Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC since 1963. The programme depicts the adventures of a Time Lord called "the Doctor", an extraterrestrial being, to all appearances human, from the planet Gallifrey. The Doctor explores the universe in a time-travelling space ship called the TARDIS. Its exterior appears as a blue British police box, which was a common sight in Britain in 1963 when the series first aired. Accompanied by a number of companions, the Doctor combats a variety of foes while working to save civilisations and help people in need.
The show is a significant part of British popular culture, and elsewhere it has gained a cult following. It has influenced generations of British television professionals, many of whom grew up watching the series. The programme originally ran from 1963 to 1989. There was an unsuccessful attempt to revive regular production in 1996 with a backdoor pilot, in the form of a television film titled Doctor Who. The programme was relaunched in 2005, and since then has been produced in-house by BBC Wales in Cardiff. Doctor Who has also spawned numerous spin-offs, including comic books, films, novels, audio dramas, and the television series Torchwood (2006–2011), The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007–2011), K-9 (2009–2010), and Class (2016), and has been the subject of many parodies and references in popular culture.
Thirteen actors have headlined the series as the Doctor. The transition from one actor to another is written into the plot of the show with the concept of regeneration into a new incarnation, a plot device in which a Time Lord "transforms" into a new body when the current one is too badly harmed to heal normally. Each actor's portrayal is unique, but all represent stages in the life of the same character. Together, they form a single lifetime with a single narrative. The time-travelling feature of the plot means that different incarnations of the Doctor occasionally meet. The Doctor is currently portrayed by Jodie Whittaker, who took on the role after Peter Capaldi's exit in the 2017 Christmas special "Twice Upon a Time".
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A Dalek ( (listen) DAH-lek) is a member of a fictional extraterrestrial race of mutants from the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. Daleks are grotesque mutated organisms from the planet Skaro, integrated within a tank-like mechanical casing. The resulting creatures are a powerful race bent on universal conquest and domination, utterly without pity, compassion or remorse (as all of their emotions were removed except hate). They are also, collectively, the greatest alien adversaries of the Time Lord known as the Doctor. Their most famous catchphrase is "EX-TER-MI-NATE!", with each syllable individually screeched in a frantic electronic voice.
The Daleks were created by writer Terry Nation and BBC designer Raymond Cusick and were introduced in December 1963 in the second Doctor Who serial. They became an immediate hit with viewers, featuring in many subsequent serials and two 1960s motion pictures. They have become synonymous with Doctor Who, and their behaviour and catchphrases are part of British popular culture. "Hiding behind the sofa whenever the Daleks appear" has even been cited as an essential element of British cultural identity.
The word "Dalek" has entered the Oxford English Dictionary and other major dictionaries; the Collins Dictionary defines it rather broadly as "any of a set of fictional robot-like creations that are aggressive, mobile, and produce rasping staccato speech". It is also a trademark, having first been registered by the BBC in 1964 to protect its lucrative range of Dalek merchandise.
The term is sometimes used metaphorically to describe people, usually figures of authority, who act like robots unable to break from their programming. John Birt, the Director-General of the BBC from 1992 to 2000, was publicly called a "croak-voiced Dalek" by playwright Dennis Potter in the MacTaggart Lecture at the 1993 Edinburgh Television Festival. The Daleks appeared on a postage stamp celebrating British popular culture in 1999, photographed by Lord Snowdon.
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