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Trope Namer for:

  • Of the 253 episodes of "Doctor Who" that were produced in the 1960s, 106 no longer exist in the BBC Television Archives due to an archive purge in the 1970s.
    • 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 — The Time Meddler: "Checkmate", The Celestial Toymaker: "The Final Test", and The War Machines episodes 3 and 4. Furthermore, twelve 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), Planet of the Daleks: Episode 3, and Invasion of the Dinosaurs: Part 1 (also titled "Invasion").
      • Planet of the Daleks episode 3 has been restored to colour by a technique which can actually extract the original colour information from a black-and-white videotape, with a LOT of manual tweaking and colourising, for its DVD release. The result is impressive to say the least. Unfortunately this is unlikely to be feasible for most of the remaining episodes.
    • William Hartnell's regeneration at the end of The Tenth Planet survives only as a clip that was shown on the children's programme Blue Peter.
    • The Beatles make a cameo appearance in the 1965 story The Chase, in which they're seen on the Time-Space Visualizer performing "Ticket to Ride" on their only ever appearance on the venerable UK chart show Top of the Pops in 1964. Originally, the plan was to have the actual musicians appear as themselves as old men in the future, 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 said Top of the Pops episode was erased.
    • A print of the 1965 episode The Daleks' Master Plan: "Day of Armageddon" was returned by former BBC engineer Francis Watson in January 2004.
    • Nine "lost" episodes from the Patrick Troughton era were rediscovered in Nigeria in 2013, bringing the official count of lost episodes to 97.
  • The format of the show's entire run before cancellation was a series of cliff-hanger adventure serials. Although, as originally conceived, the series would have only run for fifty-two episodes (i.e. one a week for a year), which would have made up one single extra-length serial. The series' format evolved out of this. Each of the Doctor's adventures would be told across several 25 minute 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, followed by the story's author, then what episode number of the story the audience were watching. This method of titling wasn't established until late in the third season; prior to this every episode was given its own unique title. There are no definitive official story titles for many of the earliest adventures, though semi-official ones have been consistently used on DVDs, books, etc.
  • When the series was first syndicated in the US, many stations did not show it in its original cliffhanger 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.
    • One one occasion (Silver Nemesis in 1988), the "movie version" was shown in New Zealand at the same time that Episode 1 was aired by the BBC, marking one of the few instances of episodes premiering outside the UK.
      • A second rare instance of episodes premiering outside the UK was for "The Five Doctors" in 1983, which aired for Children in Need in the UK a day or two after the anniversary. In the US (and likely elsewhere in the world too), it aired on the actual anniversary on the 23rd.
  • On five 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.
    1. In 1973, the 10th-Anniversary story The Three Doctors saw William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton return to the role alongside Jon Pertwee.
    2. In 1983, the 20th-Anniversary story "The Five Doctors" saw Troughton and Jon Pertwee return to the role alongside Peter Davison whilst Richard Hurndall played the First Doctor (Hartnell had passed away some years earlier) and Tom Baker appeared only in footage filmed for Shada, which was abandoned due to strike action.
    3. Troughton reprised his role as the Second Doctor alongside Colin Baker's Sixth in The Two Doctors.
    4. The 30th-Anniversary special, 1993's "Dimensions In Time", had five of the seven Doctors (William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton both gave it a miss, as they were dead), but is generally not considered canon.
    5. Finally, Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor met David Tennant's Tenth in the 2007 Children in Need special "Time Crash".
  • Asteroid 3325, a small main belt asteroid discovered in 1984, is named TARDIS after the Doctor's time/space machine.
  • 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), 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, 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).
    • Bill Nighy was also in the running to play the Ninth Doctor, to the extent that some media sources inaccurately reported that he'd been given the role when Eccleston's casting was announced.
  • Jon Pertwee had incredible difficulty learning some of the technobabble that the Doctor is famous for, so the crew hid cue cards in the set. Pertwee would also write some of his lines in Biro on the TARDIS console.
  • 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 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 to be Lost Forever.
