Doctor Who broke new ground in the history of science-fiction television and film. Before the emergence of "Star Wars" (1977), "Star Trek" (1966-69), and prior to Irwin Allen's children's program "Lost In Space" (1965-68), the BBC's "Doctor Who" was traveling across the airwaves in the United Kingdom and amusing children and adults with its imaginary outer space tales and sci-fi plays. By the time "Star Trek" began Doctor Who was in its fourth season.
It was sixteen minutes past five G.M.T. (Greenwich Mean Time) on Saturday the 23rd November 1963, the day after the assassination of President Kennedy, that Doctor Who first materialized on to B.B.C. Television, with the beginning episode "An Unearthly Child". Squeezed in between the soccer results and the "Telegoons", a legend was born.
In "An Unearthly Child", the very first "Doctor Who" episode William Hartnell, the show's main character, was introduced simply as "The Doctor", a cranky old man with a time machine shaped like a British Police Box. Because his character was shrouded in mystery, the title Doctor Who merely referred to the fact that we were never to know exactly who this man is, a title still in use today.
Spanning 26 seasons, the original BBC series had seven different actors taking on the lead role before it finally came to an end on 6th December 1989, when the last episode, "Survival" aired. Doctor Who became famous for its infinite flexibility and wide, dedicated, fan following. The show celebrated its 30th anniversary on November the 23rd, 1993.
Who series featured 156 stories ranging from one-episode adventures to
a tale spanning fourteen weeks! During the series, the story even continued
into the movies. The final movie coming in 1996, was a movie made
for B.B.C. and Fox television, in hope that this would lead to another
series of shows, but the fate of "Doctor Who" is still undecided
at this time.
The 158th and final BBC produced Doctor Who story, "Survival", aired in December of 1989. No further episodes have been produced by the BBC over the past six years, even though the show was never officially cancelled. In spite of this, "Doctor Who" lives on today, on the radio and in a popular series of full-length novels.
Over the years the series has been sold in over sixty countries worldwide. Many adventures have been written in books even including an audio tape series. Items like Daleks and the TARDIS have become part of British culture - 'Dalek' even appears in the Oxford English Dictionary!