top of page

Media Essays: 15 Facts About Doctor Who


Title Card

Written by The Wandering Fox


Greetings, and welcome to my second tribute to the 60th anniversary of Doctor Who, and you might have read my first tribute about the Eighth Doctor. With Doctor Who turning 60 this year, I thought it’d be fun to enlighten you guys on some interesting facts about Doctor Who. Fifteen Doctors in the main series, I thought why not do a fifteen facts countdown?


15: David Tennant kinda appeared in Doctor Who before.


Doctor Who fans will know Colin Baker and Peter Capaldi appeared on the series before they became the Sixth and Twelfth Doctors, with Baker playing Time Lord Commander Maxwell in Arc of Infinity and Capaldi playing Cacelius in Fires of Pompeii (Karen Gillan’s first appearance as well) and John Frobisher in Torchwood Children of Earth.


But would it amaze you to know that Tenth and Fourteenth Doctor actor David Tennant appeared in Doctor Who before? He did, but in other media like Big Finish and Scream of the Shalka.

Colditz

Tennant played Nazi Commander Kurtz in this audio.

Scream of the Shalka

Tennant played a security guard in Scream of the Shalka.


Tennant has been a fan of Doctor Who since he was a little boy, and he jumped at any chance he could get to take part in the series, and he took part in a few audios alongside Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy, but also appeared in a Unbound audio as a Time Lord and a pub landlord.


Tennant apparently heard recordings for Scream of the Shalka was going on in a studio he was next to and he gone in begging for a role. Gosh, isn’t he a fanboy? XD


So yes, while Colin Baker and Peter Capaldi appeared before in Doctor Who, David Tennant had as well.


14: The Many Celebrity Fans


As I mentioned, David Tennant is a big fan of Doctor Who, since he was a little boy, but you will be amazed to hear the amount of celebrities who love Doctor Who. But exactly what celebrities?


Meat Loaf.


Ryan Gosling.


Robert Downey Jr.


George Lucas.


Steve Martin.


Whoopi Goldberg.


Tom Hanks.


Benedict Cumberbatch.


J. Michael Tatum.


Stephen Hawking.


Peter Jackson.


Mark Hamill.


Stephen Hawking was said to have pretended to be a Dalek once he was in his wheelchair. Whoopi Goldberg apparently loves the show so much she’s tried to play the Doctor a bit.

Black Butler

J. Michael Tatum, who voices Sebastian in Black Butler, loves it so much he played a Time Lord in a Doctor Who fan film.


Cumberbatch did appear in the Doctor Who audio 45 in which he played archaeologist Carter.

The Daleks in Looney Tunes

Steve Martin loves Doctor Who so much he told WB he would only appear in Looney Tunes Back in Action if the Daleks were in it.

Peter Jackson's Doctor Who shrine

Jackson has his own Doctor Who memorabilia, it’s little to no wonder he casted Sylvester McCoy as Radaghast in his Hobbit films. Ironically, Jackson’s first film featured him playing a character who looks like the Fourth Doctor with a colourful scarf.


There’s many more celebrity fans of the show, it’s amazing such a small screen series could gain a fandom from such names.


13: The Children of the Doctors in the series


Doctor Who is quite well known as a family show which has taken on many different themes from drama, horror, action, racism, romance. Yet while families have been connected watching the show, you’ll be amazed to know the families of those who worked on Doctor Who are connected to the show.


Patrick Troughton’s son, David, appeared in his dad’s, Jon Pertwee’s and David Tennant’s series, mostly playing different characters.

David Troughton

David Troughton as King Peladon.


Peter Davison’s daughter, Georgia, appeared in Big Finish opposite her dad, then went on to play the Tenth Doctor’s daughter Jenny, then voiced another character in a Eighth Doctor audio. Georgia then went on to marry David Tennant.

David and Georgia Tennant

Georgia as Jenny.


Paul McGann’s son, Jake McGann, would go on to play a few characters in Big Finish before finally playing the Doctor’s great grandson Alex.

Jake McGann

Jake Sonny McGann as Alex.


While Five(ish) Doctors isn’t canon, Jon Pertwee’s son Sean, and David Tenant’s daughter Olive made a cameo. I might have missed a few others, but many relatives of the show’s actors have appeared. Doctor Who is a big thing of life and the families appearing in it only makes you understand how deep their love for it is.


12: The Four Ninth Doctors


For those of you who don’t know, there are four Ninth Doctors. You had Christopher Eccleston in the main series, but you’ll be interested to know there was others, as Richard E Grant, Rowan Atkinson and Nicholas Briggs portrayed their own Ninth Doctors.

