On this day in history: ‘Doctor Who’ premiered on BBC
52 years ago today, viewers first watched a show that would become a British and sci-fi icon. “Doctor Who” premiered on this date on BBC in 1963.
In that episode, William Hartnell played the first iteration of the Time Lord who would take audiences on all sorts of fun, odd, and even sorrowful adventures through spacetime. He played the character for four seasons (series, to you British folks), and since then — thanks to the Doctor’s two hearts and ability to regenerate — 11 more (11ish more) men have played the character.
Though “Doctor Who” started off airing just in the U.K., the show has since managed to capture millions upon millions of hearts all around the world — even though we humans only have one each.
For evidence of the show’s popularity and impact, just turn to the Oxford English Dictionary — which has a few entries from “Doctor Who,” including Tardis — or to other cult sci-fi tales with clear “Who” influence — like “Life on Mars” and “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” — or to Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con — where fans, many in costume, await the show’s panel with claps of the Master’s drumbeat and by brightening up the dim hall with their sonic screwdrivers raised in the air. Or just turn to Tumblr.
Two years ago, on the 50th anniversary of the show’s premiere, the makers of “Doctor Who” delivered fans a much-celebrated treat with “The Day of the Doctor,” simulcast in 94 countries. The special episode brought together Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith and Tenth Doctor David Tennant. The episode also featured John Hurt as the War Doctor and a cameo from Tom Baker, who played the much-beloved Fourth Doctor.
Other notable November 23 happenings in pop culture history:
• 1889: The first public demonstration of the jukebox — then called the “nickel-in-the-slot phonograph” occurred at the Palais Royal Saloon in San Francisco.
• 1936: The first issue of Life magazine was published.
• 1937: The first stage production of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” — also penned by Steinbeck — opened at the Music Box Theatre on Broadway.
• 1970: George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” was released in the U.S.
• 1983: “Terms of Endearment” began its U.S. release. It would later win five Academy Awards.
• 1988: Bill Murray film “Scrooged” opened in theaters.
• 1994: “The Pagemaster” — starring Macaulay Culkin and Christopher Lloyd and featuring the voices of three “Star Trek” actors, Patrick Stewart, Leonard Nimoy and Whoopi Goldberg — opened in theaters.
• 2005: “Syriana” opened in theaters. George Clooney won his first Oscar for the film.
Birthdays: singer Miley Cyrus (23), “Black Swan” actor Vincent Cassel (49), The Nerdist founder Chris Hardwick (45), “High School Musical” actor Lucas Grabeel (31), “Live Free or Die Hard” actor Jonathan Sadaowski (36), reality star Snooki (28)