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back to article Bucket? Check. Toilet plunger? Check. El Reg's 50 years of Doctor Who

Fifty years ago in November – on November 23, to be precise – the BBC broadcast its first episode of Doctor Who. It was the start of what, in the world of JJ Abrams, we’d call “a franchise”. Just two TV programs have matched the Doctor for endurance and survival: Coronation Street and Blue Peter. In five decades the Doctor’s …

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Long Lived TV progs...

Think you might have missed out "The Sky at Night" to go with BP and Cory?

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Happy

Re: Long Lived TV progs...

I was about to say the same thing, especially as the Sky at Night's had a reprieve in the last couple of days as well.

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Re: Long Lived TV progs...

Agree that Sky at Night (from 1957) is longer than the Doc, but also Panorama (1953).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Long Lived TV progs...

What's that Sooty? The Register didn't mention you? first on in 1955? That is a long while.

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Re: Long Lived TV progs...

Yes, and honorable mentions from other countries like Sazae-San. True, it's a mere 45 years old, but has some 2500 episodes to Dr Who's trifling not-quite-800. And in any case the Doctor's 16-year hiatus really ought to take the show off the "longest-running" list.

All that said, I'm glad they brought it back, and that it's made it to 50 even with a bit of a holiday in the middle.

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Headmaster

TV programs

Inevitable whinge but it's "programmes" please.

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FAIL

"So worried were the Beeb by its viewers’ potential inability to process more than one televisual event they re-broadcast the pilot."

I was always under the impression the BBC had been deluged by requests to repeat it as so many people had missed it.

"Then the BBC ended the Doctor’s run in 1996"

Nope, they ended it in 1989 - 1996 was the "movie" that they hoped would result in a new series.

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Except that wasn't for the UK market, it was supposed to kickstart a US series which the BBC would then buy back for the UK market (hence why it was set in Los Angeles and not Cardiff). The project was then cancelled when US reaction was fairly negative (hey who knew, they actually preferred the low budget UK version with dodgy script writing).

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The reason it failed was because the US directors, in thier infinite wisdom, placed The Eye of Harmony inside the Tardis itself, and since The Eye of harmony is actually a black hole surrounded by a time field that stops it's decay, placing it inside the time field of the vessel it is supposed to power would lead to catastrophic consequences....hence the new series ended before it began, an eminently fitting result I would say!

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Sorry to have to say this, but the producer and director of the Doctor Who TV movie were British. Admittedly, I don't think they had a single clue what makes the series work, so ended up producing a generic actioner featuring a time traveller in a strange blue box (although he wasn't in that much) rather than what felt like Doctor Who.

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It was set in San Francisco — specifically all of those flat parts of it that look spookily like Vancouver.

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Re: Sorry to have to say this...

That is truly, truly sad. Because as a 'Merkin I was willing to apologize for the way our writer/director team made such a hash of it by trying to Merklinize it.

When I watch Dr. Who I want a British Doctor. I could probably tolerate an Australian or Scottish one though Irish would be pushing it a bit (and my dad is Irish so I'm not slighting them and certainly like it when one of his companions is). But the whole charm of the show is precisely that it IS a British show.

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There's actually a dirty little secret about the US TV movie. Back at the time a US based writer told me a couple of weeks before it aired that it wouldn't never go to a series.

Fox, the US network who were funding it had 1 slot to fill. They could buy in Doctor Who from Universal (who made it) or make their own sci-fi series called Sliders. Fox bosses preferred the Sliders options as although it would have a higher initial cost, they would own the show and could recoup the costs from overseas sales, VHS etc. With Who the BBC and Universal would be creaming off all the cash with Fox just buying in a rather expensive show with no hope of a return.

So despite all the obvious flaws with the US pilot and the low ratings, it would never have made a series anyway. Doomed before it even aired.

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The Eye has been depicted many ways in series old and new. He's even managed to break a piece off (a crystal) somehow, and on another occasion entered it. The fan interpretation is that the Eye isn't simply a physical object, but more of a region of space-time. Like the tardis, it may be bigger on the inside, and being trans-dimensional pieces that appear disconnected in 3-space may still be a part of it.

It's also speculated the Eye in the tardis, the big one on Gallifrey and the ones in all other tardisses are actually one and the same - a many-dimensional structure which just intersects our space at those locations.

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Gav
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Re: Sorry to have to say this...

"When I watch Dr. Who I want a British Doctor. I could probably tolerate an Australian or Scottish one"

Er, a Scottish Doctor is a British Doctor. As would be a Northern Irish one.

Tennant adopted an English accent, but nothing to suggest that Capaldi will.

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Only 11 actors?

I'm guessing that Peter Cushing is not counted as one of the actors who have played the Doctor

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Re: Only 11 actors?

Peter Cushing doesn't count. His Doctor exists entirely outside the TV series continuity and both his "adventures" are remakes of stories from the TV series.

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Re: Only 11 actors?

Cushing played a human called Doctor Who who invented a time machine called the Tardis. He didn't play the Gallifreyan Timelord called "Doctor" "The Doctor" or "John Smith".

A bit like Bob Holness played James Bond once, but rarely is he referred to as one of the actors that played James Bond.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Only 11 actors?

didn't he also play the saxaphone on Baker Street??

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Re: Only 11 actors?

Or Richard Hurndall who even did it in the series...

Or Michael Jayston for that matter...

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Re: Only 11 actors?

The Cushing film itself exists in the Who EU, explained as having been inspired by the Doctor.

But 11 actors is still wrong. Richard Hurndall played the Doctor in the TV continuity for example.

