The History of Doctor Who

The eleventh season of Doctor Who premiered on 7th October with the episode, ‘The Woman Who Fell to Earth’. It featured the show’s first female incarnation of the Doctor.
No doubt there are some viewers out there who watch the revived version of the show. Some of them may not know the full history of it. If you’re one of them, stick around: I’m going to run through it all for you.
Sydney Newman, a fan of the science-fiction genre, became the new Head of Drama at the BBC in December 1962. When he was informed of a gap between programmes on Saturday evenings, he subsequently came up with the idea of having a science-fiction show fill the 25-minute slot. He co-wrote the show’s first formal document with two BBC staff writers, who heavily influenced the format of the show and the characters. But it was Newman who created the character of the Doctor, and who came up with the idea for the TARDIS. Producer Verity Lambert then took over production with a story editor named David Whitaker. The script for the very first episode, An Unearthly Child, was written by staff writer Anthony Coburn. Composer Ron Grainer created the show’s iconic theme music with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Actor William Hartnell was persuaded to play the Doctor, and when the other actors were brought on board, production got underway.
‘An Unearthly Child’ was broadcast on 23rd November 1963, but was understandably overshadowed by news coverage of the JFK assassination (which happened the day before); so it was repeated the following Saturday before the second episode. The fifth episode was the first to feature the now iconic Daleks. The show quickly became a success, with large amounts of viewers tuning every Saturday night to watch it.
Production continued smoothly throughout the rest of 1963 and 1964. But difficulties arose during the third season in 1965: Lambert was replaced by a new producer, whom William Hartnell did not get along with; and it was getting harder for Hartnell himself to remember his lines (he was suffering from the early stages of arteriosclerosis, which would go on to cause his death). By 1966, it was obvious Hartnell couldn’t continue playing the Doctor: his health was deteriorating fast. Innes Lloyd, who replaced the producer who replaced Lambert, talked to Hartnell about the possibility of leaving the show, and Hartnell agreed it’d be the best thing to do.
This was how the ingenious idea of regeneration came about. Lloyd and story editor Gerry Davis needed a viable way to write Hartnell out of the show, and both decided that since the Doctor was an alien, he could change his body when it was mortally wounded or deteriorating from old age. They initially called this process ‘a renewal’; it wasn’t until much later that it would come to be called ‘regeneration’. Patrick Troughton was cast as the Second Doctor, and first appeared at the end of the 1966 episode The Tenth Planet. Troughton had big shoes to fill after Hartnell left, but he did an outstanding job. Troughton maintained the character’s hatred of evil, but played the Doctor in a more light-hearted way.
After three years, though, Troughton was burnt-out due to the show’s gruelling production schedule, and was also worried about being typecast. He eventually decided to leave at the end of 1969, and Jon Pertwee was brought onboard to replace him.
Pertwee’s debut as the Third Doctor in 1970 was a significant moment in the show’s history: it was the first time it was filmed and broadcast in colour. Pertwee played the Third Doctor in a very straight and action-orientated way. Because of a tight budget and the possibility of cancellation in 1969, the decision was made to shake things up and set the majority of the Third Doctor’s episodes exclusively on Earth. This decision seemed to save the show from cancellation and saved money. But having almost every episode set on Earth became stale over time, and the production team decided to go back to having more episodes set in space and on other planets. It was also during the Pertwee era that the character of the Master was introduced.
The actor who played the Master, Roger Delgado, tragically died in a car accident in 1973. This, as well as chronic back problems and the break-up of the production team he saw as his family, made Pertwee consider leaving the show. He apparently asked for a pay rise if the new production team wanted to keep him on, but his request was denied and he subsequently left the show in 1974.
Tom Baker replaced Pertwee, and played the Doctor on TV for seven years, far longer than any actor before or since. It’s because of this longevity that many people who grew up during his era on the show always think of him when Doctor Who is mentioned. Baker played the Doctor as a more eccentric, aloof, and alien character. When new producer John Nathan-Turner came onboard in 1980, he made numerous changes that Baker fundamentally disagreed with, leading him to resign the role. His last episode was broadcast in in 1981.
Peter Davison was then cast as the Fifth Doctor, with his debut season being broadcast in 1982. Davison was the youngest actor to play the Doctor at the time. He played the character as more human and more vulnerable. The show’s twentieth anniversary took place in 1983, during Davison’s tenure. The occasion was celebrated with a special feature-length episode called The Five Doctors, which saw the return of Troughton and Pertwee as the Second and Third Doctors respectively. Actor Richard Hurndall was brought in to replace William Hartnell (who had died in 1975) as the First Doctor. Tom Baker declined to take part in the episode, and footage from an unfinished episode from his era was subsequently (and cleverly) inserted into the episode to portray the Fourth Doctor. Davison had been advised by Troughton to only play the role for three years, and Davison followed this advice, leaving in 1984.