  • The BBC owns the copyright to the design of the Police Box as used as the design for the TARDIS. It was bought from the Metropolitan Police.
    • When the BBC started making merchandise of the TARDIS, the Metropolitan Police complained and they went to court. The judge decided that Police Boxes had mostly gone and the image was more recognisable with Doctor Who, so the copyright was awarded to the BBC.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Their first attempt to eject Hartnell from the show happened some time earlier in The Celestial Toymaker, where the Doctor was made invisible at one point in the story. The original intention was for the Doctor to come back played by a different actor as part of the Toymaker's games, but this was vetoed and it was Hartnell that reappeared.
  • 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 realized that this constant changing of a regular prop would be too expensive, and so it was decided that the circuit would be permanently disabled due to the TARDIS' age, thus retaining the appearance of a 1963 Police Box. A few decades later, the in-story reason for why the Doctor didn't keep trying to fix the circuit was that he'd grown fond of the shape.
  • 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 in 2005 has reverted to the singular usage.
  • Ian Marter, who played Surgeon Lt. Harry Sullivan, also wrote the novelizations of several Dr. Who stories.
  • Julia Sawalha auditioned for the role of Ace.
  • 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.
  • The distinctive TARDIS sound effect is officially classified as a piece of music and was created by rubbing the bass strings of a piano with a key.
  • 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.
  • Jon Pertwee's catchphrase "Reverse the Polarity of the neutron flow" is a Beam Me Up, Scotty (he said that specific phrase once in four years, although "reverse the polarity" was more common), but that didn't prevent it being used in Shout Outs and Mythology Gags later in the series.
  • 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.
  • During the 1970s, series star Tom Baker and Ian Marter (who had played his companion Harry Sullivan) co-wrote and attempted to have a feature film entitled Doctor Who Meets Scratchman, which would have co-starred Vincent Price. Based on the script, the film would have consisted of nonstop strangeness and done no credit whatsoever to the reputation of the series.
  • The series was in part inspired by the British Quatermass TV serials of the 1950s. In 1988, the show paid homage by referring to Quatermass in the 1988 serial Remembrance of the Daleks...where it's also implied that this episode takes place the day Doctor Who made its debut.
    • Quatermass was alluded to again in 2009's "Planet of the Dead".
    • In a weird but fitting piece of coincidence, David Tennant was starring in a modern day Live Episode homage to Quatermass the day when he learned that he had been cast as the Tenth Doctor.
  • Although a number of televised 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 before the show's 2005 return — "K-9 and Company": A Girl's Best Friend, aired initially as a Christmas special in 1981. Although the pilot fared well in the ratings, the BBC decided not to proceed with a series. After the 2005 return of the series, three spinoffs were made — Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures and K 9.
  • 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.
  • "Dalek" and "TARDIS" became so familiar to British audiences that it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.
  • 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 in 1988, The Timelords (later to be famous as the art rock/techno act The KLF) had a #1 hit with "Doctorin' the Tardis", a song that mashed the theme song together with Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Part 2" and Sweet's "Blockbuster".
  • 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 Russell T. Davies era and a second new one used on all merchandise relating to the Steven Moffat era.
  • Due to ill health, William Hartnell was unable to appear in the third episode of The Tenth Planet, 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.
  • 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.
  • Michael Jayston, a Shakespearean actor, played an "intermediate" future incarnation of the Doctor known as the Valeyard who existed between the Doctor's twelfth and final incarnations.
  • 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 music playing when the Fifth Doctor visits the Brig in Mawdryn Undead is a traditional English dance melody called "Lillibullero". It's sometimes attributed to Henry Purcell.
  • Steven Moffat, who took over Doctor Who in 2010, is the first straight guy to produce the show since 1979. Nothing really wrong with that, it's just...odd. Queer, you could say. Queer as Folk, even.[1]
  • Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith is also the eleventh Matt Smith on IMDb.
  • The regeneration process was based on the negative sides of LSD. Regenerative trauma and Drugs Are Bad indeed.
  • 11th Doctor Matt Smith guest-starred on an episode of Billie Piper's[2] show Secret Diary of a Call Girl as a shopkeep who ends up bedding Piper's character.
