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Doctor Who – Today the programme celebrates 48 years

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Doctor Who - Carole Ann Ford, Jacqueline Hill), William Russell and William Hartnell
1963: The Doctor's grand daughter Susan (Carole Ann Ford), Barbara (Jacqueline Hill), Ian (William Russell) and the Doctor (William Hartnell) © 1963 BBC

Doctor Who was first transmitted on November 23rd, 1963 with William Hartnell playing the title role. Today we are celebrating it’s 48 years of science-fiction television history.

We marking the day with four photographs to give a flavor of it’s past and one of it’s future. As usual you can click on the pictures for a bigger view.

Of particular note are two of the iconic actors that both died this year. Elizabeth Sladen who played Sarah-Jane, who is thought by many to be the best companion to the Doctor. She died on April 19th, 2011, aged 65. The other is Nicholas Courtney who played Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. He had the record of working with almost all of the actors to play the Doctor. He died February 22, 2011 aged 81.

Doctor Who - Olaf Pooley and Nicholas Courtney
1970: Prof Stahlman (Olaf Pooley) and Lethbridge (Nicholas Courtney) © 1963 BBC
Doctor Who - Elizabeth Sladen, Tom Baker and Ian Marter
1974: Sarah-Jane Smith (Elizabeth Sladen), The Doctor (Tom Baker) and Harry (Ian Marter) © 1974 BBC
Doctor Who - Daleks
2006 The Daleks that escaped the time war © 2006 BBC

Official information on Doctor Who Christmas Special

In the new Doctor Who Christmas Special, the Doctor (Matt Smith) finds himself in war-torn England embarking on a magical and mysterious adventure with a young widow and her two children. A stellar guest cast including Claire Skinner ( Outnumbered), Bill Bailey ( Black Books), Arabella Weir ( Skins, The Fast Show) and Alexander Armstrong ( Armstrong & Miller), join Matt Smith in the emotional festive special, packed full of Christmas thrills and chills.

The special, set during World War II, sees Madge Arwell and her two children, Lily and Cyril, evacuated to a draughty old house in Dorset, where the caretaker is a mysterious young man in bow tie, and a big blue parcel is waiting for them under the tree. They are about to enter a magical new world and learn that a Time Lord never forgets his debts…

Steven Moffat, Lead Writer and Executive Producer, commented: “The Doctor at Christmas – nothing is more fun to write. Maybe because it’s so his kind of day – everything’s bright and shiny, everybody’s having a laugh, and nobody minds if you wear a really stupid hat. Of all the Doctors, Matt Smith’s the one that was born for this time of year – so it’s the best news possible that he’s heading back down the chimney.”

Claire Skinner, executive producer, said: “I am thrilled to be in Doctor Who playing Madge who is a bit of super-mum. It’s a magical part.”

Doctor Who - Matt Smith
2011: The Doctor (Matt Smith) runs from danger in the up-coming Christmas special © 2011 BBC