Doctor Who has had an expansive history, from what happens in the show to what happens outside the show. And as we go through this 60th anniversary special year, I’ll be showing you the key moments in Doctor Who history – every fortnight for the whole year. What better way to celebrate than that!
Because we’re going for calendar weeks, you’ll find that the first of January has been put in with Week One rather than being confusingly marked Week Fifty-Two.
Doctor Who History: Week One – 1st January to 8th January
Volcano (an episode of The Daleks’ Master Plan was first aired in 1966. Day of the Daleks Episode One, was first transmitted in 1972. Part One of The Face of Evil first aired in 1977. Invasion of the Bane first premiered in 2007, beginning the late Elisabeth Sladen’s spinoff show, The Sarah Jane Adventures. Captain Jack Harkness and End of Days premiered in 2007, bringing Torchwood‘s first series to a close. Part 2 of The End of Time debuted in 2010, the last chronological episode of David Tennant portraying the Tenth Doctor due to his regeneration into Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor.
Big Finish released Hunters of Earth, the first installment of the Destiny of the Doctor series, in 2013. Resolution debuted in 2019. Spyfall Part One premiered in 2020. Revolution of the Daleks premiered in 2021. In more sad news among Doctor Who history – Mark Eden, who played the titular Marco Polo, died in 2021 at the age of 92. And last year, in 2022, Eve of the Daleks first aired on this day.
Deborah Watling, who portrayed Victoria Waterfield, the Second Doctor’s companion in 1967 and 1968, was born in 1948. The first broadcast of The Powerful Enemy was in 1965. Terror of the Autons premiered in 1971, starting Season 8 and introducing Katy Manning’s Jo Grant. Parallel Lives was released by Big Finish in 2006. Big Finish first released Masterful in 2021.
1970 saw the debut of Season 7, with the first episode of the serial, Spearhead from Space, which introduced Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor and Caroline John as Liz Shaw. Part 1 of The Brain of Morbius was first broadcast in 1976. Part One of Warriors’ Gate was first broadcast in 1981. Season 20 began with the first broadcast of Part One of The Arc of Infinity. The Eleventh Doctor debuted in 2009. Big Finish first released the New Counter-Measures audio story The Hollow King in 2019.
Terry Molloy, the third actor who played Davros, was born in 1947. The Escape, first aired in 1964 (the third part of First Doctor story The Mutants… though nowadays, fans tend to call it The Dead Planet or The Daleks). The Krotons: Part 2 premiered in 1969. Robot: Part 2 premiered in 1975. Part 1 of Castrovalva was first aired in 1982. Part 4 of The Greatest Show in the Galaxy was broadcast in 1989. Big Finish released Forty 1 (alongside an accompanying story I, Kamelion) in 2022.
The Time Warrior: Part Four premiered in 1974. The Horns of Nimon: Part Three debuted in 1980. Castrovalva: Part Two first aired in 1982. Arc of Infinity: Part Two first aired in 1983. In 1984, the opening episode of Season 21, Warriors of the Deep: Part One, was first televised.
Attack of the Cybermen: Part One debuted in 1985, and three years later, 1988, saw the birth of actress Mandip Gill, who portrayed Yasmin Khan, companion to the Thirteenth Doctor. 2015 saw the release of Flywheel Revolution by Big Finish. 2020 saw the initial airing of Spyfall: Part Two. Oh, and this year – 2023 – Big Finish released the Audio Novel: The Dead Star.
Rather an interesting note in Doctor Who history – Actor Rowan Atkinson was born in 1955. Atkinson played the Ninth Doctor in the 1999 Comic Relief Doctor Who special – The Curse of Fatal Death. (As a result, he is technically the first Ninth Doctor. No, really, he counts. Just ask The Tomorrow Windows…) The Enemy of the World‘s third episode made its debut in 1968, though it would then go unseen in the UK for over four decades. Good thing they found a copy of that in the end. The Three Doctors’ second part originally aired in 1973. The Power of Kroll: Part Three was originally broadcasted in 1979. 1984 saw the ﬁrst airing of Warriors of the Deep: Part Two, too. (I won’t mention the Myrka if you don’t…)
The fourth episode of The Highlanders made its debut in 1967. The first episode of Underworld aired in 1978. Big Finish released The Glass Prison in 2002. Big Finish published Jago & Litefoot: Series Two in 2011.
Rather fitting, it is that we get to say that on this day in 1908, William Hartnell, the actor who played the First Doctor, was born. And here we are, sixty years on, remembering and building on top of the show that he (and many others) forged all those years ago. Golden Death – another episode of The Daleks’ Master Plan – was first broadcast in 1966. (I wonder if Hartnell got to watch it at home as a birthday treat?) The second part of Day of the Daleks aired for the first time in 1972. The Face of Evil, Part 2, first aired in 1977. Big Finish released The Diary of River Song: Series Seven in 2020.
