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 Five – 30th January to 5th February
30th January – the birth of Doctor Who history’s Grace Holloway!
Daphne Ashbrook – the actress who played Dr. Grace Holloway – was born in 1963. Daphne is best known in the Whoniverse for playing the Eighth Doctor’s movie companion… though she has had other parts in it.(Personally, we find it a bit amusing that Daphne’s birthday is at the end of January – given the TV Movie’s plot starts at the end of December & hinges on the start of January!)
Another episode of The Romans – this one entitled Conspiracy – premiered on television in 1965. In 1971, the first episode of The Mind of Evil was shown. Torchwood‘s To the Last Man originally aired in 2008. Big Finish released The Authentic Experience in 2018. Also, in 2020, The Infinite Today was released by them in 2020.
Episode 1 of Doctor Who and the Silurians was broadcast in 1970.(Yes, we’re calling it that. No, we insist. If Doctor Who and the Star Beast and Doctor Who and the Daleks are fair game… so is this!) Part One of The Seeds of Doom was originally aired in 1976. Then, the first episode of The Keeper of Traken was broadcast in 1981, bringing with it the introduction of Nyssa, in this case, Nyssa wasn’t originally envisioned as a companion, however, she would be added to the line-up.(And she would hardly be the first instance of that. We remember Jamie McCrimmon…) In addition, Big Finish released The World Beyond the Trees for the first time in 2017. The Revisionists was first released by Big Finish in 2019.
1st February – including TWO notable births in Doctor Who History
Elisabeth Sladen, the wonderful actress fondly remembered for playing Sarah Jane Smith, was born in 1946. And she’s not the only iconic companion actress to have been born on that day. Bernice Summerfield performer – Lisa Bowerman – was born in 1962. The Rescue, the seventh and last episode of The Dead Planet/The Daleks, was aired in 1964. The Seeds of Death‘s second episode debuted in 1969. Oh, and The Ark in Space: Part Two was first broadcast in 1975. Which beats the infamous horror film Alien by a bit of time. Coincidence, of course, but funny to think given the similarities of the two!
Kinda‘s opening episode was initially broadcast in 1982, also, The Brigadier would then make a memorable return to the show the following year, as Part One of Mawdryn Undead premiered. Big Finish released the Sarah Jane Smith audio tales Buried Secrets and Snow Blind for the first time in 2006. Oh, and they put out Shadow of Death in 2013.
Invasion of the Dinosaurs: Part Four was first televised in 1974. The second instalment of Kinda premiered in 1982. (Have we mentioned that 1980s Doctor Who had a phase of complicated twice-weekly episode releases? Because it did.) Part two of Mawdryn Undead was first shown in 1983. (And again.)
Part three of Frontios premiered in 1984. In 1985, the first episode of The Mark of the Rani was broadcast. Yes, unbelievably, by funny coincidence, there’s a four-year streak here.(1982 was Mondays and Tuesdays… 1983 moved to Tuesdays and Wednesdays… 1984 went Thursdays and Fridays. And 1985 went back to weekly Saturdays.) Big Finish released Intervention Earth in 2015.
2020 saw the debut of Series 12’s Praxeus. Bernice Summerfield: The Tree of Life‘s audiobook adaptation initially made available by Big Finish in 2021. It followed up with an audiobook of Bernice Summerfield: The Slender-Fingered Cats of Bubastis in 2022. And 2023 has brought with it Short Trips Volume 12‘s release. (We’ve got an interview with writers Angus Dunican & Felicia Barker about that! Oh and Max Kashevsky and Fio Iles! )
In 1966, the Daleks made their rather interesting debut on Blue Peter. Would you believe our assistant editor if he said to you that it involves cakes? Because it involves cakes. Thankfully, you can see this surprising short skit here, courtesy of the BBC Archive. In 1968, The first episode of The Web of Fear was broadcast. (And would in years thereafter, be the only episode of the story that stayed in existence within BBC hands until 2013. When copies of all but Episode Three would be returned. As for that episode – well, it’s a long story…)
Warwick Davis – Porridge in Nightmares of Silver – was born in 1970. The second episode of Carnival of Monsters premiered in 1973. Part Three of The Armageddon Factor was first broadcast in 1979. Part Four of Frontios premiered in 1984. Big Finish then gave us a spinoff sequel we never realised we needed when in 2022, bringing back Rory Williams, The Lone Centurion: Volume Two came along.
4th February – A Particularly Sad Passing in Doctor Who History
Episode Four of The Underwater Menace premiered in 1967. The episode was never seen again apart from a few brief seconds saved by being ‘censor-clipped’. The first episode of The Invasion of Time broadcast in 1978.
