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!
Doctor Who History: Week Nine – 27th February to 5th March
Escape to Danger was first broadcast in 1965. The penultimate episode of The Mind of Evil was first shown in 1971. The Torchwood episode, A Day in the Death, premiered in 2008.
Born in 1912, Mervyn Pinfield was an associate producer and director. Murray Gold, who is best recognised for his composing on the episodes from Rose to Twice Upon a Time, was born in 1969. First broadcast in 1970, episode 5 of Doctor Who and the Silurians aired. The Seeds of Doom had its penultimate episode first broadcast in 1976. 1981 saw the first broadcast of part 1 of Logopolis. In 2017, Big Finish introduced Gardeners’ Worlds, followed by the release of Mel-evolent in 2018, and The Astrea Conspiracy in 2019.
29th February – you’re welcome!
Albert Welling was born in 1952. Welling would be known for having the role of the real-world ruthless dictator Adolf Hitler in an episode that surprised many: Let’s Kill Hitler. Thankfully, it was not too long an appearance. In 1964, the episode The Singing Sands was first broadcast as part of the story Marco Polo. Jumping forwards to 1984, Rakhee Thakrar, who plays the companion Bliss (yes, this is complicated – but we’re avoiding spoiling things here!) in the Big Finish audio dramas, was born.
1st March – A Masterful Bit Of History
1918 saw the birth of Roger Delgado. Delgado would later in life become the first actor to bring the Master to life onscreen, setting down a template that arguably has never been bettered. 1969 saw the premiere of episode six of The Seeds of Death, closing that story out. Fast forward to 1975 and part two of The Sontaran Experiment hits TV screens, setting the stage for more thrilling Sontaran adventures.
1982 marked the first airing of part one of Black Orchid, followed by part one of Enlightenment in 1983. 1984 brought us part three of Planet of Fire. If you’ve been reading all our history articles, then these Davison-era streaks have long since stopped surprising you. In 2013, Big Finish released Vengeance of the Stones, a new addition to their collection. Finally, by happy coincidence, 2020 brought us The Timeless Children, and let Sacha Dhawan run wonderful chaos as the Master. (Do you see why I said a Masterful day?)
As well as that, the broadcast of The Timeless Children is also notable as a defining moment in the world of Doctor Who. Restoring an element of mystery to the Doctor’s past by adding a layer of narrative ambiguity whilst cheekily nodding the pre-Hartnell incarnations seen in The Brain of Morbius; the story might be a controversial direction. But ultimately it does know what it’s talking about.
1955 marked the birth of Michael Troughton, who has played multiple roles in the Whoniverse and has in more recent years, taken up the mantle of his father’s role as the Second Doctor for Big Finish’s audio adventures. Episode five of The Web of Fear was first broadcast in 1968, and in 1970. Alexander Armstrong was born. The second part of Death to the Daleks was first broadcast in 1974.
Then, there’s the first airings of the second part of Black Orchid in 1982, and the second part of Enlightenment in 1983. Planet of Fire reached its conclusion with the fourth part airing in 1984, and The Two Doctors continued with its third part airing in 1985. Big Finish released The Natural History of Fear in 2004 and Dark Eyes 4 in 2015.
3rd March – A quieter patch of history…
A relatively quiet day in Who history. In 1973, the second episode of Frontier in Space made its television debut. 2016 saw the release of Doom Coalition 2 by Big Finish, followed by the second UNIT: Nemesis boxset Agents of the Vulpreen in 2022. (your friendly neighbourhood assistant editor Jamie: I’d just add to that this day in 2022 also marked the release of Big Finish’s audiobook version of Bernice Summerfield and the Glass Prison. Just over 20 years after the original, that’s a story notable for concluding with the birth of Bernice’s son, Peter Summerfield.)
In 1967, episode four of The Moonbase was first broadcast. Five years later, episode two of The Sea Devils aired in 1972. The Invasion of Time continued with the penultimate episode being broadcast in 1978. (bonus fact for this day: in 1972, alongside The Sea Devils, there was also the first part of the comic story The Planet of the Daleks. Printed in the TV Action magazine, this story should not be confused with 1973’s TV story Planet of the Daleks.)
In 1966, the premiere of The Steel Sky (part of The Ark) took place. Fast forward to 1974, the talented actor Matt Lucas was born, who later in life go on to play the fan-favorite character and effective companion Nardole. 1977 saw the second part of The Talons of Weng-Chiang air.
Big Finish added to the fun in 2015 with the release of the Short Trips story: Time Tunnel. And in 2020, fans were treated to the thrilling audio spinoff boxset Donna Noble: Kidnapped!.
Doctor Who History: Week Eight – 6th March to 12th March
In 1965, another part of The Web Planet – entitled Crater of Needles – was first broadcast. 1971 saw the first airing of the final episode of The Mind of Evil. And 1976 brought to screens part six of The Seeds of Doom.