Richard E. Grant Doctor

E Grant portrayed the Ninth Doctor in the animated Scream of the Shalka opposite future Doctor Who actors Derek Jacobi and Sophie Okendo, his Doctor somewhat in exile, working for the Time Lords after he did something wrong, with the Master working beside him but in a android body. He had a TARDIS themed mobile phone, and drank alcohol.

Rowan Atkinson Doctor

Rowan Atkinson’s Ninth Doctor was in the Steven Moffat 1999 comic relief sketch The Curse of Fatal Death, with him in a romantic relationship with his companion. Roman’s Doctor regenerated into Richard E Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Joanna Lumley.

Nick Briggs Doctor

Nicholas Briggs. Okay, he’s not exactly a Ninth Doctor. He was a Doctor Nicholas Briggs made in his fan audios, called the Nth Doctor, he was the Doctor’s ninth incarnation after the Stephen Payne Doctor. Brigg’s incarnation has an odd history, but he did appear in an Eighth Doctor comic but was actually the shapeshifter Shayde. This Doctor loved having tea.


11: Ridley Scott and Steven Spielberg almost worked on Doctor Who


Ridley Scott and Steven Spielberg do have a big thing for science fiction, wether it’s Alien, E.T, Minority Report, both filmmakers have quite the history of films. But you’d be interested to know these guys almost worked on Doctor Who.


Back in the 60s, Ridley Scott almost made the Daleks first appearance on TV, he was apparently going to be designing the set, and the Daleks themselves. Ridley left, there’s apparently different reasons which we will never know of, but it does make you wonder what Ridley’s Dalek designs might have looked like.


Oddly, many fans have theorised Ridley Scott was inspired by Doctor Who with The Ark in Space for Alien, given the similarities between both, crew-members have alien eggs inside them, the aliens are insect like in some physical traits, air vents are crawled through. I don’t know if Scott did become inspired by it, but there’s a lot of similarities. Doctors John Hurt and Paul McGann didn’t survive a Xenomorph.


Steven Spielberg tried to revive Doctor Who in 1993. Spielberg apparently is a Whovian, quoted as saying “The World would be a poorer place without Doctor Who”. You can find more of it here Sources: When Steven Spielberg Didn’t Direct Doctor Who, and the 1996 TV Movie | Daleks Aren’t Robots!? (daleksarentrobots.com)


One thing I know is Spielberg apparently wanted to make the Daleks more spider like Dalek Test Shot for Steven Spielberg's Doctor Who TV Series (from GamesMaster) - YouTube


Hmmm….maybe not? Well, it’s nice to know Steven tried to help Doctor Who.


10: Doctor Who saved lives


The show has had moments where the cast were almost killed on set, one of the most well known being from the Fourth and Seventh Doctor eras.


As he filmed The Sontaran Experiment, Tom Baker broke his collarbone, so they made his scarf into a sling to help him until they could get him proper help. That scarf might’ve been made by accident, but it was a lifesaver.


Filming for the story Battlefield, Sophie Aldred, who plays Ace, was almost killed while filming a cliffhanger ending in which Ace was trapped in a water tank. The glass cracked and Sophie’s hand was cut, and water was spilling towards live wires. Sylvester McCoy called for the staff to get Sophie out, thankfully saving her. Sophie and Sylvester are close friends to this day, and right there, the Doctor saved a life.


9: The actors who nearly played the Doctor


Though the Doctor has been played by many actors over the years, interestingly there was many castings which could’ve been interesting to watch. Although he played a alternate counterpart of the Doctor in the Dalek movies, Peter Cushing was offered the role of the Second Doctor, but he turned it down, which he apparently regretted.


Bernard Cribbins, who played a music manager, and Wilfred Mott, auditioned for the role of the Fourth Doctor, but once he told he was a paratrooper, they told him they didn’t want the Doctor hitting people. Bernard then recalled Tom “clobbering” someone as the Doctor.


Dawn French apparently wanted to play the Seventh Doctor.


The Eighth Doctor had a lot of different actors before we finally had McGann as the character. Tom Hanks, Eddie Murphy, Steve Martin, Tim Curry, Eric Idle, Richard Griffiths, and Jim Carey were all key people for the role. Hanks turned down the role as he said it wouldn’t feel right if a American was playing a British character, Carey turned it down because he didn’t know much of the show, and Tim Curry told Paul McGann to get the role, with McGann finally beating his brother Mark for the role.


Kinda funny, Tim Curry played King Max in Sonic SatAM and Jim Carrey plays Dr Robotnik XD


Helen Mirren was apparently a choice for the Ninth Doctor, Hugh Grant was as well.


Hayley Atwell, even before being Agent Carter, had a few roles as different characters in the Doctor Who audios, did want to play the Doctor, but once Capaldi was leaving, she decided not to go for it. Funny, she is in a Marvel movie with David Bradley, Toby Jones, Jenna Coleman, and was in Doctor Who before. I think she’d have made a good female Doctor if she had a good writer with her.


