Doctor Who, the nation’s favourite TV science fiction series, enjoys a powerful connection with Liverpool and the North West.
Four actors from the region have played the Doctor since the programme’s launch in 1963 – and three more have appeared as his time-travelling companions.
Liverpool actor Tom Baker, born on Scotland Road, was the longest serving and one of the most popular Doctors. He played the role from 1974 to 1981.
Baker was working on a construction site when he landed the part of the fourth Doctor and had to be loaned a studio boiler suit to appear at his first press conference.
The media quickly dubbed him ‘Boiler Suit Tom!’
His trademark over-long scarf arrived by accident too as the costume designer had sewn multiple colours together to give Baker a choice. He decided to take the lot!
As he battled familiar foes the Daleks and Cybermen, Baker made the part his own. He was instantly recognisable through his distinctive voice and quirky personality – as well as a fondness for jelly babies!
Paul McGann, from Kensington, Liverpool, was the eighth incarnation of the Doctor. He starred in the 1996 TV feature film and appeared in more than 70 Doctor Who audio dramas.
Liverpool actress Elisabeth Sladen became a household name playing one of the Doctor’s best-loved companions – dogged investigative reporter Sarah Jane Smith.
Sladen arrived on the show in 1973 and acted alongside third Doctor Jon Pertwee before taking part in some epic adventures with Baker. These included classics like The Sontaran Experiment and Genesis of the Daleks.
After leaving in 1976, she even starred in her own spin-off shows – K-9 and Company alongside the Doctor’s trusty robot dog and The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Manchester actors Colin Baker and Christopher Eccleston have also both played the Doctor. Preston’s Peter Purves, later of children’s TV show Blue Peter, was 1960s companion Steven Taylor.
The first episode of Doctor Who was broadcast in black and white on Saturday 23 November 1963 at 5.16pm. It was 80 seconds late as the news over-ran after the assassination of John F. Kennedy the previous day.
Ron Grainer’s iconic music introduced William Hartnell as the first Doctor, a rogue time lord on the run in his spaceship the Tardis.
The Tardis could travel through time and space, so the Doctor could enjoy historical adventures as well as conquering foes from the present and future.
The Doctor could also regenerate – a handy way of introducing new lead actors in a series that has run for more than half a century!
So far there have been 12 doctors on TV. The 14th – and first female Doctor – will be Jodie Whittaker when the programme returns this autumn.
*Many more unmissable photos feature in Clive Hardy’s brilliant new book Around Liverpool and Merseyside in the 1960s.
Echo readers can order their copy at the special introductory price of £9.99 plus £1.99 P&P. Just go to our online shop or ring the order hotline on 01928 503777.
Don’t miss out on the remarkable story of an unforgettable decade!