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Doctor Who Facts

Posted by on Dec. 12, 2014 at 3:21 PM
  • 6 Replies

The first 20 are here with some other things:

Some Facts - CafeMom

21. The Twelfth Doctor was a teenage superfan


Peter Capaldi’s casting as the Doctor must have been all the sweeter for an actor who set his sights on Whovian world domination aged 14. According to the book The Official Doctor Who Fan Club Volume One (!) the teenage Capaldi, already a vigorous writer of letters to the BBC and the Radio Times, was incensed at being passed over for the presidency of the show’s fan club after a rival, the 13-year-old Keith Miller, got the gig instead. Sarah Newman, the Doctor Who producer’s secretary, became so cross at the subsequent deluge of Capaldi letters that she wrote to Miller: ‘I think he’s the end and I wish the Daleks or someone would exterminate him.’ Presumably, all is now forgiven.

22. Delia Derbyshire received no royalties for her work on the Doctor Who score

Delia Derbyshire (1937-2001) is a fascinating figure in the annals of British electronic music, now namechecked as an influence by the likes of Aphex Twin and the Chemical Brothers, but the BBC was reluctant to reward her extraordinary talent. After studying maths and music at Cambridge, she began working for the BBC in 1960, graduating to the nascent Radiophonic Workshop in 1962. There, she brought musique concrète techniques to an unassuming score by the composer Ron Grainer, who had sent over a simple bassline and melody with vague scribbles on it like ‘wind bubble’ and ‘cloud’. Derbyshire sampled a single plucked string on analogue tape and adjusted its pitch and speed for each note of the melody, backing it up with an oscillator bassline and keyboard swoops. ‘Did I write that?’ Grainer is said to have asked upon hearing the piece. ‘Most of it,’ she replied.

Grainer attempted to persuade the BBC to give Derbyshire a half cut of royalties from the theme, but the corporation, which preferred to keep its ‘technical’ staffers anonymous, refused. (See also the case of the Daleks designer, Ray Cusick.) Derbyshire eventually quit the BBC for the wider horizons of avant-garde music and electronic psychedelia, before retiring from music altogether.

23. And she would have loved this clip of the theme being played on eight floppy drives:

24. The Beatles briefly made Who rock

In the 1965 Daleks story The Chase, the crew of the Tardis are shown ‘rocking out’ to a clip of the Fab Four performing Ticket to Ride on Top of the Pops. A traveller from the future remarks that she’s heard of the Beatles, but didn’t realise they sang ‘classical music’, Thanks to a BBC archive purge, this is only surviving footage of the band on Top of the Pops.

25. The Doctor once advertised computers

Back when BBC properties were allowed to be used for commercial gain, Tom Baker and Lalla Ward – then a real-life couple – used their sexual energy to hawk the decidedly unsexy Prime range of microcomputers. Made in 1980, they can now be seen on the DVD release of Destiny of the Daleks and on YouTube.

by on Dec. 12, 2014 at 3:21 PM
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by Bigby Wolf on Dec. 12, 2014 at 3:27 PM

26. The original TARDIS key was designed by Jon Pertwee

Prior to 1973, the key to the TARDIS looked much like an ordinary Yale key. In fact, it was an ordinary Yale key. Jon Pertwee, however, wanted something fancier, so helped to create the copper, spade-like key that made its first appearance in The Time Warrior. The design has been used as the TARDIS key template ever since.

27. Sylvester McCoy never stood a chance

The BBC’s internal research on McCoy’s debut as the Time Lord, in 1987, revealed that 30 per cent of audiences liked ‘nothing’ about his first series, and that he received a ‘personal summary index figure’ of 46 – much less than the ‘only moderately popular’ Colin Baker and almost half that of Bergerac’s Jim Nettles. Bonnie Langford, playing his assistant Mel, fared even worse. The report noted that ‘56 per cent of respondents who answered a questionnaire on the Paradise Towers story wished she had been eaten’.

28. But he was quite the trouper

As the departed Colin Baker declined to film a regeneration scene, the incumbent McCoy had to play both his part and the part of his predecessor – with the aid of a blond curly wig.

