When it became clear that failing health was affecting his performance and relationship with the cast and crew, William Hartnell, the first actor to play the Doctor, was asked to leave the show. Rather than cancel the successful series, the writers came up with the Doctor's ability to regenerate his body when he is near death, which allows for the smooth transition from one actor to another playing the role.
Of the 253 episodes of "Doctor Who" that were produced in the 1960s, 97 no longer exist in the BBC Television Archives due to an archive purge between 1972 and 1978, during which BBC Enterprises destroyed the only known copies believing them to be of no future value. The BBC stopped destroying episodes in 1978 when this policy came to the attention of the series' fans. From this point the BBC realized the potential commercial and cultural value of the series and audited their archives that same year. The most recent episode to be recovered as of 2006 was a print of the 1965 episode "The Daleks' Master Plan: Day of Armageddon", returned by a former BBC engineer in January 2004. In December 2011, a further 2 episodes were recovered, this time from a former ITV engineer: Doctor Who: Air Lock (1965) (Part 3 of the "Galaxy 4" serial) and Doctor Who: The Underwater Menace: Episode 2 (1967). And as of 2013, the entire story of "The Web of Fear" has also been recovered.
Many actors have been considered for the role of the Doctor over the years but only Ron Moody has twice declined the role. He was first choice after Hartnell left but refused (as did 'Peter Jeffrey (I)'), and he also turned down the chance again in 1969 when Troughton left. Graham Crowden turned down the role after Pertwee and veteran British comedian Richard Hearne was also considered but rejected for insurance purposes. In the revived version, Doctor Who (2005), Bill Nighy came closest to assuming the role after Christopher Eccleston left but was rejected at the last minute in favour of David Tennant (Nighy amusingly blamed Tennant for being better-looking).
When the script called for him to recite coordinates to program the TARDIS, Tom Baker would sometimes rattle off a string of digits that was actually the telephone number to the "Doctor Who" production office; no one ever caught on.
The Beatles make a cameo appearance on a 1965 episode called "The Chase", in which they're seen on a time scanner performing "Ticket to Ride" on Top of the Pops (1964). Originally, the plan was to have the actual musicians appear as old men, but the idea was vetoed by Beatles' manager Brian Epstein. Ironically, the live footage used in the episode is all that remains of this performance, as the episode of Top of the Pops it was taken from was erased.
Originally, the Doctor's time machine, the TARDIS, was to have a different appearance in order to blend in wherever and whenever it materializes due to its "chameleon circuit." However, it was decided that this constant changing of a regular prop would be too expensive. So, it was decided that the circuit would be permanently disabled due to the TARDIS' age, thus retaining the appearance of a 1963 Police Callbox.
Jon Pertwee was fond of using the phrase "reverse the polarity" in his dialog, so the writers made sure his incarnation of The Doctor said it frequently. The most common use was the technobabble sentence "Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow", which, due to its popularity with fans, was also used occasionally by later Doctors.
The series was originally devised as an educational program for kids, with co-creator Sydney Newman having no intention of featuring "bug eyed monsters." The first episodes featured cavemen. But when the Daleks were introduced, the attitude of the program was forever changed. Even so, the series continued to alternate between science fiction and purely historical stories for several seasons.
Only three of the Dalek "costumes" from the 1960s survive today. One such original prop has been cut open and is at the "Doctor Who" exhibition in Blackpool, where children can climb inside and see what it is like to be a Dalek.
William Hartnell approved the casting of Patrick Troughton. They met each other when filming "The Tenth Planet", and Troughton was so excited to be playing the new Doctor Who, but also admitted to Hartnell that he was scared stiff and Hartnell told Troughton that he will be fine.
TV editing was very difficult in the 1960s, and so (in common with most other British TV drama at the time) many early episodes of "Doctor Who" were recorded "as live". If the actors fluffed their lines, the others had to cover for him/her. There are several obvious instances of this in the series, such as in "The Web Planet" where actor William Hartnell forgot his lines, leading to co-star William Russell to prompt him by asking "What galaxy is that in then, Doctor?". In order to facilitate this style of recording, the actors were allowed a four-day rehearsal period (Monday-Thursday) followed by camera rehearsal on Friday day and the actual studio recording Friday evening. Saturdays were often spent on location recording inserts for future episodes, and the actors were given Sunday off before the process started again for the next episode on Monday morning. Although editing techniques improved over the years, it remained the case that studio scenes would usually be taped almost as live, using a multi-camera system, until the series ended in 1989.
