Writing Prompts: 60 Years of Doctor Who

It’s hard to believe that Doctor Who has reached 60 years. The show became infamous for terrifying monsters and sinister stories over the course of its original run, but it declined in the 80s, with the BBC cancelling the series, leaving the titular Time Lord hanging. A TV movie briefly restored the Doctor to our screens in the mid-90s, but failed to revive the show.

Flash to 2005, and a new revival (as well as a continuation) of Doctor Who. Christopher Eccleston took on the mantle of the 9th Doctor, but departed after one well-received season (incidentally, The Empty Child terrified me, it is easily among the scariest episodes of nuWho), paving the way for David Tennant to step into the role. Under the stewardship of show-runner Russell T. Davis, Tennant’s 10th Doctor became a hugely popular incarnation of the Time Lord, and the show has once again become a mainstay of British television.

Tennant stepped down at the very start of 2010, and his energetic, passionate Doctor was replaced by the slightly more child-like and contemplative Matt Smith. Smith’s Doctor graced our screens until the end of 2013, and included the 50th anniversary special, which also brought back Tennant. From there, veteran Peter Capaldi became the 12th Doctor, a haunted soul, perhaps less capable of relating to human emotion, but as with every Doctor, determined to right the wrongs of the universe.

2017’s Christmas special saw the first female Doctor, in the form of Jodi Whittaker, take the reins of the TARDIS. Whittaker’s Doctor found it easier to make friends, and fought very hard to prevent injustice. The reception to her Doctor and her episodes was more mixed, but her run delivered some powerful, emotional episodes, such as Rosa.

At the end of 2022, Whittaker brought her time as the Doctor to an end, and David Tennant returned, to play the 14th Doctor, in a trio of 60th anniversary specials. From there, Ncuti Gatwa will become the first black person to play the Doctor, as well as the first queer person to play the Time Lord. What the future holds for the series is unknown, but Disney are said to be helping the BBC to back it financially, so in theory, with a larger budget, the sky is the limit. Perhaps it would better to say that all of time and space is the limit!

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