The Doctor Who's Who: A Guide To The Time Lord's Incarnations Through The Years

Image for The Doctor Who's Who: A Guide To The Time Lord's Incarnations Through The Years

On November 23, 1963, an odd little show premiered on British television. It promised a window into a realm of monsters, aliens, history and mystery, all anchored by a strange man in an even stranger box. Doctor Who had hit the airwaves and the world would never be the same again. But if you have only ever seen the current version, please make your own TARDIS dematerialisation noise and step back in time with us...


Our introduction to The Doctor came in the episode The Unearthly Child, which launched with the slightly stuffy, vaguely arrogant but still entertaining take provided by William Hartnell. Despite his aged appearance, the Doctor here is “only” about 400 years old, meaning he’s practically a spotty teenager by the standards of his home planet, Gallifrey. That might explain why he’s a renegade, a thief and an explorer who has essentially stolen his ride. It’s here that many of the iconic elements of the character and his world were established, most especially his vehicle known as the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space). Famously, the TARDIS is bigger on the inside thanks to some dimensional chicanery that means it exists in different places at once. It should be able to disguise itself as anything, but is stuck looking like a 1960s police box because of a wonky circuit. This incarnation of the character was fuelled not just by adventure but also by learning: shows were geared about historical outings interspersed between encounters with villains. We were also introduced to the Doctor’s ability to ‘regenerate’ – a little trick that Time Lords use to change their molecular structure when their life is in mortal danger.


When we first meet the Doctor, he’s travelling with his granddaughter Susan (Carol Anne Ford), though his family is never really explained. He accidentally abducts her teachers, Ian Chesterton (William Russell) and Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill). Later companions include Vicki Pallister (Maureen O’Brien), picked up because she reminds him of Susan, space pilot Steven Taylor (Peter Purves), who initially mistrusts him, liberated slave Katarina (Adrienne Hill), the weird Dodo (Jackie Lane) and his final two travellers, Polly (Anneke Kills) and Ben (Michael Craze, who he attempts to stay friendly with to ward off his loneliness.

Quick poll: Vote for your favourite Doctor Who companion


1 An Unearthly Child
The Doctor might prefer zipping around the space/time continuum and encountering history in a strange order, but it’s best for the viewer to start at the beginning with the first episode, which details so much about the Doctor that has become canon. - - - - - -

2 The Edge Of Destruction
The practice of using the TARDIS as a location – and a threat – was born here, with the time-travellers trapped within and slowly driven to paranoia and near-insanity. - - - - - -

3 The Dalek Invasion Of Earth
Actually the second appearance of the Daleks (after, er, The Daleks), this is widely considered to be their best early appearance, cementing them as the Doctor’s chief villains in an episode that finally breaks out of the studio confines for some impressive location work. - - - - - -

4 The Time Meddler
Another Gallifreyan Time Lord – The Monk – is messing about with history in the year 1066, actions strictly prohibited by his people’s rules. Naturally, the Doctor has to step into put things right. - - - - - -

5 The Tenth Planet
Say hello to the Cybermen, but prepare for some frustration as this represents one of the stories with missing episodes thanks to the Beeb’s re-use of recordings.

The second portrayal of the Doctor couldn't be more different from his predecessor, something that has frequently been a trademark of the series. Younger, twinklier, funnier and definitely more musical (he liked to play the recorder), he was also warmer and a bit of a bumbler. At the same time, however, he was deeper and darker, a side he usually kept hidden from the companions as he made he his plans. That more dangerous streak to the Doctor is something carries through many regenerations since. He once more encountered the Daleks and the Cybermen, but also had clashes with an abominable snowman (it turned out to be a robo-Yeti), the Great Intelligence (as returned in the Matt Smith era) and the Ice Warriors (another lot who would pop back up again in Smith's time). His most notable tussle was with the War Chief, a Time Lord who had been planning to conquer the galaxy. Unable to defeat the War Chief alone, the Doctor asked the Time Lords for help, leading to his own capture. His companions were banished and he was forced to regenerate once more and exiled to Earth.


