Dr Who: The Day of the Doctor 50th Anniversary

by JoHarrington

It's a television event fifty years in the making. The celebrations have rippled out through time and space, into conferences, documentaries and theater shows.

On November 23rd 2013, 'Dr Who: The Day of the Doctor' will be simultaneously broadcast across 100 nations.

In the Whovian universe, the excitement is palpable. The ExCel Arena, in London, is host to a week long Dr Who Convention. "Anyone who ever appeared in Dr Who will be there!" exclaimed my cousin, who's providing some of the security for the event.

Not quite. Some are dead or emigrated abroad (looking at you, Matthew Waterhouse), but those not present are certainly accounted for in the host of online and television celebrations rippling out from the anniversary special.

Dr Who Celebrations for the 50th Anniversary

It's a great week to be a Whovian. A plethora of exciting new material turned up on a daily basis, even for those unlucky enough to have missed out on the Convention. That was merely the official Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Celebration.

For the rest of us, there were constant up-dates to the BBC's Dr Who website, documentaries and bio-pics on television and the sense that everyone in the world was talking about this. Or perhaps that's merely a measure of my friends.

And it was all centered upon one massive television event:  the 50th anniversary special of Dr Who: The Day of the Doctor.

Dr Who 50th Anniversary Special: The Day of the Doctor

The Doctor has been lured into the 'one place in the universe (he) should not go' - his tomb. Intent upon writing Dr Who out of history, The Great Intelligence leaps into the Doctor's timeline and destroys all that he finds there.

However, the disembodied mind had not counted upon the Doctor's latest companion, Clara Oswald.  She leapt in after it, fixing where The Great Intelligence destroyed. For the Doctor, she became the Impossible Girl, turning up constantly throughout time and space.

She should have been torn down to the very atoms that made up her being, existing only as a succession of echoes of herself. But Dr Who was not prepared to see that happen. He too jumped into his own time-line and pulled her back into the knowledge and memories of herself.

Only deep inside his own history, the Doctor and Clara came face to face with someone he had tried hard to forget.  An incarnation of himself who went to war.

The Day of the Doctor: 50 Year Anniversary Trailer

Dr Who's 50th Anniversary Special took up the story at this point. As befits a show celebrating so many years, the plot was perfectly placed to travel throughout those decades.

The Doctor and Clara could technically call upon any one of his former incarnations to help save the day. And he did, all against the greatest enemy he could encounter - himself. Give or take a few daleks, of course.

This was the hook and the promise, which turned general Whovian excitement into a frenzy. 

The Day of the Doctor: Second TV Trailer

After Fifty Years, Who is YOUR Doctor?

There was the potential that we could all see again our Doctor, because we all had one. The Doctor who first appeared on our screen, in our timeline, or the Doctor which caught our imagination.

I have two. Peter Davison was my Doctor. He was the first face to which I could apply the name with any meaning, as I was just a little too young to appreciate Tom Baker.

But when I imagine Dr Who now, it's David Tennant who nailed it utterly and absolutely for me. Such debates will rage on and that is the beauty of the long-running show.

Who is YOUR Doctor Who?

50th Anniversary Dr Who Merchandise

Doctor Who: Essential Guide to 50 Years of Doctor Who

This essential guide to fifty years of Doctor Who includes all eleven incarnations of the Doctor and fascinating facts on his adventures in space and time, as well as his helpfu...

View on Amazon

Official Doctor Who 50th Special 2014 Calendar

Each month focuses upon a different generation and era for Dr Who. Your own Doctor will be represented.

View on Amazon

Doctor Who: The 50th Anniversary Collection

A selection of Dr Who television specials, celebrating fifty years on air, available on Amazon Instant Video.

View on Amazon

Treats for Generations of Dr Who Fans

The 50th anniversary of Doctor Who did not linger completely on the current Doctor. It celebrated the whole run!

Of course, it was impossible for all of the Doctors to be physically on the screen in the 50th Anniversary special. The first three actors were all dead, while the next cache of classic Dr Who actors had aged considerably since their spell in the TARDIS.

Nevertheless, none of them were forgotten. During that beautiful week, I watched An Adventure in Time and Space, which dramatized the William Hartnell years. It fascinated me throughout, while the final scene had me jolting breathless in my seat.

In The Science of Dr Who, I attended (via television) a lecture given by Prof Brian Cox. He demonstrated the Physics of time and space, leaving us with the fabulous notion that time travel is technically possible. We haven't the Physics to do it yet, but then, we aren't Time Lords.

