Doctor Who

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First Issue: 17th October 1979
Last Issue: 7th August 1980
Copyright: Marvel UK / BBC / Panini Comics

Hide Behind the Sofa…it’s Time for Doctor Who!

Billie Piper2005 saw the successful re-launch of the longest running science fiction series in television history. The BBC television programme and creation of Sydney Newman, “Doctor Who” first appeared on November 23, 1963 and starred William Hartnell . In the 36 years that the TV series ran there were seven Doctors. The TV series was cancelled in 1989 but the doctor reappeared in 1996 with the television film ‘The Enemy Within” starring Paul McGann. Another nine years passed before the BBC decided to revamp and re-brand the science fiction series with script writing by Russell T Davies and casting which brought the acclaimed Christopher Eccleston to the role of the Doctor. With the assistant “Rose Tyler” played by Billie Piper.

With the departure of Chris Eccleston in 2006 after just one series, Doctor Who continued its successful run with the Doctor being played by David Tennant. His appointment to the role reunited David Tennant with the script writer Russell T Davies who had also scripted Casanova. 2006 also saw the exit of Rose Tyler as the Doctor’s assistant. Freema Agyeman and Catherine Tate became the Doctor’s new assistants. Freema managed to secure the role despite having blotted her copybook by starring in Crossroads as ‘Lola Wise’. Perhaps in future episodes we may see the appearance of Benny and Ms Diane. Freema’s CV also includes such classics as ‘Casualty’ and ‘The Bill’. And as for Catherine Tate – Dalek: “Exterminate!”, Donna Noble:”Am I bothered?”

‘Doctor Who Weekly’ First Issue

Doctor Who Weekly First Issue

In the sixth episode of series four, we were introduced to a genetic copy of the Doctor – ‘The Doctor’s Daughter’. In an interesting twist, the actress who played the Doctor’s Daughter, Georgia Moffett, is the real life daughter of the fifth Doctor Peter Davison, who starred in the role between 1981 and 1984.

The Doctor’s Daughter was the sixth episode of the fourth series of the BBC Wales version of Doctor Who. It was significant for introducing only the second known genetic relative of the Doctor seen in a televised episode. Additionally, that character’s fate at the conclusion of the episode left — in a way atypical of most guest characters — obvious narrative possibilities for her return to the programme.

‘Doctor Who Weekly’ Summer Special 1980

Doctor Who Weekly Summer Special 1980

From a production standpoint, it was notable for its interesting casting. In giving the part of Jenny to , the production team had cast the daughter of an actor who had played the Doctor to play an on-screen daughter of the character.

The history of Doctor Who in British comics is a long one and is not only confined to British comics as the television syndication led to the programme and its comic spin offs becoming popular throughout the English speaking world especially in the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Although Doctor Who had originally aired in 1963, the re-launched series of 2005 is known as series one. The start of series six in 2010 was marked by the introduction of the eleventh Doctor, played by ex-professional footballer, Matt Smith. There was a clean sweep as the new Doctor was accompanied by a new companion called Amy Pond played by Karen Gillan. Fast forward to 2017, and we see the first ever female Doctor played by Jodie Whittaker.

The Thirteenth Doctor – Jodie Whittaker

Jodie WhittakerWith regard to Doctor Who comics, under licence from the BBC, Marvel UK launched ‘Doctor Who Weekly’ issue number 1 dated 17th October 1979. With a glossy front cover, and coming in a size format that was more in keeping with American comics, ‘Doctor Who Weekly’ was something different. The first issue came with the free gift of ‘Free Transfers’. Another thing that was slightly different, was that there were free gifts for the first four issues as opposed to the norm of the first three issues. Each free gift offering was ‘Free Transfers’ with later issues offering bikes, watches and televisions to be won.

As ‘Doctor Who Weekly’ was launched in 1979, it followed the adventures of the then current incumbent of the role, The Fourth Doctor, the scarf wearing, jelly baby eating Tom Baker.

Unfortunately, ‘Doctor Who Weekly’ only managed a print run of 43 weekly issues plus a 1980 Summer Special. The last issue, number 43, was dated 7th August 1980. It wasn’t that the comic was an unpopular, it was just that there were not enough sales to justify a weekly publication. September 1980 saw the first issue of ‘Doctor Who Monthly – A Marvel Monthly’ which continued the numbering from the weekly comic as issue number 44. In fact the publication has had a number of name changes. Issue number 61, the name changed again from ‘Doctor Who Monthly – A Marvel Monthly’ to ‘Doctor Who Monthly’. In issue number 85, it changed its name to ‘The Official Doctor Who Magazine’. April 1985, saw yet another name change to ‘The Doctor Who Magazine’ in issue number 99. Then in a moment reminiscent of Sean Parker at Facebook, they dropped the ‘The’ and renamed it ‘Doctor Who Magazine’ in issue number 107, in December 1985. It has continued with the same title since that time except for issue number 397 in June 2008 when it was called ‘Bad Wolf’ for one issue.

Despite the publication having some sort of personality disorder with its numerous name changes and the change in publisher from Marvel UK to Panini Comics, it has been acknowledged by the Guiness Book of Records as the longest running TV tie-in magazine.

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