8: Crossovers


As would a franchise as long as Doctor Who has been around, crossovers we’re gonna come along. Some are interesting,

Doctor Who and Star Trek crossover

Others….my goodness….

Doctor Who and EastEnders crossover

AGGGHHHHHHHHH! EastEnders!? I hate that show! I hate it! Miserable, recycling the same story elements over and over!


But still, Doctor Who has had crossovers in many medias, like LEGO Dimensions Doctor Who Arrives In LEGO Dimensions! - YouTube


The Doctor, Batman and Gandalf, what’s there to hate? And Sonic the Hedgehog LEGO Dimensions - Sonic Reactions #1 - Himself, B.A. Baracus, Newt Scamander and Doctor Who - YouTube


Lol, Sonic, the Sonic Screwdriver came along in 1968 XD


In other cases, Doctor Who crossed over in some different manners. One example includes how a character from the Pokémon franchise looks strikingly similar to the 10th Doctor...

Looker and the 10th Doctor

Looker and the Tenth Doctor.


Let’s see, brown spiky hair, brown suit, trench coat. But hey, Billie Piper, who played Rose Tyler in Doctor Who, did sing a song for the album of Pokémon: The First Movie.

The 13th Doctor and Adrien Agreste

Thirteenth Doctor dressed similar to Adrien Agreste.

Alya's Doctor Who themed room

Alya is a big fan. Then there’s Bunnyx, a time travelling hero, who’s Burrow resembles the TARDIS interior and “It’s bigger on the inside” is said.

Xenomorph appearance.

Xenomorph in a Doctor Who episode.


And there’s Bill and Ted travelling through time and space in a phone box.


Though with Doctor Who under Disney now, how long will it be before we have crossovers with Disney Princesses, Marvel, or shorts involving The Owl House characters? Yeah, Marvel UK had a few unknown Doctor Who foes fight Brian Braddock, though Disney might want to do a bit more. They love money.


7: Doctor Who changed the lives of those who worked on it


Many will think Doctor Who is simply a show of time travel with aliens, and it’s simple as that. But it’s not. Doctor Who is so incredibly special to those who worked on it, it changed the lives of many who worked on it.


William Hartnell, the First Doctor, was well known for playing tough and gruff types, but William hated his violent roles and apparently he took the role of the Doctor because it helped him escape being typecast as a gruff character, and his granddaughters could watch him in a show. Hartnell’s health was drastically changing by 1972 that once The Three Doctors was being made, his wife told the producers he couldn’t be there on set. They had him in a room and read from cue cards. It’s often said Hartnell’s deteriorating health in the 60s caused him to leave, many wondering if he was “kindly” pushed out, which is a shame because Doctor Who made him feel more at ease. But William was keen to come back, and his final appearance is one worth taking in.


Colin Baker was affected by Doctor Who since he watched it as a youngster and wanted to play him so much, and though Colin’s time on the show ended horribly, he didn’t blame the show or the fans, he kept the franchise going through the Wilderness Years by writing comics for Doctor Who magazine, doing fan films in which he played a Doctor-esque character, and thanks to the stories of Big Finish, Colin gained more respect from the fandom over the years. I met him twice, and he’s one heck of a good hearted guy.


Christopher Eccleston might’ve had a difficult era in working on the show, but his experience with Doctor Who fans in recent years began to slowly open him back up to the universe of Doctor Who, the fans he met being friendly towards him, though he still had some worry. Then we had this. Paul McGann met with Eccleston and told him how he was afraid after the TV film failed, with McGann thinking he ruined Doctor Who, but the fans being kind enough to him helped him warm back in the role of the Doctor in Big Finish, telling him the fans will be kind to him. Eccleston was amazed to learn McGann was right. And with Christopher having returned to voice the Doctor in Big Finish, I think it’s a combo of McGann, Briggs and the fans assuring Christopher they wanted him back.


Matt Smith and Karen Gillian are a lot more famous now thanks to Doctor Who, though you’ll be interested to know Matt took his job as the Doctor so deeply he wrote fanfiction of the Doctor and Einstein going to the Pyramids, and it helped him find his confidence as a creative actor. Karen is deeply loving towards the show and it’s what made her into a writer and a film creative.


Or Nicholas Briggs, who helped the show alive in the wilderness years by making his own audio adventures before finally making Big Finish.


Doctor Who is deeper than many think, and the cast and crew who took part in it know of it. I only hope this inspiration continues with Ncuti Gatwa.


6: The Doctor’s family


The Doctor’s family is shrouded in mystery, with only Susan, Jenny and Alex being key characters we know of from the Doctor’s family. But if there’s something quite interesting in the expanded media of Doctor Who, it’s how with some continuities do reveal more about the Doctor’s family.


