Steven Moffat once said of Doctor Who that it “was a great idea that happened to the wrong people”. Some might think that this says more about Moffat than about Who (in my experience writers who think of ideas as ‘happening’ to other writers, rather than being produced by those other writers, tend not to have very many ideas of their own) but in some cases one can see what he means. The Three Doctors, and in general all the work of writers Bob Baker and Dave Martin, tends to be a case in point.

"You know how to play the recorder, don't you, Jo? You just put your lips together and blow"

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What do you get if you cross Doctor Strangelove with The Thing From Another World?

The template for pretty much everything Doctor Who would do for the next forty years.

It might seem odd to viewers nowadays, but one of the rules Sydney Newman, the executive in charge of Doctor Who at its beginning, put into place was ‘no bug-eyed monsters’. This rule was, of course, broken as early as the second story, The Daleks, but it signified something about the intention of the show when it started – that it was to be at least partly an educational series.

“So let’s all learn about human sacrifice and enforced marriage, shall we, children?”

Yesterday was, as many of you will be aware, the forty-eighth anniversary of the first episode of Doctor Who. This means that next year, 2012, is the fiftieth year of Who’s existence.

Over the next year or so, on a roughly-weekly basis, I’ll look at one story from each of those fifty years, from 1963 to 2012. To start with, let’s travel back to that time just after the end of the Chatterley ban and the Beatles’ first LP.

“If you could touch the alien sand and hear the cry of strange birds and watch them wheel in another sky”