In notably sad news, the show’s first script editor – David Whitaker – died on this date in 1980. Big Finish first released The Fearmonger in 2000. Big Finish first released the audio tale Jubilee in 2003. In 2021, Big Finish published – Time War: Volume Four.
1966 saw the debut of The Massacre‘s first episode, War of God. The second episode of The Curse of Peladon first aired in 1972. And The Robots of Death Part 2 first aired in 1977. In 2019, Missy: Series One was released by Big Finish.
Doctor Who History: Week Six – 6th February to 12th February
The fourth and final episode of The Romans, entitled Inferno, debuted in 1965.(of course, not to be confused with the Third Doctor story called Inferno!) The second episode of The Mind of Evil aired in 1971. Meat – the fourth episode of Torchwood‘s second season – first aired in 2008.
In terms of Big Finish, they had quite the release with The Renaissance Man in 2012. Then, House of Cards came out from them in 2013. Little Doctors released in 2015. This nearly made it 3 years in a row. And then in 2018, they released the Torchwood audio drama Aliens Among Us Part 3.
Doctor Who and the Silurians episode two first aired in 1970. Part two of The Seeds of Doom was first aired in 1976. Part two of The Keeper of Traken was first shown in 1981. That is a lot of Part 2s! Christopher Barry, director of several of the first Dalek stories, died in 2014.
The Edge of Destruction was first broadcast in 1964. The third episode of The Seeds of Death debuted in 1969. Part three of The Ark in Space was first aired in 1975. Kinda’s penultimate episode premiered in 1982 – probably giving a few kids some nightmares, to be honest…
Part three of Mawdryn Undead premiered in 1983. Part one of Resurrection of the Daleks was first broadcast in 1984. Big Finish originally released Road Trip in 2012. And a decade later in 2022, they released The Annihilators.
The fifth episode of Invasion of the Dinosaurs premiered in 1974. The final episode of Kinda premiered in 1982. (Okay, little hard to have many nightmares when the cliffhanger was getting resolved one day after Part Three. Oh well…) The fourth and final episode of Mawdryn Undead first aired in 1983, bringing the Brigadier’s return to the show to a – surprising – close. Part two of The Mark of the Rani was first shown in 1985. Can You Hear Me? debuted in 2020. Oh, and Big Finish released The Blazing Hour on this day in 2021.
10th February – another notable birth in Doctor Who history!
Peter Purves, the actor who played the First Doctor’s companion Steven Taylor, was born on this day in 1939. The second episode of The Web of Fear was broadcast on this day in 1968, and then was lost from the sights of UK fans until 2013! The third episode of Carnival of Monsters premiered in 1973. Part four of The Armageddon Factor was first broadcast in 1979.
In Big Finish terms; The Fourth Wall and The Selachian Gambit released by Big Finish in 2012. And then they brought a special Torchwood release in with More Than This in 2016. If that wasn’t enough, 2021 saw the debut of The Fourth Doctor Adventures Series 10: Volume 2.
In 1967, the first episode of The Moonbase was broadcast. (As of writing, this episode remains missing from the BBC Archives… but a rather wonderful team officially animated it for the DVD release!) Part two of The Invasion of Time aired in 1978.
Jordan Renzo – who played Matteusz Andrzejewski in Class, and whom we interviewed last month about his Whoniverse work – was born in 1993. Big Finish put out the audio tale Excelis Dawns in 2002, part of a fan-beloved trilogy of audios.
Big Finish followed that up with double helpings – Spaceport Fear and The Sands of Life in 2013. And in 2020, Big Finish put out a sort-of prequel sort-of sequel to the TV story The Greatest Show in the Galaxy entitled The Psychic Circus.
The Sea Beggar was first broadcast in 1966 – an episode of The Smugglers that also sadly remains missing from the archives. The third episode of The Curse of Peladon first broadcast in 1972. The third instalment of The Robots of Death initially aired in 1977.
Big Finish first issued Dark Eyes 2 in 2014, as part of their continuing Eighth Doctor stories’ output. Then came Equilibrium and The Darkness of Glass in 2015. And a few years later in 2019, they released Black Thursday and Power Game. The Fourth Doctor Adventures Series 9: Volume 2 came along most recently 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. The birth of Elisabeth Sladen and the saddening death of the first ever scriptwriter for the show. Both of these events are equally important. A lot of Big Finish audio dramas and quite a bit of talking about the random release schedule for the show in the 80s.
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.