The design of the Daleks was never based on an actual pepper pot and was designed around a seated person. The pepper pot was used by designer Raymond Cusick to demonstrate how he envisaged it moving. A Dalek used in the series was five feet six inches tall, four feet long and three feet wide, weighing 336 pounds. The operator inside worked the Dalek gun, plunger, eye stalk and the lights, while a voice actor in the corner of the studio provided the Dalek voice by speaking into a ring modulator. The operator inside still had to learn the lines even though he didn't speak them, as the lights had to operate in synchronicity with the voice.
The character of the Doctor was originally conceived as a grandfather figure and the first three actors to play the Doctor, William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee, were all over the age of 45 when they were cast in the part. However, the part subsequently became associated with younger actors, all of whom were under the age of 45 when cast. The youngest by far was Peter Davison, aged just 29 when he took the part. This trend of having younger actors continued with Doctor Who (1996) and Doctor Who (2005).
The original pilot episode was rediscovered in 1978 in a mislabeled film can. After an archive purge by the BBC between 1972 and 1978, the film survived by chance and was originally thought lost forever.
Although a number of spin-offs were considered throughout the course of the programme (including vehicles for the Daleks, for UNIT, and for the Jago and Litefoot characters from the Tom Baker serial "The Talons of Weng Chiang"), only one was ever produced as a pilot. This was K-9 and Company: A Girl's Best Friend (1981), aired initially as a Christmas special. Although it fared well in the ratings, the BBC decided not to proceed with a series. Ironically this featured ex-companions Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith and John Leeson as the voice of K9 - both would return for the altogether more successful 21st Century spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007).
Several versions of the theme tune were used over the years, with the most famous being used from 1963 to 1980 (albeit with a slight rearrangement and the addition of an echo chamber effect being added in 1966). A disco version of the tune became a hit in the UK in 1978, and an electronica version reached number 1 in 1988.
Due to ill health, William Hartnell was unable to appear in the third episode of "The Tenth Planet" (1966), which was also his penultimate episode. Ironically, the final episode of the serial has since been lost and consequently the last surviving episode from the Hartnell era doesn't even feature Hartnell.
When the series was syndicated in the US, many stations did not show it in its half-hour long, cliff-hanger format. Instead, a "movie version", made up of all episodes of one adventure, but with the cliff-hanger endings edited out, would be shown. Since the number of episodes used to tell one story would sometimes vary (usually four episodes, but sometimes 6, 7, or only 2), the "movie versions" varied in length. Because of this, many stations showed the movie versions on weekends, in late-night or early-morning slots, where their schedules were more flexible.
The pilot episode of the series would have been the first transmitted edition had it not been remounted on the recommendations of BBC executives. It has been shown on television in the UK once, in 1991, and remains the only surviving episode from the 1960s held in its original unedited format.
The name of the Doctor's time machine, the TARDIS, is short for "Time And Relative Dimension In Space". In later serials, this was changed to "Time And Relative Dimensions In Space" (Dimensions in plural), but the series revamp (2005+) has reverted to the singular usage.
Two reasons are given for the first episode of the first series series being repeated the following week: a) it aired the day after John F. Kennedy's assassination and as a result drew lower than expected audiences. b) there was a widespread power failure and the episode was not seen nationwide.
In the 1976 season, The Doctor started operating his TARDIS from the craft's secondary control room, an obviously older version of the main control room with wood paneling and a Victorian design motif. This set was abandoned when it was discovered that the paneling warped while in storage during the hiatus and the series had the Doctor begin using the regular control room again.
The BBC announced an 18-month break in the series in February 1985. The series returned to the air in September 1986. After the series ended in 1989, fans tried again to get the show back, but were unsuccessful. There were numerous "false starts" as attempts were made to produce a feature film based on the series. In the early 1990s, Steven Spielberg was widely reported to have been interested in making a film version and a number of script treatments were written. Ultimately, in 1996, the United States Fox Network co-produced (with the BBC) and aired a TV movie which failed to spark a new series. In late 2003, the BBC announced that it was finally going to be broadcasting a new series of Doctor Who in 2005.
The format of the show's entire run was a series of cliff-hanger adventure serials. Each of the Doctor's adventures would be told across several half-hour episodes, with a cliff-hanger ending each one. Each "season" of the show would be broken into several stories, taking usually 4 to 6 episodes to play out - on-screen, each individual episode would begin with the title of the story ("The Android Invasion", to name one), followed by the story's author, then what episode the story the audience was watching ("Part One", for example). This method of titling wasn't established until late in the third season; prior to that, every episode was given its own unique title. Because of this, there are no 'official' story titles to the earliest adventures, though semi-official ones have been consistently used on DVDs, books, etc.
