The very first episode of Doctor Who aired on BBC television at 17:15 on 23 November 1963. In the first episode we were introduced to the Doctor, his grandaughter Susan and school teachers Ian Chesterton and Barabara Wright who were soon to become his travelling companions. Sydney Newman, who was Head Of Drama at the time was mainly responsible for developing the programme, while Verity Lambert was brought on board as producer. William Hartnell was cast in the role of the Doctor while Carol Ann Ford, William Russell and Jaqueline Hill made up the rest of the cast.
The programme was originally intended to appeal to family audiences and was seen as a vehicle for teaching children about science and history, though this changed considerably over the years as historical stories were seen as less popular and so became less used in favour of the futuristic and alien themed stories. It wasn't until the show returned in 2005 after its cancellation that a greater emphasis was put back into telling stories set during Earth's history.
Throughout the years the cast changed enormously and the show was produced, directed, written and run by many different and outstanding people, though despite all the changes both in front and behind the camera, the programme continued to be made by the BBC drama department's for 26 series before it's initial 'suspension' in 1989. Fans were outraged at the BBC's 'agenda' to get rid of one of Britains most loved shows, especially after the adventures of the newest Doctor, the seventh at the time, had seen the show start to increase its viewership with many fans feeling that the writing, acting and production was better than it had been in years. Despite the protests, episode 3 of Survival on December 6th 1989 marked the last regular episode of Doctor Who for nearly 16 years.
Despite the initial cancellation, rumours were rife for a long time that the BBC was eager to bring Doctor Who back in some form and negotiations were taking place behind the scenes for a long time before fans were rewarded with the news that the BBC, BBC Worldwide, Universal Television and Fox were working together on a television movie which would act as a pilot in the hopes of bringing around a new American co produced television series. Paul McGann was cast in the role of the Eighth Doctor and the movie finally hit screens in 1996. Despite being a ratings success in the UK, it didnt fair so well in the US and no further series materialised.
It seemed for many that all hope was lost until one fateful day in September 2003 when BBC Television announced the in-house production of a new series after several years of unsuccessful attempts by BBC Worldwide to find backing for a feature film version. The executive producers of the new incarnation of the series were writer Russell T Davies and BBC Cymru Wales Head of Drama Julie Gardner. Understandably, fans were exstatic.
Doctor Who finally returned to our screens with over 9 million viewers with the episode "Rose" on BBC One on Saturday 26th March 2005. Since then the show has seen three new incarnations of the Doctor and gone from strenth to strenth, picking up new viewers each year with 4 full series and a group of specials already aired, a sixth series currently filming and a seventh already commisioned. It takes home bags of awards each year and is one of the most critically revered shows in the world, currently broadcasting on over 50 countries around the globe.
This week the show celebrates it's 47th anniversary. 47 years of Doctors. 47 years of companions. 47 years of villains, aliens, friends, planets, adventures and above all, 47 years of some of the greatest episodes of television ever made. We have a whole section of the forum dedicated to this special day. Come and check it out HERE