Doctor Who is a long-running British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC about a mysterious time-travelling adventurer known only as "The Doctor". It is also the title of a 1996 television movie featuring the same character. It is common to see the show's title abbreviated as Dr. Who, even by the BBC, although purists consider this form incorrect.
The programme is a significant part of British popular culture, widely recognised for its creative storytelling and pioneering use of music (originally produced by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop). It is also known for the innovative, low-budget special effects used for most of its history prior to 1996. Elements of the programme are extremely well known and identifiable even to non-fans. In Britain and elsewhere, the show has become a cult television favourite on a par with Star Trek and has influenced generations of British television writers, many of whom grew up watching the series. It has also received recognition from critics and the public as one of the finest British television programmes.
After a long period off screen, a new series of Doctor Who started in 2005, continuing the programme from the original 1963–1989 run and the 1996 television movie. It is produced in-house by BBC Wales with some development money contributed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Although it was for all intents and purposes cancelled by the BBC in 1989 (series co-star Sophie Aldred says in the documentary More Than 30 Years in the TARDIS that she was told it was cancelled), the BBC maintained the series was merely "on hiatus" and insisted the show would return; as a result, some fans argue the show wasn't cancelled and thus is the longest running science fiction show still in production.
A special Children in Need "mini-episode" was broadcast on 18 November 2005, and the programme returned for a special on Christmas Day 2005.
Production of the second series, scheduled for broadcast on both BBC and CBC in 2006, is currently underway, starring David Tennant as the Doctor and Billie Piper as his companion Rose Tyler. This will be followed by a second Christmas special later in 2006 and a third series in 2007. A spin-off series, Torchwood, has also been announced for 2006. The United States broadcast of the 2005 series is scheduled to begin on March 17, 2006 on the Sci Fi Channel.
Doctor Who first appeared on BBC television at 5:15 p.m. (GMT) on November 23, 1963. The programme was born out of discussions and plans that had been going on for a year. The Head of Drama, Sydney Newman, was mainly responsible for developing it, with contributions by the Head of the Script Department (later Head of Serials), Donald Wilson, staff writer C. E. 'Bunny' Webber, writer Anthony Coburn, story editor David Whitaker and initial producer, Verity Lambert. The series' distinctive and haunting title theme was composed by Ron Grainer and realised by Delia Derbyshire.
The BBC drama department's Serials division produced the programme in-house for the following twenty-six seasons, on BBC One. Falling viewing figures, a decline in the public perception of the show and a less prominent transmission slot saw it suspended as an ongoing series in 1989 by Jonathan Powell, Controller of BBC One. While in-house production had ceased, the BBC was hopeful of finding an independent production company to re-launch the show. Philip Segal, a British expatriate who worked for Columbia Pictures' television arm in the United States, approached the BBC about such a venture.
Segal's negotiations eventually led to a television movie. The movie was broadcast on the Fox Network in 1996 as a co-production between Fox, Universal Pictures, the BBC, and BBC Worldwide. However, although the film was successful in the UK (with audited viewing figures of 9.1 million), it was less so in the United States (possibly due to poor scheduling) and did not lead to a series. Although licensed media such as novels and audio plays provided new stories, the programme remained dormant until 2003. In September of that year, BBC Television announced the production of a new in-house series after several years of unsuccessful attempts by BBC Worldwide to find backing for a feature film version.
The new series debuted with the episode Rose on BBC One on March 26, 2005 and the series has since been sold to many other countries (see Viewership). The American Sci-Fi Channel was announced as the US broadcaster of the series in January 2006, with the programme set to debut in March, one year after the UK showings.
On March 30, 2005, the BBC gave the go-ahead for a second series and a Christmas special. On June 15, it was announced that both a third series and a further seasonal episode had been commissioned.
- From Wikipedia