On three occasions, past Doctor actors have to returned to the series as the Doctor in stories known as "multi-Doctor" stories, meaning that they feature multiple incarnations of the Doctor. In 1973, the tenth anniversary story, The Three Doctors, saw William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton return to the role alongside Jon Pertwee. In 1983, the twentieth anniversary story, The Five Doctors, saw Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee return to the role alongside Peter Davison whilst Richard Hurndall played the role of the first Doctor (William Hartnell, who had passed away some years earlier) and Tom Baker appeared only in footage filmed for a story called Shada (1979), which was abandoned due to strike action. Finally, in 1984 Patrick Troughton reprized his role alongside Colin Baker in The Two Doctors.
The version of the "Doctor Who" logo that was used from 1970 to 1973 during the Jon Pertwee era would later resurface as the logo for the 1996 revival film, after which it once again became the official logo for most Doctor Who-related merchandise. As of 2005, it is used as the official logo for the "classic series" with a brand new logo used on all merchandise relating to the 2005 revival.
Co-creator Sydney Newman, who also devised The Avengers (1961), never received screen credit as creator of the series or any of its subsequent spin-off films. Newman later took legal action against the BBC in an attempt to be recognized as creator of the series, but failed.
The original version of Ron Grainer's theme music was created electronically in 1963 by Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and was one of the first TV themes so created. Ron Grainer tried to have Delia Derbyshire credited as co-writer of the music, to record her contribution, but was prevented from doing so by internal BBC politics which would not allow technicians to receive artistic credits.
K-9 was a constant source of difficulty for the crew: the cameras interfered with the signals from its remote operator, causing it to frequently run amok; it was difficult to frame the prop so that it was visible with the human actors; and the prop sat so low to the ground that even a cigarette butt could stop it dead. The writers didn't care for K-9 either, feeling his extraordinary abilities made solving problems too easy for the Doctor and his companions.
Patrick Troughton's regeneration was the only regeneration where we did not see The Doctor regenerate into his new incarnation. When the Second Doctor's regeneration was being filmed, the Third Doctor had yet to be cast and Jon Pertwee was later announced as the third actor to play the Doctor. However, in the following story "Spearhead in Space", we see the newly-regenerated Third Doctor step out of the TARDIS in Troughton's costume and collapse on the ground.
During its 26 years, the series only filmed episodes outside Britain on a few occasions. The first was in 1979 when "City of Death" was filmed in Paris. Later episodes filmed outside the UK were "Arc of Infinity" (Amsterdam), "Planet of Fire" (Canary Islands), and "The Two Doctors" (Spain). Plans to film episodes in the United States and Singapore fell through.
Some television reference works erroneously list Terry Nation as the creator of this series. Nation created the Daleks, which were responsible for the series early success. The two 1960's spin-off movies Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965) and Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966), carry the credit "Based on the BBC television serial written by Terry Nation" - referring to the "Doctor Who" scripts written by Nation, upon which the movies were based. Some people misunderstood this credit, believing it was crediting Nation as creating "Doctor Who" itself.
Changes to the cast were a regular fixture of the series - only five of the series' 26 seasons (the 8th, 9th, 22nd, 25th and 26th) did not include an arriving or departing regular cast member. Only two regular characters did not get a departure scene: the character of Dodo Chaplet disappeared halfway through the 1966 serial "The War Machines"; the character Liz Shaw simply did not return after the 1970 season. The departures were explained in dialogue in subsequent episodes. Actors Mary Tamm and Colin Baker did not get leaving scenes - their characters (Romana and the Doctor, respectively) returned at the beginning of the following season played by different actors. However, their characters belonged to a race whose appearance, it had already been established, would frequently change thus making the change of actors easy to explain.
As William Hartnell's illness progressed, he started to have memory problems and often forgot his lines. Many unusual ad libbed lines in place of those scripted were passed off as part of the Doctor's character.
Bessie, who appeared on several occasions in the early 1970s, with the licence plate "WHO 1". This private plate had already been purchased by another party and so the BBC were unable to acquire it for the series. Instead they used a fake "WHO 1" plate on private roads, and the car's actual plate "MTR 5" was used only in long-shots.
The first six seasons of the series were mostly shot on black and white 405-line videotape (although some later episodes were recorded on 625-line tape and others directly onto 35mm film). Of those black and white episodes all original videotape copies were wiped. The episodes from that period still in existence today exist only in the form of telerecordings (also known as Kinescopes).