Ben and Polly remained from his first incarnation, and he was later joined by 18th century Scots warrior Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines), scientist's daughter Victoria Waterfield (Deborah Watling), 21st century scientist Zoe Heriot (Wendy Padbury) and one of the longest-running occasional accomplices, Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stuart (Nicholas Courtney), a commander in the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, or UNIT. It was later known as the Unified Intelligence Taskforce.

Quick poll: Vote for your favourite Doctor Who companion


1 Tomb Of The Cybermen
Currently the earliest Second Doctor story known to exist (thanks, Beeb!) and the third outing for the Cybermen. This one introduces a lot of the core Cyber-elements, including the Cyber Controller and the virus-spreading Cybermat robo-insects. - - - - - -

2 The Mind Robber
An emergency forces the Doctor to pull himself, Jamie and Zoe out of reality itself and into a strange white void. They later end up in a land of fiction and must make good their escape. - - - - - -

3 The Invasion
With the TARDIS in need of repair, the Doctor arrives on Earth and is immediately flung into an investigation of a mysterious company, International Electromatics, eventually revealed as a front for an invasion of Earth by the Cybermen. - - - - - -

4 The Seeds Of Death
Hardly the best of the Doctor's adventures, but this is one of the few Second Doctor stories to survive the Great Tape Cull. The Ice Warriors are using a new matter transportation system to spread oxygen-sucking fungus so they can take over. Naturally, the Doctor must stop them… - - - - - -

5 The War Games
The Time Lords get their first proper introduction by name here, in the story where the Doctor tangles with the War Chief. In one of the darkest endings to a Who run, the final episode sees the Doctor forcibly regenerated into Jon Pertwee.

As Jon Pertwee took over the role, he and the producers decided to make the Doctor much more dynamic, revealing a heretofore undiscovered talent for Venusian aikido and a love of classic roadsters. Despite the show's lower budget forcing his exile on Earth in early episodes, this was a Doctor unafraid to pitch in when the moment called for it, though he was still blessed with incredible intelligence and a general dislike for military thinking (oh, and we learned he had two hearts here). His fashion sense tended more towards the Victorian dandy, and he was once described as "a whirlwind in a frilly shirt". Among the notable villains to show up here were The Master (played originally by Roger Delgado), the Autons, the Sea Devils, the Sontarans and the Silurians. They liked the letter S in the early 1970s.


The Brig continued along, and became an even bigger presence thanks to the early stories' dealing with UNIT. Civilian UNIT member Liz Shaw (Caroline John) was an early match for the Doctor, and soldier John Benton (John Levene) also helped out. Jo Grant (Katy Manning) replaced Liz as the UNIT operative, and also had brief encounters with the Second and Eleventh Doctor. Mike Yates (Richard Franklin) was one of the Brigadier's lieutenants who would also encounter the fourth Doctor. Most famous of them all, however, was Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) who got to travel with the Third, Forth and Tenth incarnations and even got not one, but two spin-offs, the abortive K9 And Company and the successful Sarah Jane Adventures.

Quick poll: Vote for your favourite Doctor Who companion


1 Spearhead From Space
Carrying on from the end of Troughton's era, this introduces Pertwee's Doctor and starts to explore the possibilities of his Earthbound existence. That includes the fact that alien threats – such as the Autons – are still very present. - - - - - -

2 Doctor Who And The Silurians
Bessie the car makes her first appearance and we get to meet the Silurians, who are revealed as Earth's original inhabitants. They've been in hibernation until they're accidentally awoken and decide they want the planet back. - - - - - -

3 Inferno
A superb alternate reality adventure finds the Doctor assisting with a massive engineering project and the TARDIS flinging him into a parallel universe where everyone is evil. It's also the episode where Liz Shaw departs the show. - - - - - -

4 The Sea Devils
Can you guess the main threat here from the title? Well, you'd be half right, because The Master also shows up, plotting evil despite being confined to a prison specifically designed to keep him from wreaking havoc. - - - - - -

5 Planet Of The Spiders
The final Pertwee outing sees the Doctor dealing with arachnid alien enemies, who are after a mysterious blue crystal he picked up on an earlier adventure. This story ends with Pertwee regenerating as Tom Baker. The adventure continues...