The Ultimate Guide to Dr Who took us on a long and lingering exploration of all fifty years. We got to revel in everything that had been. Our Doctors were not glossed over. They were celebrated in their turn.

For the musically minded, there was a trip to the Albert Hall, where music from half a century of Dr Who broadcasts was performed by a full orchestra. Matt Smith's Doctor and Clara appeared amongst the musicians. Famous monsters attacked from the audience. Dr Who at the Proms 2013 was nothing short of thrilling!

And, of course, we finally got to see Paul McGann's Doctor regenerate.

The Night of the Doctor Minisode - 8th Doctor Regenerates

In addition to all of this, there were dozens of articles, photo galleries, artwork, behind the scenes glimpses and interviews. Official and fan-made alike, it made for an avalanche of new material to pour over.

A very exciting week indeed for the Whovian fandom.  What made it extra special for you?

Updated: 12/07/2013, JoHarrington
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JoHarrington on 12/02/2013

Tom Baker is a massive fan favourite. He played the Doctor longer than any of them, so I can see why so many love him.

Yes, for Doctor Who (and tea), she practically can stereotype the whole of Britain. I thought there were plot holes in the special to start with, but the more I thought about it, the more I could fill them. That's as a fan, not a fan fiction writer!

Ember on 12/01/2013

I chatted with my sis over the weekend, and apparently the fourth doctor is my sister's favorite. So I was wrong. And apparently her plastering Peter Capaldi's face everywhere was in celebration of him being announced as the new doctor. I'd just happened to be visiting home the day that happened.

I told her about this post you wrote and mentioned you had been really excited for this special. She answered, "duh, she's British, that should be practically understood, Ember." So I told her she can't stereotype an entire nation of people and she said for Doctor Who she could.

She'd been really excited for the special, but said it wasn't as good as she'd hoped for (something about too many plot holes). XD

JoHarrington on 11/29/2013

When I first saw him, he seemed so very slap-stick. Ok, that was a brilliant antidote to David Tennant's darkness, but I liked Tennant's darkness.

The chemistry between him and Clara is much more effective than with Amy and Rory. I hope she stays on for Peter Capaldi. I strongly suspect that there's even more to Clara than meets the eye.

AlexandriaIngham on 11/29/2013

I've got to admit that I wasn't a fan of Matt Smith until recently. He just didn't seem to make The Doctor his own and it seemed too much like Tennant's Doctor. That changed a little after Clara came into the episodes but not much. I'm looking forward to Peter Capaldi's Doctor now.

JoHarrington on 11/29/2013

I really, really can't wait for the Christmas episode. From all the teasers given, it's going to change everything. Exciting!

I remember as a teenager sitting with friends watching old Dr Who episodes. We started with William Hartnell and worked our way up. My favourite Doctor was whomever I was watching at the time!

AlexandriaIngham on 11/29/2013

David Tennant is my Doctor. My mum says he's her second favourite but she loves Tom Baker. Looking at the old episodes, I can see why and I did grow up watching them when they were on repeats and my folks watched them but I really got into it when they brought it back. I liked Christopher Eccleston and everything he brought but Tennant stood out for me from day one.

I loved the 50th anniversary special. I can't wait for Christmas now.

JoHarrington on 11/26/2013

Ah! That could do it. This might be a good time to mention that the shows are online. :)

I've just watched 'The Day of the Doctor' for the second time. It was just as amazing then as it was the first time. I keep randomly grinning.

Ember on 11/26/2013

It's not so much that I didn't stick around as I never bothered with having a tv in college, and I haven't had cable since either. I could look up the show and watch it, I just never did.

I'm glad that it was great! My sister was probably very excited about it too, so when I call her later this week I'm going to hear all about it I'm sure. I was actually thinking about watching it, if it turns up on one of my streaming networks, I just know it probably won't have the same impact as someone who watches the show regularly.

JoHarrington on 11/26/2013

That's a serious Peter Capaldi fan! I can understand why she likes Dr Who. I was really excited to see the 50th anniversary episode. It lived up to expectation.

So you didn't stick around for Matt Smith?

Ember on 11/22/2013

My sister talks constantly about the 9th Doctor, and last time I visited home she had literally printed Peter Capaldi's face and put it everywhere in the house so she clearly likes him as well. Went to the bathroom and there was one on the mirror and one on the underside of the toilet seat lid and one on the ceiling above the shower. She put one hanging from each blade on her bedroom fan, attached one to the dogs collar, one on the front door. She put one under my mom's pillow and on her fan as well. My sister is a goober.

David Tennant is the only doctor I've known, but I think he is fabulous! :D

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