Colin Baker was selected as the Sixth Doctor, and debuted in the final episode of the 1984 season. He’d previously played another character (also a Time Lord) on the show in 1983. Baker’s Doctor was often overbearing and bombastic, more so than his predecessors, and this sparked criticism from viewers. There was also an increase in violence on the show during Baker’s time as the Doctor.
A man named Michael Grade became the new BBC 1 Controller in 1984, and he disliked Doctor Who so much that he wanted to cancel it. In 1985, he decided to move the show’s production back a financial year, leading to the belief that Doctor Who was going to be cancelled for good.
There was a huge public outcry, and those who worked on the show were frustrated because they’d already began preparing for the next season. Despite this, Grade stuck to his decision. Eighteen months passed before the next season was aired in 1986. All previous plans for this season were dropped and an overarching story arc was incorporated into it.
Grade allowed the Doctor Who to continue beyond 1986, but ordered John Nathan-Turner, who was still the show’s producer, to dismiss Baker and find a new actor to play the Doctor. Grade also moved the show from its traditional Saturday slot to a mid-week one.
Nathan-Turner quickly chose Sylvester McCoy, a well-known comedy actor, to play the Seventh Doctor. McCoy initially played the part in a light-hearted, clown-like way, but new script editor Andrew Cartmel developed the character into a much darker one who was very manipulative. The show started receiving praise again, but viewing figures were plummeting because episodes were broadcast opposite the very popular soap opera, Coronation Street.
Grade left as Controller of BBC 1 in 1987, and was replaced by Jonathan Powell, who suspended production indefinitely at the end of the 1989 season.
The show remained off the air for sixteen years, though novels and comics picked up where the show left off. In 1996, after much negotiation between the BBC and the Fox Network in America, a Doctor Who television movie was filmed and edited in the U.S. and broadcast there and the U.K. The movie depicted the regeneration of the Seventh Doctor into the Eighth, played brilliantly by Paul McGann. McGann, whose costume was reminiscent of William Hartnell’s, played the Eighth Doctor as a boyish figure who viewed the universe with glee and wonder. People were hoping the movie would spark a new series, but it didn’t.
An animated episode called Scream of the Shalka was produced for the show’s fortieth anniversary in 2003, starring Richard E. Grant as the Ninth Doctor. The episode debuted via webcasting.
Shortly after Scream of the Shalka was released, it was announced that Doctor Who would finally return to TV, with renowned scriptwriter Russell T. Davies as Executive Producer and head writer. Christopher Eccleston was cast as the Ninth Doctor, with the Ninth Doctor played by Richard E. Grant re-named as the “Shalka Doctor”. Eccleston’s Doctor was less eccentric than previous Doctors, spoke with a Northern accent, and was traumatised by the Last Great Time War, which wasn’t depicted on-screen until 2013.
The first season of the revived show was broadcast in 2005 to much praise, but Eccleston only did this first season. He was replaced by David Tennant at the end of 2005, whose Tenth Doctor was energetic, friendly, and human in nature. Tennant quickly became the Doctor for many new viewers, so when he announced in 2008 he was going to leave Doctor Who at the start of 2010, people were devastated. Russell T. Davies also decided to leave alongside Tennant, and Steven Moffatt, who had scripted some of the most popular episodes of the revived version of the show, replaced him at the start of the fifth season.
Little-known actor Matt Smith took over from Tennant, and became the youngest ever actor to play the role. Smith played the Doctor similarly to the Tennant, only more youthful and alien. Smith’s first season was broadcast in 2010.
The year 2013 was Doctor Who’s fiftieth anniversary, and it was treated as a momentous occasion (and rightfully so). A special anniversary special, ‘The Day of the Doctor’, was broadcast on 23rd November, the date An Unearthly Child was broadcast in 1963. It starred Smith, who was still playing the Eleventh Doctor. David Tennant reprised the Tenth Doctor in the special, and all previous Doctors featured via archive footage. Tom Baker also appeared as a character called the Curator, who was later revealed to be a future incarnation of the Doctor.
Smith stepped down at the end of 2013, with Peter Capaldi taking over as the Twelfth Doctor. Capaldi had played a different character in the Tenth Doctor episode ‘The Fires of Pompeii’ and also appeared in the third season of Torchwood, which was a spin-off of Doctor Who. The Twelfth Doctor, a blend of the Third, Fourth, and Ninth Doctors, was even more alien than the Eleventh was, and was also more removed as a character.
Both Capaldi and Steven Moffat left the show at the end of 2017. Moffat was replaced by Chris Chibnall, who occasionally wrote for Doctor Who in the past and was the head writer of the first two seasons of Torchwood. Capaldi was replaced by Jodie Whittaker, who’s playing the Thirteenth Doctor and is the first female to play the character.

