The votes are in! Blue Towel Productions’ first ever inductees into the Doctor Who Creators Hall of Fame have been decided!
Thirty-nine nominees have given way to seven inductees, representing a range of of the series’ best known actors, producers, and writers. It’s not the exact list of people I’d have chosen if it were up to me, but that’s okay–that’s why it was a vote.
(Daily Doctor Who #275)
Here are the inductees, in alphabetical order:
In the world of classic Doctor Who, there is simply no actor who has been as popular or iconic as Tom Baker. Born in 1934, Tom Baker took over from Third Doctor Jon Pertwee at the end of his last serial in 1974. He went on to be the longest-serving and highest-rated of the original series’ Doctors, eventually starring in seven seasons and an impressive 172 episodes of the series, covering 41 separate serialized adventures. And it would have been even more if the six-part Shada hadn’t been cancelled due to a strike in 1980.
Amongst his stories are well-regarded classics such as Genesis of the Daleks, Pyramids of Mars, Horror of Fang Rock, The City of Death, and plenty more. As the Doctor, Tom Baker brought a unique blend of alien aloofness and energetic madness to his stories. This, along with the distinctive visual created by his tall frame, unkempt hair and broad grin, not too mention his trademark overly-long scarf, all conspired together to create arguably the version of the Doctor that many people first think of, at least before the modern era. It was Baker’s episode which also first aired in the United States, making him the standard model for the character amongst American fans.
Tom Baker did not return to the role for the 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors (a decision he later regretted), limiting his appearances to archive footage. He did return for the 50th anniversary in a memorable cameo as the Curator, an old man who may or may not be a future incarnation of the Doctor. He has also lended his voice to a long line of Big Finish audio dramas (although he came into those productions a lot later than many of his colleagues).
Russell T. Davies
Russell T. Davies was the first producer and head writer for the revived Doctor Who in 2005, and as such was instrumental in the development of the program into the entity that it is today. His work literally re-created the show into something would work for a new generation of audience, establishing such things as the updated episode format, a breezy storytelling pace, and season long story arcs.
He also deepened the Doctor’s relationships with his companions, allowing for a depth of connection with the likes of Rose, Martha and Donna that the series had rarely offered. There was also a lot more time given to the lives of the companions outside of Doctor, filling the show with the likes of Jackie Tyler, Wilfrid Mott and others–supporting characters who became regular and beloved fixtures in the series.
Davies eventually served as showrunner for the first series of the revived Doctor Who (and a year of specials), supervising all of the Ninth and Tenth Doctor’s eras. Amongst his contributions have been the Judoon, the Ood, the Slitheen, as well as Captain Jack Harkness (with episode writer Steven Moffat). In terms of the show’s mythology, he also created the Last Great Time War. This was an event that had taken place sometime before the series re-started, which became a narrative fuel for plot points, emotions and mystery that the series continued to draw from well after Davies had left the show.
In addition to his work on the first five years of revived Doctor Who, Davies was also executive producer and writer for spin-off shows Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures at the same time. When all this is considered, his impact on the franchise is hard to calculate.
Russell. T. Davies was award an OBE in 2008 for services to drama.
William Hartnell was an active presence in British movies and television from when he started acting in the 1930’s right through the next few decades until Doctor Who was being developed. Often playing gruff policemen or army sergeants. He later claimed that it was the opportunity to play against this typecasting that helped him to accepted the lead role in what was at the time a brand new children’s science fiction series, Doctor Who.
For several years, Hartnell’s Doctor was the only version of the character that existed. His Doctor was frequently temperamental and unpleasant, especially toward the beginning of the show, but with a childlike twinkle. His performance is quite different from what fans have come to expect from the Doctor in modern years, but the seeds of later characterizations are evident–his Doctor quickly became defined by reliance on his intelligence and wits to solve his problems, and by his concern for the innocent and distaste for injustice.
From the beginning, William Hartnell sometimes had a difficult relationship with some of his co-workers, and by all accounts failing health made the production more challenging. Finally, he stepped aside from the role in 1966, giving way to other, younger actors in the role he had originated. Hartnell returned to the show one more time, for the tenth anniversary serial, The Three Doctors, albeit in a reduced role. He was played by David Bradley (who later took on the role of the First Doctor himself) in a TV movie about the early days of Doctor Who, entitled An Adventure in Space and Time.
William Hartnell died in 1975 of heart failure, brought on by a variety of medical complications.
Doctor Who‘s original producer was at one time the youngest person to have that role in the BBC, and the only woman. Only 27 years old when she took the position, Lambert went on to supervise the first 86 episodes of the show, covering the first 19 stories. In terms of the number of episodes, only Barry Letts and John Nathan-Turner were credited with producing more. Doctor Who was Verity Lambert’s first job as a producer, a role she was offered by television executive Sydney Newman, who had worked with her previously at ITV, including on a live production where she had to take over some of the directing duties in the chaos that resulted when an actor died during the broadcast.
As one of the show’s original creative driving forces, Verity Lambert was involved in the development of every aspect of Doctor Who for more than two seasons, including helping to shape the original Doctor, the TARDIS, the opening titles, the first companion introductions and departures, and the show’s whole format.
