Your guide to the BBC's Doctor Who 50th anniversary splurge

Iain Robertson

27th October 2013

There's nothing the BBC likes more than blowing its own trumpet. Well, apart from giving oversized pay-offs to departing directors and inexplicably commissioning new sitcoms starring Will Mellor obviously. But otherwise, there's little they like more than reminding us that they are, deservedly, a national treasure. That's why they've announced that next month, in honour of the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, they'll be broadcasting nothing else whatsoever apart from tributes to the show, culminating with a 75-minute special episode on the show's anniversary, November 23rd.

By way of contrast, they've announced nothing whatsoever for the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination, which takes place the previous day. Presumably because the BBC were, as far as I know, not involved in that. (Although I'm sure Oliver Stone and the Daily Mail would beg to differ.) Either that or the murder of the leader of the most powerful country on Earth is deemed less historically significant than a kids' show about a spaceman with a magic box.

So here's a guide to some of the highlights the BBC have announced for the anniversary.

The Day Of The Doctor

A special anniversary episode uniting current stars Matt Smith and Jenna Louise Coleman with David Tennant and Billie Piper. As if the stars of Nativity 2: Danger In The Manger and Secret Diary Of A Call Girl weren't enough, the BBC have somehow roped in John Hurt and the annoying one out of Gavin and Stacey to dress up as Queen Elizabeth. (Joanna Page, not John Hurt. That's disturbing. Stop thinking about it. Really. Stop.)

In terms of monsters, there's the Daleks, since nothing says 'special anniversary episode' like an alien that crops up at least once a year, and the Zygons, who frankly I'm only vaguely aware of, but can best be described as six-foot high turds on legs. There's also lots of other secret stuff, which I'm sure will be thrilling and hardly involve Cybermen at all.
Me, You and Doctor Who

A Culture Show special examining the show's cultural significance. Who said the BBC was dumbing down? Next week: Vernon Kay explores the Freudian subtext of Rainbow.
It's properly scientific, apparently

TV's smiliest man, Professor Brian Cox, presents a special programme exploring the science of Doctor Who. Three minutes long, it consists of Cox saying "It's all essentially bollocks" and then a nice montage.
An Adventure In Space And Time

A Mark Gatiss-scripted drama about the early days of Doctor Who, which'll show exactly how thrilling making TV programmes really is. (Note: it isn't.)
Old episodes

BBC4 are repeating the very first story from 1963. They've not announced any other repeats though, meaning we may sadly be deprived of the delights of Bonnie Langford or the time the Doctor fought an alien that looked like Bertie Bassett.
12 Again

CBBC viewers who are too young to remember how crap the show used to be will be brought up to speed by Warwick Davis and Sylvester McCoy. The BBC hates kids.
The best monsters

BBC3 will be doing a countdown of the show's top monsters, which absolutely positively definitely won't be won by the Daleks or feature various people off Eastenders talking about how they're really scared of Weeping Angels.
Time Lord Rock

A Radio 1 special looking at music inspired by Doctor Who. Of which there's obviously loads. Whether this'll include the Timelords/KLF's seminal, but unfortunately Gary-Glitter-sampling. 'Doctorin' The Tardis' remains to be seen.
Graham Norton

Graham Norton will be presenting his Radio 2 show live on the anniversary day from a big Doctor Who convention in London, which could be entertaining considering that the more devoted Doctor Who fans hate him. When the show was revived in 2005, the BBC handily broadcast the sound of Norton talking nonsense over part of the first episode. And during an early Matt Smith episode, they decided it'd be a brilliant idea to put an animated dancing Graham onscreen during the climax of the episode.

So: fanatical Doctor Who fans, Graham Norton, live radio. What could possibly go wrong?
There's loads more, of course. The BBC are very keen to show us how much they love Doctor Who. You know, the show they took off air for 16 years and tried to pretend didn't exist. Now it's a bit of a cash cow for the Beeb, they love it again. So here's to 50 more years. Just leave out Bonnie Langford in future, OK?

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