Doctor Who 50th anniversary: your guide to what’s on TV and radio

From The Science of Doctor Who to An Adventure in Space and Time, the Greatest Monsters and Villains to The Graham Norton Show, there's loads to whet your appetite for The Day of the Doctor...

The Science of Doctor Who


Thursday 14 November 9pm BBC2 (rpt Fri 22)

Could we ever build a working TARDIS? Does alien life exist in our universe? Are bow-ties actually cool? Brian Cox turns Professor Who to answer some of these questions, and more, in a lecture about the science behind the sci-fi at London’s Royal Institution. Charles Dance, Rufus Hound and physicist Jim Al-Khalili are among those lending a hand – along with members of the audience.

Children in Need Doctor Who: preview clip

Friday 15 November between 7:30pm and 8pm BBC1

Details are scarce but our sources tell us to expect “an exclusive clip from the 50th anniversary special” which (for Who purists at least) should be an improvement on the usual comedy skit, and might well reveal something new about The Day of the Doctor…

Doctor Who: Greatest Monsters and Villains Weekend

Friday-Sunday 15-17 November 7:05pm, 8pm, 7:30pm BBC3

This three-night countdown of the Doctor’s top ten “greatest” foes is really just an excuse to show back-to-back episodes of Doctor Who. So who’s complaining? Anyone hoping to see any classic adventures, we suspect. But stories featuring the Daleks, the Cybermen and the Weeping Angels are pretty much a shoo-in.

Doctor Who and the Daleks…

Saturday 16 November 6pm/12 midnight Radio 4 Extra

First-Doctor companion Ian Chesterton (aka William Russell) narrates this immersive, atmospheric radio adaptation of the second TV adventure, which introduced the tin-pot dictators.

…and more Doctor Who on Radio 4 Xtra

Doctor Who and the Daleks is followed by more four-part audio adventures stripped daily across the week, airing at 6pm and 12 midnight:

Sunday: Sylvester McCoy in Protect and Survive

Monday: Peter Davison in 1963: Fanfare for the Common Men

Tuesday: Sylvester McCoy in A Thousand Tiny Wings

Wednesday: the first Doctor in Farewell Great Macedon

Thursday: Paul McGann in Human Resources

Friday: the first Doctor in The Dalek Invasion of Earth

Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited

Saturday 16 November 2pm Watch

If you subscribe to Watch, love Doctor Who and pay attention to, you’ll already be watching these retrospectives – one for each of the 11 Doctors – which started in October (with some of them still to be repeated). The final instalment sees Matt Smith and his co-stars breezing through his tenure (which, let’s not forget, isn’t over just yet) before we get to see series-six two-part opener The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon.

The Night of the Doctor

from 16 November BBC Red Button

This revelatory seven-minute prequel episode is already available to watch online but if you fancy seeing it on the big screen, it becomes available from 16 November. We’re promised an appearance from one of the three Doctors featuring in the main event on Saturday – but prepare yourself for some other familiar faces too.

See details of when and how to watch via the Red Button

The Ultimate Guide to Doctor Who

Monday 18 November 8pm BBC3 (Rpt Fri 22 Nov)

The 11th Doctor has lost all memory of his previous lives and adventures. Luckily he’s kept a 1,200-year diary, so he and Clara flick through it to reacquaint themselves – and us – with all 11 incarnations. Some of the earlier Doctors may not have been given roles in The Day of the Doctor but five, six, seven, eight and ten – Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann and David Tennant – do at least turn up here. As do Rick Edwards, Konnie Huq and McFly, for some strange reason.

