23 Things You Didn't Know About Doctor Who

By Spencer Hart on at

At 7.50pm on Saturday night, sci-fi fans everywhere will be tuning into BBC One, to hear an oh-so-familiar theme tune. With a newer, older, darker Doctor, devotees of the show are certainly in for a treat, so in preparation for the new series, here are 23 things every Whovian should know.


1.) The show's new opening title sequence was created by a fan

The Doctor's face won't be the only different thing about the show on Saturday, you might also notice the opening title sequence is dramatically different. Billy Hanshaw, a motion graphic specialist from Leeds, created the sequence as a tribute to the show and uploaded it to YouTube. Steven Moffat, the show's writer and producer, stumbled across the clip and decided it was perfect for the show. You can watch Hanshaw's original version still on YouTube or wait until Saturday to watch the final mastered version. [Image Credit: Youtube]


2.) The Doctor has been portrayed by 34 actors on-screen

Everyone's excited for Peter Capaldi's portrayal of the Twelfth Doctor, but did you know that 34 actors have played the Doctor on-screen? Notable performances include Rowan Atkinson and Joanna Lumley in The Curse of Fatal Death, and Peter Cushing in two non-canonical films. There are also several uncredited stunt doubles such as Edmund Warwick and Terry Walsh who stood in for William Hartnell and Tom Baker. How many of the 34 can you name? [Image Credit: Cinema Blend]


3.) The TARDIS isn't the Doctor's only mode of transport

Capable of reaching 105 mph, the 'Whomobile' was a special vehicle created by the Third Doctor. It first appeared in an episode called Invasion of the Dinosaurs where it was used to search for the secret base of Operation Golden Age. If you were thinking this was just a prop created for the show, you'd be wrong! This was actually one of Jon Pertwee's personal vehicles, fully road-legal with the registration number WVO2M. [Image Credit: DVD Active]


4.) Daleks were inspired by ballerinas, Nazis and a pepper shaker

Raymond Cusick took inspiration from a variety of sources when he was tasked with designing the Doctor's mortal enemy. Cusick was only given an hour to sketch the monster, and based his initial design and movement on a pepper shaker. Terry Nation, the creator of the Daleks, insisted that he didn't want them to look like a man in a costume, therefore shouldn't have legs, this was inspired by Georgian ballerinas who wore long skirts, making them appear to float across the stage. Nazi Germany's faceless, authoritarian personality and dedication to conquest and conformity also inspired Nation.

Bonus Fact: Unlike Nation, Raymond Cusick didn't receive a share of merchandising royalties from his Dalek design, so when he resigned from the BBC in 1966, all he received was £100 and a Blue Peter badge. [Image Credit: TV Rage]


5.) City of Death is the UK's most-viewed Doctor Who episode

When it first aired on 20th October 1979, City of Death featuring the Fourth Doctor drew over sixteen million viewers in the UK. This figure hasn't been surpassed, despite The Day of the Doctor and The Time of the Doctor being simulcast across the globe. Two events led to the City of Death's high viewing figures: a strike at ITV meant the channel was temporarily shut down, and the British inability to turn the television off. [Image Credit: Travelling the Vortex]


6.) Bow tie sales skyrocketed after Matt Smith's first appearance

After Matt Smith's first appearance as the Doctor, bow tie sales shot up by 94 per cent. Originally Steven Moffat had the Eleventh Doctor wearing clothing similar to what, "Captain Jack Sparrow wears in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies". That was until Matt Smith created the outfit we all know and love today, remember kids, bow ties are cool! [Image Credit: Geeky Tyrant]


7.) The TARDIS materialisation sound effect was created by rubbing a key on bass strings of a piano

Ask anyone to make a TARDIS sound you you'll get a whooshy, whiny, grinding sound that has become synonymous with the blue police box. But it hasn't always been that way, the TARDIS didn't create any sound until Season Two, Serial Three. This effect was created by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's Brian Hodgson, by rubbing his mother's house key on the bass string of a dismantled piano. A remastered version of the original sound effect is still in use today. Vworp, Vwoorp. [Image Credit: ALM7 TARDIS Wiki]


8.) David Tennant married his (on-screen) daughter

David Tennant is married to Georgia Moffett, who played his cloned daughter in Series Four's, The Doctor's Daughter. Not only that, Georgia is the real-life daughter of Peter Davison, who played the Fifth Doctor. All of this time travelling is really confusing. [Image Credit: Flickr User Ebarrera]


9.) Douglas Adams wrote scripts for Doctor Who

Doctor Who has some had some very famous writers. Firstly Douglas Adams, writer of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, was commissioned to write three serials in the 1970s, and became a script editor for the show after that.

In 2005, JK Rowling was asked to write an episode of Doctor Who, but apparently she was busy with some story about a wizard. Stephen Fry has also written a script for Doctor Who, which sees the Doctor explore the roots of the medieval poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Unfortunately Russell T. Davis deemed the story too complicated and shelved it. (If anyone has a copy, I'm sure no one would mind if it leaked online.) [Image Credit: Flickr User Michael Hughes]


10.) The TARDIS has an asteroid named after it

3325 TARDIS is a main belt asteroid that was discovered by Brian A. Skiff in 1984. The asteroid measures 29.66 km across, but can't travel through time. [Image Credit: Wikipedia]


11.) Doctor Who is banned in China

Whovians in China have been forced to go underground, as media portraying time-travel is strictly prohibited in the country. This is because the Chinese Government believe only they should have the power to re-write history.

