The 50th Anniversary… By The Numbers

Gustaff Behr looks at some 50th anniversary statistics.


Some are calling it the epitome of SCI-FI. For half a century, Doctor Who has managed to outshine all other programs, cementing a legacy of fifty years with no sign of slowing down. Who would’ve thought that such a nonsensical television concept would catapult so many acting careers, inspire numerous writers and regale uncountable viewers? An “event” has been promised today that will push Doctor Who into a new direction in television history and pave the way for the next installment in an astronomical legacy that has managed to survive every obstacle and cancellation attempt thrown its way. Celebrating fifty years of transmission, the numbers tell the tale…


The total number of actors who have officially taken on the role of the Doctor throughout his various incarnations! Although John Hurt is playing an incarnation of the same man and given Moffat’s statements that John Hurt is not “The Doctor”, he doesn’t qualify for this list.


The total number of instances Doctor Who has been nominated for awards since its first transmission. Among these are 18 BAFTA TV Awards, 16 NTAs, 7 Saturn and 16 Hugo Awards. Doctor Who has managed to capture 56% of these by winning a mammoth 128 awards.


Episode 5 of The Mind Robber remains the shortest episode ever of Doctor Who by only being a little over 18 minutes long while Cold War remains the shortest story in the show’s history, being only forty minutes and fifty-three seconds long. The above is not counting the minis and the prequel content we get from time to time, but actual episodic stories.


The 20th of July, 1966, used to be the busiest day on earth for the Doctor, but now it’s 23 November, 1963. On this day, the first eight incarnations of the Doctor each paid a local family man named Bob Dowie a visit in The Light at the End. Also, a younger First Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki also visited this date in 1963 and the Eleventh Doctor and Clara investigated the Shroud in Shroud of Sorrow. This means that no less than ten Doctors were (or are) wondering about this unique time period. Given that Totter’s Lane is somehow linked to The Day of the Doctor, we could be seeing another historical visit to this particular time and place that is 23 November, 1963.


Tom Baker holds the title for being the longest serving actor to play the Doctor onscreen, an impressive seven years, appearing in 172 episodes over 41 stories. Paul McGann beats him though when looking at how long (unofficially) an actor has held the mantle of Doctor before passing the torch to someone else. McGann sets the record at 9 years (barring his 2013 guest appearance) between the movie in 1996 and Doctor Who’s revival in 2005.


Perhaps the luckiest number if you want to be the Doctor someday! Producing a grand total of three out of thirteen Doctors, the number 40 is truly an otherworldly age if you’re dreaming of one day stepping into the Doctor’s shoes. Tom Baker landed the role at age 40 in April 1974, while JNT offered the role to Colin Baker in August of 1983. Baker had celebrated his 40th birthday back in June and on the 20th of March 2004; the BBC announced that Christopher Eccleston was to take on the mantle of Doctor at age 40.


It used to be 55, but now, thanks to Moffat canonizing the work of Big Finish, the total number of “official” companions the Doctor has had gets pushed up to 74. I’m counting the Arwells as three separate companions. I’m counting Sergeant Benton, the Brigadier and Mike Yates. I’m also counting Cassie and Jimmy Stalkingwolf from Dreamland. I’m counting all the models of K9 as one character and all the incarnations of Romana as one character as well. Based on that, 61% of companions have been female, 35% male and only 4% have been robot dogs/androids and/or shape shifting penguins. Jamie McCrimmon has appeared in more “televised” episodes of Doctor Who than any other companion in the show’s history, a remarkable 116 episodes. Not far behind him is Sarah Jane Smith, who has appeared in 85 episodes and an additional 54 if you count her spin-offs and guest appearances.


Sarah Jane Smith has featured in more stories of/related to Doctor Who than any other companion who has been portrayed by an actor in the television series. From every media thinkable, she sets the record at a whopping 210 stories. Ace McShane comes in second with 166 stories and Peri Brown finds third place with 140, Jamie McCrimmon is close on her heels with 131 and Nyssa secures fifth place with 92 stories.


The favorite incarnation of the Doctor might be a battle between Tom Baker and David Tennant amongst fans, but amidst the associated actors who have portrayed the Time Lord onscreen, Patrick Troughton’s second incarnation remains the most popular with Matt Smith, Colin Baker and Peter Davison each citing the Second Doctor as their favorite.


Nicola Bryant is the only member of the Doctor Who television family whose first professional acting job was as a companion to the Doctor. Workwise speaking, that’s like securing the jackpot after buying your very first lottery ticket!


Doctor Who holds 4 records in the Guinness Book of World Records. In 2001, Doctor Who was named “the largest fictional series of novels built around one principal character”. The show has over 150 novels and the number is growing rapidly by the day. In 2007, Doctor Who added longest running science fiction series in the world” to its belt and in 2009; Doctor Who became the “most successful sci-fi series in the world. A fourth record was added in 2010 when Doctor Who became recognized as “the most successful Science Fiction television series in the world”.


