Peter Capaldi had appeared on the show in a completely different role before being cast as the 12th Doctor, but Colin Baker did too in the original, so this is not the first an actor playing the Doctor had previously appeared as a different character on the show. Coincidentally, Capaldi appeared in the episode in which Karen Gillan had a different role before being cast as a full-fledged companion, Doctor Who: The Fires of Pompeii (2008).
At first the estate of Terry Nation refused permission for them to use Daleks in the show (Terry Nation held copyright over the Daleks). One of the reasons they refused permission was because of the BBC granting permission for the Daleks to be used in Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003). Huge fan of Doctor Who Steve Martin, who was the one who insisted Daleks be used in the movie, heard about the news and wrote a letter of apology to the Terry Nation estate and upon receiving it, the Terry Nation estate granted permission.
When the first series was being made, television pirates were desperate to acquire the preview tapes. One of the people in the office had the idea of labeling the tapes with the anagram "Torchwood" rather than "Doctor Who", as a security measure to disguise the tapes when they were delivered from Cardiff to London. Writer Russell T. Davies liked this idea so much that it later inspired him to use it as a title when creating the spin-off series, Torchwood (2006).
For the first season, producers were fearful of alienating new audiences with references to the original series, such as names and events, so such things were kept to a very bare minimum until audiences adjusted to the mythology. Even the first journey to another planet beyond Earth didn't take place until season two, which is unusual considering the universe-trotting nature of the original series.
When Peter Capaldi was chosen as the 12th Doctor, he became the first Oscar winner to play The Doctor (though not for acting), the third Scottish actor (after Sylvester McCoy and David Tennant), the third actor to be older than the actor they replaced, and also (joint with the First Doctor William Hartnell) the oldest actor to be cast in the role since the very beginning of the series.
On Thursday 31 March 2005, the day after the show was picked up for a second season, the BBC Press Office announced that Christopher Eccleston was quitting the series, citing a fear of being typecast and long working hours as reasons for his departure. The BBC later apologized for issuing this statement, as they had done so without consultation with Eccleston. In fact it was agreed by mutual consent some months earlier that Eccleston would only do one season, with the BBC holding off announcing the news until after the series was finished. This would have allowed the death of Eccleston's character in episode 13 to be a surprise for the audience. Unfortunately, the BBC Press Office jumped the gun under pressure from the British Press who were concerned that a second season had been announced, but it had not been confirmed that Eccleston was returning. Fan reaction to Eccelston's departure was violent and the debate reached such a fever pitch that Outpost Gallifrey, the biggest Doctor Who fan site on the Internet, was forced to close down its forum for days.
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.
Except for obvious scenes, most of the location shots are done in Cardiff, Wales in place for London. The one episode set in Cardiff, "The Unquiet Dead," was filmed in Swansea, mainly due to the fact that no buildings currently in Cardiff were built during that episode's time, 1869. Aside from this, Cardiff is the home of "Torchwood 3", which is featured in the episode "Last of the Time Lords".
A planned spin-off, "Rose Tyler: Earth Defence", was canceled during pre-production in August 2006, as Russell T. Davies realized that it would render the goodbye between The Doctor and Rose at the end of season 2 meaningless and would be one spin-off too many, after Torchwood (2006) and The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007).
Producer Russell T. Davies had Christopher Eccleston's name on a shortlist for the role of the Doctor but didn't really think that he would accept the role. Coincidentally, Davies soon received an email from Eccleston asking if he could audition for the part.
Several episodes begin with the exact same sequence: a view of the earth's moon, then panning towards earth followed by a fast zoom down to London. Episodes in which this opening was used include "Rose", "The Christmas Invasion", "Army of Ghosts" and "The Runaway Bride".
Julie Gardner has said that when he was approached to play the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant seemed slightly hesitant at first, then asked her "But what would my costume be like?" and suggested that he have a long coat, which he got at the end of his first episode.
Russell T. Davies did not audition any actors for the role of the Tenth Doctor, as he had recently finished working with David Tennant and believed him to be perfect for the role. Tennant was first approached about the possibility of playing the Tenth Doctor at a screening of 'Rose' at Davies' house on 23 March 2005. Contrary to fan-invented rumors, Tennant was never considered for the role of the Ninth Doctor.
In an acting master class at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in July 2011, Christopher Eccleston expanded the reasons for his leaving the show. He cited creative differences with "the senior people" on the production and stated he did not like "the culture" of working on the production.
Christopher Eccleston, largely unfamiliar with Doctor Who because he was never a fan of the the original series, prepared for the role of the Doctor by watching the DVD of "The Talons of Weng-Chiang", a Tom Baker adventure originally broadcast in 1977.