 


Words by Callum J. Jones

Steampunk Festival 2018

You watch steam blow from the locomotive’s chimney as it sits idly at the station. Men and women dressed in Victorian fashion walk along the platform around you, smiling and taking photos. Your eyes catch a market set up on the other side of the locomotive. Here, you see a multitude of arts and crafts, books, and antiques for sale. Your attention, although, is on the strange contraption at the edge of the market. It looks like something out of a Jules Verne novel. The inventor of this device calls it: Virtual Reality. You put it on and reality disappears as you reappear on the bridge of an airship in the midst of a battle.

No, this isn’t fiction. This was, in fact, September 15-16 at the Adelaide Steampunk Festival at the National Railway Museum (NRM) in Port Adelaide. For one weekend, the NRM came alive with fans of both steampunk and history. This is a walking tour review of the event and why you, dear reader, will enjoy it too.

Your senses are overwhelmed as soon as you step through the museum gates. You get the illusion that you have just stepped into an alternate world, where steam and Victorian fashion is still dominant. There is the combined scent of steam from Peronne (NRM’s operating tank engine) and potato on a stick. These combine in taste as you purchase your own potato on a stick from near the signal box and begin your journey into the festival.

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Entering the first pavilion you are greeted by professional photographers. To the left is a set up where you can sit and listen to steampunk enthusiasts and authors talk. On your right is a small cinema set up with Georges Méliès’s 1902 film A Trip to The Moon (based on Jules Verne’s novel From the Earth to the Moon).

Down the first row, display cabinets filled with old railway memorabilia and a reconstruction of the Adelaide Railway Station ticket booth are to your right. To your left, in carriages used by Commonwealth Railways on the Trans-Australian Railway, is the Pop Club and another photography spot. The Pop Club have wargames set up for visitors in the dining car while professional photographers are set up in in a nearby carriage. A wargame or two would be good later, you think.

The main steampunk market sits in the second row of the museum. Here, you find a range of goods, foods, and crafts to buy. Some include antique dinner sets, Dark Oz’s DECAY and Retro Sci-fi series comics, and cupcakes. The first set up on the left of the market is a VR set up, brought to you by the Flinders University Digital Media Department. You continue to browse what’s for sale through the marketplace. A custom-made TARDIS coffee table catches your attention, although its $340 price tag is a little steep. You finish your snack in time to reach a cupcake stand run by B is for Bake. After a quick browse, you buy a double chocolate cupcake, fascinated by the decorative chocolate steam cog.

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Before you go down the next row another display catches your eyes. This one is filled with metalwork art, ranging from steam operated electric lights to a clockwork robotic dog. You wonder how can people make such wonderful art. You swear the robotic dog could actually work.

You continue to the end row. Here, among the carriages and steam locomotives, you find a ‘secret’ second market. Here, an artist can give you calligraphy on a picture or bookmark for a small fee (free with a purchase), purchase steampunk detective fiction by local author Karen J. Carlisle, and converse with sci-fi comic author and game developer Mike Cooper (Dr. Mike 2000). At the end of the row are a group of musicians playing some rock music to heighten the atmosphere. You stand for a moment and take in the music, finding it unusual to hear such music in a historical setting.

There isn’t much in the next pavilion, apart from a stage where more performances occur throughout the day. You begin to wonder what to do next. Do you go have a game or two at Pop Club’s set up? Do you try the VR experience? Or will you go explore what else the museum has? If so, will you go ride Perrone or Bub, ride the Bluebird railcar, or grab a drink from the 1940s style Cafeteria car?

You had a lot of fun while you were there and make a note to visit again to it again next year. You make a reminder to recommend to the dear reader to also come along and visit too if you have an interest in steampunk, 19th-century history, literature and fashion.

There is a lot of fun to have at the Adelaide Steampunk Festival. The NRM is the best place to hold it as it blends in well with the old locomotives and rolling stock. The day is great for fans of steampunk. It also gives reason to visit the NRM, one of Adelaide’s many hidden gems. The Steampunk is an annual event so if you’re interested in attending next year, you can check out more information on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/adelaidesteampunkfestival/.

