In case of a world-ending cataclysmic event, there will be only three things left: cockroaches, Burgess Meredith’s character from The Twilight Zone’s ‘Time enough at Last,’ and Doctor Who.
Doctor Who isn’t just a popular British TV program–it is, at this point in time, a significant part of British culture. Doctor Who first launched in 1963 and since then has spanned 26 seasons, 1 made for TV film, 822 episodes–more, if you include the 97 missing episodes from the show’s earlier runs–as well as book spin-offs, a radio series, countless merchandise, and so much more.
There is so much to know about Doctor Who that it would take a series of books to explore the entire behind the scenes trivia—from secrets to behind the scenes hijinks and even drama. Whether you’ve soaked in all 822 episodes (and pined for that missing 97) or are just a fan who enjoys watching the series now and again, take a look at some interesting things you probably didn’t know about Doctor Who.
The Daleks’ voices aren’t digital
It’s easy to assume in this day and age that most things are done digitally or in post-production. One thing, however, was impossible for the show’s producers at the BBC to do digitally: the unique voice of the Daleks. They tried using various methods to digitally alter recorded voices to sound like a traditional Dalek, but there was no way to replicate the very distinctive sound. Instead, they had to ask Nicholas Briggs–who voices them–to bring the modulator he uses t create the voice.
No, the Weeping Angels aren’t real statues
Most fans assume that the infamous Weeping Angels are prop statues, carved with precision to scare the living daylights out of any Doctor Who fan that happens upon one of their episodes. However, the Weeping Angels aren’t fake; they’re played by real actresses in specially created ‘stone costumes,’ who have plenty of practice remaining perfectly (and we do mean perfectly) still for filming.
Doctor Who was supposed to protect his secret–by any means necessary
In one early draft of the pilot episode of the series, it became clear that the Doctor would protect his secret by any means necessary—even murder. This early script included references to the fact that the Doctor was planning on killing Ian and Barbara, his future companions, so that they could not reveal his secret to anyone. This dark detail was eventually written out of the script and was not included in the final version of the pilot episode.
Real gas masks couldn’t be used on the show
In the episode The Empty Child, which aired in 2005, multiple characters (both children and adults) are shown wearing WWII-era gas masks. The costume team originally tried to source out some authentic WWII-era gas masks for the show, but were ultimately unable to use real masks because masks from that time period were susceptible to asbestos growth, making them dangerous (and illegal) to use for the show. The costume department decided to get creative; their reconstructions of WWII masks were made from recycled cans of baked beans along with other spare parts, which gave them a more homegrown—and disturbing—look.
Ridley Scott almost designed the Daleks
Ridley Scott was originally slated to provide the show with a design for the Daleks. However, Scott left his job at the BBC for another one before he actually got around to creating a design. Another designer was hired–and the rest is history. Although it would have been interesting to see what Scott could have come up with, it’s hard for anyone—diehard fans especially—to imagine the infamous characters without their trademark appearance.
What’s that sound? The secret behind TARDIS’ song
Practical sound effects were a necessity in TV shows made in the 1960s, and the original sound effect for the TARDIS was created by rubbing a key along some taught piano strings. The current sound effect is the same, although slightly amplified depending on what season you’re watching.
The Doctor has had three marriages (so far)
It’s not unusual for the Doctor to have romantic flings, but they rarely end in marriages due to the Doctor’s nature as a Time Lord. So far, we know about three definite marriages: River Song, Marilyn Monroe, and Elizabeth I. River Song has appeared the most out of any of his wives. It is possible that he has been married more than these three instances, but the writers have yet to reveal them to us.
The fourth Doctor’s scarf was an accident
The most distinctive feature of the fourth Doctor is his long, knitted scarf; but it wasn’t intended to be so long and its creation was actually an accident. The costume team for the show hired Begonia Pope, a professional knitter, to knit a scarf for the character. She was given a large spool of wool by the costume team, but they failed to provide her with more specific instructions–such as how long it needed to be. Rather than fuss around with the costume department, Pope decided to just use all of the wool she was given. The end result was a scarf that was 20 feet long! It was eventually trimmed a bit for practical purposes, but the costume team loved the idea of the Doctor having an absurdly long scarf and decided to incorporate it into his overall look.
Peter Capaldi has a history with Doctor Who
Peter Capaldi, who plays the Twelfth Doctor on the series, was a longtime fan of the show before being cast. When he was just a teenager, he submitted fan art of the Tardis to the International Doctor Who Fan Club magazine–and it was published! Capaldi also wanted to be the president of the official Doctor Who Fan Club in Britain; so much so that the sent hundreds of letters to the BBC insisting that he were right for the job.