Become a Fan of "Doctor Who"

Doctor Who is a sci-fi phenomenon that has spanned decades. How can you really become a fan? Or at least figure out what your best friend is babbling about when talking about Gallifrey, the TARDIS, and the latest companion?


  1. Locate Your Doctor Who Sources. There are many seasons – past and present – of Doctor Who. Consult your TV guide to find out what stations carry this series (UK: BBC's 1&3, Watch. US: BBC, BBC America, American PBS, etc.) Alternatively, you can find Doctor Who episodes on VHS or DVD; likely soon Blu-Ray as well.
  2. Start slow. You don't need to see all of it straight away. Start with The Eleventh Hour, the first episode of the fifth series of the New Series (or, if you are reading this in the fall of 2014, start in with the first episode of the eighth series as this will be a jumping-on point with the introduction of a new Doctor). If you like that, watch from there to the present. If you don't, or when you finish that bit, watch Smith and Jones, first of series 3, and do the same thing. Then go to Rose, the first of the first series. However there are a lot of story lines that make more sense if you start at the beginning of season 1 with Rose. And of course there are 26 seasons worth of the original series, much of which is out on DVD or available online; as you gain more knowledge in Doctor Who, you may start identifying parts of the older series that you may wish to explore, such as the Doctor's first encounter with the Daleks in 1963-64, or the UNIT era of the 1970s.
  3. There are clips of Doctor Who on including official trailers for episodes in the current series from the BBC web site.
    • Try the Channels "BBC Worldwide", "BBC Classics Doctor Who", and "doctorwho".
  4. Learn the Doctor Who basics. To really enjoy the series, you need to understand the following about the series:
  5. We know the Doctor is a Time Lord, an advanced humanoid race that has harnessed the power of manipulating time. Their home planet is Gallifrey. The Doctor is constantly traveling through Time and Space. In the most recent Doctor Who series, the Time Lords have been exterminated in a huge conflict between themselves and the Daleks, known as the Time War.
  6. The main character of Doctor Who is known only as "The Doctor". His real name has never been revealed. In many episodes, this is treated as an occasional joke in which someone asks "Doctor Who?" when he identifies himself as The Doctor, but recent seasons have added new context to both the mystery of his name and the "Doctor who?" question.
  7. Time Lords, while they can die, more typically regenerate into entirely new individuals in body, temperament, and outlook - but they generally retain their memories and experience. However, a rule exists that Time Lords can only regenerate twelve times (thirteen incarnations). However, in the 1980s it was established that this is is an artificial limit and it is possible to grant Time Lords additional regeneration cycles. The question of the Doctor's continued existence became an issue in the 2013 season. It is possible for Time Lords to change race, and some Time Lords are known to have even changed gender. This has happened to one character, the Master, who regenerated into a female incarnation known as the Mistress or Missy, and one character (a partial Time Lord) did change race. The Doctor once said that Time Lords can potentially live forever "barring accidents." As of 2014, there have been thirteen incarnations of the Doctor, and each is referred to by their number, however, the ninth version of the Doctor - for reasons explained in the series - chose not to use the name Doctor, therefore his tenth incarnation came to be known as the Ninth Doctor, and so on. The most recent Doctor, introduced at the end of 2013, is known as the Twelfth Doctor.
  8. The Doctor is always very intelligent, cares about Earth and humans, and defending what's right. He solves problems chiefly through his wits, rather than violence, although he will engage in combat if needed.
  9. The Doctor never goes long without a companion or two. It has been explained that the Doctor, having travelled for so long, needs to have someone to help him experience wonder again. Companions are also known to have a calming influence on him. The Doctor has travelled with male and female companions, human and alien, but in the TV series he is most often paired with attractive young females. For most of the so-called "classic era", romance between Doctor and companion was forbidden (or, at most, only hinted at); in the modern era, this prohibition has been lifted, with the Doctor falling in love with one companion, marrying one, and several other female (and one male) companions have fallen in love with the Doctor.