One of the main differences in style from the original series, Doctor Who (1963), is that this series is recorded entirely on single camera, whereas studio scenes in the old series were usually recorded on multi-camera. This enables episodes of this series to be edited far better than the old series and allows directors to inject far more energy, pace and action into it. It also means that this series requires more time and money spent on recording it.
This series is a direct continuation of the 1963-1989 series, rather than a reboot, reimagining or "next generation" style follow-up. The BBC decided to reset the season numbering at 1 for 2005, rather than call it Season 27, however fans informally refer to the seasons by the higher number.
Penelope Wilton, who played Harriet Jones in episodes "Aliens of London" and "World War Three" of Doctor Who (2005), was offered a part in the original Doctor Who (1963) series as Lady Pienforte in the episode "Silver Nemesis". The part was taken by Fiona Walker.
Stephen Fry was set to write an episode for season 2 but due to budget constraints the episode was pushed back to season 3. The script was eventually canceled as Fry didn't have the time to rewrite the script to accommodate changes such as Rose's replacement Martha.
Richard Dawkins, who cameos as himself in Season 4's penultimate episode, is married to Lalla Ward, who had played one of the Doctor's previous companions, Romana, during Tom Baker's tenure and was also married to Tom Baker in the early 1980s.
On Saturday 5 March 2005 (some three weeks before its TV debut), a rough-cut version of episode one, "Rose" was leaked onto the Internet by an unnamed employee of a third-party contractor to CBC in Canada. The person responsible had their employment immediately terminated. The version is mostly similar to the broadcast version - the most notable difference is that instead of using Murray Gold's new version of the theme song, a remixed version of the original was used instead
As of March 2014 32 actors have acted in both the original series and the new series. The first being William Thomas (Boomtown #1.11), and the most recent being Robert Goodman who has a guest role in the first season with Peter Calpadi.
Michael Grade, an outspoken critic of the original series for many years and the former BBC One controller who incurred the wrath of many fans when he took it off the air in 1985 for 18 months, admitted that he was completely won over by this revival of the series, which he described as "a classy, popular triumph for people of all ages and all backgrounds - real value for money for our licence fee payers".
Colin Baker, the sixth actor to play the Doctor in the original series during the 1980s, said he was ecstatic on hearing that Christopher Eccleston was cast as the Doctor, as he feared it would be very easy to cast someone in the role who just would not suit the part.
Russell T. Davies was sounded out to produce a revival of the series by the BBC One Controller of the time, Peter Salmon, in 1999. Although nothing came of this due to BBC Worldwide's desire to make a film version of the show, by late 2003 the new Controller of BBC One, Lorraine Heggessey, had persuaded Worldwide to surrender their film ambitions so that she could commission a new television version.
Despite quite a lot of new scenes being added to episodes in post production during the first season, all 13 episodes ran under the standard length of 45 minutes, so teaser trailers for the next week's episode were tacked on to bring the length up to standard. This has now become a staple of the series.
Because of the varying technical and logistical demands of the 13 episodes of the first season, filming was broken into five production blocks. Episodes 1, 4 and 5 formed block one, and was filmed between July and September 2004. Block 2 comprised episodes 2 and 3, and was filmed between September and October 2004. Block 3 contained episodes 6 and 8 filmed between October and December. Block 4 was split into two sub blocks, 4A and 4B due to the large visual effects demands of episode 7 which on its own became block 4A, filmed between December 2004 and January 2005. Episodes 9 and 10 made up Block 4B, filmed from December through February 2005. Episodes 11-13 formed Block 5 filmed from February until March 2005.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
In each series, there is an underlying story arc that pans all episodes until finally fully addressed in the season finale. For Series 1, it is the concept and identity of the Bad Wolf. Series 2, the Torchwood Institute. Series 3, the identity of Mr. Saxon. In series 4, there are several little references and jokes that eventually lead to the plot of the finale, including the missing planets and the bees disappearing from Earth, and repeated appearances of Rose Tyler on screens and monitors. In addition, there are repeated references to there being something on Donna's back. While this does not carry on to the series finale itself, it does play an important part in the episode which sets up the finale's story. In series 5, there are "cracks" in the universe, which must ultimately be fixed in the series finale. In series 6, a future version of the Doctor is seen to be killed, causing complications for the "present" version of the Doctor and his companions, also there is the repeated appearance of Madame Kovarian who only Amy can see. Series 7 revolves around the "impossible" Clara Oswin Oswald, whom the Doctor keeps running into in various places and times, though she does not remember him.