Why So Many Aliens in Pop Culture Look Familiar

iStock
iStock

Aliens have been depicted countless times in cinema, from Georges Méliès's A Trip to the Moon (1902) to James Cameron's Avatar (2009). But despite the advancements in special-effects technology over the past century, most aliens we see on screen still share a lot of similarities—mainly, they look, move, and interact with the world like humans do. Vox explains how the classic alien look came to be in their new video below.

When you picture an alien, you may imagine a being with reptilian skin or big, black eyes, but the basic components of a human body—two arms, two legs, and a head with a face—are likely all there. In reality, finding an intelligent creature that evolved all those same features on a planet millions of light-years away would be an extraordinary coincidence. If alien life does exist, it may not look like anything we've ever seen on Earth.

But when it comes to science fiction, accuracy isn't always the goal. Creating an alien character humans can relate to may take priority. Or, the alien's design may need to work as a suit that can be worn by human performers. The result is a version of extraterrestrial life that looks alien— but not too alien—to movie audiences.

So if aliens probably won't have four limbs, two eyes, and a mouth, what would they look like if we ever met them person? These experts have some theories.

[h/t Vox]

15 Fascinating Facts About Isaac Asimov

M Stroud/Getty Images
M Stroud/Getty Images

Isaac Asimov is best known for writing science fiction novels like the Foundation and Robot series, but the amazingly prolific author also penned hundreds of mysteries, short stories, science guides, essays, and even a book of humor. And, of course, he consulted on Star Trek (though only after giving the show a second look). Check out these 15 facts about the famous Humanist.

1. Isaac Asimov's parents were immigrants who owned candy stores.

Born in Petrovichi (present-day Russia) in 1920 (-ish), Asimov was just 3 years old when he and his family emigrated to the U.S. After living in Brooklyn for a few years, Asimov's father, Judah, saved enough money from various odd jobs to buy a candy store. His parents worked around the clock to keep the store open 19 hours a day, and it was a success that kept them afloat through the Great Depression. Throughout the '30s, Judah Asimov purchased a series of confectionary shops in Brooklyn. During this time, the Asimov family lived in several apartments in the borough, including two above their stores. Isaac, his father, and his sister (a younger brother wasn't born yet, and his mother waited until 1938) became naturalized U.S. citizens in 1928.

2. Isaac Asimov fell in love with science fiction at his first job.

When he was 9 years old, Asimov began working at the family candy stores. His father expected his son to work long hours, and Asimov consistently rose early and went to bed late to help run the shops. Even while employed at other part-time jobs—including one at a fabric company and as a typist for a college professor—he worked in the family business in some capacity, only leaving in his early twenties. In addition to candy, the stores sold magazines, and young Isaac devoured the science fiction stories he read in their pages and fell in love with the genre.

3. ISaac Asimov was rejected from nearly every school to which he applied.

At 15 years old, Asimov applied to Columbia College but was rejected because "[the school's] quota for Jews for the coming year was already filled," he later wrote. Instead he attended Seth Low Junior College, which was affiliated with Columbia. That school closed soon after and he was transferred to Columbia, where he earned a Chemistry degree in 1939. Hoping to become a doctor, Asimov applied to five medical schools in New York, but was rejected by every one. For good measure, he applied again, and was turned down by each of them once more. He also applied to Columbia's graduate school for chemistry, but was denied entrance.

4. Despite the slow start, Isaac Asimov eventually earned a doctorate.

After speaking to Columbia's faculty, Asimov managed to convince the school to accept him as a grad student for a year, on a probationary basis. His grades were up to snuff, and he earned his master's degree in chemistry in 1941. From 1942 to 1945, he worked at the Philadelphia Naval Air Experimental Station—he knew, following the Pearl Harbor attack five months earlier, that the draft was going to be coming, and he preferred to be of some service rather than try to hide behind being a Ph.D. candidate. He later wrote that he hoped that with this job "my labors might serve as directly useful for that war effort, and I knew I could do more as a reasonably capable chemist than as a panicky infantryman, and perhaps the government would think so too." When the war ended, he was drafted into a 9-month stint in the army; then he returned to Columbia, where he graduated with a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1948.

