Dr Who 40 Today

by Harry on November 23, 2003

The first episode of Dr. Who was broadcast 40 years ago today. Some of you will know that the BBC is planning to bring the series back, after a long hiatus, though the title role has not yet been cast. Sylvester Stallone perhaps? Anyway, congratulations to the Doctor on his birthday, and thanks to the BBC for bringing him, or her, back. (See also cartoon version, watchable if you have broadband, on BBCi here).



Chris Bertram 11.23.03 at 7:07 pm

I remember the first time I saw it, which must have been near the beginning, with William Hartnell as the Doctor. Terrifying and atmospheric and such a wonderful intro with that spooky music. I don’t know if it became tamer or I just got older. Tom Baker was probably my favourite Doctor, but none of the aliens ever came close to the Daleks.


Theophylact 11.23.03 at 8:49 pm

I’ve heard that they’ve cast Eddie Izzard. Now that would be something…


--kip 11.23.03 at 9:19 pm

Eddie Izzard is nothing but a rumor, sadly.

Myself, I stick by my earlier suggestion: why not Rob Morrow, née Doctor Joel Fleischman of Cicely, Alaska?

It’s just crazy enough to work…

(As a sidenote: everyone’s familiar with the “Spot the Timelord” sophomoric bull session? Find fictional characters who have a propensity for turning up in odd places and times, who live in [or with] iconic items that are much larger on the inside than on the outside. Applying this standard, then, we find that Mary Poppins, Snoopy, and Oscar the Grouch all fit the basic Time Lord criteria.)

PS: Peter Davidson, and don’t ever let anyone tell you different.


Andrew Northrup 11.23.03 at 9:31 pm

I’m very pleased that Eddie Izzard is not a done deal; first, because he’d be awful, and, secondly, because there is still hope that people will give Richard E. Grant the role he was born to play.


harry 11.23.03 at 9:38 pm

The rule is that your favourite Doctor is the first you really knew. Chris is obviously an exception. I sort of follow the rule, preferring Pertwee (just about) to all others; but Sylvester McCoy is a close second, with Ace by far my favourite companion.
Yes, Chris, it got tamer *and* you got older.

I just hope they don’t give it to some pretty young boy (I would like Nick Lyndhurst or Geoffrey Palmer myself, but Richard E Grant would be fine) and they get on with it in time for Nicholas Courtney to appear for the final time as Lethbridge Stewart.


Dave 11.23.03 at 11:33 pm

First of all, you don’t need broadband for the animation: there is a narrowband version; it’s just slow.

I agree with Harry, ergo Patrick Troughton for me.

They spoiled the music, which used to be scary by being so weird, with a drum track, making it sound like everything else. (But they have responded to complaints, and maybe that changed.)

It’s Richard E Grant in the current animation, which is crap for lots of reasons, none due to him.

The Daleks were the only enemies who really worked.

I remember my dad said of the change from Troughton to Pertwee that “it went from being for clever children to being for stupid teenagers” which may sum up my dad more than Dr Who, but I think he was right. They lost the educational brief where he went back in time for “educational” purposes, and it lost something with that.

As for the new Doctor, I prefer them old, so either Leslie Grantham (Dirty Den) or an old Goodie or Python (any would do).


Arnold Bocklin 11.24.03 at 12:17 am

The best of the Doctors were unknowns when they were cast — well trodden character actors who stole every scene they were in, but previously never got to play the lead. The current fan favourite for the role seems to be Bill Nighy. He’d be terrific.


Jon H 11.24.03 at 1:00 am

If Ian McKellan were the new Doctor, he’d wrap up a geek trifecta – Magneto, Gandalf, and Doctor Who.


Keith 11.24.03 at 2:14 am

Tony Wilson would be an amazing Dr. Who. Just watch 24 Hour Party People. he has the perfect balance of crankiness, wackiness and smarts.


Nabakov 11.24.03 at 5:40 am

I’m with Harry. No pretty boys. Remember that disasterous film in the 90s with Paul McGann as the Doctor.

The Doctor needs have something of the dotty don about him.

Bill Nighy would be a very interesting choice -he certainly looks not quite of this earth. For a really off the wall Who – how about Bill Drummond?

The idea of Tony Wilson is fun, and he used to have his own Tardis in reverse…the Hacienda.


dsquared 11.24.03 at 2:08 pm

I always thought that the Daleks were pretty badly overrated; the stairs thing has been done to death, but what about the genius idea of having your only sense-organ located on a yard-long stalk waving about with supreme vulnerability in front of you? Or for that matter, the lack of a decent manipulatory appendage, meaning that Daleks had to employ disgruntled slave-races for any task that required more dexterity than was available with a sink-plunger.

The Cybermen, otoh, were rock. And so were the Sontarans.


harry 11.24.03 at 5:11 pm

I liked the Daleks, maybe because I was too young (or too stupid) to recognise their weaknesses. But the Cybermen were far the most terrifying to me. Ice Warriors a close second. I thought it was fine with Pertwee (I loved UNIT, which shows a youthful cosmopolitanism perhaps) — it lost its bearings under Douglas Adams etc with Tom Baker, but even those I like. I’m an uncritical fan, to be honest.
Yep, any Goodie or any Python would be great.


Mark 11.24.03 at 6:43 pm

38 years ago the Cybermen frightened me so much I was forced to watch the rest of the episode from behind the sofa…….

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