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Article  •  13 May 2016


Doctor Who: five facts

Test your Dr Who knowledge with these five surprising facts.

1) Doctor Who first screened on UK television on 23 November 1963
The episode was delayed 80 seconds due to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. New Zealand was the first country outside of the UK to air the show almost one year later in September 1964.

2) There are two Doctor Who movies, Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965), and Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D (1966)
These were essentially remakes of two serials from the first Doctor’s run – The Daleks, and The Dalek Invasion of Earth respectively. Both star the eminent actor, Peter Cushing (known for his appearances in numerous Hammer Films and his role as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars) as Doctor Who – a bumbling inventor and scientist whose last name is literally ‘Who’. As such, the films do not form part of the Doctor Who TV show timeline and are standalone stories. It is the first colour depiction of the Doctor and is notable for the kaleidoscopic colours of the Daleks.

Speaking of Daleks, they first rolled their way onto screens in the second serial of the First Doctor’s run in 1963. Conceived by Terry Nation, and designed by Raymond Cusick, they have one of the most distinctive looks in science fiction. They were designed so as to have an entirely non-humanoid silhouette and stay away from the popular bug-eyed alien designs that were popular. Initially very expensive to produce, four hero Dalek props were re-used in dozens of episodes right up until the Sixth Doctor’s episodes in the early 80s, when new Daleks made from modern fibreglass materials were built. Cardboard cut-out stand-in Daleks were often used to bulk up the numbers a bit.

3) It’s not all serious stuff with Doctor Who
The character has had a long relationship with Comic Relief and various Red Nose Day events Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death starring Rowan Atikinson is genius!

Another notable Doctor Who Red Nose Day appearance is Time Crash (a charming tale of one Doctor's bromance with another).

4) Actor Paul McGann has had the shortest on-screen run, as the eighth Doctor
He has (thus far) only played the role twice in front of the camera. Initially in a movie length attempt to reboot the series in 1996, and once more as a lead-in short episode to The Day of the Doctor. Ironically, even though McGann’s Doctor didn’t appear in many shows, he is actually the most prolific Doctor in terms of stories and features in 73 novels and 71 audio plays, and according to these tales, may well be the longest running Doctor too.

5) The finale of the season, The Name of the Doctor, depicts the first Doctor ‘acquiring’ the pre-police box TARDIS with a little help from Clara (the 11th Doctor’s companion)
The iconic TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) is stuck in the shape of a 1960’s era London police phone box due to its chameleon circuit being broken. When working the device allows a TARDIS to camouflage into its surroundings and remain undetected. The interior of the TARDIS is vastly larger than its exterior. These plot devices were originally an elegant way to keep the production cost down with the crew of the TARDIS easily able to jump between the vast set of the interior and the prop exterior to be put into any situation the writers can imagine.


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