  • Troughton's pre-Who career involved a large batch of family television, including appearing in a Robin Hood series (interestingly, his grandson was Much in the 2006 TV version). Later he played Father Brennan in The Omen.
  • Pertwee's pre-Who career involved a fairly-well-remembered comedy called The Navy Lark. Later, he would play Worzel Gummidge.
  • Tom Baker played Rasputin in the film Nicholas And Alexandra (1971). Perhaps the most recognisable Doctor voice, impressionist Jon Culshaw has often used the voice for telephone spooofs in Dead Ringers.
  • First TV show to get its own Nightmare Fuel page on TV Tropes.
    • And the first to get its own Foe Yay page.
    • A scene in Remembrance of the Daleks involving Ace inspired the creation of the Crowning Moment of Awesome section, which dropped the "Crowning" later on.
    • First live-action TV show on this site to get its very own gush page since it's so beloved.

Trivia "tropes"

  • Dawson Casting:
    • Carole Ann Ford was 23 when Susan was 15.
    • Maureen O'Brien was 22 when playing the teenaged Vicki.
    • Dodo was a teenager but Jackie Lane was almost 25.
    • Zoe's age varies depending on what production member you ask, but she probably wasn't intended to be out of her teens, like Wendy Padbury was.
    • Turlough was supposed to be posing as a British schoolboy. Mark Strickson looked quite a bit older than his character, quite frankly.
    • Sophie Aldred was 24 when Ace was 16.
    • Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill and Nina Toussaint-White played school-aged versions of Amy, Rory and a teenage-passing-for River in "Let's Kill Hitler" at ages 23, 29 and 25.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • The show's cancellation following the Sylvester McCoy era has been explicitly, if not exclusively, pinned on BBC executive Michael Grade's personal distaste for it (though he was no longer controller by the time of the actual cancellation). Seventh producer Philip Hinchcliffe was moved on from the show following complaints about the levels of violence and horror during his tenure. The sacking of sixth Doctor Colin Baker was at the behest of BBC management.
    • Executive Meddling is why Susan was the Doctor's granddaughter: it looked too odd otherwise.
    • K-9 was kept on after The Invisible Enemy because the production team saw his potential appeal with younger children. And they were right.
    • Executive Meddling actually made Tegan have the Eighties Hair, amusingly enough. Producer John Nathan-Turner somehow thought that fans might somehow mistake Janet Fielding[3] for Adric[4] in long shots. It's a miracle that Ms. Fielding didn't take the guy's head off.
      • Similarly, Turlough had red hair to differentiate Mark Strickson (schoolboy outfit) with Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor (cricketing uniform).
    • Kamelion was originally going to be played by a series of humans, as he was a shape-changing robot. Instead turned into a real mechanical prop, which was then shelved when the only person on the planet (and we mean the real planet Earth) who knew how to operate the blasted thing died without telling anyone else how to work it.
    • A reference that Ace lost her virginity to Sabalom Glitz never made it past the censor.
    • Executive producer John Nathan-Turner demanded the Sixth Doctor's becoming "totally tasteless" in terms of fashion sense, rather than the Ninth Doctor-esque dark clothes and jacket Colin Baker wanted. And thus, the multicoloured suit was born.
  • Fake American:
    • The classic example is Bill Filer in The Claws of Axos. He even has his own fan-produced spinoff. This includes even major characters like American companion Peri, whose accent alone gives away that Nicola Bryant is not actually from the States. The newer series has improved significantly on this, if not totally averted it, however. Most American parts are finally being played by real Americans. However, several actors in "Daleks in Manhattan"/"Evolution of the Daleks" still come from the UK.
    • British father and son W. Morgan Sheppard and Mark Sheppard play old and young Canton Delaware in "The Impossible Astronaut"/"Day of the Moon".
  • Fan Nickname:
    • The Second Doctor is typically called "The Cosmic Hobo".
    • The Eighth Doctor is referred to by some fans as "The Oncoming Pretty".
