On November 23, 1963, the BBC aired the first episode of Doctor Who.
I quote from Wikipedia:
"has as its protagonist a Time Lord, that is an alien time traveler, with human features who simply calls himself The Doctor. The Doctor explores the universe aboard the TARDIS, a sentient machine capable of traveling in space and time through the so-called vortex of time. The exterior of the TARDIS is that of an English blue police booth, commonly seen in Britain in the XNUMXs, when the series first aired. The Doctor is almost always accompanied by terrestrial travel companions, together with whom he faces enemies, saves entire civilizations and helps those in difficulty. A (pseudo-) scientific tool widely used by the Doctor is the sonic screwdriver ”.
All very correct, but also very neutral; because it fails to explain the exclusive and fundamental characteristics of this very successful TV series, which, like its protagonist, exceeds times and generations and reaches 2022 without losing an ounce of its freshness and diversity.
In this article I will not list the various actors and actresses who played the Doctor, their stories and the infinite theories on the various elements of the Doctor's life within the story, which changes considerably depending on the screenwriter who deals with it. I think it is more important to analyze the characteristics thanks to which Doctor Who has come up to date: it is about to celebrate its sixtieth birthday, and its success is not explainable with its plot, which may seem something not able to reach 60 springs. We remind everyone that the television series is online on the platform of Prime Video.
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What is Doctor Who actually?
Doctor Who, at least, for the writer, is not science fiction: it uses this genre, but in reality it is a story that adopts all the stylistic features of the Homeric epic: travels, a solitary character, of great talent, who has suffered a lot but whose suffering is gradually discovered (and not even all, to tell the truth); apparently surrounding characters who become fundamental, the reducism suffered by a terrible war - in his case, the Time War - and the initial refusal to talk about it; love for adventure and travel, incredible places full of beauty and horror, friends and enemies… in short, there is a lot of Homer, in Doctor Who. But there is a difference, simple, yet enormous.
Doctor Who is epic of intelligence: weapons, war, strength are seen as something negative, wrong and harmful to the human and alien soul: the Doctor, except for his historical enemies - the Daleks, the Cybermen - often finds himself facing aliens who endanger him, his companions and the world not for intrinsic evil, but often because they are the only ones left of their kind, have been abandoned or because a pain has made them angry. The Doctor always tries to save them too, to make them understand that desperation and violence are the least of the resources. In short, there is always hope: fewer weapons, more intelligence, more reasoning, more calm.
The welcome to diversity in Doctor Who
But there is more. The second fundamental characteristic of Doctor Who is its propensity, from the beginning, to welcome diversity: in 1963, finding a woman as the companion of a male character who was not a secretary or an anonymous beauty was really difficult. Susan Foreman, the Doctor's first companion, is an active character, and so have everyone who came after, and none of them respond to overused clichés from film and television. Doctor Who is also epic of diversity: the world can be saved by a precarious teacher- Clara-, by a secretary- Donna- by a student- Bill-, by a shop assistant- Rose-, by a nurse- Rory- and by a young dyspraxic boy- a executive function disorder that this writer also suffers from -, Ryan.
The list would be endless, but what matters is to make it clear that in Doctor Who everyone can change the world, their life, do things they don't even think they can do. The Doctor is an alien, but his companions are much more valuable to him than the Great Ones of the Earth or the Universe.
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A great lesson in inclusion and the politics of diversity, which makes Doctor Who always modern: the latest example in chronological order is the first female Doctor, played by Jodie whittaker, which to the true Doctor Who fan seemed an absolutely natural choice, as will the first Black Doctor in history, who will see Ncuti Gatwa as the last Time Lord.
Beyond its stories and plots, Doctor Who is above all this: an epic of intelligence and diversity.