29. The Doctor’s last anniversary special wasn’t exactly a success

Doctor Who lands in Albert Square. What could possibly go wrong? To celebrate the series’ 30th anniversary, the BBC assembled the four remaining Doctors (Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy) and had them battling The Rani alongside the cast of EastEnders. In 3D! With aged future versions of Pauline Fowler and Kathy Beale, a hilarious mistaken identity joke involving Dr Legg, and ripe dialogue such as ‘Pickled in time ... Like gherkins in a jar!’, only the fact that it was for Children in Need makes this just about excusable. Still, everybody seems to have had fun making it:

30. Time Lords need to eat too

Doctor Who has inspired many an odd item – but few as a left-field as a cookbook. Chris-Rachael Oseland’s Dining with the Doctor: The Unauthorized Whovian Cookbook contains a recipe for each episode of the series since the 2005 reboot and no fewer than 18 ‘adult beverages’. Other recipes include ‘Open Faced Dalek Ironsides’, ‘Cinnamon Pull Apart a Crack in the Wall’ and ‘Chicken and Ood Soup’.

31. The writers' imaginations are even wilder than you think

Colin’s Baker’s debut Who episode, The Twin Dilemma, is commonly dismissed by Who fans as one of the worst ever. But scriptwriter Anthony Steven claimed to have had an excellent excuse: his typewriter exploded as he was writing it.

32. Tom Baker has mixed feelings about New Zealand

Although he reportedly turned down the role of Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films because he didn’t want to spend months on end in New Zealand, the fourth Doctor visited Auckland in 1997 for another reason. Amazingly, Baker – plus the TARDIS, plus a facsimile of the Who theme – was allowed by the BBC to appear as the Time Lord in advertisements for a retirement fund that can ‘shape the future’.

33. Knitting Doctor Who characters could land you in hot water

The BBC is notoriously protective of its products and doesn’t take kindly to unofficial merchandising – as one keen viewer found out in 2008. The fan, who went by the screen name of Mazzmatazz, committed the grave error of posting intricate knitting patterns of Doctor Who characters on his/her web page. They were duly sent a cease-and-desist notice from the Corporation, who warned against the use of ‘trade marks and copyright owned by the BBC’. The offending pages were taken down and the website no longer exists.

34. Daleks are collectors’ items

Since making their appearance in the second ever Doctor Who episode, the Daleks have become icons. And if you had had a spare £20,400 lying around in 2009, you could have got your hands one the only remaining 1963 Dalek (one of a set of four, together costing £1,000 to build), which was sold by auction house Bonhams as part of a large Doctor Who sale. A blue shirt worn by David Tennant went for £1,200.

35. Watching every episode doesn’t have to take 50 years

Had you been in Sydney at the end of September, you would have had the chance to see all 798 Doctor Who episodes distilled into a one-hour show. Or at least, that was the aim of the writer and star, Pat Magee. In the style of the highly successful off-Broadway One Man Star Wars Trilogy, Magee – along with two men and a woman – set about recreating all the series’ action, ‘Dimensions in Time’ aside.

36. Michael Jackson almost played the Doctor


Hollywood has never known what on earth to do with Doctor Who, so has mostly left him alone. But in the Eighties, according to the book Now on the Big Screen: The Unofficial and Unauthorized Guide to Doctor Who at the Cinema, Paramount Pictures considered making a Who film with the Moonwalker-era Michael Jackson. Their second choice? Bill Cosby. But stranger things have almost happened: in 2003, Robbie Williams was approached by the BBC to voice an animated Doctor Who story, Scream of the Shalka. ‘We all sat around wondering, ‘Is this a good idea? Is this a crazy idea?’’ said producer Muirinn Lane Kelly. Williams was sadly unavailable; the part went to Richard E Grant.

37. The role comes with a certain amount of baggage

The second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, made the decision to quit the role after three years due to a fear of becoming typecast. At the time, this move was seen as so unusual and significant that leaving a series for this reason has become unofficially known as ‘the Troughton rule’. Later prospective Doctors shied away from taking the role due to pre-emptive fears of typecasting: Benedict Cumberbatch said no because he didn’t like the idea of ‘being on school lunch boxes’, and Bill Nighy also turned down the role but, out of courtesy, would not say when. However, outgoing Doctor Matt Smith claims to have no fear of typecasting, saying, ‘If people want to typecast me they can, I can sit and have me egg sandwich and not really give a damn about it.’