In a 2013 interview, Peter Davison expressed regret that flirtation and sexual tension between the Doctor and his companions was never allowed, unlike in the revival Doctor Who (2005). Davison claimed the original series "never quite mastered the whole companion idea".
During Sylvester McCoy's tenure as the Doctor, the actress who played the Doctor's assistant Ace, Sophie Aldred, and the actor who played 'The Master', Anthony Ainley, along with McCoy himself, all share the same birthday (20th August).
The main character's name is not actually Doctor Who. In fact, his real name is never revealed. Other characters who know him only address him as Doctor, and he only ever introduces himself by saying "I'm the Doctor." The title comes from the idea that, after being told someone is a doctor, you would naturally ask, "Doctor Who?"
During the Tom Baker years, many props from 'Gerry Anderson''s live action series were incorporated into the sets. Notably parts and panels from the main control stations from the Moonbase in UFO (1969) appear on Nerva Beacon in "Ark in Space" and "Revenge of the Cybermen". Kano's computer control desk from Space: 1999 (1975) appears as the control desk for the Guardians in "Underworld".
Although the series is often referred to as a children's programme, it was actually conceived by the BBC's Head of Drama, Sydney Newman, and it was always made within the BBC's drama department for the whole of its 26 years. The series' appeal to adults was confirmed in 1969 when an Audience Research survey commissioned by the new producer Barry Letts revealed that 58 per cent of its audience were over the age of 15. The series' script editor between 1974 and 1977, Robert Holmes, admitted in a newspaper interview that he and producer Philip Hinchcliffe saw the core audience as being intelligent fourteen-year-olds and he personally believed the series was not suitable for children under the age of ten unless they were under strict parental guidance.
The most popular three seasons of the series were broadcast between 1975 and 1977, starred Tom Baker as the Doctor and were produced by Philip Hinchcliffe and script editor Robert Holmes. Hinchcliffe and Holmes deliberately made the series darker with the intention of expanding the audience and attracting more older children and adults. They often referenced famous horror novels and movies. During this period the series achieved the best ratings it ever managed, with over 40 episodes achieving more than 10 million viewers. The stories from this period have continued to dominate in fan polls ever since. However, this period of the series also attracted unfavourable attention from television watchdog Mary Whitehouse, who frequently complained that its levels of violence and horror were too frightening for children. The BBC eventually acquiesced and ordered the next producer, Graham Williams, to tone it down on joining the series.
Only 6 of the actors playing the Doctor have had their image shown in the opening credits. They include Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy. Of those 6, only Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker had their opening images updated during the series run. Pertwee is the only Doctor Who actor who got a full-body pose (in his updated credits in 1973). Tom Baker is the only Doctor who does not smile in his opening image (though he smiles in the updated credits for the 1980-81 series). Also, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy are the only Doctors who had their opening image in motion. Baker's starts with a closed-mouth smile that breaks into a grin, and McCoy's image winks to the viewers.
In addition to 106 episodes that no longer exist, some episodes no longer exist in their original format. Four episodes only survive in an edited state - "Checkmate" ("The Time Meddler": Episode 4), "The Celestial Toymaker": Episode 4, "The War Machines": Episode 3, and "The War Machines": Episode 4. Furthermore, eleven episodes only survive in black and white whilst originally filmed in color - "The Ambassadors of Death": Episodes 2, 3, 4 and 7, "The Mind of Evil" (all six episodes) and "Invasion of the Dinosaurs": Part 1. Many of the Jon Pertwee episodes from the early 1970s, made in colour, now only exist as poorer quality NTSC 525-line colour versions recovered from Canada, the original 625-line colour master tapes having been wiped by the BBC in the 1970s, and as 16mm black and white telerecordings which had been kept by BBC Enterprises. For some Pertwee episodes wiped by the BBC, NTSC colour versions were not recovered and they remained only as the 16mm black and white telerecordings for many years. In the early 1990s, three serials (Doctor Who: Doctor Who and the Silurians: Episode 1 (1970), Doctor Who: Terror of the Autons: Episode One (1971) and Doctor Who: The Dæmons: Episode One (1971)) were restored to colour using the 16mm black and white telerecordings and the colour signal from NTSC domestic recordings to create new master copies on D3 digital tape. Doctor Who: Planet of the Daleks: Episode Three (1973) was restored to colour for the serial's DVD release in 2009 using the colour signal (also known as chroma dots) discovered in the black and white telerecording. All the colour master tapes starring the last four Doctors, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy have survived intact.