  10. The TARDIS. This is the Doctor's spaceship – he cannot travel in Time and Space without it. It looks like an old-fashioned British police box. However, inside it's a sophisticated spaceship, and many times bigger inside than it is outside. The Doctor is fiercely protective and proud of his TARDIS. The TARDIS stands for Time And Relative Dimension(s) In Space. It is designed to disguise itself, but the mechanism for this broke back in the 1960s, so it's stuck as a police box. Oh and one other thing ... the TARDIS is alive, controlled by a female consciousness. For more information check out:
  11. K-9. A robotic dog-like companion that the Doctor relies on. (Notably through the Tom Baker Years, with a guest appearance in the recent series and featured in two spin-off series, "The Sarah Jane Adventures" and "K9").
  12. The Sonic Screwdriver, a multipurpose tool the Doctor uses:
  13. The Doctor has many Enemies:
    • Daleks These are an army of cyborgs, genetically engineered mutations inside a bonded polycarbonate shell that look like R2-D2s bad-ass cousins. They tend to yell "Exterminate! Exterminate!" a lot. These are reoccurring antagonists. For more info, see
    • Cybermen These are cyborgs; any similarities between them and Star Trek Borg (introduced 20 years after the Cybermen) is a matter of opinion. They can also be looked up on wikipedia.
    • The Master He was the Doctor's worst enemy in the classic series. Knowledge of him will get you respect among previous generation fans. A fellow Time Lord, he has regenerated numerous times and has been featured in the modern series too. For more info, see
  14. Classic or New Series? Doctor Who, as a series, reaches back into the 1960s. The style, writing, special effects, and so on vary a lot from one season to another. If you enjoy classic sci-fi (Lost in Space or original Star Trek, for instance), try classic episodes. If you prefer more modern sci-fi, you can try the 1996 TV movie or the current series. It is important to stress that, while fans use terms like "classic era" and "old series" and "new series", it is all one series and one continuity, unlike other remakes and reboots. If you watch an episode made in 2013, it is part of the same canon as an episode made in 1965; this includes the 1996 TV movie, but not two theatrical films made in the mid-1960s starring Peter Cushing, which were remakes.
    • Try to track down the W.H. Allen/Virgin Publishing Ltd. Target novelizations of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s Doctor Who adventures. Most are long out of print (though some have been reissued by BBC Books in the last few years, but you can still obtain them from specialist dealers. Second-hand bookshops usually stock them too. Every televised Doctor Who story between 1963 and 1989, except for a handful, have been adapted as novels. Also, check out the original Doctor Who novels from Virgin Books and BBC Books, which are set in suitable gaps between the Doctor's television adventures and take the series' concept into areas that television technology and budget limitations could never do. There are in the neighborhood of 200 such novels. It should be noted that although the TV series has made the occasional reference, you don't need to read the novels to follow the series.
    • Since 1999, Big Finish Productions has produced hundreds of officially licensed audio dramas based upon the series. Every actor from Tom Baker to Paul McGann has returned to play the Doctor in these stories, which feature as cast members many top-line actors ranging from David Tennant (playing roles other than the Doctor) and Benedict Cumberbatch to Hayley Atwell, David Warner and actors from Star Trek. Virtually every surviving actor who has played a companion has also reprised their roles, often in long-running spin-offs, such as "Gallifrey" - a series exploring the politics of the Doctor's homeworld. Big Finish licence does not allow them to use characters or Doctors from the 2005 revival series (though several actors from the TV series, such as Tennant, have appeared in other parts). The 2013 mini-episode "The Night of the Doctor" confirmed that the audio adventures are considered part of the TV series continuity by way of having the Eighth Doctor state the names of his companions from his long-running audio drama series. Big Finish audios are available directly from and are also carried by online book retailers and many specialty shops in the UK and North America.
    • Seek Doctor Who knowledge. While you can certainly enjoy Doctor Who without knowing the elaborate history, mysteries, and so on that has developed over the decades, learning these details can greatly enhance the experience. Learn from other fans, web sites, blogs and so on.


