25 Fantastic Facts About Doctor Who


WORDS Avery Phillips

When it was announced that Matt Smith would be relinquishing his role as the Eleventh Doctor at the end of this year the internet exploded. At first it was shock, then it was tears, and after that came a little bit of outrage. Once fans had time to recover though, they turned their attention to the all-important question of just who would be the one to fill the Raggedy Man’s raggedy boots.

Early this morning we received our answer: The Twelfth Doctor is 55-year old Scotsman Peter Capaldi, a man best known for playing the foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in BBC’s comedy series The Thick of It. His first appearance as The Doctor will be during the 2013 Christmas Special, and filming for the eighth series is set to begin next month.

In celebration of this exciting event I’ve decided to share twenty five of the interesting, odd and slightly awkward facts I’ve discovered about Britain’s most popular series and its’ actors. Be warned that there will be spoilers for those who are not yet up to date, and also be aware that this list of facts is best enjoyed whilst sipping on a nice brew of English Breakfast tea.

  1.  The first episode of Doctor Who (An Unearthly Child) was broadcast at 5.15pm on 23 November 1963, and at that time this year the 50th Anniversary episode is going to be broadcast simultaneously across all over the world.
  2. There are 106 missing episodes which no longer exist due to an archive purge in the 1970s, as well as four episodes which only survive in an edited state and twelve episodes which only exist in black and white despite originally being filmed in colour. Important scenes lost because of this include the first appearance of the sonic screwdriver, the introduction of recurring character Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart and the majority of The Doctor’s first regeneration.
  3. “TARDIS” and “Dalek” are in the Oxford English Dictionary. Seriously, look it up!
  4. When the Daleks were first introduced they required radiation and static electricity to survive. In addition, and incredibly weirdly, rather than going straight for the kill the Daleks choose to temporarily paralyse the companion, and warn him that they’d kill him if he tried to escape again. It wasn’t until their second appearance that they became the genocidal maniacs we all know and love.
  5. Before landing the role of the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant had roles in several Doctor Who audio dramas and also narrated a documentary about the revival of the show in 2005 (titled ‘Doctor Who’: A New Dimension).
  6. The title of series 5 episode The Big Bang isn’t referring to the explosion that created the universe.
  7. Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor) and Lalla Ward (the second regeneration of Romana) had a romance on set and even got married, though they divorced 16 months later.
  8. This is going to get confusing, so bear with me: Georgia Moffett is the daughter of Peter Davison, the Fifth Doctor. In series 4 of the revival she plays the Tenth Doctor’s “daughter” Jenny. She married David Tennant in 2011 and they now have a daughter and son. These kids have The Doctor as both a father and a grandfather, and The Doctor’s daughter who played The Doctor’s Daughter who had the Doctor’s Daughter as a mother.
  9. On top of that, did I mention that Peter Davison was the one who inspired Tennant to get into acting? Talk about a mind screw!
  10. 10. Caitlin Blackwood, who played the young Amelia Pond, is Karen Gillian’s real life cousin. The first time they met was at an on set read-through, as Blackwood was born in North Ireland and Gillian in Scotland.
  11. 11. A serial titled The Final Game was intended to end Season 11 with the reveal that The Doctor and The Master were brothers and have The Master sacrifice himself to save The Doctor’s life. The death of The Master’s actor Roger Delgado resulted in the serial being scraped, though the ending was be reused in the revival series episode The End of Time.
  12. 12. Matt Smith appeared as a client in Secret Diary of a Call Girl, which stars Billie Piper (Rose Tyler) as the titular call girl. The Tenth Doctor must have been bitterly disappointed.
  13. 13. BBC One commissioned a spin-off about Rose’s life on the alternate Earth, but Russell T Davies cancelled it as he felt it would spoil Doctor Who if “we see as a concrete fact that her life continues to be as exciting without The Doctor.” Which is really disappointing, since Rose Tyler: Earth Defence sounds like it would have been fantastic!
  14. 14. In the late 80s co-creator Sydney Newman suggested that a woman should be cast as The Doctor to boost ratings. This may shock you, but that didn’t end up happening.
  15. 15. The Daleks almost didn’t appear in the revived series, as the Terry Nation (co-creator of the Daleks) estate owns the copyright and they were initially unable to reach an agreement with the BBC regarding editorial control. The Toclafane were going to be used as a replacement before the estate relented.
  16. 16. Karen Gillian first appeared in Doctor Who as a Soothsayer in the revival series four episode The Fires of Pompeii. This is the same episode that Peter Capaldi made his Doctor Who debut as the Roman banker Caecilius.
  17. 17. Aspirin is poisonous to Gallifreyans according to the eighth season serial The Mind of Evil.
  18. 18. David Tennant auditioned for the role of Hannibal Lecter in NBC’s Hannibal. Sadly, he didn’t get the role.
  19. 19. Verity Lambert, the founding producer of Doctor Who, was the youngest and only female drama producer working at the BBC at the time.
  20. 20. In issue #214 of Doctor Who Magazine the real name of Susan Foreman (The Doctor’s granddaughter) is said to be Arkytior, which means Rose in Gallifreyan. Is the fact that the first companion in the revival series is called Rose a mere coincidence or a subtle reference?
  21. 21. The Fourth Doctor’s famously long and multi-coloured scarf was created by accident, when the women asked to knit the scarf misunderstood the instructions she was given and used all of the excessive wool provided.
  22. 22. The Doctor is, in fact, a real Doctor; according to the season four serial “The Moonbase” he took a medical degree in Glasgow in 1888.
  23. 23. Arthur Darvill kept trying to guess River Song’s true identity. When he finally came up with the correct answer Alex Kingston responded with “Hello, Dad.”
  24. 24. While the Dalek “LEVITATE!” scene from the revival series episode Dalek is famous for disproving the notion that Daleks can’t climb stairs, the first time they were shown with this ability was actually 17 years prior in Remembrance of the Daleks. It didn’t stop people from making jokes though: “Real Daleks don’t climb stairs; they level the building!”
  25. 25. In World War Z Peter Capaldi played a doctor working for the World Health Organisation. If there was ever a time to start talking about conspiracy theories, then this is it.

So there you go, twenty five of the interesting, odd and slightly awkward facts regarding the phenomenal sci-fi show that is Doctor Who. Just because we now know who the Twelfth Doctor is doesn’t mean the fun is now over; with 111 days (Aussie time) until the 50th Anniversary special, the Christmas special and the eighth season after that, I’d say that it’s all only just begun! Just remember this; always take a banana to a party, bowties are extra cool when paired with a nice fez, and no celebration is complete without dancing along to one of Earth’s traditional ballads…”Toxic” by Brittany Spears.


Do you know any other interesting facts about Doctor Who that I neglected to mention? Let me know in the comments below.