series thrives on having a vivid. exciting central character who owns a machine that gives him a certain capability to travel to any' place and any titne. As a writer. this gives you access to any kind of story you want. You‘re never going to run out of things to say or do.‘

The all-action. big-budget and critically- acclaimed current version of the show has created its own mythology and set a unique benchmark for family entertainment television in the [K since its 2005 return. Yet the original series. which ran from I963-I98‘). built tip enough weight of iconography that nothing needed to be substantially tinkered with. even if (‘(il sets are preferable to wobbly plasterboard for all but nostalgia‘s sake.

‘When the show first began it was engineered to be educational as much as it was entertaining] says David Bishop. a lecturer in creative writing at lidinburgh Napier University. former editor of seminal Brit sci-ft comic 2000A!) and writer of four novels and many audio dramas set in the Doctor‘s world. including the forthcoming Enemy of thc Dulcks. ‘In the days of William Hartnell. the

first Doctor. there would be a mixture of

science fiction stories set in the future and on alien worlds. alongside historical stories where the TARDIS would go to the time of the Aztecs

Top to bottom: Tom Baker; Matt Smith; Michelle Ryan and David Tennant; a Dalek


years before closing earlier this decade.

The Beeb took note of the public's love for monsters. With the best intentions. the historical romps faded in favour of ('ybcrmen. lce Warriors and yet more Dalcks as the (ills progressed. It‘s been like lltul ever since: ‘\\'hen I came on board they were at pains to point out that the new show is an action adventure for all the family.‘ laughs (ireenhorn. ‘and at no point was there an educational remit? In fact. a scientist following the modern Doctor Who would probably be somewhat distressed by the “science" in there. You can still talk about bigger issues within the format. though. One of my favourite early stories is "The (irecn Death" l W73). which is about the environment. globalisation and the destruction of mining communities. while the first episode I wrote (3007‘s “The l.a/arus lixperinicnt") involves a moral conversation between a scientist who wants to be immortal and a man who actually is immortal. the Doctor'

(ireenhorn touches on another aspect of the Who experience by declaring himself a child of the early 7(ls‘ .lon l’ertwee years. in that whichever Doctor someone watches at a certain age or with a certain regularity becomes ‘their' Doctor. ‘lle was a kind of manic. gadgety'. .lames Bond-type mad professor; l


or the French Revolution. with the aim of

educating a younger audience.

‘What really made the show hugely successful. though. were the Daleks. They were in the second story ever broadcast. and they basically turned Doctor Who into an overnight sensation.’ This is something which is still reflected today in the new Who exhibitions. with costumes and props for the most famous baddies. including the Daleks and Cybermen. taking centre stage alongside interactive displays which detail the show‘s behind-the-scenes workings. including the costume. make-up. set design and special effects departments. ‘When my father Bernard ran the special effects department for the BBC they held an exhibition at the Science Museum around 197 l. which was swamped by kids who only wanted to see the Daleks.‘ says Martin Wilkie of Experience Design. designer of the exhibition on behalf of BBC Worldwide. ‘That was the initial inspiration for the Doctor Who exhibition. which has existed in one form or another pretty much ever since.‘ Indeed. the most famous Who show at Longleat ran for 3l

loved all that. Of course. in those days you didn't have 57 channels and all manner of recording devices. There were three channels and no way of getting it back if you didn‘t sit down with your family on Saturday and watch a show like Doctor Who. And if you didn't. you‘d have nothing to talk about in the playground on Monday morning.‘

With the kind of imperious swagger which only men wearing improbably' long scarves and sticks of celery on their cricket whites can muster. the series strode on through the Tom Baker and Peter Davison years. until the I‘Mlls saw the show‘s popularity finally waning. ‘By the time the series amiroached the end of that decade.‘ says Bishop. ‘it had been going for a quarter of a century and was running out of juice. basically. It wasn‘t getting the budget it needed to continue as a cutting edge sci-fi show and was being treated as art afterthought by the BBC‘. being scheduled up against Coronation Street. That was the equivalent of sending out a small boy to play against Man United. and Doctor Who got crushed.‘

Excepting a Paul McGann-starring TV movie

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