Five Beguiling “Doctor Who” Tidbits

Doctor Who 50 years

If you think you know everything there is to know about the indomitable Doctor Who, think again. Here are some obscure, little-known trivia that even the most devoted Whovian might find surprising.

It Takes a Tragedy to Derail the Doctor. The pilot episode of Doctor Who hit the BBC airwaves on November 23, 1963. Airing just one day after the assassination of JFK, the show didn’t draw the viewer numbers that had been anticipated. In order to give the Doctor a fair shake, the BBC re-aired the pilot the next week as a lead-in to the second episode of the series.

Later, the pilot that had been eclipsed by the death of a world leader had another close call. The BBC went through an OCD archive purge in the ‘70s and the Doctor Who pilot was thought to have been lost along with many other episodes from the ‘60s. Luckily, the original pilot was found in 1978, hiding out in a mislabeled can of film.

You Can’t Keep a Good Doctor Down. Tom Baker, who put in the most years bouncing through time at the helm of the TARDIS wouldn’t let anything stand between him and his character’s next adventure. During shooting for the 16th season, Baker suffered a dog bite on the left side of his mouth by Paul Seed’s Jack Russell Terrier. The first episode for the season was nearly complete, and an accident where the Fourth Doctor knocks his mouth against the TARDIS console was quickly added to the second episode to explain the injury that was still apparent, despite the makeup artist’s best efforts.

American’s Can’t Get Enough of the Doctor. An interesting thing happened during primetime in October 2011. It seems that the Doctor was just too infectious to resist. So much so that three different American shows made Doctor Who references in episodes aired three nights in a row. The shows paying homage to the longest-running sci-fi show ever were Supernatural, Criminal Minds and Grey’s Anatomy.

Sometimes Even the Doctor Needs To Hitch a Ride. Doctor Who teamed up with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams during the show’s 16th and 17th seasons. Adams hit up the show with an unsolicited script in 1978, which landed him a gig writing three scripts (including much-loved The Pirate Planet) and serving as script editor for season 17. Due to strikes, only two of Adams’ scripts made it to the small screen, and his third, Shada, seemed doomed to languish in half-filmed limbo.

Adams tried, in part, to resurrect the lost episode in his Dirk Gently offerings, but it wasn’t until Doctor Who writer Gareth Roberts gave it the old college try that Shada finally got its full telling. In his 2012 release, Doctor Who: Shada: The Lost Adventure by Douglas Adams, Roberts does a fine job breathing life into Adams’ lost episode and gives fans of both the Doctor and Adams a highly entertaining read.

The Doctor Can See The Future. Or, rather, Radio Times can see the Doctor in the future. Just one month before fan favorite David Tennant was passed the Doctor mantle, the British mag’s March 2005 cover featured Tennant, resplendent as Casanova in velvet and lace, with “Doctor Who! Our sneak preview of the biggest event of the TV year!” splashed across his future-Doctor visage. At the time, the magazine had no idea that their cover boy was to be named the new Doctor in April 2005, nor any inkling of the prophetic nature of their teaser.
What “Doctor” secret are you dying to share?

Lisa Forester is a fan of all things TV and is currently a regular contributor for Satellite News Now. When she isn’t writing, she is catching up on the latest shows.