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. We’ve been going strong since the start of January, and already we’re nearly at the end of March. Funny how time flies…
Doctor Who History: Week Eleven – 13th March to 19th March
1965 saw the debut of Invasion, a captivating broadcast of an episode of The Romans that took audiences by storm.(And not to be confused with the story The Invasion in 1968, or the first episode of 1970s story Invasion of the Dinosaurs) In 1971, the first episode of The Claws of Axos was unleashed, introducing viewers to a world of adventure. 1978 marked the birth of actress Joanna Page, who would later bring to life the roles of not only Queen Elizabeth I but also her Zygon duplicate in Day of the Doctor as well.
Big Finish brought the power of the stars to life with the release of Starborn in 2014. (Pun intended!) In 2015, Big Finish introduced Requiem for the Rocket Men. In 2019, Big Finish released The Comic Strip Adaptations: Volume One, a collection of stories.
In 1964, The Wall of Lies made its debut and captivated audiences with its thrilling broadcast. The seventh episode of Doctor Who and the Silurians aired in 1970, adding to the excitement. In 1981, the third episode of Logopolis was broadcast, continuing the adventure. Big Finish’s Eighth Doctor Adventures Series 3 released Orbis: Part 2 in 2009, a gripping tale of adventure. Scavenger and The Crooked Man were released by Big Finish in 2014, and in 2017, they introduced Visiting Hours, a story of excitement and intrigue.
1932 saw the birth of actor Brian Proudfoot, who was the first actor to be featured in location filming of the show, and he was also an uncredited William Hartnell double in The Reign of Terror. In 1969, the second episode of The Space Pirates first broadcast. 1975 marked the airing of part two of Genesis of the Daleks.
1982 saw the broadcast of part three of Earthshock, followed by part one of The King’s Demons in 1983. The following year, in 1984, part three of The Caves of Androzani was first broadcast.(Again, there’s that streak of Davison-era stories year on year, as a result of the changing scheduling for the show.) In 2006, Big Finish released Time Works, a story that explored the limits of time. 2016 saw the release of The Peterloo Massacre, a tale of tragedy and triumph, by Big Finish.
16th March – A Regeneration in Doctor Who History
1943 saw the birth of John Leeson, the actor behind the iconic voice of K9. The year 1968 marked the first broadcast of episode one of Fury from the Deep. This episode introduced the Sonic Screwdriver we all love. (Though, perhaps not in the way you’d think – but that’s a story for another day.) Death to the Daleks continued to captivate audiences with the airing of its fourth part in 1974. Earthshock continued its thrilling journey with the broadcast of part four in 1982.
The King’s Demons concluded with the airing of its second part in 1983, followed by the fourth and final part of The Caves of Androzani in 1984. A much-loved story in the fandom, it hit an epic conclusion in which the Fifth Doctor regenerated into the Sixth Doctor. Timelash‘s second part broadcasted in 1985. Big Finish released The Paradox Planet in 2016, followed by The End of the Beginning and Soul Music in 2021, and Solo in 2022.
Patrick O’Kane, known for portraying Ashad, the Lone Cyberman, was born in 1965. The fourth episode of Frontier in Space premiered in 1973. Actor Michael Gough, who was the first performer to play the Toymaker, sadly passed away in 2011. Big Finish released the audio drama Subterfuge in 2020, and in 2021 they released Return of the Cybermen and The Doomsday Contract.
In 1967, audiences were thrilled by the second episode of The Macra Terror. Five years later, in 1972, the fourth episode of The Sea Devils aired, bringing more excitement and adventure to viewers. In 2020, Big Finish released The First Doctor Adventures: Volume Four, offering fans another opportunity to explore the First Doctor further.
In 1924, the talented actress Mary Wimbush, known for her role as Sarah-Jane Smith’s Aunt Lavinia, was born.(What? You didn’t think we’d forget about K-9 & Company, did you?) Interestingly, in The Time Warrior serial, Sarah-Jane assumed her identity to infiltrate UNIT. The Return – the third episode of The Ark – aired for the first time in 1966, while 1977 saw the broadcast of the fourth part of The Talons of Weng-Chiang. Big Finish released the audio story The Stones of Venice in 2001, and the gripping episode Adrift was first broadcast in 2008. Certainly a memorable episode for Torchwood fans.