    • In some circles, both Susan and Romana have been known as Sailor Gallifrey.
    • Fans seem to prefer the name "Robot Santas" to "Roboform".
    • Roger Delgado's Master is known as the UNIT Years Master.
    • The Pratt/Beevers Master is called Crispy Master.
    • In The End of Time, Timothy Dalton's character Rassilon is nicknamed "James Rassilon".
    • The Tenth Doctor is sometimes "the Oncoming Sulk" due to his depressive nature after season 2
    • Eleven is the "Cosmic Nine Year Old" thanks to his childlike actions.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!:
  • Hey, It's That Voice!:
    • David Tennant himself is one of these, being such an unrepentant fan of the show that he lent his voice to several Expanded Universe audio productions and narrated a special documentary aired before the first episode of the 2005 revival, prior to finally landing his dream job.
    • The voice of the brain in Time and the Rani is Peter Tuddenham.
    • Bernard Cribbins is beloved throughout Great Britain as the voice of The Wombles.
    • The Dream Lord is Toby Jones, who played Dobby from the Harry Potter films.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: The 1993 charity special Dimensions in Time, a crossover with Eastenders, was created on the condition that it'd never be rerun or released on home video. You can find it on YouTube, however.
  • Lying Creator: The BBC website made it sound like the Cybermen would be major enemies in "A Good Man Goes to War". In reality, they're merely cold open cameos.
  • Official Fan Submitted Content: A few monster designs, among other things.
  • The Other Darrin: Generally averted in favor of The Nth Doctor. It's played straight, however, with the recasting of the late William Hartnell as the First Doctor in The Five Doctors.
  • Sure Why Not: In the non-canon Comic Relief special "The Curse of Fatal Death", the Doctor regenerates into a woman. In The End of Time, the Eleventh Doctor feels his face and hair and freaks out, thinking he's regenerated into a woman. In "The Doctor's Wife", the Doctor mentions that the Corsair has had both male and female incarnations.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The Canadian animation studio Nelvana at one point proposed a Doctor Who animated series, which never got beyond the concept art stage.
    • Way too many unmade feature films, and pre-2005 attempts at a revival (at one point involving Steven Spielberg).
    • One of the more recent... before Alex Kingston took the role of River Song, the producers had Kate Winslet in mind.
    • Similarly, when RTD was writing "The Waters of Mars," he wrote the character of Adelaide Brooke with Helen Mirren in mind.
    • The Ood were created for "The Impossible Planet" / "The Satan Pit" because the prosthetics were cheap — originally the Slitheen would've filled the role. Later in "The Doctor's Wife", an Ood again appeared because there was no budget for the new original alien Neil Gaiman had designed.
    • Adric's character was originally conceived as "an Artful Dodger In Space," though largely in terms of his relationship with the Doctor. While wisps of this concept crop up in Adric's abilities once in a blue moon, the student-mentor dynamic more or less runs headlong into a brick wall after the Fourth Doctor regenerates.
    • Bernard Cribbins and Peter Cushing were considered to play the Fourth Doctor before Tom Baker won the role.
    • Many, many unmade and/or unfilmed serials and projects for the serial are documented on this Wikipedia article.
    • "The Mark of the Rani" and "Paradise Towers" both had different soundtracks during production. However, the composer on the former story suffered Author Existence Failure before he could finish the soundtrack, while the latter story's composer got canned after John Nathan-Turner decided the soundtrack was too dull and lacking in energy. The DVD releases of both stories include the alternate soundtracks.
    • Steven Moffat wanted John Barrowman to appear in "A Good Man Goes to War", but he was unavailable due to filming Torchwood: Miracle Day. Yes, that's right, the Doctor's army would have included Captain Jack.
    • Simon Pegg was originally slated to play Rose's father, Pete Tyler. However, Pegg was unavailable during the filming of "Father's Day", so his role was transferred to that of the Editor.


  1. Sorry.
  2. Rose Tyler, in case you forgot
  3. dressed in a purple pastel outfit
  4. ...who was a boy wearing bright yellow and dull greens
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