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Top 10 Behind the Scenes Facts From Doctor Who

Written by Sean Harris You could fill a TARDIS with this trivia. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 behind the scenes facts from Doctor Who! For this list, we’ve gathered the most interesting, most surprising and most significant on-set stories to emerge from the BBC sci-fi series. Special thanks to our user WordToTheWes for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Top 10 Behind the Scenes Facts from Doctor Who

You could fill a TARDIS with this trivia. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 behind the scenes facts from Doctor Who!
For this list, we’ve gathered the most interesting, most surprising and most significant on-set stories to emerge from the BBC sci-fi series.

#10: Costume Changes

Establishing a signature look is vital for any incoming Doctor, but some outfits almost never happened at all. Tom Baker’s iconic scarf came about by accident, after crossed wires in the wardrobe department led to the ludicrously long garment, while David Tennant’s cut suit and Converse look was supposedly inspired by an outfit worn by Jamie Oliver on “Parkinson”. And while it’s impossible to imagine Matt Smith without a bowtie, showrunner Steven Moffat was dead against the formal flourish at first. Thankfully, they kept it in.

#9: US Involvement

While its roots remain firmly planted in Great Britain, “Doctor Who” is definitely a global obsession. But the opening and closing episodes of season six – “The Impossible Astronaut” and “The Wedding of River Song” – were the first filmed on location in America, with previous Stateside stories achieved without the cast ever crossing the Atlantic. And if you want to see the stunning vistas at Lake Silencio for real, then head to Lake Powell on the Utah/Arizona border – it’s well worth the trip.

#8: Twelve Was a Super-Fan

Actors can be quick to claim a long association with the fandoms for whichever show or movie they’re currently working on, and sometimes without utmost sincerity. But Peter Capaldi really is a lifelong Whovian. Capaldi was well known at the BBC as a kid, thanks to his continuous and persistent letters to “Who” writers, creators and fan club officiators. David Tennant has also said that he got into acting with the sole goal of playing the Doctor, but no-one beats the geekiness of Twelve.

#7: The Reason for Regenerating

It’s a crucial part of the Doctor’s character now, but regeneration wasn’t a pre-planned thing. In fact, the switch from William Hartnell’s First to Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctor was largely prompted by Hartnell’s poor health. The actor suffered with a series of illnesses, while relations with the “Who” production team are also said to have soured. Regeneration was devised as a way to continue the show with multiple actors, with early descriptions of the filmic phenomena likening it to a psychedelic trip on LSD.

#6: The Greatest Guest Writers

While the likes of Moffat, Russel T Davies, Robert Holmes and Terry Nation boast the majority of writing credits, “Who” has its fair share of famous contributors. The most satisfying link for sci-fi buffs is probably that Douglas Adams was involved with multiple scripts in the ‘70s. The “Hitchhiker’s Guide” author has just one official credit to his name, but he often worked under the BBC pseudonym, David Agnew. Comedian Mark Gatiss has written regularly since the 2005 revival, while Neil Gaiman and Richard Curtis also penned some standout stories. Stephen Fry scripted a series two adventure as well, but the episode was never made.

#5: Pinching the Pennies

“Doctor Who” is well-known for repurposing sets and costumes to make creating entire galaxies as cost-effective as possible. But, while dodgy props are part of the show’s charm, “Who” has also been criticised for failing to recognise (and compensate) key figures in its history. So, shout out to Delia Derbyshire, who arranged the original theme music but wasn’t officially credited until the 50th anniversary special. And then there’s Ray Cusick, the designer of the Daleks who received just £100 and a Blue Peter badge for creating one of the most commercially viable villains on TV.

#4: Building a Back Story

In the beginning, “Doctor Who” was primarily pitched as an educational programme. From the First Doctor’s first episode, where we meet Susan and her school teachers, it matched science and history with as much entertainment as possible – and by the late-‘60s, the Doctor’s mythology was mounting. But, the term ‘Time Lord’ wasn’t used until “The War Games” story in 1969, while the first mention of ‘Gallifrey’ comes in Jon Pertwee’s 1973 adventure, “The Time Warrior”. From there, the legend grew and grew.

#3: Sticking with the Screwdriver

It’s the quintessential bit of kit for any self-respecting time traveller nowadays, but the sonic screwdriver hasn’t always been a staple part of the show. Victor Pemberton first wrote the device into the 1968 missing episode “Fury from the Deep”, before it became a mainstay for Doctors Two to Four. But the Screwdriver was written out during Peter Davison’s reign, and didn’t return until the revival. The critics argue that the gadget gives the Doctor too much power – but Capaldi just wants to roll with rock star shades.

#2: The Doctors That Might’ve Been

It’s arguably the biggest role on British TV, but plenty of actors have turned it down or narrowly missed out. Brian Blessed, Richard Griffiths and Andrew Sachs were all considered during the classic era, while the BBC vetoed proposals for Dawn French or Joanna Lumley to land the lead. Hugh Grant and Bill Nighy have both declined the gig, while auditions for the Eighth Doctor included Rowan Atkinson, Rik Mayall, Billy Connolly and Eric Idle. Even Michael Jackson was rumoured for the role, as part of an ‘80s Paramount movie which never came to pass.

#1: Ridley Scott’s Daleks

We finish with a sliding doors moment in “Who” history, as a young Ridley Scott was originally tasked with designing the Doctor’s greatest enemy, the Daleks. But Scott backed out of the job to pursue his career in directing, leaving Ray Cusick to rework the character. While Scott scored a series of blockbuster hits, the Daleks became one of Sci-Fi’s scariest villains, channelling inspiration from the ruthless Nazi regime. However, they almost didn’t make it into the 2005 revival, amidst a drawn-out copyright dispute. Luckily, the quarrel was quickly exterminated.

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