In 2013, Big Finish raised the bar with the release of Jago & Litefoot: Series Five. And 2018 was a year for the release of the one-off spinoff set Tales from New Earth. Sadly, in 2021, the voiceacting side of the Whoniverse lost a shining star with the passing of David Bailie. Bailie, who had brought the Toymaker to life in the Big Finish audio dramas The Nightmare Fair and Solitaire (following on from the lead of the long-since-passed Michael Gough), will forever be remembered for his mesmerizing performances.
In 1964, audiences saw the debut of Five Hundred Eyes on the television, however, as is the case with the rest of Marco Polo‘s episodes, this episode has not yet been recovered. 1970 brought a thrilling episode of Doctor Who and the Silurians as audiences tuned in for episode six. 1981 saw the continuation of the somewhat surreal action in Logopolis with the airing of its second part – as Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor clambered ever closer to his final bow-out.
In 2013, Big Finish raised the stakes with the release of The Seeds of War and The Scorchies, offering a double dose of excitement for fans. And in 2017, Big Finish continued to deliver with the release of the action-packed Doom Coalition 4.
8th March – secrets of history
1969 saw the first episode of The Space Pirates, which – okay – we know a lot of people aren’t keen on it. On the other hand, 1975 is a year to remember for most fans as the first part of Genesis of the Daleks was broadcast, kicking off a thrilling new adventure with the Daleks. 1982 saw audiences on the edge of their seats as the first part of the action-packed Earthshock was aired, leaving viewers shocked by the surprise reveal of the Cybermen.(Jamie’s note: such was the secrecy behind Earthshock‘s great return that John Nathan-Turner turned down a Radio Times cover, and had the recording gallery closed off from the press!)
1983 saw the stakes raised even higher with the airing of the third part of Enlightenment, adding to the already intense atmosphere as fans pondered if Turlough would ultimately be the undoing of the Doctor. And in 1984, The Caves of Androzani‘s first part made its debut, sending audiences on a heart-pounding journey. As far as Doctor departure stories go, well, we won’t spoil it but what a cliffhanger Part 1 has.
In 2019, Big Finish set the stage for a historic journey with the release of The Eighth of March 1. And in 2022, they continued to amaze with the release of The Eighth of March 2: Protectors of Time, celebrating the women of the Doctor Who Universe. (This year – 2023 – they’ve followed it up with The Eighth of March 3!)
Chris Clough, a prominent director across Seasons 23 to 26 of Classic Who, was born in 1951.(among his credits are directing one of our assistant editor’s favourite stories: Delta and the Bannermen) The sixth episode of The Web of Fear was initially shown in 1968, bringing it to a close and leaving people to not see any of it again in the UK for several decades. The third instalment of Death to the Daleks was first broadcast in 1974, ending on rather… a, ahem, different cliffhanger.
We’re back on the yearly streaks. Earthshock Part 2 first aired in 1982. Part four of Enlightenment was first broadcast in 1983. Part two of The Caves of Androzani was first broadcast in 1984. The first episode of Timelash aired in 1985. FOUR years in a row.
More sombrely, the creator of the Daleks’ as a writing concept: Terry Nation, passed away in 1997. Many years on, Big Finish released The Emperor of Eternity in 2010 as part of their Companion Chronicles range.
Another quieter one… Frontier in Space‘s third episode was first shown in 1973. 2010 saw Big Finish’s initial releases of Paradise 5 and The Architects of History. Torchwood had a Big Finish release with The Victorian Age in 2016. And then came the release of Stranded 2 in 2021.
Alex Kingston, famous for her role as River Song (one of the Doctor’s numerous spouses), was born in 1963. The Macra Terror‘s first episode first graced television screens in 1967, introducing audiences to a new world. Quite an interesting and slightly dystopian one. Just remember: there is no such thing as Macra. Macra do not exist!
The third episode of The Sea Devils was first shown in 1972. The Invasion of Time had its sixth episode premiere on this day in 1978. In 2004, Big Finish released the audio story The Twilight Kingdom. And in 2013, they unleashed the powerful audio dramas War Against the Laan and The Justice of Jalxar, sending listeners on a journey through time and space.
The Marian Conspiracy was released by Big Finish in 2000, revolutionizing Big Finish’s audio as it had the first companion to be created by them in an audio adventure. 2008 saw the premiere of From Out of the Rain, an episode of Torchwood. 2015 was the year that The Entropy Plague was released, 2 plague episodes in the space of 49 years.
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. We had a lot and I mean a lot of classic era audio adventures. You all are lucky that I included February 29th, I was debating leaving it out.(and a certain assistant editor wouldn’t have had it any other way…) Then, we had a Masterful day by many occasions on the day relating to the Master as we had Roger Delgado’s birth, Planet of Fire, and The Timeless Children!
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.
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