If all the talk of the BBC’s announcement that Jodie Whittaker will be the 13th Doctor has got you asking, er, Doctor who, exactly?, don’t worry, we’ve got you.
Here’s everything you need to know about the universe’s favourite Time Lord, in good time for when the show’s brand new female Doctor hits our screens next year.
Who is the Doctor?
The Doctor is a Time Lord, a time-travelling alien from the planet Gallifrey.
As far as tragic back stories go, the Doctor’s is definitely up there with the saddest. During the show’s first run, from 1963 to 1996, Gallifrey was alive and kicking. However, when the series made its return in 2005, it was revealed that there had been a Time War across all of time and space which had destroyed Gallifrey and killed all the Time Lords, leaving the Doctor as the last of his species.
What’s with the screwdriver?
The Doctor never goes anywhere without his nifty sonic screwdriver, a mutli-faceted tool that can control almost any machine, computer or form of energy. In fact, the sonic screwdriver is the ultimate Swiss army knife, as there really isn’t much it can’t do. However, while it can also be used to a certain extent as a defensive weapon, it isn’t designed to injure or kill.
What about his blue box?
When they are old enough, Time Lords can get their own Tardis (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) which allows them to travel anywhere through time and space – sort of like getting your driver’s licence. More than just a time machine, however, the Tardis is artificially intelligent and must be grown, not built.
Something which new companions of the Doctor never fail to observe is that the Tardis is bigger on the inside than the outside. A Tardis is also supposed to be able to change its outward appearance to blend in with its surroundings, but the circuit on the Doctor’s Tardis broke and he got too attached to the police box skin to ever get round to fixing it.
And the sidekick?
The Doctor has a soft spot for planet Earth, and whenever he goes off on his travels, he usually likes to take along a human passenger, usually referred to as his companion. These companions often function as a surrogate audience, asking questions – the answers to which also serve to inform the viewer what exactly is going on. But they’re also important characters in their own right, forming close bonds with the Doctor as well as helping him save the world on more a few occasions.
Why does the Doctor keep changing?
Time Lords are a pretty advanced species. One of their little quirks is that they don’t have to die. Instead, they may choose to regenerate, virtually always as a new person. This was a handy plot device for creators who wanted to keep the show running after the actor who played the first Doctor, William Hartnell, needed to step down from the role. Since then, it has become an integral feature of the show, with each new actor providing their own take on the character, allowing the show to keep reinventing itself.
Who are the Daleks?
Every hero needs an arch nemesis; enter the Daleks, a species of mutant cyborg aliens. Known for their mechanical war cry of “Exterminate!”, Daleks are pure-bred killing machines, devoid of any emotion except hate. They are responsible for wiping out the Time Lords during the Time War, and were thought to have been destroyed themselves at the hands of the Doctor, but it’s never long before the Daleks rear their egg-whisk-like death rays again.
Honourable mentions in the Doctor Who evil villain category also go to the Cybermen, robotic soldiers who like to “upgrade” humans by turning them into Cybermen too; and the subjects of many a nightmare, the Weeping Angels, graveyard statues with a penchant for killing – but which only move when you blink.
Edited by Pete Spurrier