Most famously, she was the producer who introduced the Daleks, even having to fight her superiors to use them. They evidently felt the Daleks betrayed the concept of the show by going the easy route of featuring “bug-eyed monsters” as antagonists–Lambert apparently felt otherwise and the Daleks were used. Aside from all her other contributions, it’s not a stretch to imagine that without Verity Lambert the show would not still be around today, if only because of how significant the Daleks were to its longevity.
Verity Lambert went on to be a significant presence in British media. She was awarded an OBE in 2002 for her services to film and television production, and passed away in 2007 of cancer. In 2013, she was portrayed by Jessica Raine in the docudrama about the early days of Doctor Who, entitled An Adventure in Space and Time.
Steven Moffat started his Doctor Who career in a number of low-key or unusual places–he wrote a short story called Continuity Errors and then was the scriptwriter for the 1999 Comic Relief special The Curse of Fatal Death. When the series was revived in 2005, Moffat began to produce a regular string of award-winning and fan-favorite stories: The Empty Child, The Girl in the Fireplace, Blink and Silence in the Library. These stories brought up a lot of the themes and elements that Moffat would come to be known for: primal fears, time paradoxes, and problems with perception and memory.
From 2011 to 2017, Moffat became the showrunner for Doctor Who, replacing Russell T. Davies. He went onto oversee Series 5-10 of the show, covered the entirety of the runs of Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors (Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi), and as such he shaped multiple story arcs for the series. Amongst his contributions as a writer are such notable elements to the program’s mythology as the Weeping Angels, the Silence, the Clockwork Droids, River Song, Captain Jack Harkness, Madame Vastra, and the female version of the Master played by Michelle Gomez.
Over his ten seasons of involvement with the series Steven Moffat wrote more Doctor Who television stories than any other writer in the history of the program, and also the most total minutes of the program (although not the most episodes, given the difference in format from the original series). Steven Moffat has also written for more Doctors on television than anyone else, offering contributions for Doctors #1, 5, 8, War, 9, 10, 11, & 12 (and the Curator, if you want to count him).
Steven Moffat was award an OBE in 2016 for extraordinary contributions to drama.
(14 votes, plus 1 tie-breaker)
Elisabeth Sladen joined Doctor Who in 1974, playing Sarah Jane Smith, who was replacing long-term companion Jo Grant as the show’s co-star. She quickly became a fan-favorite, and Sarah remained on the TARDIS through Jon Pertwee’s departure and into Tom Baker’s first two and a bit years as the Doctor.
As a character, Sarah Jane is almost universally beloved, as Sladen’s and humor won viewers over, and gave her a iconic quality that is unmatched in the show’s history. She often features highly in lists of people’s favorite companions, and due to her popularity is one of the show’s figures with the longest range of appearances. She’s not exactly the show’s first “liberated” female companion, but she is the one who most famously personified the idea.
Sladen’s original run as Sarah Jane covered 19 serials over roughly three years. She later returned to the character as the star of the first ever Doctor Who spinoff, K9 and Company, although the show never went beyond the pilot episode. She then returned in the 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors, and also started playing the role in audio for Big Finish.
In 2006, Sarah Jane Smith became the obvious pick for a classic companion to return to Doctor Who in the new series, as Elisabeth Sladen guest-starred in the Series 2 episode School Reunion alongside David Tennant. She then became the star of her own spin-off show, The Sarah Jane Adventures, which ran for five seasons. In the end, Sladen played Sarah Jane in 140 television episodes over 37 years–an astonishing figure that is unbeaten by anyone but Tom Baker.
Elisabeth Sladen died in 2011, halfway through the production of what became the last season of The Sarah Jane Adventures.
David Tennant was the second actor to star in Doctor Who after it revived in 2005, taking over after Christopher Eccleston left the part at the end of his first season. Cast before the first episode had even aired, Tennant was already a popular stage and television actor when he took the role, and quickly helped to bring a whole new generation of fans to the program, quickly rivaling or even supplanting Tom Baker in the public consciousness as the face of the character. His Doctor was capable of both deep melancholy and raging fury, but was best known for his effortless romantic charm.
Some of Tennant’s best episodes include Midnight, Human Nature (in which he played the Doctor having temporarily become a human and forgotten his identity), The Girl in the Fireplace (one of the first overtly romantic episodes), and Blink–a story the Doctor is barely in, but is still somehow highly memorable.
David Tennant has always been quite enthusiastic about his role in Doctor Who, and has cited it as a long-held dream of his. Even prior to his casting, he had displayed enthusiasm for the series by getting himself involved in a variety of voice roles–including the webcast Scream of the Shalka and numerous Big Finish audios. Since leaving, he has continued to remain close to the role. He returned to co-star in the 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor, and he has now played the Doctor Big Finish as well, both alongside his own companions as well as featuring alongside other classic Doctors.
And that’s it for the the first intake of the Doctor Who creators Hall of Fame! Congratulations to all the winners!
Elisabeth Sladen was actually tied with both Douglas Adams and Roger Delgado for the 7th spot, so I turned to a friend of mine who hadn’t participated in the poll to cast the deciding vote. Thanks Josh for stepping in! After those two, the next runners-up were Terry Nation, Peter Capaldi, Murray Gold, Nicholas Courtney, Philip Hinchcliffe, and Jon Pertwee. Maybe next year, guys!
See you then!