Tom Baker's epic stint in the role is still considered by many to be the best incarnation of The Doctor. He was a lively, loveable, mad man with a bag of jelly babies almost always to hand. Witty, logical – but also loopy at times – he was intensely moral and interested in finding a peaceful solution to most problems. In summary: a complete change from his predecessor. With a production team looking to take the character to as many new worlds to meet as many weird new life forms as possible, his tenure was marked by grand adventures and a darker, more horror-filled style of sci-fi on occasions. "Tin dog" K9 was introduced in this era too, and the Doctor's look could best be described as shabby coat chic with one of the world's most recognizable – and longest – scarves.


The Fourth Doctor had an even more eclectic group of fellow travellers than most of his predecessors. Sarah Jane Smith said a tearful goodbye after some notable episodes spent voyaging with UNIT surgeon Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) before they were both replaced by savage warrior woman Leela (Louise Jameson). Time Lady Romana (Mary Tamm in her first incarnation, Lalla Ward in her second) was an intriguing counterpart to our hero, given that she also came from Gallifrey. Vaguely annoying genius Adric (Matthew Waterhouse) joined later in Romana's tenure. Finally, we have the privileged Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) and plucky Aussie air steward Tegan (Janet Fielding).

Quick poll: Vote for your favourite Doctor Who companion


1 Robot
This was an Earthbound kick-off for Baker's run, featuring a rampaging robot and a villain who just wants the Earth to be a better place. Unfortunately her plans lead to the rogue robot growing to Godzilla-like proportions... - - - - - -

2 Logopolis
A science-heavy episode from one of the later stories in Baker's run, this also introduces Tegan and sees The Doctor tangling with The Master (played here by Anthony Ainley after Roger Delgado died in a car accident in1973). - - - - - -

3 City of Death
Co-written by Douglas "Hitchhiker's Guide" Adams (serving as script editor on the series), this is generally considered one of the best Who stories ever. Filmed largely on location in Paris, it's an epic sci-fi tale of a villain working through time, and art fraud on a historic scale. - - - - - -

4 Genesis of the Daleks
A classic morality play that sees the Doctor sent back in time and space to Skaro and the birth of the Daleks. Tasked with stopping their development by mad scientist Davros, he struggles with genocidal considerations. As a side note, this is the favourite episode of the classic serial for Empire's biggest Whovian, a story he originally encountered on a cassette from a local library. Yes kids: audiotape. Ask your parents. - - - - - -

5 Talons of Weng-Chiang
Despite one or two racist connotations in its portrayal of the Chinese, this is a good overall blend of the Baker years' high points: The Doctor getting all Sherlock Holmes and investigating a mystery, Victorian creepiness and high tech science stuff.

When Peter Davison was cast at the tender age of 29, it caused ripples. Some embraced the fresh face, while others harrumphed at the thought of such a youthful Doctor (if only they'd journeyed to 2010!). With the behind-the-scenes team aware they had a lot to live up to after Baker's term, the result was a clean break with history and some new blood in the writing room, which didn't always lead to the best results. Still, Davison became a firm fan favourite, striding about in his posh togs and – despite the young face – giving off the air of a father figure. That's no mean feat when you're accessorising your cricket whites with a vegetable. And yes, the celery had a point, even if we had to wait until the end of his run to discover what it was. Another key point of this Doctor was that he had less (obnoxious) confidence than some of his predecessors. Occasionally crippled by indecision, he'd flip a coin to figure out his next moves and sometimes ended up paying the price.


Adric, Nyssa and Tegan continued over from Baker's run, with Adric meeting a tragic end that seems a little less sad given how bloody irritating he could be. Turlough (Mark Strickson) was a complicated sort from a planet riven by civil war, and at one point fell under the influence of the Black Guardian and tried to kill The Doctor. One of the more unusual companions was Kamelion (Gerald Flood), an android originally used as a tool of The Master, but then recruited to travel with The Doctor. Finally, we have the most memorable Fifth/Sixth Doctor companion Perpugilliam "Peri" Brown (Nicola Bryant), a US college student known for screaming a lot and leading to the Fifth Doctor's regeneration.

