Call yourself a Doctor Who fan? In that case, let’s see how many of these facts you already knew…
- The Doctor’s regeneration was an accident
When William Hartnell played the first Doctor between 1963 and 1966, he began having health problems toward the end of his run. To ensure that the show could continue, the writers decided that to give the Doctor the ability to regenerate, something that would soon become a part of the character’s mythology.
- The show is ‘banned’ in China
Doctor Who is one of a few television programs that are banned in China. This decision to ban is because the country’s government authorities don’t want to promote anything featuring time travel that could be seen as re-writing history.
- The Daleks didn’t catch on with some creators
When Sydney Newman was the head of drama at the BBC (and one of the show’s original creators), he firmly stated that he did not want to use bug-eyed monsters in the series. “I wrote in my memo that there would be no bug-eyed monsters in Doctor Who. And after a few episodes, [producer] Verity Lambert turned up with the Daleks!” he wrote. Newman wasn’t happy until Lambert explained the terrifying concept of the creatures.
- There are more than 100 lost episodes
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, when archiving media was much more difficult than it is today, more than 100 episodes of the show were deleted, destroyed or lost. Some of the show’s biggest fans were able to step in and help by providing their own personal copies until the library was almost rebuilt.
- Some have turned down the chance of playing the Doctor
Actors including Hugh Grant and Benedict Cumberbatch turned down the opportunity to play the Doctor. Hugh Grant said no because he worried the show wouldn’t be a hit. What’s more, back in the 1980s, a suggestion to revitalise the show included making the Doctor a woman. When this happened again in 2008, Catherine Zeta-Jones was cited as a top pick.
- A Michael Jackson movie?
Late in the 1980s, Paramount Pictures proposed a Doctor Who movie featuring Michael Jackson as a Time Lord. For one reason or another, this never happened.
- It took six whole years to trademark the Tardis
As a huge fan, you’ll know that the name Tardis stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space but did you know that the case to trademark the name didn’t happen until 2002. After years of selling Tardis-branded merchandise, the BBC decided to trademark it, but it was prevented by the Metropolitan Police. Eventually, the BBC won, and the police were forced to pay £850 plus legal costs.
- Author Douglas Adams wrote several episodes
Famous sci-fi author Douglas Adams, best known for his novel ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, was commissioned to write a few episodes for the show. He ended up writing four episodes in total and became a script editor in 1979.
- Ridley Scott was supposed to design the Daleks
Famous for Alien and Blade Runner, director Ridley Scott worked for the BBC at the time of Doctor Who’s creation. After being assigned the task of designing the Daleks, Scott decided to leave the network to pursue his dream. It was Raymond Cusick who ended up designing the fearful creatures we now know so well.
- The Doctor might actually be a Doctor after all
According to the second Doctor (played by Patrick Troughton), the Doctor is, in fact, a real Doctor. In the fourth season, he’s asked by his companion, Polly, whether he is a medical doctor. He replies, “I think I took a degree once in Glasgow. 1888 I think.”
Fascinating stuff but, of course, if you don’t believe us then you can do your own digging to find out more. A good place to start is The Who Shop in London where you can not only buy a huge range of Doctor Who memorabilia but take a look behind the scenes at real props, scripts and artefacts from the show.
This sponsored post has been produced in partnership with The Who Shop.