Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Dr. Whodunit

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So, Doctor Who, eh? Well, why not? After all, Sidney Newman, creator of the timeless British sci-fi series, was a Toronto native.

And now, a quarter of a century after blast-off, the show may orbit back here with a number of Doctor Who episodes being filmed in Canada.

Merv Stone, director of programming at YTV, says talks are going on with the British Broadcasting Corp., "and, somewhere down the road, we hope to do some production here."

YTV is heavily committed to the good doctor. Not only can the latest episodes be seen at 7 p.m. every Sunday, the network has embarked on a 25-year retrospective, Monday to Friday at 5:30 p.m., showing all 564 past episodes of the show, which the BBC first aired in November, 1963.

"There's a whole generation of viewers not familiar with the earlier Doctor Whos," says Stone. "It's going to take two years to show them all. Then, the current episodes will be added on to the retrospective. About three years down the pike, we should catch up on ourselves."

So who is Who, anyway (for those of you who don't boldly go beyond Star Trek)?

He's a Time Lord, from the planet Gallifrey. He's 900 years old - a youngster, really - has two hearts and a body temperature of 15.5C (60F).

Who has left his fellow Time Lords to shuttle haphazardly through time and space - often not knowing exactly where and when he is - on a quest to bring peace to the galaxies.

He's a sort of latter-latter-latter-day Don Quixote, complete with a Sancho Panza - except Who's sidekicks tend to be young, female and terminally cute.

They do their travelling in a Tardis (for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space, of course), which trumpets like a heartsick elephant as it leaps the light years. The Tardis has a "chameleon circuit," supposedly enabling it to blend it to the surroundings wherever it lands. The circuit, alas, jammed on a visit to 1960s London, which is why the Tardis never looks like anything but an old British police phone booth (by some unexplained dimensional wizardry, it's as spacious inside as the Starship Enterprise).

It didn't matter that the extraterrestrial action sequences always seemed to be shot in the same extremely terrestrial quarry or that the gadgetry on the show could've inspired the line: "Don't point that silver-painted hair-dryer at me. It might go off."

Nor did anyone care that the villains - the mighty Cybermen, the reptilian Silurians, the amphibian whatever-they-weres, etc. - were even less convincing than those faced by Kirk, Spock & Co.

Then there were the Daleks, the totalitarian trash cans that we all loved to hate. These nasty little mutants (never actually shown, well, naked, anyway) wheeled around croaking in an electronically enhanced monotone: "Exterminate them!" and "I will obey!"

Doctor Who not only retained its popularity as Britain clawed its way into the age of Star Wars, it spread its foam-rubber tentacles across the Atlantic and won - and has retained - a sizeable North American audience. It has enjoyed notable success on TVOntario and Buffalo's WNED.

There have even been touring Doctor Who festivals in the United States, including one in 1986 to raise money for public television. It featured Katy Manning - every schoolboy's dream when she played Jo Grant, Jon Pertwee's plucky, micro-miniskirted companion. In an interview with The Star, she tried to explain the phenomenon:

"It started out as a very low-budget show for kids. It demanded a lot of belief from its audience and the BBC found that adults were sitting down and giving it just that. They loved it for its simplicity and apparently they still do."

Three years later, there's no sign of that love waning. The show is on to its seventh doctor - a Time Lord who, when his humanoid form (or his BBC contract) wears out, can wriggle his psyche into another body. The Whos' Who includes top British character actors like William Hartnell, who created the role, Patrick Troughton (Who II) and Jon Pertwee. Tom Baker, who took over from Pertwee, was the longest-lived and probably most popular Who. He was replaced by Peter Davison - better known as Tristan Farnon on All Creatures Great And Small - who gave way to Richard Hurndall. The current doctor is Sylvester McCoy.

Caption: Photos William Hartnell as Dr. Who; Tom Baker and Lalla Ward; William Harnell; Patrick Troughton; Jon Pertwee; Tom Baker; Peter Davison

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  • APA 6th ed.: Taylor, Bill (1989-11-11). Dr. Whodunit. Toronto Star .
  • MLA 7th ed.: Taylor, Bill. "Dr. Whodunit." Toronto Star [add city] 1989-11-11. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Taylor, Bill. "Dr. Whodunit." Toronto Star, edition, sec., 1989-11-11
  • Turabian: Taylor, Bill. "Dr. Whodunit." Toronto Star, 1989-11-11, section, edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Dr. Whodunit | url= | work=Toronto Star | pages= | date=1989-11-11 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=14 July 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Dr. Whodunit | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=14 July 2024}}</ref>