 


Words and photography by Cameron Lowe.Meet-the-Team-Cameron2

Cameron Lowe is a horror and sci-fi writer, editor and student. He’s had fiction and articles featured in Speakeasy Zine and Empire Times. He loves to read, play video games, and drink green tea. He’s one of the 2018 editors at Empire Times. He tweets at @cloweshadowking.

The Day of the Doctor (novelisation)

Doctor Who, which follows the adventures of the Time Lord who goes by the name of Doctor, is one of the most successful sci-fi shows in the world.

2013 marked the show’s 50th anniversary, and a special feature-length episode, The Day of the Doctor, was broadcast simultaneously around the world on 23rd November, the date the very first episode was broadcast in 1963. The script was written by Steven Moffat, who stepped down last year as the show’s lead writer and executive producer after eight years in the role.

This year, Moffat novelised The Day of the Doctor.

The-Day-of-the-Doctor-paperback-book
The Day of the Doctor
novelisation cover.

This is how the story goes: the War, Tenth, and Eleventh Doctors (the John Hurt, David Tennant, and Matt Smith incarnations, respectively) join up and save Earth from an alien invasion, with the Tenth Doctor marrying Queen Elizabeth I in the process. They then unite with their other incarnations to save their home planet Gallifrey from destruction at the end of the Last Great Time War by putting it into a pocket universe. Gallifrey was previously considered destroyed by the entire universe, including the Doctor himself.

The novel is told from various points of view, mostly the War, Tenth, and Eleventh Doctors. The chapters are presented out of order, with Chapter 9 not being included (a nod to Christopher Eccleston, who declined to return as the Ninth Doctor in the episode). Each chapter is introduced by the Curator, who was played by Tom Baker in the episode.

It includes great interactions between the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, and presents excellent narration about the inner conflict of the War Doctor, who contemplated destroying the Time Lords (along with Gallifrey) and the Daleks to end the Time War. He was close to doing so until the Eleventh Doctor suggested saving the Time Lords and Gallifrey, but still destroying the Daleks.

The novel also includes several differences from the episode. The wedding between the Tenth Doctor and Elizabeth I wasn’t included in the novel, only mentioned in passing. The desktop of the TARDIS console room didn’t ‘glitch’ when three Doctors, each from a different time zone, were inside. None of the Doctors, except for the First, War, Tenth, and Eleventh, showed up via holograms in the War Room on Gallifrey; the Twelfth Doctor physically appeared in the Room.

It includes new scenes as well, including one between the Tenth Doctor and River Song before the main events of The Day of the Doctor but after Forest of the Dead. There are new scenes with the Tenth Doctor and Elizabeth I leading up to their picnic date, which was their first scene in the episode. And new scenes were included explaining what happened while all the Doctors were putting Gallifrey into the pocket universe. More excitingly, the last chapter is a completely new scene told from the point-of-view of the new Thirteenth Doctor (played by Jodie Whittaker), who made her debut in last year’s Christmas episode.

Various things are expanded on in the novel, as well. For example, in the episode, the Eleventh Doctor tells the War and Tenth Doctors they won’t remember the events of The Day of the Doctor because three of them together put their timeline out of sync. He doesn’t elaborate further in the episode. (For those who aren’t Doctor Who fans, all incarnations of the Doctor are the same person, just at different points in time). In the novel, a little more information is provided:

‘However hard the Doctor concentrated, two of them standing together played havoc with the timelines and made it all but impossible to form lasting memories […] the timelines were tied in a knot and [the Doctor’s] memory was all over the place.’ (p. 99)

In other words: if you time travel to a point of meeting yourself results in your younger self’s timeline not being synchronised, leading to them not retaining any memory of meeting your future self. So your present self will remember meeting your younger self, but your younger self won’t remember meeting your present self. (It’s all very complicated!).

Out-of-sync timelines were never a factor in past multi-Doctor stories, as all Doctors seemed to have retained memories of those events. But it makes sense, as time is meant to flow in one direction.

Clara, the Eleventh Doctor’s companion, could’ve been given more depth in the novel. Unfortunately, she instead comes across as two-dimensional. She seemed to only be in the novel to ask questions and appear conveniently to save the day.

But overall, the novelisation of The Day of the Doctor stands up reasonably well. Steven Moffat is to be congratulated for this, as it’s his first ever novel.

 


Words by Callum J. Jones

4/5 stars.

Images property of BBC.