Quick poll: Vote for your favourite Doctor Who companion


1 Castrovalva
Davison's first story, this digs into the idea that regenerating really can take a toll on a Time Lord. The Master's back and up to his usual tricks – trying to destroy our hero and all that is good – and there's a world that turns out to be an entropic equation, collapsing in on itself. You know, that old story. - - - - - -

2 Earthshock
The Cybermen are back, this time using androids as their servants on the planet Terradon. Their evil plan involves a giant bomb, which ends up killing Adric. - - - - - -

3 The Five Doctors
One of those anniversary shows – the 20th, in this case – this finds The Doctor's various incarnations pulled together to solve some huge crisis. William Hartnell, who died in 1975, was replaced by sort-of-lookalike Richard Hurndell. - - - - - -

4 Resurrection Of The Daleks
This is a surprisingly dark, violent Dalek encounter and one of the very few times we see The Doctor fire a gun. Davros (played here by Terry Malloy) gets a sizeable role again and it's full of action. - - - - - -

5 The Caves Of Androzani
Davison's swan song was a chance for The Doctor to be typically heroic. There's a great villain team in Morgus (John Normington) and Sharaz Jek (Christopher Gable), who are sufficiently threatening that our hero has to give his life to save Peri.

After the high-flying success of Tom Baker and Peter Davison, the era of the second man named Baker to wear the wacky colours of The Doctor is often considered a huge let-down. Part of that is down to the decidedly whiffy scripts on offer and the controversial choice to make the central figure even more of a blowhard than usual. Brash and arrogant, supremely confident in his ability and ready with a glib remark for anyone (or anything) that disagreed, Baker's Doctor cudgelled fans more than he soothed them. It's not the actor's fault: he did what he could with the material he had, but few of his stories stand out as particularly great. Later in his short run, he mellowed, but the damage was already done. The show was placed on the first of two hiatuses with Baker actually let go, and not even brought in to film his regeneration.


Peri continued over from Davison's time, but was shocked by the new man she met. She ended up with two finales: one dark and tragic, with her brain replaced by alien slug lord Kiv (revealed to be a fake), and another as a warrior queen, which was a bit silly. She was replaced by Melanie "Mel" Bush (Bonnie Langford) who was even more of a screamer. Around this time, the production team began to favour fewer companions in the TARDIS, and to incline towards younger women, something that has largely carried over to the current era.

Quick poll: Vote for your favourite Doctor Who companion


1 The Twin Dilemma
Classical themes blend with space-hopping adventure for the Sixth Doctor's introduction. And what a start! There are bizarre personality shifts and the choice of that outfit. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was 10 months before the show was seen again. - - - - - -

2 Vengance On Varos
With The Doctor in need of a rare ore to bring the TARDIS back up to full power, he journeys to a planet where executions are broadcast to keep the people in line. And what do you know, he and Peri get in trouble… This episode introduces slug man Sil (Nabil Shaban), who will become more important later on. - - - - - -

3 The Two Doctors
The Sixth and the Second Doctor meet as Troughton and Jamie are sent by the Time Lords on a secret mission. The current Doctor must save his past incarnation from being tortured to death, which would really be inconvenient for the whole timestream thing when you think about it. - - - - - -

4 Revelation Of The Daleks
Davros is back, this time fooling an entire planet into thinking he's a great healer while carrying out experiments to turn people into Daleks. The cad! - - - - - -

5 The Trial Of A Time Lord
This was a big experiment that ran one story (well, several linked tales) across one series of the show as the Doctor is put on trial for interfering in the affairs of the universe. It would be Baker's final story.

Sylvester McCoy's time on the show comes in for a lot of stick, especially for the earlier, wackier stories where the Beeb tried to return the show to its children's TV roots. But though the McCoy was hired for his comedy abilities, the show began to creep into darker territory, and he proved more than able to make that work, imbuing his take on The Doctor with the mystery of a Merlin-like figure who could be either good or bad, depending on the mood or the mission. This Doctor was a master manipulator, thinking several moves ahead and unafraid to take real risks to win in the end. Unfortunately, as with Colin Baker, the show around McCoy wasn't always quite at the same quality, partly because of a slashed budget. Still, some of the special effects were great – even if we do mean that in terms of Who's history, not its future. You can hear McCoy talking about his time on the show on this Podcast interview.


Mel continued to travel with The Doctor for a spell, and then we got Ace (Sophie Aldred), one of the few companions from the classic stories to display the gumption and zeal that now seems to come as standard in Who. A take-no-crap type, she was skilled at chemistry and delighted in creating explosives (which would come in handy even as The Doctor warned her about the dangers). She also had a dark, fearful past, one that the show would explore to great effect.