Doctor Who at the Proms

Thursday 21 November 7pm BBC3

The Doctors’ friends Madame Vastra and Sontaran Strax host this concert, filmed at the Royal Albert Hall in July. Along with a full orchestra revisiting the music of the show, expect guest appearances from a Time Lord or two, companions past and present, and some rather less friendly Doctor Who stalwarts…

An Adventure in Space and Time

Thursday 21 November 9pm BBC2

David Bradley is William Hartnell is the Doctor in this unashamedly romanticised drama about the birth of the show from sometime Who writer Mark Gatiss. Brian Cox (no, not the one from last Thursday’s programme), Sacha Dhawan and Jessica Raine are the three outsiders/visionaries, Sydney Newman, Waris Hussein and Verity Lambert, who launched the reluctant grumpy Hartnell into the role he would grow to love. Fans should look out for cameos from Who 
alumni – and you should definitely, definitely keep watching until the end…

Doctor Who: An Unearthly Child

Thursday 21 November 10:30pm BBC4

Immediately after An Adventure in Space and Time, switch over to BBC4 to see all four episodes of the very first Doctor Who adventure – the same story Waris, Sydney, Verity and William Hartnell were working on in An Adventure in Space and Time – in all its re-mastered glory. 

Who is the Doctor?

Thursday 21 November 10:30pm Radio 2

Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy suggests that the Time Lord’s messianic qualities are the key to his appeal, while current head writer Steven Moffat argues that the Doctor’s childlike nature is what separates him from conventional heroes, in this exhaustive attempt to decode the show’s unique appeal and evolution.

Me, You and Doctor Who: a Culture Show Special

Friday 22 November 9:30pm

TV and film scholar and lifelong Doctor Who fan Matthew Sweet reckons the show is one of our most important cultural artefacts. Here, he provides a potted history, indulges in some budget re-creations and calls in some highbrow commentators ranging from Ken Livingstone to Caitlin Moran – as well as cast and crew, including Doctors past and present.

The Graham Norton Show

Friday 22 November 10:35pm BBC1

What better way to celebrate Day of the Doctor Eve than to settle down on the sofa for a cosy chat with Matt Smith and David Tennant. The tenth and 11th Doctors will be joining Graham (and some other people who have nothing to do with Doctor Who) to talk about tomorrow’s main event, presumably without giving away anything at all.

Dr Who and the Daleks

Saturday 23 November 10am Channel 5

The first of Peter Cushing’s big-screen Technicolor romps may be based on the second TV serial, The Daleks, but it’s highly non-canonical. The Doctor is not a Gallifreyan adventurer but a human professor (actually named “Dr Who”) who invents a time machine and heads off to the planet Skaro with his two granddaughters Susan and Barbara (plus Roy Castle) to join forces with the benevolent Thals against the tin-pot dictators. The follow-up, Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 AD is the same time tomorrow.

Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor

Saturday 23 November 7:50pm BBC1

You’ve heard of “event TV”? Well this is it. Tonight, an estimated 100 million viewers around the globe will make The Day of the Doctor the biggest TV drama simulcast in history, as Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor and his companion Clara (Jenna Coleman) team up with predecessors David Tennant and Billie Piper, moody new incarnation John Hurt, Joanna Page’s Queen Elizabeth I and members of UNIT to battle Daleks, Zygons and more – and quite possibly answer a few of those big questions along the way…

Doctor Who Live: The Afterparty

Saturday 23 November from 9:05pm on BBC3

Matt Smith will be among the Who alumni taking part in a Day of the Doctor debrief at this live event from London’s Southbank, which kicks off as soon as the credits roll over on BBC1. Zoe Ball and Rick Edwards talk to fans around the world and promise some “show-stopping monster moments” while One Direction, no less, will be wishing the Doctor a happy birthday, from a safe haven in LA.

Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 AD

Sunday 24 November 10am Channel 5

If the rollercoaster ride of The Day of the Doctor has left you in a Who state of mind but emotionally drained, this could be the perfect comedown. The second of Peter Cushing’s slightly daft 1960s outings as “Dr Who” is loosely based on TV serial The Dalek Invasion of Earth and has the bonus of Bernard Cribbins (aka Wilf from new Who) as the comic relief. Then again, it might just make you angry.