incumbent, movie star Christopher Eccleston, bucks this trend to take on the role.

As well as being able to change persona, more information was revealed about the lead role as the cult show grew in stature.

At the end of the sixth season, viewers learned that the Doctor was himself a Time Lord.

For his meddling with aliens he was exiled to Earth, conveniently with a new persona for the new series.

The Doctor's character changed considerably between his different personas. The contrast between the sixth and seventh Doctors is a marked example - the brightly dressed and temperamental Colin Baker was followed by the more restrained and manipulative Sylvester McCoy.

While the Doctor was able to change persona, his sidekicks' character also changed. The third Doctor teamed up with Unit (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce) - headed by Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart - when exiled on Earth. The fourth Doctor was the first beneficiary of the robotic dog K9.

The upcoming series will feature pop star Billie Piper as the Doctor's sidekick 19-year-old Rose Tyler. It's not the first time the Doctor has had a female teenage companion - Sophie Aldred played Ace for the seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy.

The show was also characterised by its villains. The Daleks almost doubled audience figures overnight when they were introduced four weeks into the first series.

Their familiar cry of 'Exterminate!' allied with their comical lack of mobility guaranteed them a place in television drama history. Despite initial fears, producers have confirmed the Daleks will be involved in the new series.

The Master was established as the Doctor's nemesis in the early 1970s while the Doctor was exiled on Earth. The Master was a rogue Time Lord who could call on a variety of aliens to invade the planet and try to kill the Doctor.

The show's popularity throughout the 1970s and 1980s saw episodes marking the 10th and 20th anniversaries of the show's first airing.

The 10th year anniversary saw third Doctor Jon Pertwee team up with the previous two Doctors to escape a state of anti-matter. The 20th year anniversary episode The Five Doctors saw the previous versions of the Doctor join the fifth Doctor in a Gallifreyan theme park after being swept up in a time scoop device.

If the new series can live up to previous seasons, Doctor Who could be dominating our screens again for years to come.

Peter Kitchen Previous Doctors: William Hartnell was the first Doctor. He played the role from 1963 to 1966 until ill health and a changing production team saw him step down two episodes into the fourth season.

The decision to re-cast the Doctor in another persona saw Patrick Troughton take over the role. Famed for his baggy trousers, he called it quits at the end of the sixth season.

Jon Pertwee took the Doctor into the 1970s. During his five year stint the villain the Master was established.

Tom Baker spent seven years as the fourth Doctor. He is best remembered for his legendary scarf and K9.

The fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, was the youngest actor to play the role. Dressed as a cricketer, his three-year tenure included the 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors.

Colin Baker was the sixth and most outrageous Doctor - a Doctor with bright clothing and a violent temperament.

Sylvester McCoy became the seventh Doctor in 1987, and the final Doctor before the series was axed in 1989.

The Doctor returned in 1996 for a 90-minute TV movie. Paul McGann played the eighth Doctor.

Christopher Eccleston will become the ninth Doctor.

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