Quick poll: Vote for your favourite Doctor Who companion


1 Time And The Rani
This was the first McCoy story, as he was awkwardly introduced thanks to the weird, not-Baker regeneration scene. Kate O'Mara steals the episode (and chews most of the scenery) as the titular renegade Time Lady. - - - - - -

2 Dragonfire
The TARDIS arrives on Iceworld, a space trading post. It's here we meet a (literally) cold-blooded villain, a dragon, say goodbye to Mel and hello to Ace. - - - - - -

3 Remembrance Of The Daleks
Another classic Dalek story and easily one of the best McCoy adventures. This is dark, chilling and notable for being the first time a Dalek uses an anti-gravity system to float up the stairs. You hear that, fans of Russell T. Davies and those who loved to make jokes about the pepper pots' stair phobia? - - - - - -

4 Battlefield
King Arthur's story meets The Doctor's in this tale of legends fighting it out. It's the final nod to UNIT for the classic run and the return of the Brig (retired). - - - - - -

5 Ghost Light
Part of Ace's past clashes with future technology in this spooky tale of an old house with a very dark secret. The Victoriana is in full flow here, plus a little Darwin for good scientific measure.

The 1990s were a dark time for fans of Doctor Who, at least in its television incarnation. With the abrupt cancellation of the series in 1989, the novels and audio adventures could only do so much to plug the gap. We had Children In Need adventures, spoofs and recollections, but it would be seven years before The Doctor actually returned to screens. It wasn't for want of trying – the BBC had intended to let the show "rest" for a few of those years to shake off the cobwebs, but never quite got around to commissioning a new show until 2005. Yet though the show hadn't quite "broken" America the way it has these days, there were plenty of fans across the Pond, and producers saw a chance to resurrect the Time Lord for the then-modern era. The result, courtesy of producer Philip Segal, director Geoffrey Sax, writer Matthew Jacobs and star Paul McGann, was a one-off TV movie intended as a pilot for a new take on the show, overseen by the BBC and Fox in the US. Trivia fans might like to know that Drive Angry director and current Terminator co-writer Patrick Lussier edited it. Sadly, while McGann's Doctor proved remarkably popular, it didn't lead to anything besides a lot of frustrated viewers and several audio adventures and one big surprise leading up to the 50th anniversary show. This Doctor was a dashing, youthful distillation of previous incarnations, a man who embraced humanity (and kissed it on occasion) and who controversially claimed to be half-human, something that has largely been swept under a convenient TARDIS rug in subsequent stories.


American actress Daphne Ashbrook plays Dr. Grace Holloway, a passionate, smart heart surgeon who tries to save the Seventh Doctor's life when he's brought in after being shot by a street gang. Shocked to discover a new man from the morgue who claims to be her patient, she's swept up in an adventure where the entire world is under threat. Technically young street punk Chang Lee (Yee Jee Tso) is also a companion, but his status is a lot more ambiguous.

Quick poll: Vote for your favourite Doctor Who companion


1 The TV Movie (AKA The Enemy Within)
Not many choices here, to be honest. While McGann's performance endeared him to many fans, the TV movie itself couldn't be more of a mixed bag if it was chucked in a blender. Jacobs' love for the show pours from the script, but it's an overcooked mish-mash of familiar elements and lots of new ideas thrown in. The resulting clash of tones makes it feel like half-baked fan-fiction come to life. Attempting to service both those who had watched since the early days and clueless newcomers hoping for sci-fi, it falls between the two stools and ends up with a bruised arse. Eric Roberts hams it up like a panto villain and while money has clearly been spent on the effects and the well-appointed TARDIS interior, it feels fake except when McGann is giving it his all. - - - - - -

2 The Big Finish Audio Adventures
We're largely staying away from books, comics and audio adventures and sticking strictly to the TV canon for ease of reference. But if you're charmed by McGann's take and want more from the Eighth Doctor, you should track down several of his recorded works, which continue the character's adventures with a variety of companions. - - - - - -

3 The Night Of The Doctor
A huge surprise for Who fans arrived in November when the BBC premiered a new “minisode” in anticipation of 50th Anniversary show The Day Of The Doctor. The Night Of The Doctor finally bridged the gap between McGann’s incarnation and Christopher Eccleston’s, showing how our hero died on the surface of Karn, only to be temporarily kept alive by the mysterious Sisterhood. The weird sisters also gave him the chance to regenerate into any form he liked, leading to the arrival of The War Doctor (John Hurt), about whom we find out more in The Day Of The Doctor.