Doctor Who History: Week Twelve – 20th March to 26th March
20th March – Doctor Who History in Freema’s Birthday
In 1965, The Centre broadcasted for the first time, as part of The Web Planet. The second episode of The Claws of Axos aired in 1971. Freema Agyeman, who played the role of Martha Jones, one of the companions to the Tenth Doctor, was born in 1979. A well-remembered and beloved performance, Freema has sparingly reprised the rose since her departure at the end of Series 3… but we always love when she comes back.
21st March – Another Regeneration in Doctor Who History
Peter Pratt, who portrayed a decayed incarnation of the Master in The Deadly Assassin, was born in 1923. Rider from Shang-Tu aired for the first time in 1964, while episode one of The Ambassadors of Death premiered in 1970. Chris Chibnall, the showrunner for Jodie Whittaker’s era of Doctor Who, was also born in 1970. His involvement with Doctor Who as a writer throughout the production runs of Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat make him technically the only person to have worked on TV Doctor Who under all three showrunner eras since the revival.
In 1981, part four of Logopolis was broadcast, which marked Tom Baker’s last chronological appearance as the Fourth Doctor as he regenerated into Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor.
Fragments aired for the first time in 2008. In 2009, Big Finish released the first part of Hothouse in their Eighth Doctor Adventures Series 3, while Zaltys was first released by Big Finish in 2017. The Third Doctor Adventures Volume 4 was first released by Big Finish in 2018. That’s a lot of information just for this date!!!
Mary Tamm, who played the first incarnation of Romana, was born in 1950. The Space Pirates’ episode three premiered in 1969, while part three of Genesis of the Daleks aired in 1975. In 1982, the first part of Time-Flight aired, and in 1984, the first part of The Twin Dilemma was also broadcast. This was the first episode of Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor. The audio drama The Silent Scream was first released by Big Finish in 2017.
Fury from the Deep’s second episode aired for the first time in 1968, while episode one of The Monster of Peladon premiered in 1974. In 1982, the second episode of Time-Flight broadcasted, and in 1984, the second episode of The Twin Dilemma also aired. The first episode of Revelation of the Daleks was first broadcast in 1985. In 2022, Big Finish released the Torchwood monthly range audio story, The Black Knight.
In 1920, the world was blessed with the birth of a legend, Patrick Troughton, who would bring the Second Doctor to life on screen. 1967 saw the airing of the third episode of The Macra Terror, a classic Doctor Who episode that sadly fans can’t enjoy due to it being missing to this day. One can only wonder if Troughton celebrated his birthday by tuning in with his loved ones to watch the latest episode. In 1972, the action-packed The Sea Devils continued to captivate audiences with the airing of its fifth episode.
In 2002, Big Finish added to the growing collection of Doctor Who stories by them with the release of Seasons of Fear, a thrilling audio adventure. And in 2020, Big Finish once again delivered with the release of The Lives of Captain Jack: Volume Three, with exciting cameos from River Song and Jackie Tyler. (Personal fact about me, this is my favourite Big Finish audio story featuring Jack Harkness.)
Barry Letts, producer of Doctor Who, was born in 1925. When Pertwee was on the show as the Doctor, Letts was the producer. The Bomb made its debut in 1966. 1977 saw the debut of The Talons of Weng-Chiang, Part 5.
Rose, the first episode of the revival era, debuted in 2005. Though Doctor Who hadn’t… technically… remained off TV screens from 1989 until then – it was nonetheless notable. Bringing Doctor Who back to being in a regular TV series format, and what an adventure it’s been since then.
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 the birth of the beloved Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, and we had the birth of one of the key showrunners of the modern era. We also learnt that the 21st of March is certainly a busy day for the show and Big Finish.
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.