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Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a mysterious alien time-traveller known as "the Doctor" who travels in his space and time-ship, the TARDIS, which normally appears from the exterior to be a blue 1950s police box. With his companions, he explores time and space, solving problems, facing a variety of foes and righting wrongs.
The programme is listed in Guinness World Records as the longest-running science fiction television show in the world, and as the "most successful" science fiction series of all time, in terms of its overall broadcast ratings, DVD sales, book sales and iTunes traffic, as well as "illegal downloads." It has been recognised for its imaginative stories, creative low-budget special effects during its original run, and pioneering use of electronic music (originally produced by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop). The show is a significant part of British popular culture; in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, it has become a cult television favourite and has influenced generations of British television professionals, many of whom grew up watching the series. It has received recognition from critics and the public as one of the finest British television programmes, including the BAFTA Award for Best Drama Series in 2006.
The programme originally ran from 1963 to 1989. After an unsuccessful attempt to revive regular production with a backdoor pilot in the form of a 1996 television film, the programme was successfully relaunched in 2005, produced in-house by BBC Wales in Cardiff. The first was produced by the BBC and seasons two and three of the new series had some development money contributed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which was credited as a co-producer. Doctor Who has also spawned spin-offs in multiple media, including Torchwood (2006–2011), The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007–2011), Class (2016), the standalone K-9 (2009–2011) and a single 1981 pilot episode of K-9 and Company.
The show's protagonist, the Doctor, has been played by thirteen (or fourteen... or more) actors over the history of the show so far. The transition from one actor to another is written into the plot of the show as regeneration, and the different portrayals are often treated as distinct characters, to the extent that they have on occasion encountered one another and worked together.
And who are these Doctors we speak of?
- William Hartnell (1963–1966)
- Patrick Troughton (1966–1969)
- Jon Pertwee (1970–1974)
- Tom Baker (1974–1981)
- Peter Davison (1981–1984)
- Colin Baker (1984–1986)
- Sylvester McCoy (1987–1989, 1996)
- Paul McGann (1996)
Rowan Atkinson (1999)
- John Hurt (2013, who played an "in-between" incarnation in the 50th Anniversary special)
- Christopher Eccleston (2005)
- David Tennant (2005–2010)
- Matt Smith (2010–2013)
- Peter Capaldi (2013–2017)
- Jodie Whittaker (2017–present)