Nine years after the TV movie, The Doctor returned triumphantly to screens after the BBC decided it was time to try again and handed the reins to experienced writer/producer (and lifelong Who fan) Russell T. Davies. The result was an updated, trendier and more polished form of the show, swapping out the classic serial runs for American-style 45 minute-long episodes and the odd two-parter, with an eye to sales across the pond. Christopher Eccleston, who had worked with Davies on Second Coming, stepped into the role for turned out to be a one-series deal. He was a much darker and more soulful Doctor, brooding, often subtle and quick to anger. A leather jacket, buzzed haircut and northern accent ("Lots of planets have a north!") were his trademark. He could also be jolly and mad when he wanted to be, but his run was coloured by oft-referenced actions in a Time War between the Time Lords and the Daleks that resulted in the mutual destruction of both sides (didn't stop plenty of both showing up in the series, though). Davies channelled the original show effectively, adding more action and upgraded effects, and relaunched it for a new generation much more successfully than the US attempt.


Billie Piper went from pop star to TV star thanks to her role as the wide-eyed, canny and fun Rose Tyler, who got much more to do than the companions of old. She brought along on-off boyfriend Mickey (Noel Clarke), who evolved from buffoon into a more fully rounded traveller/warrior with the Tenth Doctor. We also met the charismatic, omni-sexual Captain Jack Harkness, a time agent played by John Barrowman. And, for a brief time, greedy genius Adam Mitchell (Bruno Langley) travelled with Rose and the Ninth, but couldn't cut it as a companion.

Quick poll: Vote for your favourite Doctor Who companion


1 Rose
As the name suggests, this almost focuses more on Rose Tyler than the Doctor, but it's a great intro to Christopher Eccleston's broody hero. The Autons (and the Nestene consciousness) make a chilling return as they attempt to invade London with plastic people. - - - - - -

2 Dalek
Despite the Doctor's claims that they'd been wiped from existence, the pepper pots never quite seem to go away. This is an emotionally charged, superb return for them, featuring just one Dalek suffering an existential crisis. - - - - - -

3 Father's Day
A tour-de-force for Piper and an intriguing examination of the consequences of time travel as our heroes change the past and suffer the results. - - - - - -

4 The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances
Future boss Steven Moffat announces himself with this wonderful two-part adventure set in World War II London. Captain Jack gets a memorable introduction and the horror element is truly creepy. "Are you my mummy?" Chills. Plus, despite the darkness, everybody lives. Just this once... - - - - - -

5 Bad Wolf / The Parting Of The Ways
Two linked episodes that feature a Dalek armada invading a future space station and Rose briefly getting superpowers to help save the day before The Doctor makes the ultimate sacrifice. Some have pointed to this as Davies raising the stakes too high too early, but it's an epic to compare with American season finales. We also get a nice, emotional send-off for Eccleston.

With a strong start, Doctor Who truly broke into the mainstream thanks to the sheer popularity of David Tennant. The Tenth Doctor, despite still bearing the psychic scars of his previous incarnation, was a livelier, funkier, and, in the eyes of many, sexier version with his floppy hair, big coat and trainers. Another fan of the classic show, Tennant channelled bits of his predecessors to create a crowd-pleasing mixture of energy and moodiness. The relationship between Rose and the Doctor took off here (though some complained about its mushier aspects) and the scope of the show exploded to new levels with adventures all over space and time. The Master returned as David Jacobi (briefly) and then John Simm (triumphantly). Tennant's departure coincided with that of Davies, and proved an emotional wallop for the audience just as much as the character. "I don't want to go…" were his final words. Not a dry eye in the house.