Doctor Who History: Week Two – 9th January to 15th January
1965 saw the debut of Desperate Measures – the opening episode of the story, The Rescue. Terror of the Autons: Part Two was first televised in 1971. Rather differently, Big Finish first released No Place Like Home (within Doctor Who Magazine Issue 326 as a CD freebie, how neat!) in 2003. 2012 saw the releases of The Fourth Doctor Box Set and Destination: Nerva by Big Finish. Big Finish also released The Flames of Cadiz on this day in 2013.
Part Two of Spearhead from Space aired in 1970, and The Brain of Morbius’ second part aired six years later, in 1976. In 1981, Part Two of Warriors’ Gate was broadcast. Up next, in 2002, Doctor Who Magazine 313 was released, and this contained a free audio adventure from Big Finish too, The Ratings War. (A story that detailed the escapades of one Meep called Beep. I wonder why that might be particularly topical to this year…) Additionally, The Star Men was released by Big Finish in 2017.
Part Four of The Dead Planet/The Daleks entitled The Ambush was first broadcast in 1964. The Krotons: Part 3 premiered in 1969. Part Three of Robot was originally shown in 1975. Also, Part 3 of Castrovalva was broadcast for the first time in 1982, and a year later, Part Three of Arc of Infinity was televised for the first time in 1983. Peter Pratt, best known for his portrayal of the Master, sadly passed away in 1995. Big Finish published The Waters of Amsterdam in 2016. In addition to this, Big Finish published The Beast of Kravenos in 2017.
The first installment of Invasion of the Dinosaurs was aired in 1974, though the onscreen title was given as simply Invasion. This was done to maintain the surprise cliffhanger of the dinosaurs… though it would accidentally later cause the original colour copy of this episode to be junked from the BBC archive. A monochrome copy would eventually be recovered, and some crafty work would give it colour once more – but that’s a story for another time…
Part four of The Horns of Nimon originally aired in 1980. Castrovalva’s fourth part then premiered in 1982. Then Arc of Infinity, Part 4, was first released in 1983. And Warriors of the Deep: Part Three premiered in 1984. Part 2 of Attack of the Cybermen was broadcast in 1985. Another further run of consistency there… Partly down to the bi-weekly airing of episodes at that time, but I’ll save those explanations for another day! (If you know, you know!)
Furthermore, Wave of Destruction was released by Big Finish in 2016. Orphan 55 debuted in 2020. And then Watchers – part of their Audio Novels range – was first published by Big Finish in 2022. Rather notably, it featured the DWU writing debut of Adric actor, Matthew Waterhouse.
In 1968, the fourth episode of The Enemy of the World aired. The third episode of The Three Doctors aired in 1973. Part Four of The Power of Kroll premiered in 1979. Warriors of the Deep: Part 4 premiered in 1984. In 2015, Big Finish released The Romance of Crime and The English Way of Death. The Isos Network was then released by Big Finish in 2016. Furthermore, they had a release in 2021 on this day in the Torchwood monthly range – Coffee.
Adjoa Andoh – who played Martha Jones’ mother – was born in 1963. Jemma Redgrave, who played Kate Stewart (sometimes Kate Lethbridge-Stewart) and is in-fact returning to Doctor Who for Series 14 – was born in 1965. Furthermore, the first episode of The Underwater Menace was broadcast in 1967. Part 2 of Underworld premiered in 1978.
Rather a consistent day for Big Finish, this one. They put out The Wrong Doctors and The Auntie Matter in 2013. Then they released Antidote to Oblivion in 2014. And 2015 brought the story Mistfall. As if that wasn’t enough: Big Finish released The Churchill Years: Volume One in 2016. Four years in a row! I wonder if any other dates have been that consecutively consistent for them.
Actor Richard Franklin was born in 1936, and Master performer Geoffrey Beevers was born in 1941. Yet another episode of The Daleks’ Master Plan aired – Escape Switch – in 1966. The third episode of Day of the Daleks debuted in 1972. Moreover, the third instalment of The Face of Evil aired in 1977. In 2004, Big Finish published the short story collection Short Trips: Steel Skies.
The audio story The Juggernauts was initially released by Big Finish in 2005. The King of Sontar was originally released by Big Finish in 2014. 2015? They had The Exxilons, Devil in the Mist came along in 2019… Oh, and further to that, Fortitude came from Big Finish in 2020.
Doctor Who History: Conclusion For This Fortnight
All, in all, this fortnight has been quite an eventful one in Who-istory, or Doctor Who history, if you prefer to put it that way. A day that had a solid consecutive run of audio releases for Big Finish… Several episodes of The Daleks’ Master Plan… The birthday of one man who helped start it all – William Hartnell… And the birthday of one woman who is very much part of the future of Doctor Who as we head past the 60th – Jemma Redgrave.
I’ll be back in a fortnight to tell you more Doctor Who history…
With many thanks to the work of the esteemed editors at Tardis Wiki – their work has been particularly integral to our fact-checking of Big Finish release dates.