The Doctor turns 50 on November 23, and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is making the unusual move of airing the 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor, at the same time around the world. It will debut here in the U.S. at 2:50 pm EST and can also be seen in 3-D at select movie theaters across the country. The episode will re-air later in the day and on Nov. 25, there will be 300 more movie theaters added to the schedule.
BBC’s Doctor Who centers around the story of a Time Lord who travels through space and time battling rare and fantastic monsters such as Cybermen, the Daleks and the Weeping Angels, all with the help of his various earthly companions. The Doctor doesn’t die if mortally wounded, he regenerates into another personage and continues his adventures. This character attribute is what has allowed the show to set a Guinness World Record as the longest-running science fiction television show in the world.
The series originally ran from 1963 -1989 and was regenerated itself in 2005 under head writer, Russell T. Davies, who ran the show for the first five years of its rebirth. It is now under the artistic leadership of Steven Moffat, who wrote the anniversary special.
There have been 11 actors who have played The Doctor over the life of the series. This special will provide the long-anticipated teaming of the two most recent actors playing The Doctor, Matt Smith and David Tennant. The BBC has just released a new trailer for the show and John Hurt will also play another version of The Doctor in the episode.
With the advent of The Doctor turning 50, the BBC will offer a week of Doctor Who programming including a behind-the-scenes special, Doctor Who: Tales From the TARDIS and a nonfiction scientific look at the show, The Science of Doctor Who With Brian Cox which will air on Nov. 18.
Beginning on Nov. 19, the BBC will begin a marathon airing of all episodes since 2005 in chronological order starting with the series relaunch starring Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor. David Tennant episodes will start on Nov. 20 and the Matt Smith episodes will run on Nov. 21 and 22.
In 2011, Matt Smith became the only actor to receive a BAFTA Television Award for Best Actor nomination for playing The Doctor. He will leave the series at the beginning of the coming season and this past August, Peter Capaldi was announced as the new Doctor when the series resumes later this year.
Rounding out the BBC’s special programming for the anniversary are two Doctor Who overview specials will also run on Nov. 22. For new and returning fans, An Adventure in Space and Time is a recreation of the series’ beginning. The second special, Doctor Who Explained, is an introduction to the show and its characters as a whole.
The Doctor turning 50 is an unusual event in the life of any television program and fans from across the 75 countries in which Doctor Who airs are sure to celebrate.
By J.S. Brinkley