BBC image for Day of the Doctor 50th anniversary special

“The Day of the Doctor ” 50th anniversary special (BBC)

Doctor Who
‘s 50th anniversary fell on the same day as the second anniversary of Canadian Writers Abroad. Thanks to everyone who took the time to read what I, and others, wrote on CWA. And thanks to the BBC for providing the fun.

In the U.K., 10.2 million people watched the 50th anniversary episode. Oh, and Canadian Writers Abroad has had 12, 544 views since it began. Entertaining in “The Day of the Doctor” were pop- ups from the past, such as the school from the first Doctor’s first episode, and the U.N.I.T. employee’s Tom Baker scarf. I think it might have been confusing if you hadn’t seen previous episodes, particularly the ones with David Tennant and Matt Smith, the 10th and 11th Doctors. But, a quibble: if the Time Lords had managed to reel Gallifrey (home planet of the Time Lords) to earth via the Master during the 10th Doctor’s incarnation, with the intention of destroying — what was it, all of time? — how can the 11th now look forward to finding Gallifrey?

The mini-episode that aired this week, “The Night of the Doctor,” showed Peter McGann become the warrior Doctor and was therefore the backstory to “Day of.” An interesting tidbit for CWA readers: Paul McGann was the Doctor in the film Doctor Who, a joint production with BBC Worldwide, Universal Studios and 20th Century Fox in 1996. It was filmed in Vancouver: according to Wikipedia, this was the first time any Doctor Who story was filmed in North America. The McGann film premiered on 12 May 1996 on CITV in Edmonton. Too bad it was not well received in the United States. As a result, McGann’s next reprise of the Doctor was not until “The Night of the Doctor.” Odd that the first romantic Doctor and the first to snog became the warrior Doctor.The Daleks 1963:64 (BBC)

As CWA readers know, Canadian Sydney Newman was the head of drama at the BBC and was therefore the person who launched Doctor Who and the Tardis (for once an apt punny use of the word “launch”) way back in 1963. There are not many digital images or articles about Sydney Newman. So thanks to writer Mark Gatiss and director Terry McDonough for telling the story of the beginnings of Doctor Who in An Adventure in Space and Time. Unfortunately, actor Brian Cox plays Newman with an American accent. Still, the docu-drama is well worth a watch, full of clips from the original episodes, and with the producer Verity Lambert well played by Jessica Raine. One mystery arises from it, however: someone says to Newman, “Your Canadian pal is doing one [script] on Marco Polo.” The writer of the Marco Polo series of Doctor Who was John Lucarotti, who did live in Canada and write for the CBC before returning to England to write for the BBC — but he was born in Britain. Any guesses?

Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy in The Five(ish) Doctors (Radio Times)

Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy in The Five(ish) Doctors (Radio Times)

What about the other living Doctors who aren’t in “Day of the Doctor”? They have their own show, a comedy written by Peter Davison (ex-doctor and Tennant’s father-in-law), in which they try various means of getting into the show. With surprise appearances of famous people. The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.

What have I learned in this week long Who fest? Here are a few notes.

The Drahvins were referenced in "The Pandorica Opens."

The Drahvins were in “Galaxy 4” in 1965 (BBC)

  • “He’s like a boffin and an action hero at the same time.” writer Mark Gatiss on Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor, talking in “The Culture Show: Me, You and Doctor Who.”
  • Discussing his influences (Peter Sellers, Blackadder), Matt Smith said of his Doctor that he was aiming for “geek chic,” and to justify his bow tie told head writer Steven Moffat that “I should be a boffin…” —Radio Times, 23-29 November: 50-51.
  • Jon Pertwee/third Doctor, described as “Liberace meets Bruce Lee,” called his companion “a ham-fisted bun vendor.” He dies on the Planet of the Spiders. Perhaps the spiders were fond of bun vendors?
  • The fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, was made President of the Supreme Council of the Time Lords — which should mean the Doctor will have no problem ordering around the Time Lords after he finds Gallifrey, right?
  • The second Doctor gets the first sonic screwdriver.
  • The Daleks learn to go up the stairs by the seventh Doctor.
  • Sydney Newman is said to have wanted no tin robots, no bug-eyed monsters, and a Doctor that was a cosmic hobo. He left the BBC in 1967.
  • The sign on the fence in the first episode is: I.M. Forenian, Scrap Merchant, 76 Totter’s Lane.
  • A 2008 survey shows that nine out of ten children could idenify a Dalek — but only 53% could name an oak leaf.” —Radio Times, 23-29 November 2013:49.
  • The next Doctor, Peter Capaldi, has already appeared in the series, as the merchant Caecilus in “The Fires of Pompeii” in 2008 (Radio Times)
  • CBC was a production company for seasons 2-3.
  • Wanting to catch up? There have been nearly 800 episodes, some of them lost.

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Posted by Debra Martens

author, editor


  1. Excellent article, loaded with all kinds of Dr. Who curiosities! Only recently a fan, I have lots of catching up to do on older ones…. How thankful I am there’s a show out there that interests the younger generations as well as myself.


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