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This Doctor's House Calls Span Time and Space

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What began as a low-budget British children's show became a still-growing global pop culture staple. With the 50th anniversary, a 3D theatrical version and a new lead actor arriving, it's time to examine Doctor Who's amazing prescription for success.

The good doctor's famed TARDIS (as the Time and Relative Dimension in Space transporter is known) has a comically small footprint—a blue police "box" the size of a PhotoMat. That's because a spaceship exterior was out of the original budget. "They really did have nothing in the early days," current showrunner STEVEN MOFFAT says. The show managed to stay creative despite the limitations, for example with the long-running joke of characters earnestly observing that the TARDIS is "larger on the inside."

Caption: William Hartnell was the first actor to play Doctor Who, in the show's early black-and-white years.

The first Doctor was a curmudgeonly grandfather played by WILLIAM HARTNELL. In 1966, Hartnell's decision to retire left producers scrambling. But the next Doctor, PATRICK TROUGHTON, added his own twist on the character, paving the way for future (re)generations.

"All of the Doctors have different personas, sort of how you'll have a different personality when you're wearing smart clothes or when you put on your gardening clothes. He's putting on a different body, but the key thing is that they're all the same man."

—Current showrunner Steven Moffat

Cancelled by the BBC in 1989, Doctor Who refused to die. In a 1996 TV movie fans hoped would resurrect the franchise, SYLVESTER MCCOY reprised his role as the seventh Doctor before regenerating into the eighth Doctor (PAUL MCGANN). That attempt to revive Doctor Who failed.

RUSSELL T. DAVIES rebooted Doctor Who in 2005 with CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON as a darker, battle-weary Doctor (No. 9). Lifelong fan and current Doctor Who producer MARCUS WILSON says Eccleston redefined the character: "It was a tour de force performance and the news we'd all been waiting for. Russell T. Davies and Chris didn't disappoint." Even the evil Daleks got a bit of a makeover, but their vocabulary remained unchanged. "Exterminate! Exterminate!" (The uninitiated shouldn't even ask...)

Caption: Tom Baker was the fourth Doctor. His seven-season run, longest in the show's history was "so much better than real life," Baker told the BBC.

Doctor Who has influenced generations of viewers, enjoying a resurgence in the 21st century and spawning spinoffs The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood. Its fan base includes STEPHEN KING, CRAIG FERGUSON, PETER JACKSON, SHONDA RHIMES, JOSS WHEDON, HUGH BONNEVILLE, EDGAR WRIGHT, CHRIS HARDWICK and GRANT IMAHARA. Noted author NEIL GAIMAN (Coraline) has written two episodes, including fan favorite "The Doctor's Wife." The series also inspired comedy writers. "Doctor Who was a huge influence on me as a kid," says ADAM F. GOLDBERG, EP of The Goldbergs.

Caption: "It's been so amazing to watch it grow into the franchise it is today, going from its cheesy cardboard sets to one of the coolest, most dynamic shows there is."

—Show fan Adam F. Goldberg, EP of The Goldbergs

Doctor Who merchandise goes beyond T-shirts and mugs. The Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson has a mini TARDIS on his desk. Special 50th anniversary DVD sets, sonic screwdrivers and life-size TARDISes are available for superfans. Inflatable DALEKS come in your choice of several colors.

Eleven actors have flown the TARDIS since Doctor Who premiered on Nov. 23,1963. In this year's holiday episode, the 12th Doctor, PETER CAPALDI (In the Loop), will take over from MATT SMITH. A 50th anniversary special, "The Day of the Doctor," will be simulcast in 75 countries on Nov. 23 (including in the U.S. on BBC America), with a 3D version coming to 300 U.S. movie theaters two days later. Regular episodes of the series air simultaneously in the U.K. and U.S.

Caption: One of Doctor Who's Daleks, an exterrestrial mutant cyborg.

Wilson sees Doctor Who continuing to thrive, especially now that its budget is higher and the team refreshed on both sides of the camera. "The stars are the limit," he says. "I can't wait to see what comes next."

The making-of documentary An Adventure in Space and Time features David Bradley as first Doctor Hartnell and Claudia Grant as Carole Ann Ford.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Hendrickson, Paula (2013-11-11). This Doctor's House Calls Span Time and Space. Broadcasting & Cable p. 40.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Hendrickson, Paula. "This Doctor's House Calls Span Time and Space." Broadcasting & Cable [add city] 2013-11-11, 40. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Hendrickson, Paula. "This Doctor's House Calls Span Time and Space." Broadcasting & Cable, edition, sec., 2013-11-11
  • Turabian: Hendrickson, Paula. "This Doctor's House Calls Span Time and Space." Broadcasting & Cable, 2013-11-11, section, 40 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=This Doctor's House Calls Span Time and Space | url= | work=Broadcasting & Cable | pages=40 | date=2013-11-11 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=15 July 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=This Doctor's House Calls Span Time and Space | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=15 July 2024}}</ref>