I will say I think Big Finish is canon given Moffat canonised it in The Night of the Doctor, and it’d be disrespectful to say it isn’t as the actors from the show do these audios.


The books did introduce Irving Braxietal, the Doctor’s brother. Irving was a bit more dedicated to the Time Lords, and he had foul language like calling Cybermen “metallic bastards” and had a recurring relationship with Bernice Summerfield. Irving does appear in the audios but I don’t think he’s the Doctor’s brother in the audios, though he did fight in the Time War and got Ace out of it.


In the Cartmel Masterplan, which would’ve revealed the Doctor was a founding figure of Galifrey called the Other, and was reincarnated as the First Doctor, it would have been revealed Leela was the Other’s mother. Leela was pregnant with Andred’s child and the Seventh Doctor gazed into Leela’s eyes. He then told Leela to name her son after him. Given the Eighth Doctor said he was half human from his mum’s side, yeah….though the fandom didn’t take well to this and Big Finish seemingly debunked the idea.


The Other’s wife Patience was once married to Omega but after he disappeared in a black hole, she was widowed before marrying the Other and had many children with him, and one of them was Susan’s father.


The Other has been brought up a bit now and then and with the Timeless Child, it does make you wonder if he might’ve actually existed.


The Doctor’s evil son would’ve appeared in the First Doctor era but this wasn’t made on TV and has been left as a what if.


4: The cancelled 30th anniversary story

Doctor Who was cancelled in 1989, but the fans were not letting the show go. With the thirtieth anniversary coming in 1993, there was some fans in the BBC who wanted to give Doctor Who a return, and we almost got it, before getting the crossover with EastEnders.


The story would’ve been called The Dark Dimension, a dark future has the Seventh Doctor die but the creature which killed him is sent through the time vortex and stops the Fourth Doctor from regenerating, with him living on after Logopolis, but there’d be a dark timeline made from his survival. Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart and Ace would’ve returned, Ace dating his son, and Rick Mayall was rumoured to be the villain of the story. Daleks and Cybermen would’ve appeared in this story, the Daleks looking more action ready and the Cybermen resembling skeletons. The Fourth Doctor would have fought the villain on a roof and a time vortex would open and both fall, with the Fourth Doctor regenerating at the end of Logopolis, and the creature would’ve died, the Seventh Doctor would’ve lived.

Cyberman design from the Dark Dimension

Cyberman from the Dark Dimension


The Third, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors would’ve appeared, but in smaller roles. Reason why this wasn’t made was BBC VHS didn’t have enough money to cover it and Colin Baker wanted more screen-time, and so instead we had the EastEnders crossover.


If only they finally came together and made this in an animated story.


3: The costumes

With the Doctor, the character has worn quite a lot of costumes over the years, some of which are well known, from the Fourth Doctor’s long scarf, the Sixth Doctor’s rainbow coat, and the Eleventh Doctor’s bow tie, you’d be curious as to how these costumes came to be. A few of the actors did get to choose how they looked, like Matt Smith who gone for the college professor costume instead of Steven Moffat’s pirate like costume, but others not so much.

Colin Baker wanted his Doctor to wear a black suit, to blend in wherever he went. The showrunner though wanted his Doctor to wear a costume which would represent the fashion revolution in the 80s and we got the rainbow coat. Big Finish did help by giving the Sixth Doctor a blue suit.

Blue Sixth Doctor suit

A fan render of the Sixth Doctor’s blue coat.


But Sylvester McCoy’s hat made it into the show. And McGann did get to wear a blue leather coat in Dark Eyes.


2: The TARDIS’s lost room

Wooden TARDIS room

Though I love the Eighth Doctor’s TARDIS, there were many TARDIS rooms which didn’t get to make a long return, and that would be the Fourth Doctor’s wooden TARDIS room.


It kinda looked old but mysterious, which I think suited the theme of the Doctor. This room never came back onscreen for the wood rotted, but the Eighth Doctor did find it during the Time War. It’d be sweet if they remade this room for the modern series with the Doctor finding it again.

1: Nineteen Doctors


You might be confused, for Ncuti Gatwa will be playing the Fifteenth Doctor, we had a couple of mystery Doctors with the War Doctor and the Fugitive Doctor so you’d think there’d be seventeen. But there’s nineteen. Day of the Doctor introduced the Curator, who is said to be the Doctor in the far future, Tom Baker playing him. Tom returned as him in the Eighth Doctor audio box set Stranded but in the final box set, Colin Baker portrayed the Curator. Steven Moffat, creator of the Curator, helped Big Finish do more with his character, with him saying the Curator changes form depending on the theme.

Though we must know this. No matter how many times the Doctor regenerates, it’s still the Doctor, the alien, the hero.


Happy Birthday Doctor Who, and may you make it to 100!

Comments


bottom of page