Doctor Who … fifty years on

Is it really fifty years?

In 1963 I was a teenager (I had been since February) and I remember watching the first episode of ‘Doctor Who’ on the black and white TV in the sitting room of our family house in Corbets Tey, Upminster, Essex. It came at the end of a momentous week. Kennedy had been shot and killed on Friday 22nd November … and everyone seemed to be walking around in a stunned state of disbelief. I has no idea what to expect when I sat down to watch this new TV series on that Saturday night … but thirty minutes later I was hooked … and I have been a fan ever since.

So why is it still so popular today? I suspect that the reason lies in the stories it has told. Whether set in the past, present, or future, on Earth or in some distant galaxy, the stories have always seemed relevant to the world we were living in … and remain so today.

And who was my favourite Doctor and companion(s)?

To tell the truth, I have liked them all. Each actor brought a unique ‘something’ to their role and the writers always seemed to make sure that their stories played to the strengths – and weaknesses – of the individual characters.

Roll on the next fifty years! I shall certainly be watching ‘Doctor Who’ for as long as I can.


8 Comments on “Doctor Who … fifty years on”

  1. Jim Duncan says:

    In 1963 I was a teenager too, but only just. I was in my pals bedroom playing a wargame on the floor. I don't recall much about the rules but I remember we were using Airfix Shermans, T34s and JSIIIs.

    My pals mother rushed into the room and announced Kruschevs been shot. She was an excitable woman and not particularly well educated. When I got home I found out that it was Kennedy. One foreign guy with a name beginning with K was as much the same as another according to Mrs H.

    I had family (remote) in Texas, Houston if I remember correctly and I wondered how it would affect them.

    Oh, such a long time ago.

  2. Jim Duncan,

    An interesting story. I suspect that the week that JFK was shot – and the first episode of 'Doctor Who' was broadcast – is one a lot of people of our age remember.

    The 1960s were full of memorable events. I can remember taking part in Civil Defence exercises in and around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I can remember when I first heard the Beatles (and the Rolling Stones) and where I was when the 1966 World Cup Final took place (at my four year-old sister's birthday party, which my mother insisted that the whole family attended!). I can also remember the first time I found Donald Featherstone's WAR GAMES on the shelves of the local library … and the rest – as they say – is history.

    All the best,


  3. Jim Duncan says:

    I can remember when I was at my primary school they would sometimes suspend classes as they would be testing the air raid siren which was on a police box right outside the school but none of the hiding under desks that American kids were asked to do.

  4. Jim Duncan,

    We did practice 'duck and cover' as our school was in line-of-sight of a prime target, Tilbury Docks.

    It would not have done us any good if the H-Bomb had been dropped. All it did was add fuel to the general apprehension and national paranoia that seemed to be prevalent around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    All the best,


  5. I've come to enjoy all of the Doctors, recognising that there's a difference between their performance and the material they were sometimes give to work with (Six and Seven had some bad stories, but were still enjoyable Doctors, with Seven ranking as a favourite).

    Some companions I could take or leave. Peri and Mel are never going to be remembered fondly, for example. Liz Shaw has always been grossly under-rated.

  6. I should add that Doctor Who pre-dates me by a few months. I have very, very dim memories of seeing a Patrick Troughton episode (possibly 'Tomb of the Cybermen') and being scared witless, but my first regular Doctor was Jon Pertwee. A good one to start with, I think.

  7. Kaptain Kobold,

    Although Michael Grade was universally vilified for stopping production of 'Doctor Who', it was suffering from poor production values and some poor story lines when he made the decision. The 'new' series have benefited from improvements in broadcast/computer generated image technology and some excellent writers and story lines.

    Peri and Mel were not amongst my favourite companions, but the actors did their best with the story lines they had to work with. I agree about Liz Shaw; she was an excellent foil for the a Third Doctor. My favourite story line in which she was featured was INFERNO, which was also the last series she was in.

    All the best,


  8. Kaptain Kobold,

    You young whippersnapper! You missed the first two Doctors? Hang your head in shame!

    Seriously though, I suspect that the earlier programmes would not stand up to close critical scrutiny these days, but Jon Pertwee was a magnificent Doctor and the stories that involved UNIT (and the Brigadier!) were very good. An excellent place to join the 'Doctor Who' experience.

    All the best,


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