30 things you (probably) never knew about Doctor Who

How well do you know the Whoniverse? Paul Kirkley shares some fascinating Doctor Who facts

From family ties to Baker’s breakthrough, here are 30 fascinating facts about the show to boost your bank of Time Lord trivia…


30. Is there a Doctor in the room?

A week after Doctor Who made its triumphant return to our screens in 2005, BBC Four broadcast a live re-make of The Quatermass Experiment. Among the cast was David Tennant who, unbeknown to the world, had just agreed to take over from Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor. As word got round the Quatermass team, Jason Flemyng, playing the eponymous professor, slipped in a cheeky in-joke by changing his opening address to Tennant’s character, Dr Briscoe, from “Good to have you back, Briscoe” to “Good to have you back, Doctor”.

29. Gentlemen prefer blondes

According to Peter Davison, producer John Nathan-Turner insisted he have blonde highlights in his hair in attempt to turn him “into a gay icon”.

28. Jay-B

At the height of his success as the Doctor, William Hartnell presented his wife Heather with a solid gold TARDIS, topped with a sapphire. They were basically the Jay-Z and Beyonce of their day.

27. Can the cans

Introduced in the fifth episode, the Daleks turned Doctor Who into an overnight sensation – but they were very nearly exterminated before they made it to the screen. BBC exec Donald Wilson described Dalek creator Terry Nation’s original script as “one of the worst things I’ve ever read”, insisting “it can’t go out”. Fortunately, the producers didn’t have any other stories ready to replace it – and the rest is history.

26. It’s a family affair

Okay, here goes: David Tennant’swife Georgia played his daughter in The Doctor’s Daughter. In real life, she’s the daughter of Peter Davison, which means The Doctor’s Daughter is actually the Doctor’s wife AND his daughter, and the Fifth Doctor is his own father-in-law on account of his son-in-law playing an older version of himself, then marrying his daughter, who he met while she was playing HIS daughter.

The Tennants’ children, meanwhile, have the Doctor as their dad AND theirgranddad and the Doctor’s daughter (and wife) as their mum. And, just to make things more confusing, Georgia was in the same class at school as Colin Baker’s eldest child Lucy, aka the Doctor’s daughter. Got that?

25. The face that didn’t launch a thousand ships 

Homeric runaround The Myth Makers (1965) didn’t feature Helen of Troy – because the producers decided they wouldn’t be able to afford anyone attractive enough. “None taken”, said the rest of the female cast.

24. Who-err, missus

An actor in 1964’s They Keys of Marinus later wrote about his experiences wearing the skintight rubber suit of alien meanies the Voord for a fetish publication (and no, I don’t mean Doctor Who Magazine). Meanwhile, the title of episode two, The Velvet Web, was appropriated as the title of a gay erotica novel. The famously broad-minded William Hartnell would have been so proud.

23. Doctor was a Rolling Stone

Despite being only 5’ 5” tall, Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy once acted as a bodyguard for The Rolling Stones.

22. Pilot Error

For sinister seaweed caper The Fury from the Deep (1968), the production team splashed out on an actual helicopter. But in the bar the night before filming, the pilot downed a crate of champagne and two bottles of brandy, swung from the chandelier, which came crashing down on top of him, and then ate – yes ate – all the empty glasses. Patrick Troughton subsequently refused to take off with this lunatic, so the director was forced to simulate the effects of flight by wheeling a cameraman around in a baby’s pram


21. Retail UNIT

Between seasons of Doctor Who, Nicholas Courtney – aka stiff upper-lipped UNIT boss Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart – took a job in a military memorabilia shop to make ends meet. Let’s hope he at least pulled rank over the tea rota.