National Edition

BBC's 'Doctor Who' celebrated 50 years with special episode

Published: Monday, Nov. 25 2013 3:25 p.m. MST

An undated handout photo made available by the BBC showing the Eleven Doctors, from left, William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith. "Doctor Who" is turning 50 and the BBC is throwing a broadcasting blowout for the sci-fi show, which began with little fanfare and few expectations on Nov. 23, 1963 but is now one of its biggest hits and major exports.

AP Photo/BBC

This past weekend, fans of the BBC science fiction series "Doctor Who" were treated to a delightful television event celebrating the show's 50th anniversary. Simulcast in 75 countries, people all over the world saw the big episode at the same time.

The special filled in some gaps in the "Who" timeline, included cameos from many previous Doctors, and set things up for Peter Capaldi to take over from Matt Smith as the 12th Doctor.

Titled "Day of the Doctor," the episode broke the record as recognized by Guinness World Records for largest simulcast broadcast television event. Executive producer Steven Moffat and stars Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman received an official certificate, according to the Express.

The show premiered in 1963, enduring executive meddling, hiatus, cancellation and resurrection in 2005. But fans have been consistent about their love for the show.

"What went right?" Nicholas Slayton of The Atlantic wrote. "It's not just the always-exterminating Daleks, or the complex, wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey plots. Those are fun, but there's something more primal that's been with it since its start in 1963: adventure. A sense of the new. When William Hartnell debuted in November 1963 as the Doctor, showing off his time and space-traveling TARDIS, and asked his co-stars and viewers, 'Have you ever thought what it's like to be wanderers in the Fourth Dimension?' And the truth was, they hadn’t. Not like this."

This adventure has featured 11 Doctors, many Companions and lots of surprise historical figures flashing through more than 700 episodes. The power of the show comes from its freedom to explore, Slayton wrote.

"As dark as the show can get," Slayton said, "And as high as the body count can rise (which is very high), there's always a sense of joy and discovery there. The Doctor can be manipulative and brooding, but he's always been an explorer first. The show is about saving people and helping others, not getting revenge or hurting someone, and its unabashed love of seeing new things and the best in people makes it fun."

Even those who are not Whovians, wrote Dominic Cavendish at the Telegraph, "can take pride in what our longest-running sci-fi series represents: imagination, creativity and a world-class ability to combine wit and eccentricity with storytelling flair."

Email: ataylor@deseretnews.com

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