From 1963 to 1989 Doctor Who was a British TV institution. Over the years it developed a uniquely eccentric style, at once cosily familiar and cosmically terrifying. Many of its characters, creatures, and objects have become indelibly iconic: the Doctor and his assistants, the TARDIS, the Time Lords, and a nightmarish universe of monsters and villains.
The idea that the Doctor should have the power of regeneration was forced on the show's makers when William Hartnell, the original star, could not carry on. But the changing face of the Doctor became key to the evolution of the series and, for many, whole phases of life are summed up in the casting changes: Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and, in a one-off incarnation, Paul McGann. Even now, in the shape of Christopher Eccleston, the Doctor is set to return.
In this comprehensive study, Kim Newman follows the Doctor's travels through time, examining outstanding stories as well as prominent themes, recurrent characters, and monster types to assess the show as television masterpiece and cultural phenomenon.