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Re: Only 11 actors?

or Rowan Atkinson, Richard E Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and even Joanna Lumley!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0212887/ (and can easily be found on Youtube)

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Re: Only 11 actors?

I still count David Niven and Peter Sellers as 'official' James Bonds!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Only 11 actors?

"didn't he also play the saxaphone on Baker Street??"

No, that was made up by Danny Baker

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Re: Only 11 actors?

Or Richard E Grant. Who was quite good in some of the radio series.

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Re: Only 11 actors?

"No, that was made up by Danny Baker"

Made up yes, but by Stuart Maconie when he worked for the NME.

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Re: Only 11 actors?

Wrong it was Stuart Marconi for a bit he did in the NME - http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/comedy/2009/05/hignfy-guest-interview-stuart-maconie.shtml

Or Tommy Boyd or Raphael Ravenscroft - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-12120809

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Coat

Re: Only 11 actors?

I actually prefer Cushing's films over the television serials, and would hate to see them incorporated into the same universe. Then again, my favorite science fiction programs include Lost in Space and Gerry Anderson's UFO so there's really no accounting for my taste.

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Re: Only 11 actors?

Cushing played a human called Doctor Who who invented a time machine called the Tardis. He didn't play the Gallifreyan Timelord called "Doctor" "The Doctor" or "John Smith".

Well, come to that, neither did William Hartnell. The timelords were invented as a plot device written for Patrick Toughton so he could be turned into John Pertwee if I remember right.

But I seriously don't care enough to wade through the Wikipedia to "prove" it either way.

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Re: Only 11 actors?

How many times does Sylvester McCoy count? He played two different Doctors in one episode, as Colin Baker didn't come back for the 6-7 regeneration scene.</anorak>

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Paris Hilton

Re: Only 11 actors?

Not to mention... John Hurt? I don't even watch the new series and I know about him.

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Re: Only 11 actors?

Hartnell you can Treknology into the Gallifreyan framework. They never specified where the TARDIS came from in the show and it was rather apparent that it wasn't from the timeframe in which the show was set. So you can backfill the Toughton storyline back to Hartnell without breaking continuity. Not that they seemed all that concerned about continuity in the Hartnell years, but at least they never broke anything so badly you couldn't explain it. Which sort of will be a problem after the next doctor. Yes, yes. I know they'll JR Ewing away the problem somehow but it will still irk me.

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Gav
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Re: Only 11 actors?

I think it is entirely fitting that some one makes up the fact that Danny Baker made up the fact that Bob Holness played the saxophone on Baker Street. It'd teach Marconi a lesson for a start!

We can then make up the fact that Danny Baker was in fact first blamed by Holness in an interview before he died, and the entire "fact" disappears into infinitely recursing fiction.....

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No mention of the spin-offs?

There have been at least a couple that I am aware of.

Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures come immediately to mind.

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Re: No mention of the spin-offs?

Not forgetting "K-9 and Company" (no matter how hard I try!)

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what about

a review of the Big Finnish celebration "The light at the end"

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FAIL

Bucket

The correct use for bucket on the head is NOT to try and emulate a Dalek (though a silver one might work for a Cyberman).

When a bucket is placed on a head it is only right and proper to say "Luke, I am your father!".

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Alien

Re: Bucket

A metal mesh waste paper might be better used than a bucket, that way your vision is not impaired.

Several of these mesh type buckets, have gladly sacrificed themselves to be cut up & been incorporated into the neck of my replica Genesis Dalek (24 days left until project completion date).

www.projectdalek.com

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bucket

Mesh buckets are available from Ikea.

May the force be... sorry wrong show.

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Joke

Re: Bucket

"A metal mesh waste paper might be better used than a bucket, that way your vision is not impaired."

But then you wouldn't get to shriek "MY VISION IS IMPAIRED! I CANNOT SEE!" like an old-school Dalek.

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hagiographic

had me reaching for the thesaurus. Word for today?

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Re: hagiographic

Today works for me - and most english speakers.

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Anonymous Coward

what makes it great

Great writing from, among others, Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy man Douglas Adams and graphic novelist Neil Gaiman

The jury is out on Gaiman's contribution, I believe. Doctor's Wife good, Nightmare in Silver not so good.

I was going to go the whole hog and suggest

"Great writing from, among others Robert Holmes - there fixed that for you"

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Headmaster

Plumbing pedantry

May I point out that it's a sink plunger.

It clears blockages by establishing a seal around the lip of the plunger, which allows the operative to send shock waves down the blocked pipe by vigorously working the plunger while crying "Exterminate!". This would never work in a toilet because the outlet is too big for the seal to cover it.

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Headmaster

Re: Plumbing pedantry

'operative' is an adjective. The word you should use is 'operator'.

(Yes, I know the country is full of signs that say "Our cleaning operatives are working in this area... etc". They are all WRONG!)

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Re: Plumbing pedantry

"This would never work in a toilet because the outlet is too big for the seal to cover it."

Bollocks and double bollocks. I've used a bog-standard sink plunger to clear blocked toilets of all sorts of designs, from quite old to bought in the last ten years, and they work just fine.

A closet plunger has a different shaped lip it is true, but I expect that is so people can rest assured the plumber isn't unblocking their washing-up sink with the same one they just used to get last night's dinner to go away and stop taunting everyone.

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@Stevie (Re: Plumbing pedantry)

bog-standard sink plunger

Is that an oxymoron?

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Re: Plumbing pedantry

indeed, but a toilet plunger, which I have, works very well at removing 'blockages'. I had considered its use for an Emporer Dalek project.

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