Saturday Night Live is one of the longest running shows
Or “Whoniversary”? Whatever your terminology, ten years ago today the episode “Rose” aired on the BBC, ushering in a new era of aliens, companions, TARDISes, Daleks, fezzes, and a lot of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff. One decade and five doctors later, Doctor Who is still going strong. Here are 17 things you might not have known about the 21st-century incarnation of the geeky classic.
1. Doctor Punk
12th Doctor Peter Capaldi used to be in a punk band, called The Dreamboys, with fellow Scot Craig Ferguson.
2. Four Daleks and a Cyberman
Hugh Grant was approached to play the ninth Doctor (a role that eventually went to Christopher Eccleston), but he turned it down because he didn’t think the show was going to go anywhere.
3. Elementary, My Dear Doctor
A week before auditioning for Doctor Who, Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith auditioned for the role of Watson in Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ Sherlock, a role that eventually went to Martin Freeman.
Benedict Cumberbatch was a potential candidate to play the eleventh Doctor, but he removed himself from consideration because he didn’t want to helm such a colossal, commercial franchise (“And anyway, I didn’t really like the whole package – being on school lunch boxes”).
6. A Class Act
Bill Nighy, who appeared in the classic season five episode “Vincent and the Doctor,” was also offered the series’ starring role at some point, though he won’t say when out of respect for the person who did get the job. It’s conceivable, then, that this was during the run of either Classic or New Who.
7. Deja Vu
Karen Gillan (Amy Pond) and Freema Agyeman (Martha Jones) both appeared in episodes of Doctor Who (Gillan as an extra in “The Fires of Pompeii,” Agyeman as a redshirt, basically, in “Army of Ghosts”) before they were cast as companions. Peter Capaldi also appeared in “The Fires of Pompeii” before he was cast as the Doctor.
9. Time Lords and Ladies
Russell T. Davies suggested Catherine Zeta-Jones or Lesley Sharp to replace David Tennant as the show’s first female Doctor. Davies was on the way out by that point, though, and new showrunner Steven Moffat chose Matt Smith instead.
9. Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking TARDISes
In the realm of weird rumors, Jason Statham was reportedly in the running to be the eleventh Doctor. True: Probably not. But I’d have liked to have seen it.
10. The Power of Fandom
David Tennant and Peter Capaldi were both major-league Doctor Who fanboys when they were kids. A 13-year-old Tennant wrote a school essay called “Intergalactic Overdose” in which he said he was convinced he’d play the Doctor one day, and Capaldi had a piece of fanart (above) published in the Doctor Who International Fan Club Magazine in 1976.
11. I Won’t Let Go, Doc!
Russell T. Davies originally wanted Kate Winslet to play River Song.
12. And the Winner Is…
Peter Capaldi is the only actor to play the Doctor to also win an Oscar, for the 1995 film Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life, which he wrote and directed. Richard E. Grant (who would play the Great Intelligence during Matt Smith’s run) starred.
13. Keeping It In the Family
David Tennant is married to Georgia Moffett, daughter of fifth Doctor Peter Davison. She appeared in the season four episode “The Doctor’s Daughter” as Jenny, a young woman who’s technically the daughter (wibbly wobbly, sciencey wiency stuff) of Tennant’s Doctor.
14. A Rose By Any Other Name
Georgia Moffett asked the producers to let her audition for the role of Rose, but she was deemed too young. Billie Piper got it instead.
Peter Capaldi reportedly based the look of the twelfth Doctor on David Bowie.
16. But I Thought They Were Cool!
Steven Moffat was initially opposed to the idea of Eleven wearing a bow tie, saying “No, absolutely not, you’re not wearing a bow tie – that’s a cartoon idea of what Doctor Who is,” until he saw Matt Smith in it.
17. What Could Have Been
BBC One commissioned a spinoff called Rose Tyler: Earth Defense, to be set on the parallel Earth Rose ended up in at the end of season two, but Russell T. Davies canned it because he felt it lessened the impact of the season two finale.