The blagger's guide to Doctor Who

Our resident Doctor Who fan helps non-Whovians get to grips with the world's longest-running Science Fiction television programme

If you’ve ever wondered what a police box is or if you think that a sonic screwdriver is the latest power tool from Black & Decker, then fear not, here is our handy guide to 'Doctor Who' to help you swot up on the show before the 50th anniversary.

Who is Doctor Who?

Well, for starters it’s just ‘the Doctor’. Fans get irate when he is referred to as 'Doctor Who'. No one knows what his real name is and it’s one of the show’s biggest secrets. Anyway, he’s an ancient Time Lord with two hearts from the planet Gallifrey.

Did you say ‘ancient’? He only looks about 30.

He’s an alien, so he can regenerate. It means that once the actor playing the Doctor wants to move on, they can hand over the reins to someone else by regenerating. Matt Smith is the eleventh person to play the Doctor and he will be passing the baton on to The Thick of It star Peter Capaldi this Christmas. The Doctor only has 13 lives - although this is up for debate... it's complicated.

What’s with the blue box?

That’s the Tardis. It stands for Time And Relative Dimensions in Space. It’s the Doctor’s time travelling machine that can take him anywhere in time and space. It’s not actually a Police Box from the 1950s, it used to be able to change into any object and blend into the background, but one day its chameleon circuit got stuck, now it always looks like that. It’s also bigger on the inside than the outside.

That must impress the ladies… speaking of which, he seems to change girlfriends often.

They’re not his girlfriends. They’re known as ‘companions’, they travel through time and space with him. He’s travelled with many companions over the years, including a robotic dog called K-9 and a Time Lady. He has had male assistants in the past, it just happens that a large proportion of companions are young, attractive women…

Clara and the Doctor speed through London on a motorbike (BBC) Clara and the Doctor speed through London on a motorbike (BBC) So, he travels a lot. Been anywhere nice recently?

Not quite, he always seems to be stumbling into perilous, life-threatening situations where he has to save the day. Over the past 50 years he’s travelled all across time and space. He’s met everyone from Vincent Van Gogh to Henry VIII to Marco Polo. The Doctor has saved the Earth countless times. He’s also made many enemies along the way, including the Daleks.

Are those the robots with the plungers and whisks that say ‘exterminate’?

Yes, although, that's actually an eye stalk and a laser gun. The Daleks are the Doctor’s arch nemeses and he has defeated them countless times over the years. Contrary to popular belief you can’t escape them by running up some stairs. The Daleks can fly and are considered one of the scariest villains on the show.

The Doctor's great foe: the Daleks (BBC) The Doctor's great foe: the Daleks (BBC) What’s that wand thing he’s always carrying around with him?

That’s the sonic screwdriver. Admittedly, it’s not as impressive as the Tardis but size isn’t always everything. The sonic screwdriver has helped the Doctor out of quite a few sticky situations. It only used to function as a torch and unlock doors but now it does so much more, from scanning substances to cutting through walls. It just wouldn’t be Doctor Who without the sonic screwdriver.

What’s all this fuss about the 23rd November?

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. It’s the longest-running science fiction television programme in the world, even beating Star Trek. The show initially ran from 1963 to 1989 before getting cancelled when it fell out of favour with BBC bosses. However, following years of campaigning and even a film, Doctor Who returned in 2005 and has been on the air ever since. To mark this landmark year there will be a shed-load of Doctor Who-related programming and events on Saturday 23 November, the day the television series first aired back in 1963.

The ‘Doctor Who’ 50th anniversary special ‘The Day of the Doctor’ will be on 23 November on BBC1

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat

Arts and Entertainment
A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in the archives of Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
Arts and Entertainment
Fake Banksy stencil given to artist Alex Jakob-Whitworth

art

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee