The programme is listed in Guinness World Records as the longest-running science fiction television show (50 years) in the world and is also a significant part of Britishpopular culture. It has been recognised for its imaginative stories, creative low-budget special effects during its original run, and pioneering use of electronic music (originally produced by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop). In the United Kingdom and elsewhere, the show has become a cult television favourite and has influenced generations of British television professionals, many of whom grew up watching the series. It has received recognition from critics and the public as one of the finest British television programmes, including the BAFTA Award for Best Drama Series in 2006.
The Doctor has been principally played by twelve actors. The transition from one actor to another is written into the plot of the show as regeneration, a life process of Time Lords through which the character of the Doctor takes on a new body and, to some extent, new personality, which occurs when sustaining injury which would be fatal to most other species. Although each portrayal is different, and on occasions the various incarnations have even met one another, they are all meant to be aspects of the same character. The Doctor is currently portrayed by Peter Capaldi, who took up the role after Matt Smith's final appearance in an episode broadcast on 25 December 2013.
Moving to Britain in 1958, he worked first with the Associated British Corporation (ABC) before moving across to the BBC in 1962, holding the role of Head of Drama with both organisations. During this phase of his career he was responsible for initiating two hugely popular fantasy series, The Avengers and Doctor Who, as well as overseeing the production of groundbreaking social realist drama series such as Armchair Theatre and The Wednesday Play. Towards the end of his active career he returned to Canada, where he was for a time Government Film Commissioner and Chairman of the NFB, among other roles.
The website of the Museum of Broadcast Communications describes Newman as "the most significant agent in the development of British television drama." Shortly after his death, his obituary in The Guardian newspaper declared that "For ten brief but glorious years, Sydney Newman ... was the most important impresario in Britain ... His death marks not just the end of an era but the laying to rest of a whole philosophy of popular art."
The first episode deals with Ian's and Barbara's discovery of the Doctor and his spaceship, the "TARDIS", in a junkyard in contemparary London. The remaining episodes are set in 100,000BC, amongst a power struggle between warring Stone Age factions.