Spanning from Doctor Who’s television series to its audios to the novels and even beyond that, 487 planets have been mentioned/visited in the Who Universe. If the number seems slight, please note that this only includes planets, not moons or space stations or galaxies and stuff like that and that not every adventure names the planet it’s utilizing.


Matt Smith takes the crown for being the youngest actor to assume the role by only being 26 years old. If you don’t count John Hurt, then William Hartnell and Peter Capaldi tie first place for being the oldest actors to play the part at age 55. If you count John Hurt, then he beats them both by a landslide at age 73.


The total number of instances the “Doctor Who?” joke has been made in the television series. The Snowmen sets the record for utilizing it the most, an unprecedented four times in less than sixty minutes. The Bells of Saint John had Clara asking the question another three times, affording Clara the title of ‘Joke Girl’. I am counting the Dalek chanting in Asylum of the Daleks as one instance as the continuous element was meant to be perceived as one large joke, but if you must be specific, the Daleks chant “Doctor Who” 11 times and the Doctor plays around with the joke 3 more times in the TARDIS which brings the count up to 49 (so close!). Here’s hoping for a “Doctor Who” in the fiftieth to make it an even fifty on the fifth. Interestingly enough, the Sixth and Eighth Doctor eras are the only ones where the joke hasn’t been used, at least not onscreen.


The longest episode of Doctor Who stands tall at a gargantuan ninety minutes and twenty-three seconds. While being the longest episode, The Daleks’ Master Plan is the longest story in Doctor Who history by being 12 episodes long. This is not counting the Key 2 Time/Trial of Time Lord Sagas which are treated merely as umbrella titles instead of actual stories.


Counting only onscreen appearances in episodes from the New Who and serials from the Classic Who, the Daleks have prominently appeared thirty-nine times, including cameos and flashbacks.


Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart remains the only acquaintance of the Doctor to have encountered the most incarnations of the Time Lord onscreen, having met the first five plus the Seventh in Battlefield and the Eighth Doctor in the audios (kinda onscreen). He also met the Sixth in Dimensions in Time. Clara has managed to beat this streak by meeting the first eleven incarnations of the Doctor at least, however, the aforementioned feel like a bit of a cop-out so even I have to admit that the Brigadier rocks this spot.


The total number of actors on Doctor Who, whose characters have died, shown or mentioned directly in Doctor Who’s Classic Era. The story with the highest body count is Resurrection of the Daleks with 71 actors’ characters dying, whilst only 3 stories in the entire show have purposely featured no deaths: The Edge of Destruction, The Celestial Toymaker and The Mind Robber.


Including the United Kingdom, and thanks to The Day of the Doctor simulcast, Doctor Who will be transmitting all over the world and to a monstrous 94 (used to be 49) other countries as of 2013. This and the simulcast alone should be enough to praise the progress Doctor Who has made in the last 50 years.

308 000 000!

Assisted by Strictly Come Dancing, BBC Earth, Top Gear and Lonely Planet, Doctor Who forms part of BBC Worldwide’s international A-Team when it comes to the highest selling shows on television, earning 308 million pounds in revenue commercially (don’t worry, Doctor Who is Hannibal or Mr. T…or Face…but probably Murdoch – you decide). Now if that doesn’t convince you that Doctor Who’s here to stay, then I don’t know what will.


Marks the total number of stories where the TARDIS has not been featured onscreen. They are: Mission to the Unknown, Doctor Who and the Silurians, The Sea Devils, The Sontaran Experiment, Genesis of the Daleks and the only one from the New Series is Midnight.

22 712!

If you were to watch all the televised episodes of Doctor Who, it would take you more or less 22 712 minutes. That’s 15 days and 18 hours of continuous Doctor Who from Hartnell all the way to Smith. Up till now, 97 episodes are missing which amounts to another 39 hours. The total percentile of episodes available to watch is 90.66% while the other 9.34% are still missing.

10 690 000!

The most-watched season of Doctor Who would be Tom Baker’s Season 13 while the least-watched season in Doctor Who’s history would be Sylvester McCoy’s Season 26 with only 4.31 million viewers.


And between 23 November 1963 and 23 November 2013, 799 episodes of Doctor Who will have been broadcast on television (so close again!).

From its very inception, it has been made clear that any story is eligible to be told in any location in any time period and, in recent years, that any actor is competent enough to become the Doctor, regardless of age, color, creed or gender, making this one of the most enigmatic and unpredictable shows of all time. What awaits us in the 50th Anniversary Special and the fifty years beyond that? Who knows!