"The Celestial Toymaker" received complaints that the character Cyril was based on the Billy Bunter character created by Frank Richards, whose lawyers were incensed. The BBC issued a statement saying that Cyril was merely a Bunter-like character.
The series was in part inspired by the British The Quatermass Experiment (1953) TV serials of the 1950s. In 1988 the show paid homage by referring to Quatermass in the 1988 episode "Remembrance of the Daleks." It is also implied that this episode takes place the day "Doctor Who" made its debut on TV. Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale turned down offers to write for Doctor Who, revealing in subsequent interviews that he disliked the concept of the series and regarded it as unsuitable for children to watch. Nevertheless, several Doctor Who stories were influenced by Kneale's stories.
On an similar theme to the family connection, both Yeti stories "The Abominable Snowmen" and "The Web of Fear" feature an father and daughter team of Jack Watling (Professor Travers) and Deborah Watling (Victoria)
A number of scripts for season 23 were under development when the show was cancelled temporarily. Proposed stories included the return of the Toymaker in "Nightmare Fair" - to be filmed in Blackpool, as well as "Mission to Magnus" which united Sil and the Ice Warriors.
When visual effects designer Mat Irvine was asked to build the K9 prop for the serial "The Invisible Enemy", no one told him it would be required beyond that story. Thus, the prop Irvine designed was only capable of traversing the studio floor and proved useless when brought on location for subsequent stories. Irvine eventually built a second K-9 that could cover rougher ground.
Michael Grade, Controller of BBC One (1984-1987), put the series on an 18 month hiatus in early 1985 and explained his decision at the time by claiming the series was producing disappointing ratings (averaging about seven million during this period) and he accused the series of becoming too violent, losing its imagination and wit and the people making it of becoming complacent. He has admitted in a number of interviews since that he wanted to cancel the series outright in 1985 because he thought the cheap production values were pathetic compared with films like Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). After pressure from fans and a campaign by the British press, Grade brought the series back after the hiatus the following year, although he insisted that star Colin Baker was replaced at the end of that season. Grade, along with BBC Drama Head Jonathan Powell, approved the casting of Sylvester McCoy as the new Doctor and oversaw his first season in the role before leaving for Channel Four in 1987. Powell replaced Grade as BBC One Controller and oversaw two more seasons with McCoy before canceling it permanently in 1989, following four seasons of very poor ratings since Grade's hiatus (only two episodes from these four seasons had won more than six million viewers, proving that the hiatus and the subsequent firing of Colin Baker had completely failed to improve the series' appeal). The last three seasons had been scheduled against Coronation Street (1960), the most popular series on the BBC's rival channel, ITV.
Peter Cushing stated in an interview that he was offered the title role on three occasions after appearing as the Doctor in the 1960s movie adaptations of the series: Producers of the show asked him to play the second, third, and fourth Doctors; he turned them all down, not wanting to make a lengthy commitment to a television program. He later regretted the decision.
Of the original four travelers in the TARDIS, only William Russell has yet to make a re-appearance in the series. William Hartnell (The Doctor) reappeared in the 10th season in "The Three Doctors" and reappeared, via archive footage, in the 20th season special, "The Five Doctors". Carole Ann Ford (Susan) also reappeared in the 20th season special once again as Susan. Jacqueline Hill (Barbara Wright) returned as Lexa in the Tom Baker's Doctor Who series "Meglos".
Actors considered to play the Second Doctor included Rupert Davies, Valentine Dyall (later to play the Black Guardian and Slarn), and Michael Hordern. All declined, because they did not want to commit to a long-running series.
Jon Pertwee and Sylvester McCoy are the only two doctors not to have regenerated on screen using the actor from his previous incarnation. Colin Baker refused to appear in the sequence involving him regenerating into Sylvester McCoy, so McCoy performed both parts of the sequence wearing a wig to resemble Baker.
Actors considered to play the First Doctor included Geoffrey Bayldon, Cyril Cusack, Hugh David and Leslie French. Bayldon would later play Organon in "The Creature from the Pit", while David would later direct "The Higlanders" and "Fury from the Deep" and French would play a mathematician in "Silver Nemesis".
Ron Moody was approached to play the Third Doctor after his success in "Oliver!" but he turned down the role. He has stated in interviews that turning down the role of the Third Doctor was the worst thing he ever did professionally; every time he hears the familiar Doctor Who theme tune he kicks himself.
Only the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, never had a serial with the Cybermen as the main villains. However, he did eventually have a scene with the Cybermen when he returned to the series in 1983 for The Five Doctors.