Rose stayed on, initially unsure of just who this new man is but soon won over completely. Mickey got a look in and Jack joined briefly (though he was busy with Who spin-off Torchwood). We also had Donna Noble (Catherine Tate), who seemed like she'd be a pain in the neck but became one of the best-loved TARDIS occupants, and likeable medical student Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman). Other notable meetings included River Song (Alex Kingston), who would have an even deeper connection with the Eleventh Doctor, and Donna's grandfather Wilfred Mott (Bernard Cribbins), who The Doctor saves by sacrificing his own life. There are also a few one-off folk of note, including Christina de Souza (Michelle Ryan), and Astrid Peth (Kylie Minogue), and we won't even get into the mash-up of companions that is The Stolen Earth/Journey's End.

Quick poll: Vote for your favourite Doctor Who companion


1 The Christmas Invasion
The first big Christmas special gave Tennant a chance to shine despite spending much of it in a coma. His big speech after being woken by hot tea dripping in the TARDIS is still a classic, Lion King reference and all. - - - - - -

2 School Reunion
A touching episode that returns Liz Sladen's Sarah Jane Smith and connects both classic and current Who with ease, charm and true emotion. Even K-9 gets a good role. - - - - - -

3 Army Of Ghosts / Doomsday
Daleks Vs. Cybermen Vs. Torchwood? Kitchen sink time, maybe, but it's all worth it for the heartbreaking farewell between Rose and The Doctor. Even if she has come back a lot. - - - - - -

4 Human Nature / The Family Of Blood
A beautifully different two-part episode, drawn by Paul Cornell from his own Seventh Doctor novel Human Nature. Disguising himself to hide from evil aliens, a human-ised Doctor falls in love. - - - - - -

5 Blink
A memorable classic that makes great use of what were known as 'Doctor-light' episodes. A pre-film-fame Carey Mulligan takes the focus as Sally Sparrow, who encounters the terrifying, time-stealing Weeping Angels.

With Davies and Tennant departing, the way was clear for regular writer Steven Moffat to become show-runner and put his timey-wimey stamp on the show. Though his run has been controversial – for all the praise that his character work and clever chat receives, he's been criticised for loading up the complexity – he's kept the show a success. He's been aided by Matt Smith's sparky take on the main character. Only 27 when he took the role, he's confounded critics with a great and apparently universally popular interpretation that lives up to his much-loved predecessor. His Doctor is a clothes-obsessed (well, hats mostly) blend of old professor and youthful maniac, a self-described "madman with a box." His adventures have re-introduced lots more old enemies (including the Silurians and the Ice Warriors) and re-invented others. It may not be a perfect run, but with the end about to come this Christmas, it has certainly been a lot of fun.


Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) was front and centre as the spiky, sexy Girl Who Waited for years after a childhood encounter with the Doctor. She dragged along fiancé/husband Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) and we discovered that River Song had a lot more to do with them than we ever thought (perhaps a bit too conveniently?). Following a farewell to the Ponds, we met various versions of Clara Oswin Oswald (Jenna Coleman), the Impossible Girl spread through time to help The Doctor in his hour of need.

Quick poll: Vote for your favourite Doctor Who companion


1 The Eleventh Hour
Smith's introduction is a master class in meeting a Doctor, blended with a mythic story of Amy's first encounter with him. - - - - - -

2 The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang
The Doctor must re-start the universe and Amy has to get him back in time for her wedding in a two-parter that also contains the mother of all cliffhangers. Huge and mad at the same time, this also boasts a mash-up of lots of enemies. - - - - - -

3 The Doctor's Wife
Novelist and fantasy master Neil Gaiman wrote this wonderful episode in which the TARDIS' central core is downloaded into a woman, Idris. It'll make you cry, so don't say we didn't warn you. - - - - - -

4 Asylum Of The Daleks
A crafty re-introduction to Oswald and a creepy episode for the Daleks as The Doctor, Amy and Rory venture into a terrifying pit of lunatic pepper pots. - - - - - -

5 The Name Of Doctor
Called to find his own tomb, our hero discovers a dark secret. Who is the mysterious man who appears to be another Doctor (John Hurt)? That mystery has partly been answered by The Night Of The Doctor short and will be explored in the 50th anniversary special, The Day Of The Doctor, which brings Tennant back. Then, at Christmas, we bid farewell to Smith and welcome the Twelfth, Peter Capaldi. Onwards...