38. Just ask Christopher Eccleston

The Ninth Doctor left the series abruptly, after just one season, for reasons that always seemed murky. But the actor reportedly made his feelings a little clearer in 2011, during an acting workshop at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. According to the BadWilf blog, when asked why he left the role Eccleston replied: ‘I left Doctor Who because I could not get along with the senior people. I left because of politics. I did not see eye-to-eye with them. I didn’t agree with the way things were being run. I didn’t like the culture that had grown up around the series.’

39. The daughter of the fifth doctor starred as the 10th doctor’s daughter – and then married him


When David Tennant filmed the episode ‘The Doctor’s Daughter’, he didn’t realise his daughter would later become his wife. Tennant went on to marry Georgia Moffett, who played the episode’s eponymous title role, in 2011. However, although Moffett became the Doctor’s wife, she remained the Doctor’s daughter biologically, since her father is Peter Davison, who played the fifth Doctor from 1981 to 1984.

by Bigby Wolf on Dec. 12, 2014 at 3:29 PM

40. The sound of the Tardis was created on the cheap, with a bunch of keys

Necessity was the mother of invention in the early days of Doctor Who, and so it was that the distinctive sound of the Tardis materialising came to be invented using house keys. Brian Hodgson of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop dragged the keys across the bass strings of an old piano, and played the resulting sound backwards.

41. Priests are Whovians too

In 2007 St Paul’s Church, Cardiff, held a Doctor Who-themed service to draw young people into the church. Father Dean Atkins, a youth officer with the Diocese of Llandaff, drew parallels between Our Lord and the Time Lord: ‘The figure of Doctor Who is somebody who comes to save the world, almost a Messiah figure,’ he said. ‘Christ is a kind of cosmic figure as well if you like, somebody who does not travel through time but all eternity is found in him.’ At a conference organised by evangelical organisation the Church Army in 2008, vicars were urged to use examples from the programme in their sermons; sessions included ‘Meaningful Monsters: Daleks through the decades’.

42. The ‘Time Lady’ debate has raged since the beginning of time

Sydney Newman wanted to save Doctor Who’s dwindling viewing figures in the Eighties by introducing a ‘time lady’. Criticising the direction taken by the show, Newman wrote an angry letter to Michael Grade stating that it had become ‘socially valueless, escapist schlock’. He said that he did not want to create a typical Hollywood heroine, as a character ‘with no flaws is a bore’. However, Grade rejected his advice. Fifth Doctor Peter Davison also dismissed the idea of a female Doctor: ‘It’s not as if you would have a female James Bond’.

43. Elizabeth Sladen wasn’t originally supposed to play Sarah Jane Smith


The actress April Walker was originally cast in the role of Sarah Jane Smith, the third Doctor’s companion. She was given a contract and began rehearsals with Jon Pertwee, but it soon became apparent that the pair did not have the necessary chemistry and were an odd physical pairing. Elizabeth Sladen received the role after a recommendation from a BBC producer, and a successful meeting with Pertwee in which he stood behind her and gave producer Barry Letts the thumbs up.

44. Michael Grade is mistakenly hated by Doctor Who fans

Many Doctor Who fans place the blame for Doctor Who’s demise in the Eighties heavily on Michael Grade’s shoulders. It’s no secret that the man who was BBC One’s Controller from 1984 to 1986 wasn’t a fan of the show (he called it ‘rubbish’ and ‘pathetic’), and he did suspend the series in 1986 and dismiss Colin Baker (who he described as ‘absolutely God-awful’ in the role). However, it was actually Jonathan Powell who cancelled Doctor Who in 1989; by then Michael Grade was controller of Channel Four. When the series was successfully revived in 2005, Grade wrote a letter congratulating the BBC on the triumph, ending with, ‘PS never dreamed I would ever write this. Must be going soft!’.

45. The BBC fought the law for the right to make TARDIS cookie jars

When the Time Lord took on the Metropolitan Police, there could be only one winner. And in 2002, after a six-year battle, the Patent Office declared that the exterior design of the TARDIS could be patented by the BBC for use on Doctor Who-related merchandise. The Met had challenged the application on the grounds that the design belonged to them; after all, in a previous incarnation, Tardises had been seen on the streets of Britain masquerading as public police telephone boxes. Lawyers ruled that, given that the Met had stopped using the boxes in the Sixties, the design was now more closely associated with Doctor Who. Et voila: the TARDIS dressing gown, the TARDIS cookie jar, the TARDIS soap dispenser and the TARDIS UV Book Light, ‘so you can write secret notes to The Doctor’.

