Happy birthday, Doctor – you don’t look a day over 2,000!
Yes, today – November 23rd – marks 55 years since Doctor Who first aired on British TV screens back in 1963. The first episode to debut was titled “An Unearthly Child” and saw William Hartnell’s First Doctor and his granddaughter Susan taking school teachers Ian and Barbara on an adventure through space and time. Though the show was immediately popular with viewers, no one could have predicted that it would still be going strong over half a century later.
To mark the occasion, the official Doctor Who Twitter account shared a birthday message from the Doctor herself, Jodie Whittaker, and you can check it out below:
— Doctor Who Official (@bbcdoctorwho) November 23, 2018
If you’re wondering why we haven’t had a special episode to commemorate Doctor Who turning 55, it’s because while the show frequently celebrates its own significant birthdays with a big bash, it doesn’t always do so. 1973’s “The Three Doctors” brought Hartnell and Patrick Troughton back to team up with Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor, and though there was no 15th anniversary special, the 20th was marked by “The Five Doctors,” with Troughton and Pertwee joining forces with Peter Davison (Richard Hurndall replaced the late Hartnell and Tom Baker only featured via archival footage).
1988, meanwhile, was the show’s 25th birthday and “Silver Nemesis,” a story involving the return of the Cybermen but no returning Doctors, was made to signify the occasion. Then, even though Who was off the air by 1993, “Dimensions in Time” – a one-off special for Children in Need – was made featuring every surviving Doctor (including Tom Baker) and a bunch of companions.
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The most famous of Doctor Who birthday bashes, though, is “The Day of the Doctor,” which premiered 5 years ago today. It united Matt Smith with predecessor David Tennant and John Hurt’s hitherto-unknown incarnation, the forgotten War Doctor, as they changed their own history and saved their people, the Time Lords. Seeing how that awesome episode’s still so fresh in people’s minds, it’s no wonder showrunner Chris Chibnall didn’t want to produce another birthday celebration so soon afterwards.
That being said, we do still have an installment of Doctor Who to watch this weekend, as season 11 continues with episode 8, “The Witchfinders.” Be sure to catch it on Sunday, November 25th on BBC One/America.