On this day in 1963, the first ever episode of the BBC’s Doctor Who aired. It is now the world’s longest running science fiction drama.
In recent years, as the show’s popularity has been rekindled by the newer series, this day has become one on which fans of the show celebrate its record-breaking history. We here at Carelink take a look back at a show that has become a British institution.
The series that made its debut in 1963 was originally supposed to be an educational one that would teach children about history and science through the medium of time travel. This changed very early on in its run when writer Terry Nation wrote a script that included the first incarnation of the Daleks.
The producers were adamant that the show not include alien creatures and instead focus on the scientific and historical educational stuff, but when the time came to start production, the makers didn’t have an alternative ready to shoot and so went ahead.
The gamble paid off massively for 26 seasons across 26 years. It was then shelved in 1989 until Russel T Davies brought it back in 2005.
Given its almost instant popularity, Doctor Who attracted a smidge of controversy, namely from (in)famous campaigner Mary Whitehouse during the 70s, who complained that the show’s content was unsuitable for children.
One little known fact is that the phrase ‘behind the sofa’, referring to people so scared by a TV programme that they would hide there when watching, actually originated with Doctor Who during this period, as a lot of children were too terrified of the various creatures and aliens onscreen to stay in their seats.
Nowadays, the show is as popular as ever having gained millions of new fans from around the world. Throughout its record-breaking, five decade (with a gap) run, there have been, at the time of writing, 826 episodes of the show.
A programme worth celebrating.