China aren't the only ones who want the Doctor banned. Everybody's favourite social activist Mary Whitehouse, also campaigned against the show for being, "teatime brutality for tots". [Image Credit: Who's Flying This TARDIS Tumblr]


12.) There are 97 missing Doctor Who episodes

During the 1960s and '70s, the BBC would routinely destroy TV tapes instead of archiving them, this led to the destruction of 253 Doctor Who episodes. But don't give up hope, copies are still being found all over the world, and there are only 97 currently missing. The most recent discovery, The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear turned up in Nigeria in 2013. [Image Credit: What Culture]


13.) Tom Baker's long scarf was created by an over-enthusiastic costume designer

James Acheson, the series' costume designer, provided a knitter with several balls of wool to choose from in order to make a normal-sized scarf. Instead she used all of the wool to create a single, extra-long scarf. This item of clothing became an instant hit and an iconic symbol of Tom Baker's Doctor. [Image Credit: We Love Movies More Than You]


14.) Torchwood was the codename used to stop Doctor Who tapes being stolen

Torchwood, an anagram of Doctor Who, was used as the codename to prevent Doctor Who tapes from being stolen. This was later used as the Torchwood Institute in Series Two and became a spin-off series aimed at a more mature audience. [Image Credit: BBC America]


15.) Ridley Scott almost designed the Daleks

Ridley Scott worked as a designer at the BBC and was assigned the episode that introduced the Daleks, but before he began work, Scott left to train as a director at Granada. He went on to direct AlienBlade Runner and Gladiator, so I guess it worked out alright for him in the end. [Image Credit: Wikipedia]


16). The Doctor's first regeneration was based on a bad acid trip

An internal memo, unearthed in 2010, describes the "metaphysical change" of the Doctor's regeneration as, "an experience in which he relives some of the most unendurable moments of his long life, including the galactic war". The memo goes on to say, "it is as if he has had the LSD drug and instead of experiencing the kicks, he has the hell and dank horror which can be its effect." [Image Credit: All Treatment]


17.) The Doctor's really good at selling computers

Tom Baker and Lalla Ward, dressed at their Doctor Who characters, were used to help sell Prime's range of microcomputers (this was back when the BBC allowed their properties to be used for commercial gain). All adverts survived and can now be watched on YouTube. [Image Credit: Reddit]


18.) The voice behind the Daleks was also Zippy and George from Rainbow

Roy Skelton voiced the universally feared Daleks and Cybermen for 21 years. He also provided the voice of children's favourite Zippy and George on Rainbow. [Image Credit: Wikimedia]


19.) The original TARDIS cost £4,328 to build

It's widely reported that the original TARDIS cost £4,328 build (although I can't find a source for this, any Whovians out there?) Everyone knows that the TARDIS is supposed to blend in wherever it lands, but due to a broken chameleon circuit, it became stuck in the form of a police box. Originally the series' producers planned to create multiple versions of the TARDIS, but ruled this out on grounds of cost. Nowadays time-travelling ships are a bit more pricey, with an original TARDIS selling at auction in December 2005 for £10,800. [Image Credit: Beyond the Marquee]


20.) The Doctor has collided with the Star Trek Universe

Space is quite big, but if you explore enough of it, you're bound to run into fellow adventurers, so of course the Enterprise crew and the Doctor have met at some point. In The Neutral Zone episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, an on-screen graphic displays all the names of classic Doctor Who actors. The Star Trek insignia has also popped up in a classic episode of Doctor Who. In addition to these on-screen easter eggs, a recent comic series, Assimilation² sees Matt Smith's Doctor work with Captain Jean-Luc Picard to defeat a Borg and Cyberman army. [Image Credit: Sequart]


21.) There have been 49 Doctor Who companions

It can get a bit lonely while traveling through time and space, so it's no surprise the Doctor has had several companions over the course of the show. His first sidekick was Susan Foreman played by Carol Ann Ford, she stayed with the Doctor for 11 appearances. The Doctor's companion acts an 'audience surrogate', helping to bridge the gap between us humans and an alien with two hearts. [Image Credit: My Fear of Success]


22.) There have been five versions of K9

Just like any technology, K9 has received several updates and improvements throughout his robotic doggy life. K9 Mark I first appeared in The Invisible Enemy (1977), where he was created by Professor Marius in the year 5000. Hopefully Apple are working on a real life version of K9, because that would be awesome. [Image Credit: TARDIS Wikia]


23.) The Daleks have released a Christmas single

Ready for some Doctor Who novelty pop songs? Doctor Who featured on Top of the Pops in 1988 thanks to The Timelords' record Doctorin' the TARDIS. Not a race to be outdone, the Daleks also had musical fame with their Christmas novelty record, I'm Gonna Spend My Christmas with a Dalek. [Image Credit: Punch Brothers Punch and TARDIS Wikia]