The Doctor is a mysterious being from a planet called Gallifrey. He belongs to an enigmatic race called the Time Lords. Exactly who and what the Time Lords are has never been fully revealed. For some, oft alluded to reason, the Doctor left Gallifrey and began his exploration of the galaxy.
When the first doctor, William Hartnell, the first doctor, wanted to leave the show, the producers had to come up with a way to ensure that Doctor Who could continue. They came up with the concept of regeneration.
When the Doctor dies, instead of that being it for him, he gains a new body through regenerating. The Doctor can regenerate up to twelve times, and so far he is on his tenth incarnation (for the television series).
The Actors who have played Doctor Who
The actors who have played the doctors for the TV show are as follows, together with the dates of their tenure.
1. William Hartnell (1963–1966)
2. Patrick Troughton (1966–1969)
3. Jon Pertwee (1970–1974)
4. Tom Baker (1974–1981)
5. Peter Davison (1981–1984)
6. Colin Baker (1984–1986)
7. Sylvester McCoy (1987–1989, 1996)
8. Paul McGann (1996)
9. Christopher Eccleston (2005)
10. David Tennant (2005–2010)
11. Matt Smith (2010 – present)
Other actors have played the part of the Doctor in movies, but for the purposes of regeneration, they don’t count!
Richard Hurndall played the first Doctor in the 20th anniversary TV movie, The Five Doctors. He was drafted in because William Hartnell had died in 1975 and they needed a first Doctor.
In the movie, Doctor Who and the Daleks, Peter Cushing took on the mantle of the Doctor with Roy Castle joining him in the movie to protect the earth against the evil Daleks.
The Doctor is an eccentric by every definition of the word, and each Doctor has his own idiosyncrasies. Jon Pertwee had Bessie, his car. Patrick Troughton played the flute and Tom Baker had the long multi-coloured scarf that spawned a horde of imitators.
Though the special effects were low budget, rubbery and cheap, every Doctor caused a generation of children to hide behind the sofa and cower in fear from the Doctor’s enemies.
At any gathering of Whovians, Doctor Who fans, you will hear arguments about who the best Doctor was. Whichever Doctor was on the television whilst you were growing up became your favourite Doctor and all the others paled by comparison. The arguments for Tom Baker verses Peter Davison verses Jon Pertwee rings out in the halls of any Dr Who convention.
Whatever Doctor is your favourite, you can still enjoy the others whilst arguing the case for yours. David Tennant hits our screens in 2006 and has his opportunity to become the favourite Doctor of a whole new generation.
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