'Doctor Who', geek adventures through space and time

In the United Kingdom, there are certain characters who are authentic cultural institutions; James Bond is known around the world, and Harry Potter is quite a family entertainment phenomenon, but there are few institutions so British, and it has taken them a little longer to achieve the same status outside their borders, such as 'Doctor Who'.


This venerable science fiction series turned 50 since its premiere on the BBC on November 23, and at that anniversary celebrations it was seen how far the phenomenon reaches the British Isles and how it has spread in recent years to the rest of the world. Europe and, especially, the United States.

In its early days, 'Doctor Who' was nothing more than a children's series that the BBC needed to fill out programming on Saturday afternoons. 

However, the efforts of its first managers and the first actor who starred in it, William Hartnell, quickly made it a surprising audience success, at the same time putting the seeds so that it could stay on the air for years and years without being stagnant or lack of ideas; the changing nature of its chapters (they could be set in the past, in the future, on the other side of the Universe and range from comedies to scary stories), the fact that executive producers could also change, without altering the essence of the series, and the best idea they could have had when they were forced to replace Hartnell; the Doctor has the ability to regenerate.

Thus, the main character could be played by different actors without the series suffering, and offering the ability to renew stories every time signs of creative fatigue began to be noticed or among the audience. 

But of course, if your protagonist is a Time Lord, an alien that travels through time and space in a shipThe TARDIS, shaped like a blue phone booth, someone who has two hearts and whose ship is bigger on the inside than the outside, who has the ability to regenerate into a new body is not too outlandish. 

This figure was to serve, at the beginning of 'Doctor Who', not only to entertain children, but also to teach them history, which is why those first seasons in the 1960s often sent the Doctor to the past, to visit the time of the ancient Egyptians, or to 19th century London.

A doctor never travels alone

The other feature of the series that probably helped her connect so much with her audience was the fact that the Doctor never travels alone. 

He is always accompanied by someone, usually a human, who not only serves as a point of connection with the public, but also keeps the Doctor's possible delusions of greatness at bay. 

If throughout these 50 years of history there have been eleven different incarnations of the protagonist (twelve, if we count the one we will see in the special Christmas chapter), each of them has had its own companions, his companions, who have been changing their powers as the decades went by. 

From damsels in distress from the beginning to the resolute and independent girls of today, there is a stretch, varying their roles as times changed.

But when speaking of 'Doctor Who', it must be specified that he was not on the air continuously for those five decades. 

From its premiere in 1963, it had 26 seasons until its first cancellation, in 1989, with an attempt to revive it in 1996 through a tv movie in which it wanted to appeal to the American public, without success. 

It was not until 2005 that the BBC would approve his return to the grills supervised by then-emerging Welsh screenwriter Russell T. Davies, who had gained some notoriety thanks to series such as 'Queer as folk' and 'Casanova', and who had been a big fan of 'Doctor Who' as a kid.

That is a very important part of the legacy of the series, the fact that it has inspired a multitude of British kids to dedicate themselves to movies and television because on Saturday afternoons they were amazed, scared and amused watching the Doctor and his companions live a thousand and an adventures on the BBC. 

Davies, Steven Moffat (current executive producer), David Tennant, Matt Smith and even the new Doctor, Peter Capaldi, are all fans of the show, and they do the series they remember from when they were little (Moffat was scared, for example).

A geek series

That surrendered fandom that has re-developed around 'Doctor Who', and that spans generations within the same family, also has an important geek component.

It is not surprising that, in the special reports made for its 50th anniversary, engineers and scientists from the most diverse fields appear who affirm that it was the Doctor who inspired them to dedicate themselves to science, and although, evidently, much of the techno-jargon used in the series does not make any sense, that has not prevented different books and programs that try to find out how much "science" is in "fiction". 

One of themWithout going any further, it was presented by the physicist Brian Cox as part of the anniversary celebration, and it explained not only the theoretical basic concepts of time travel, but also how a black hole works, which in theory is what that drives the TARDIS.

The Doctor also uses a multitude of different gadgets and gadgets during his adventures. The most popular is the sonic screwdriver, but in recent years it has also modified a mobile phone so that it can make calls from the other end of the galaxy (hopefully it has a flat rate for them) and has even built a machine that does ding when there are things. 

When it comes to technology, he is a character who is closer to the nutty professor (or Doc Brown from 'Back to the Future'), and what he does manage to do is stimulate the imagination of his viewers. In this geeky aspect, 'Doctor Who' has nothing to envy 'Star Trek' .

In this 2013, the series is about to end its eighth season of the new era, presenting the 12th Doctor and has celebrated its 50th anniversary since its premiere, and it has done so demonstrating the great longevity and strength that the apparently, a simple concept with which Sydney Newman, head of fiction for the BBC in 1963, conceived it: an alien who travels through time and space, who is called Doctor because that inspires confidence in the public and that he was going to teach history to the kids.

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