46. Douglas Adams was a Doctor Who writer in the Seventies

Adams, author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books, was involved with the show in the late Seventies, writing a serial called The Pirate Planet and missing out on a second, Shada, only because of a strike. He is also supposed to have written a lot of the script for Destiny of the Daleks (1979). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the episodes that Adams supervised are well-known for bringing out the humorous – some might say demented – aspects of Tom Baker’s Time Lord.

47. Matt Smith is the youngest Doctor ever

Smith debuted in the role at the age of 27, making him the youngest actor to play the part. The Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, was previously the youngest, beginning the role at the age of 29. William Hartnell has always held the title of the oldest Doctor, taking on the role at the age of 55; new Doctor Peter Capaldi will also be 55 when he takes over from Matt Smith.

48. Not everybody loves the Sonic Screwdriver


Ah, the Sonic Screwdriver, that most divisive object in the New Who arsenal. First introduced at the end of the Sixties, it was written out of the show in 1982 at the instruction of producer John Nathan-Turner. Along with several other members of the production crew, Nathan-Turner felt that giving the Doctor a device that let him unlock doors, weld metal, detonate explosives and fix machinery limited the writers’ dramatic options – so the old faithful got zapped by a Terileptil in The Visitation and the series soldiered on without it.

Russell T Davies revived the Sonic Screwdriver when he relaunched the series in 2005, since which time it has gone through several mechanical iterations, piling on the functionality like a Gallifreyan iPhone. Among other miracles, it can now fly the Tardis, heal the sick and wounded, unlock mobile phones for galactic roaming, serve as a GPS and MRI and start fires, leading the old-school hardliners of the series to complain that it’s little more than another deux ex machina in a show already full of them. In response, Davies and his successors invented a few arcane baffles to counter the screwdriver’s dominance: it won’t work on wood and it won’t unlock devices sealed with ‘deadlocks’, which, to judge by their sudden omnipresence, must be flying out of the doors at the temporal-galactic equivalent of Homebase. (The Doctor, we learnt in Silence in the Library, will one day manage an upgrade.)

49. The Daleks almost didn’t appear in the revived series due to a copyright dispute

When the series was revived in 2005, there was a very real chance that the Daleks themselves were going to be exterminated. The estate of Terry Nation (who was co-creator of the Daleks) owns their copyright, and to begin with they were unable to come to an agreement with the BBC with regards to editorial control. However, after a lengthy dispute in which the estate accused the BBC of trying to ‘ruin the brand of the Daleks’, the Daleks returned. Antony Wainer, the spokesman for the Doctor Who Appreciation Society, was relieved, saying, ‘Doctor Who without Daleks would be like Morecambe without Wise or Wimbledon without strawberries.’

50. Doctor Who really is a doctor

In 1967 serial The Moonbase, the Doctor (played by Patrick Troughton) spent some time in a sick bay. Upon being asked by his companion (Anneke Wills), ‘Listen, are you really a medical doctor?’ he replied, ‘Yes, I think I was once, Polly. I think I took a degree once in Glasgow. 1888 I think’.

by Choo Choo on Dec. 12, 2014 at 3:32 PM
What is this?
by Grammar Enthusiast on Dec. 12, 2014 at 3:35 PM
1 mom liked this

Quoting Choobang: What is this?
by Choo Choo on Dec. 12, 2014 at 3:39 PM
Lol... I know! :/ I live in a box. I haven't seen a single episode or even know what channel it comes on. Sad... What's the premise of the story? I love British films.

Quoting Danesmommy1: Whaaaaaa???

Quoting Choobang: What is this?
by Grammar Enthusiast on Dec. 12, 2014 at 4:00 PM
1 mom liked this
It's a TV show on the BBC. I mostly know about New Who, which began in 05. The Doctor is a Time Lord who travels in a British policebox with various (usually female) companions.

It's a sci-fi/fantasy type show. It's kind of cheesy, but that's the fun of it. The Tenth Doctor is my favorite. There's a great and horrible love story between him and the companion Rose Tyler.

DS is really into the show. Several of his Xmas gifts are DW related.

Quoting Choobang: Lol... I know! :/ I live in a box. I haven't seen a single episode or even know what channel it comes on. Sad... What's the premise of the story? I love British films.

Quoting Danesmommy1: Whaaaaaa???

Quoting Choobang: What is this?
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