Best of ‘Doctor Who’ 50th Anniversary Poll: Why The Show Endures

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So far in our mammoth Doctor Who anniversary poll, we’ve asked our jury to name their favorite monsters/villains, stories/episodes, companions, and finally Doctors. And if you click through and read the individual ballots, you can also see the answers to a few other, smaller questions such as favorite Doctor costumes, TARDIS console rooms, and so on.

One question that we posed, however, was to ask what everybody thought was the biggest reason for the show’s endurance – and we received a pretty wide range of responses that demonstrate the different ways in which people have engaged with the show over the last fifty years. Here’s a selection, then, of what our fans, journalists and bloggers had to say:

“Regeneration. If the writers hadn’t been forced to think this up because of Bill Hartnell’s failing health, I doubt the show would’ve reached five years, never mind fifty.” - Keith MillerThe Official Doctor Who Fan Club vols 1 & 2 author

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Doctor Who manages to re-invent itself constantly. When ideas start to stagnate, a new writer comes in, does something revolutionary, and everything starts anew. The funny bit is that the ones who were most innovative, the ones who took chances, the ones who ‘ruined Doctor Who,’ are the ones who will be remembered the most. Innes Lloyd, Philip Hinchcliffe, Barry Letts, John Nathan-Turner, Russell T. Davies, Steven Moffat. But let us not forget Sydney Newman and Verity Lambert. Ever.” - Shelley Duncan, Mile High Who fan group

Doctor Who can be, and has been, any number of shows from week to week and from decade to decade. It can tell any story and adapt itself to changing tastes – but at its core it is the story of one man who fights to keep the universe safe for all of us.” - Warren Frey, Radio Free Skaro podcast

“What I like about Doctor Who is that it is the history of television production. At least from 1963 onwards. From watching the 50 years of Doctor Who we can learn about popular trends of the times when it was made whether it was fashion, story telling, production, script writing, special effects, relationships, cultural norms. It’s all there. Doctor Who is really such a special and unique product and it is so much more than just the stories we see on screen.” - Greg Bakun, from-the.archive.co.uk

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“To quote Craig Ferguson, because it’s about ‘the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism’. It’s an inherently optimistic series, and no matter what the popular entertainment climate of the time, that kind of attitude will always find a way to poke through, even at times when the show is otherwise seen as unfashionable.” - Seb Patrick, Anglophenia

Doctor Who at its core is a show about people helping others and doing what’s right despite the odds. It’s a show about people who make a difference, and I think that’s something that deep down all of us would like to do.” - Laura Byrne Cristiano, Hypable.com

Doctor Who continues to endure because it’s constantly changing, yet remains at its core the same show that we fell in love with in the first place.” - Steven Schapansky, Radio Free Skaro podcast

“Not only does the main actor change almost seamlessly, the underlying message of the show has stayed relevant. The current message of the value of every individual comes at a time when discrimination is at the forefront of politics and social issues. From sexuality to weight discrimination, the idea that there is a television program that shows you that no matter what you look like or who you are, you are the most important person in the universe, speaks volumes to how the new generation is raised and helps to build a solid moral foundation that allows humanity to grow.” – Heather Maloney, Examiner.com

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“Anyone can relate to the Doctor’s ideal of trying to save the day, being often completely out of his depth, but still using intellect to overcome objectives. He’s a swashbuckling hero who rarely buckles any swash and instead is able to think and talk his way out of situations. He’s an excellent role model for nerdy people.” - Kyle Anderson, Nerdist.com

“It’s a show not just for kids or adults, it crosses that generational bridge while many shows are stuck in either children’s content or too adult for prime time.” - Kelly Schwarze, POPSUGAR Tech

“The format is incredibly flexible and the adventures know no bounds.” - Chris McIntyre, DoctorWhoTV.co.uk

“It’s a strange man in a strange box that takes you on adventures through time and space. What’s not love about a show that’s bigger on the inside?” - Ken Plume, podcaster

“The show has so much heart that they had to equip the hero with two. He is an alien Time Lord that has more power than any human being ever, yet the show constantly enforces that the Doctor isn’t that much different. He still has problems, dilemmas, disappointments and makes mistakes. The show easily could have turned into more of a Superman style series where he is invincible but the Doctor often relies on his companions to help in the solution. He admires the human race and tries, often unsuccessfully, to blend.” – Dan Williams, PopCulturePreview.com

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“The single greatest strength of Doctor Who? Easy – the relationship between the Doctor and his companions. The Doctor is a larger than life hero, but he is made personable and relatable through the eyes of his companions. You love the Doctor, you are often angered by him, you want hug him one minute and slap him the next. Viewers would not be able to emotionally invest themselves without the feelings and views of the companions. They are hip, reserved, sexy, personable and adventurous. Doctor Who would not have become a global success without the endearing partnership of his companions.” – Earl Dittman, Digital Journal

Doctor Who is one of the most imaginative, and epic shows in the history of television. It is not simply a science fiction show, but horror, fantasy, drama, and more. It takes influences from film, literature, art, and beyond to create something that continues to excel after 50 years.” – Scott MacDonald, EuroCultAV.com

Doctor Who speaks to the human condition. It doesn’t matter that he’s flying a phone box. It’s that he’s helping others where ever he goes. And in the end, it’s humanity that shines.” - Melita Washington, WhatCulture.com

“The show allows us to dream bigger, imagine more, feel deeper. The Doctor opens up a new world of hopes and dreams, of heartache and loss, of joy in simply having the adventure of one’s own life. In the whole of time and space, the things that truly matter are the people we hold most dear. And the Doctor just keeps reminding us of that in each episode.” – Nicole McLernon

“It got the big stuff right from the start: the TARDIS (inside and out), the Doctor and the Daleks.” - Fraser McAlpine, Anglophenia

“It’ll never be old-fashioned or out-dated, because everything – the cast, the production team, how it looks, how it feels – can change. Only the basic idea – the Doctor in the TARDIS, with all of time and space to explore – need stay the same.” – Morgan Jeffery, Digital Spy

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“Russell T. Davies once said ‘it’s the best idea ever invented in the history of the world,’ and I can’t do better than that. It’s not only a show that embraces intellect and compassion, it celebrates exploration and adventure. It has an endlessly flexible format; it can transform into any show it needs to be at any time. To borrow a more recent concept, it has at its heart one irresistible hero – a madman with a box that’s bigger on the inside than the outside. It’s magic and science blended seamlessly, and the results are pure joy.” – Arnold T. Blumberg, author

See more:
‘Doctor Who’: All of the Doctor’s Travels in One Infographic
Steven Moffat Talks ‘Doctor Who’ 50th, Eccleston’s Absence