  • When referring to the character call him "The Doctor", not "Doctor Who". 'Who' isn't the Doctor's surname, and it annoys many people who watch Doctor Who, and you probably will be laughed at. That said, it is still commonplace for the media and the actors themselves to refer to the character as Doctor Who.
  • If you have Netflix, you can watch the entire new series and many of the classics.
  • is a great place to buy the older episodes and the two movies. Also you can find The Curse of Fatal Death there.
  • The 1996 TV Movie starring Paul McGann wasn't released on VHS in America due to legal reasons, so bootlegs or off-air recordings are your only option if you still play videotapes. Otherwise, it finally achieved North American DVD release in 2011.
  • Four Doctor Who television stories – five if you chose to count the unfinished and never broadcast Shada (1979) – were never novelised as part of the Target Books range (see Steps above) for a variety of legal reasons. These were The Pirate Planet (1978), City of Death (1979), Resurrection of the Daleks (1984) and Revelation of the Daleks (1985). However, Shada was novelised by BBC Books in 2012, and a novelisation of City of Death is to be released by BBC Books in 2014; both are based upon teleplays written or co-written by Douglas Adams before be became famous for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
  • You don't need to memorise the name of every actor who's played the Doctor on television, and the number they were. Remember some of that Doctor's traits and what monsters he has (or hasn't) faced. Number 1 was William Hartnell, 2 was Patrick Troughton, 3 was Jon Pertwee, 4 was Tom Baker (not to be confused with that guy from that Andy Warhol film. That would be embarrassing!), 5 was Peter Davison, 6 was Colin Baker, and 7 was Sylvester McCoy. Number 8, Paul McGann, only appeared on-screen twice (the second time was a mini-episode released online in the UK in 2013 but broadcast on BBC America in the US). 9 was Christopher Eccleston (who quit after just one season), and 10 was David Tennant. Tennant starred in four Doctor Who specials in 2009, after which Matt Smith took over as 11. Number 12 is Peter Capaldi. John Hurt also plays an incarnation of the Doctor, but one has to watch the episodes aired in 2013 to understand why. Do remember, Doctors 1-3 (Hartnell, Troughton and Pertwee) are all dead and Tom Baker and Colin Baker (4 and 6) are not related.
  • Don't skip Nine! Many fans will not consider you a "real" fan if you skip right to series 2 or onwards. It's best to start with series 1 of "New Who".
  • Some of the 1960s stories were wiped by the BBC for reasons too complicated to get into. In some cases, individual episodes have survived and have been released on DVD, sometimes with the missing episodes recreated using animation (thanks to every episode's soundtrack surviving). And occasionally a missing episode or sometimes a complete story will be recovered, to much fanfare. As of the start of 2014, the following stories are either completely or partially missing: Marco Polo, The Crusade, Galaxy 4, The Myth Makers, Mission to the Unknown, The Daleks' Master Plan, The Massacre, The Celestial Toymaker, The Savages, The Smugglers, The Power of the Daleks, The Highlanders, The Macra Terror, The Faceless Ones, The Evil of the Daleks, The Abominable Snowmen, Fury from the Deep, The Wheel in Space and The Space Pirates. Other stories - The Reign of Terror, The Tenth Planet, The Underwater Menace, The Moonbase, The Ice Warriors and The Invasion - are missing some episodes, but have them animated for DVD. "The Web of Fear" will be released to DVD with a missing episode restored using still images, in 2014. The DVD box set "Lost in Time" features individual surviving episodes from the list above, and Audio GO has released box sets of the complete surviving audio from all missing episodes. At the present time (early 2014), several stories are utterly and completely missing, including "Marco Polo" and "Mission to the Unknown", but the recovery of "The Enemy of the World" and most of "The Web of Fear" in 2013 have raised hopes more lost episodes may be recovered in the future.
  • Fans of Doctor Who are mostly referred as Whovians.

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