Doctor Who: Series 8, Episode 4–Listen

“Question – why do we talk out loud when we know we’re alone? Conjecture – because we know we’re not.”

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(SPOILER WARNING!)

After last week’s love-it-or-loathe-it comedy episode, this week saw Doctor Who back on more familiar ground with an outright horror story. The show’s always traded on an ability to scare small children, and in the post-2005 run, arguably nobody’s been better at that than Steven Moffat. Before he became showrunner (and subject to vitriolic brickbats from those who disliked his style), his episodes for Russell T Davies traded on being ‘the scary ones’ – The Empty Child, Blink, even Girl in the Fireplace, with its organ-harvesting clockwork droids that hid under children’s beds.

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Doctor Who: Series 8, Episode 3–Robot of Sherwood

“Old-fashioned heroes are only found in old-fashioned storybooks, Clara.”

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(SPOILER WARNING!)

After a season opener freighted with the need to establish a new Doctor, and last week’s dark morality tale, this week saw Doctor Who return refreshingly to an old-fashioned, undemanding romp with the groan-makingly entitled Robot of Sherwood. Very close in style to some of the classic show’s tongue-in-cheek stories, especially season 17, this saw the Doctor grudgingly agreeing to take Clara to 12the century Sherwood Forest to meet her hero – Robin Hood. Only to find the time-travelling pair caught up in a somewhat contrived plot involving the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham purloining gold from the locals in order to help some robots from the future relaunch their crippled spaceship.

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Doctor Who–Season 8, Episode 2–Into the Dalek

“Clara, be a pal and tell me – am I a good man?”

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(SPOILER WARNING!)

After last week’s flawed but mostly satisfying season opener, this week Doctor Who followed up with the return of the show’s arch villains in a story that was flawed but, for me, less satisfying. If you’ve read my reviews before, you know that if I don’t enjoy a story, I usually break down the reasons why. The trouble is that this time, I can’t quite put my finger on exactly why I felt that way.

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Doctor Who: Series 8, Episode 1–Deep Breath

“He is lost in the ruins of himself. We have to bring him home.”

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(SPOILER WARNING!)

The arrival of a new Doctor has always been a hotly anticipated event for us fans, but until recently the rest of humanity tended to just roll their eyes indulgently at the excitement of the nerds. Since the show’s resurrection in 2005 however, it’s been getting more and more popular; to the extent that last night, Peter Capaldi’s debut as the Twelfth Doctor was simultaneously broadcast in countries all over the world, while back here in Blighty, you could go and watch it on the big screen at one of 450 cinemas across the country. Those cinemagoers were also treated to a live Q&A session with Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Steven Moffat, broadcast by satellite from the stage of the Odeon Leicester Square.

This isn’t just a cult TV show any more – it’s a cultural phenomenon. And so, there was a lot riding on this episode, which had to introduce a Doctor who, for the post-2005 audience, would seem radically different – because he was (gasp) old.

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Doctor Who–The Time of the Doctor

“Everyone gets stuck somewhere eventually, Clara. And everything ends.”

Picture shows: JENNA COLEMAN as Clara and MATT SMITH as The Doctor

And so, Christmas Day 2013 saw the final end for Doctor number Eleven – or is it Twelve, or even Thirteen? That was one of the major questions Steven Moffat’s typically labyrinthine but mostly satisfying story had to address; along with the various unresolved plot threads that seemed to have been left hanging since he began his tenure as showrunner. He also had to retire the now-beloved Eleventh Doctor and introduce a new star .And on top of all that, he had to make it a Christmas episode, traditionally lighter and frothier than most.

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The 50 Doctors

Clyde: “Is there a limit? I mean, how many times can you change?”
The Doctor: “507.”
– The Sarah Jane Adventures, Death of the Doctor

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With the Twelfth Doctor nearly upon us, and an unexpected new Doctor revealed between 8 and 9, a lot of fanboys are very concerned. After all, it says in The Deadly Assassin that a Time Lord can only regenerate 12 times. Which is reiterated in Mawdryn Undead and The Five Doctors. Ah, but The Five Doctors also had President Borusa offering the Master “a whole new cycle” of regenerations. But recently, Steven Moffat seems to have confirmed that 12 is still the limit. Or perhaps not. Rule number one – Moffat lies.

Still, a Facebook conversation with young Mr Noel Storey recently prompted me to try and recall all the actors who’ve played the Doctor over the years. And it was more than 13. I actually came up with 31, off the top of my head. And then I checked the internet – and found there were quite a few more. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s actually, ooh, just about 50 of them. How convenient! So, in chronological order, without further ado, here’s… (drum roll)… THE 50 DOCTORS!

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