Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Birthday, Doctor Who!

This totally flew under my radar this week: Wednesday was the 48th anniversary of the very first episode of Doctor Who! What can I say, it's the holidays and I'm busy trying to find a job.

Doctor Who premiered at 6:15 pm, November 23, 1963. The first episode was titled "An Unearthly Child" and introduced us to the Doctor and his granddaughter Susan, who was attending an Earth school for some reason. Two of Susan's teachers, suspicious of her abnormally high intelligence, followed her home to the Doctor's TARDIS and were whisked away into time, space and adventure.

Ratings for the first episode were less than impressive, mostly because Britain's (along with the rest of the world's) attention was focused on another, more important event that weekend: the assassination of JFK!

The first storyline involved the Doctor and Team TARDIS going back to cavemen days and generated a collective "meh" from the populace. The next storyline however featured the Daleks and the show became an overnight success.

Despite the show's popularity, during the 1960s and 1970s the BBC destroyed dozens of master tapes of the series that were stored in the studio's warehouse. Although it seems incredible to us now, they did this to clear storage room for new material, believing there was no value in the old Doctor Who videotapes.

As a result of this purge, 253 episodes from the first six years of the show were destroyed. Amazingly, around 108 of them have been recovered, as every now and then someone finds a copy of an episode in some musty vault somewhere in the world. Fans and restoration experts continue to scour the globe in search of the missing episodes, but realistically most of them will probably never be found (unless someone invents a TARDIS!). Meanwhile, as I've said before, every excrutiating second of shows like Two And A Half Men will be preserved in high definition for eternity. There's no justice in this world.

The show went away for a few years in the late 1980s - early 1990s, but it's back with a vengeance and bigger than ever. Amazing that the show's still going strong all these years later.

Here's to another 48 years of the Doctor and the TARDIS!


  1. If it goes on for 48 more years, I'll be 88 (and still buying the DVDs, or whatever format they're using then -- probably something where it's beamed directly into your brain). Yikes!

  2. I'll be right there in line with you! Hopefully by that time they'll have found all the missing episodes!


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