Talk:Doctor Who

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 Definition British science-fiction television series depicting the adventures of a mysterious time-traveller known as 'the Doctor'; original series ran from 1963 to 1989 on the BBC, followed by a 1996 television movie; relaunched in 2005. [d] [e]
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 Talk Archive 1, 2  English language variant British English


'Who is certainly not his real name'. Is 'Who' his name at all? Or is it just the title of the series? I watched in the very early days; I don't remember him being referred to as 'Dr. Who', except maybe interrogatively. Ro Thorpe 01:26, 21 November 2009 (UTC)

No, it's not, though there were a handful of episodes in the 1960s that implied it was, e.g. he once signed his name 'Dr W.'. However, that quickly stopped. You may be thinking of the 1960s Peter Cushing Dalek films, which presented a separate continuity in which the main character was an elderly human scientist called 'Dr Who'. These days he's credited as 'The Doctor'. John Stephenson 05:58, 23 November 2009 (UTC)

Right, thanks for the information. You might consider adding a note about that. Ro Thorpe 09:27, 23 November 2009 (UTC)

He was explicitly called that in the dialogue of The War Machines, but as John says that was exceptional. In the on-screen cast list it was much more common. Peter Jackson 11:33, 23 November 2009 (UTC)
Yes, and I think that was the only time - and that was by a mad computer, so fans generally discount it. :) John Stephenson 08:57, 28 November 2009 (UTC)
Also, I seem to remember that the credit in the new series was changed from 'Doctor Who' to 'The Doctor' at the insistence of David Tennant when he took the role (he actually being a lifelong Doctor Who fan). However, I couldn't find an authoritative reference for this. John Stephenson 06:50, 5 December 2009 (UTC)

Number of Doctors

"As of 2014, thirteen[2] actors have played the lead role in the television series, with others appearing in unofficial or alternative productions and as additional Doctors in some programmes."

I started trying to update this, but realized that it's a bit confused. As of now, 12 actors have played the "lead role", but 2 others have played the Doctor according to screen credits: Hurndall and Hurt weren't the lead roles in the episodes they appeared in. In addition, various actors have appeared without credits, most frequently Edmond Warwick as stunt double. Peter Jackson (talk) 10:43, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
This sent me back to my DVDs. For 'The Five Doctors', all the actors appear as a single end-credit, under 'The Doctor' (the order is Davison, Pertwee, Troughton, Hurndall, Baker and Hartnell - i.e. Hartnell and Baker are credited even though they appear only in archive clips). As Hurndall is there with the others, you could say he was regarded as a co-lead. Likewise with Hurt: the end credits for 'Day of the Doctor' list all of them under 'The Doctor', in reverse chronological order and with Hurt between Eccleston and McGann. (Baker receives no separate credit as 'The Curator', and Capaldi is uncredited even though he played the Doctor.) So technically Hurt and Hurndall were co-leads. (In the opening credits, on the other hand, Smith's name appears first, followed by Tennant's and Coleman's; we then see Piper and Hurt's names, under 'With'.) I suppose we could change this to reflect that there have been 12 'eras' of the programme but then specify that additional actors have taken over the role through recasting or brief appearances as guest stars, and that the character has had 13 incarnations. John Stephenson (talk) 14:24, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
Even if they count as co-leads, "lead" doesn't unambiguously include that. Bear in mind also that in the original production there is no special credit for main characters as against minor ones. That is, there's no lead character identified in the on-screen credits (unlike Radio Times). As you say, Hartnell gets the same sort of credit in 5 Drs as the others, even though he has only a brief sound-archive clip to his name. For that matter, he's credited in Mission to the Unknown without appearing at all. Identifying lead characters, like companions too, is a matter of interpretation. The episodes in question looked at in isolation, have co-leads, but they appear in "eras" as you say. Similarly, in some episodes the Doctor puts in little or no screen time, but counts as the lead character in broader perspective.
Anyway, it would be nice if we could come up with some, preferably succinct, wording that would be unambiguous, correct and a satisfactory summary of the important facts. Peter Jackson (talk) 15:39, 13 February 2017 (UTC)


For the moment I'm changing to "programme" when it means 1963 to date. Maybe "show" instead? Trying to avoid ambiguous terminology: "series" is an annual thing in the new production, corresponding to "season" in the old. At least that's how WP does it, following "reliable sources", which in turn I think follow the BBC. Arbitrary and inconsistent in my view, but there you are. So I think avoid "series" in other senses. Three "productions" for 1963-89, 1996 and 2005 to date. Peter Jackson (talk) 11:50, 3 November 2021 (UTC)