Doctor Who is one of the most beloved characters (and one of the most successful franchises) in television history. This November, the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of this British icon. The infographic below will provide you with a summary of all the Doctors over the last 50 years, as well as tidbits about his spacecraft the TARDIS, his gadgets and some Whovian fun facts. Learn something new or simply brush up on the Doctor's history as you prepare for the 50th anniversary special airing later this month. Allons-y!
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Doctor Who: 50 Years of Traveling Through Time and Space Transcription
A summary of the Doctor, his many looks and personalities, his transport and the tools that got him through the last 50 years (from our linear perspective.)
TARDIS: Time And Relative Dimension In Space
Considered an obsolete relic by the Time Lords, the Type 40 Mark I TARDIS is a ship stolen by the Doctor to travel through time and space. One of its key features is its exterior and interior exist in different dimensions (it's bigger on the inside.) Although it's not able to directly communicate with the doctor, the TARDIS is a conscious being and his true companion. The TARDIS hasn't always taken the Doctor where he wanted to go, but instead has always taken him where he was needed.
Eye of Harmony
An exploding star in the act of becoming a black hole, the Eye of Harmony is suspended in time by the Doctor's civilization, the Time Lords. The Eye was used to power their homeworld of Gallifrey, as well as their time travel technology, including the TARDIS.
TARDIS Control Room
The main entrance containing the control console, this is the first sight for new passengers. Intended for six Time Lord pilots, the Doctor has had trouble flying it on his own. He and his companions often find themselves in locations and times they never intended.
The TARDIS is equipped with a universal translation system delivered via telepathic field. This allows all of the Doctor's human companions to understand and speak the languages of the cultures and species they meet throughout their travels.
This function lets the TARDIS change its outer shell to blend in with any planet it lands upon, making the ship incognito. The circuit broke shortly after landing in 1960s Great Britain and the Doctor's TARDIS has remained in the shape of a London Police Box ever since.
During takeoff and landing, the TARDIS makes a distinctive groaning and whirring sound as it materializes in or out of its current location. It has been said that the sound only occurs because the Doctor leaves the brakes on, but he is too fond of the noise to do anything about it.
Behind the Scenes
The trademark ability of the Doctor's spaceship to disappear and reappear in a new location was a surprisingly cheap effect for the crew to execute. It also created an easy plot device for getting the Doctor and numerous companions to wherever they needed to go.
Whovian Fun Fact
In 2010, the TARDIS prop used in the 9th Doctor's first series sold at auction for £10,000 ($16,760 US).
The Doctor: Renegade Time Lord from the Planet Gallifrey
The Doctor "borrowed" his TARDIS from the Time Lords and began an adventure with his granddaughter Susan. He would gain and lose many companions over the years, as well as losing and gaining new bodies. When a Time Lord's body is near death, it has the ability to regenerate into a new form. He would spend his earlier lives exiled on Earth by the Time Lords, assisting the same Time Lords when they were in over their heads, and spending the rest of his time running away from them.
Behind the Scenes: The ability of the Doctor to regenerate into a new form was envisioned as an aging William Hartnell was ready to retire the role. Instead of casting an actor with a similar appearance, the showrunners conceived the idea of giving the Doctor a whole new body, look and personality. It became a trademark of the show and has allowed its continuation for 50 years.
First Doctor (William Hartnell) 1963-1966
The first Doctor wore an Edwardian styled outfit with a frock coat, waistcoat, trousers and ribbon necktie. The character was already hundreds of years old when introduced in the series and appeared as a frail old man. He had a juvenile temper and was quick to patronize those around him for their inferior human intelligence. He did, in time, warm up to his human companions and enjoyed sharing adventures with them.
Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) 1966-1969
The second Doctor exchanged the ribbon necktie for a bowtie, but otherwise wore clothes similar to his previous incarnation. Though somewhat baggy, his outfit led him to be referred to as a clown or the "cosmic hobo". His bumbling and childlike demeanor was used to mask a keen intellect, plotting his way out of whatever misadventure he found his way into. The second doctor grew even friendlier to his human companions and at the same time, more ruthless towards his enemies.
