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BBC Archive Uncovers The Story Of The Changing Face Of Doctor Who

Written By: UK Conventions (News Team)
Published: 13th April, 2010 01:10 PM

A new online collection from BBC Archive reveals the story behind the changing face of Doctor Who. As Matt Smith begins his new adventures as the 11th Doctor, BBC Archive reveals how the very first regeneration was planned in 1966.

Internal BBC memos, Radio Times letters and exclusive images have been digitised and made available for the first time, offering an insight into how viewers have reacted to each new actor taking on what has become an iconic role.

Starting in 1966, with the first transformation of William Hartnell into Patrick Troughton, The Changing Face Of Doctor Who collection lifts the lid on how BBC producers have reinvented the Doctor 10 times over.

Roly Keating, BBC Director, Archive Content, said: "The whole idea of regenerating the Doctor was a flash of genius that's kept Doctor Who fresh and exciting for 47 years now.

"As we welcome Matt Smith and Karen Gillan into the TARDIS, it's the perfect moment to remember his predecessors and also to celebrate the work of the BBC Archive in preserving these documents and photographs for future generations."

Internal documents show how fans have sometimes taken time to get used to each new leading man. Audience reports reveal how Tom Baker initially struggled to convince younger viewers, who were so attached to his predecessor, Jon Pertwee.

One viewer of his first episode, in 1975, said: "My two boys aged four and six were distressed about the change of Doctor Who. They were very excited by the episode, but hope the Doctor will change back again next week."

Another 12-year-old boy, meanwhile, said: "It was nice and creepy, but I like the other Doctor Who best."

Photos from the BBC stills library show each of the Doctors before they became Time Lords, including Patrick Troughton from his first BBC productions in the Fifties and Tom Baker as an Egyptian in a George Bernard Shaw play, three years before he put on the woolly scarf that made him famous to millions.

Another gallery of photos reveals who else Doctor Who's producers have considered to play the role through the years, with some well-known names on the list.

Ron Moody, who played Fagin in the film musical Oliver!, turned down the role, as did Fulton Mackay, in favour of playing the sour prison warder Mackay in Porridge.

Harry Potter actor Richard Griffiths was No. 2 on the shortlist after Peter Davison, while Paul McGann found himself up against his brother, Mark, when auditions began for the 1996 TV movie.

This new collection will be available online from 13 April at

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