Behind the Scenes: Since there was no after-market in the 1960s like home video, it would be common practice to wipe master copies of television programs to save space and reuse tapes. Between the run of the First and Second Doctor, there are a total of 97 episodes that were lost to time.
Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) 1970-1974
This ornate Doctor was called a dandy by his first form. He preferred frilled shirts, velvet smoking jackets, evening trousers and inverness cloaks, and added accessories like gloves and cravats. With his high morals and an arrogant, authoritarian air, he acted as a paternal figure to his companions, despite his distaste with being stranded on Earth. Even with his strong diplomacy and linguistic skills, he was willing to use karate, but only to disarm!
Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) 1974-1981
The Fourth Doctor sported one of the series' most iconic wardrobe items: a 14 foot, multi-colored, striped scarf. The remainder of his Bohemian-styled outfit signified a renewed sense of curiosity and wanderlust; it consisted of a waistcoat, cravat, plaid trousers, frock coat (with pockets full of jelly babies) and a wide-brimmed hat. The Fourth Doctor showed more emotional depth than his predecessors and developed an even closer relationship his companions.
Fifth Doctor (Peter Davidson) 1982-1984
With his frock coat, question mark collar, cricket sweater, striped trousers and Plimsoll shoes, this doctor had the look of an Edwardian cricketer. He carried a cricket ball and wore a stalk of celery. The youngest Doctor so far, he was extremely indecisive and didn't mind letting others, like his companions, take the lead. Vulnerable and sensitive, yet charming and courageous, he tended to react to situations rather than start them.
Whovian Fun Fact: On a few occasions when things got especially timey-wimey spacey-wacey, the Doctor was even known to run into other versions of himself. The first five incarnations have met one another and Five has also met Ten.
Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) 1984-1986
The Sixth Doctor's outfit reflected his volatile and manic personality. His wardrobe was purposefully tacky, featuring a clown-like red frock coat, colorful waistcoats and cravats, striped yellow pants and an ever-present cat pin. Dictating when and where he and his companions would go, the Sixth Doctor maintained a constant dominant tone. Yet, he did possess moments of great compassion as he grew older.
Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) 1987-1989
The Seventh form really put the "Who?" in Doctor Who. He wore a safari-styled jacket, red paisley scarf and tie, a question mark pullover, tweed plaid trousers, and a Panama hat. Even his umbrella had a question mark shaped handle. He was the perfect shift from easygoing to manipulative, playing dumb to catch enemies off-guard, caring for his companions, yet still using them as pawns in his schemes. He gave us a glimpse of the Doctor's darker side.
Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) 1996
The Doctor round himself regenerating into his Eighth form on the eve of Y2K in a San Fransisco hospital morgue. His clothing was a Wild Bill Hickock outfit he found in an attendant's locker, which was intended for a New Year's Eve costume party. The Eighth Doctor was an exuberant incarnation with a passion for life even though the reincarnation process left him with some memory loss. He also showed more interest in guiding his human companions on a more righteous path.
The Last Great Time War: The Doctor would find himself back at his homeworld of Galifrey to participate in the Time War between the Time Lords and their enemy, the Daleks. While all the details of the war have not been fully revealed, we do know it was concluded with the Doctor sacrificing his homeworld and his entire race to save the rest of the universe from complete destruction.
Behind the Scenes: The Eighth Doctor's main run was a single made-for-TV movie in 1966, but his journeys were continued (like many Doctors) in audio dramas, novels and comic books. McGann resumes his file in 2013 for the 50th Anniversary Special in a mini episode: Night of the Doctor. He is seen wearing an adaptation of his previous costume with a trench coat, waist coat, ascot, pocket watch and British Army Cavalry Boots.
The War Doctor (John Hurt) 2013
Crashlanding on Planet Karn, the Eighth Doctor revived with only four minutes to live by the sisterhood of Karn; keepers of the flame of eternal life. For the first time, the Doctor chose the traits of his next incarnation. To end the Time War, he takes their sacred elixir of life, triggering his regeneration cycle and becoming a warrior. This version of the Doctor will be appearing alongside the Tenth and Eleventh in the 50th Anniversary Special.
Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) 2005
The Ninth Doctor was the first incarnation directly following the Time War. His appearance and demeanor have been compared to a former WW2 U-boat captain. He struggled to find his place in the universe, as he was the last of the Time Lords and had to bear the heavy weight of his actions during the war. He found his solace by returning to Earth and taking on new human companions.
Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) 2005-2010
The Tenth Doctor's slightly disheveled clothing pointed to his light-hearted, youthful and sometimes cheeky personality. Along with his tousled hair and loose necktie, his outfit consisted of a four-button pinstripe suit in brown or blue, a tan overcoat and his iconic Converse trainers. Emotionally vulnerable and self-sacrifice incarnate, the Tenth Doctor wavered between romantic and intensely protective relationships with his companions.
Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) 2010-2013
This quirky, young-looking Doctor favored a tweed jacket, trousers, ankle-high boots, and always matching bow tie and suspenders, and had a fondness for hats like a fez or stetson. He was cross and world-weary from his lifetimes of travel, yet very curious and childish, enabling him to relate well to children. But, he was also secret and often withheld important information from his companions. During a period of self-blame and mourning, he switched his look to a Victorian frock coat, waistcoat and a darker bow tie.
Behind the Scenes: The Twelfth Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, will make his first appearance in the 2013 Christmas special. Capaldi had previously appeared twice in other roles in the Who-verse. Once as a Roman merchant whom the Tenth Doctor met in Pompeii and also as a British civil servant in the Doctor Who spinoff, Torchwood: Children of Earth.
Tools of a Time Lord: The Objects and Tools Doctors Have Utilized in Their Travels
Some were practical tools while others were carried to make a statement. No matter the location in time and space, for example, a bow tie will let everyone know how cool you are.
The First Doctor's ring could protect him from shocks, open locks, hypnotize, and power the TARDIS's doors until its power was lost. The ring was a precursor to the sonic screwdriver.
The Second Doctor often played a recorder to amuse himself (typically while being locked up).
This yellow Edwardian roadster was the Third Doctor's primary mode of transportation during his exile on planet Earth.
A robot companion of the Doctor, K-9 was fashioned to resemble a dog. he was primarily used by the Fourth Doctor and was given as a gift to his companion, Sarah Jane Smith.
Reaching a whopping 14 feet, the Fourth Doctor wore this fashionable and warm accessory. It was even, at times, a helpful tool to get the Doctor out of a bind.
While not used by all incarnations, the sonic screwdriver is the trademark tool associated with the Doctor. It was most commonly used for picking locks, but had many upgrades over the years. It was also used to hack computers, as a scanning device (medical and technological), and to boost other signals. Though, it's never handled wood very well...
A sweet treat used by the Fourth Doctor for negotiations, distractions, and creating friendships.
The Fifth Doctor used celery to detect certain gasses (it'd turn purple). It's also a very decorative vegetable and good for the teeth.
The Sixth Doctor wore one for "fashion". He'd rub it for good luck before doing something particularly dangerous.
The Tenth Doctor found them handy for observing the effects of the Void, specifically for people infected with nasty Void Stuff.
This watch can be used to hold the essence of a Time Lord to allow them to hide as human. Or just tell the time. Whichever.
Question Mark Umbrella
The "?" has been a wardrobe theme for multiple incarnations of the Doctor. The Seventh even displayed it on the handle of hum unbrella. Now no one will ever forget the Doctor is a mysterious figure. Doctor Who? Exactly.
A blank piece of paper that displays what the user wishes it to and can receive psychic messages. Good for infiltration. Doesn't work on geniuses.
Fez and Bow Tie
The fez and bow tie are staple wardrobe accessories of the Eleventh's personal style, simply because he thought they were cool.
500 Year Diary
Helpful for keeping track of creatures the Doctor has faced, places he's been and will be, and all those other timey-wimey things.
Doctor Who?: The Oldest Question in the Universe
It's all still waiting for you: the fields of Trenzalore, the fall of the Eleventh, and the question! The first question! The question that must never be answered, hidden in plain sight. The question you've been running from all your life. Doctor Who? Doctor Who? Doc-Tor *Who*?