5. Isaac Asimov had a successful career in academia.

Isaac Asimov, circa 1950s.
Phillip Leonian, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Asimov worked his way up the ladder of academia, moving from a postdoc position at Columbia—where he focused on how to combat malaria—to a job as a biochemistry instructor at Boston University's medical school. His lectures were popular, and within a few years he was promoted to associate professor. He also co-authored a biochemistry textbook called Biochemistry and Human Metabolism. In 1958, he stopped teaching and focused solely on writing science fiction. Years later, in 1979, Boston University awarded Asimov the title of full professor.

6. Isaac Asimov used the pen name Paul French.

In the '50s, Asimov wrote a series of six science fiction novels for children using the pseudonym Paul French. The books, collectively called the Lucky Starr series, follow David "Lucky" Starr and his adventures around the solar system. Because the publisher, Doubleday, was hoping to turn the series into a TV show, Asimov used a pen name just in case the television adaptation was terrible—he didn't want to be attached to something cringeworthy, but he also hated that people began to think he was using the pseudonym in order to protect his reputation in the science community. In the end, the TV show didn't happen, and some of the books are now credited to both French and Asimov.

7. Isaac Asimov wrote a movie musical for Paul McCartney.

Look in the Boston University archives, and you might find a story outline called "Five and Five and One." Asimov penned it for Paul McCartney, a long-time science fiction fan who had asked him to write a screenplay for a sci-fi musical. The former Beatles' idea centered on a band that realized it was being impersonated by aliens, and he thought Asimov would be the perfect writer for the job. Sadly, McCartney didn't like Asimov's treatment, and the movie was never made.

8. Isaac Asimov was an on-again, off-again member of Mensa.

Asimov wasn't shy about joining clubs. Some of the groups he belonged to were the Baker Street Irregulars (an exclusive organization for Sherlock Holmes fans), the Gilbert and Sullivan Society, the Wodehouse Society, and Mensa. After joining the oldest high-IQ society in the world, Asimov participated in events and was an Honorary Vice President. But he drifted in and out of active membership due to some unpleasant members who were "brain-proud and aggressive about their IQs," as he described them. "They were, as I had been in my youth, forcing their intelligence on unwilling victims. In general, too, they felt underappreciated and undersuccessful. As a result, they had soured on the Universe and tended to be disagreeable."

9. After an initial tiff, Isaac Asimov collaborated with the creator of Star Trek.

In 1966, Asimov wrote a critique for TV Guide arguing that the then-current crop of sci-fi shows—including Star Trek—were inaccurate in their depiction of science fiction. Gene Roddenberry, the show's creator, wrote a letter to Asimov defending himself. After admitting that he was a big fan of the author's work, Roddenberry explained that the show hired multiple scientific consultants to ensure accuracy and struggled to produce a new show every week. Roddenberry ended his letter by stating his belief that Star Trek would turn new people—who would purchase Asimov's books—into science fiction fans.

The two men then became friends, and Asimov became a fan of the show. He served as a consultant for Star Trek, giving Roddenberry a few plot and characterization suggestions. For his part, Roddenberry attempted to make a movie based on Asimov's I, Robot, but it never happened under him (both Roddenberry and Asimov had died a decade before the 2004 Will Smith film was in the works).

10. Isaac Asimov coined the word robotics.

Karel Čapek, a Czech writer, gave us robot when he used the word in a play in 1921. Derived from a Slavic term for a slave, the word described man-like machines that worked on a factory assembly line. But in 1941, in his own short story called "Liar!," Asimov became the first person to use the word robotics, referring to the technology that robots possess. The next year, he wrote another short story, called "Runaround," in which he introduced his three Laws of Robotics. These laws explain that a robot cannot hurt a human, must obey humans, and must protect themselves, so long as it doesn't conflict with the first two laws.

11. Isaac Asimov had extreme acrophobia and aviophobia.

Asimov was a staunch man of reason, but he could never reason his way out of his two biggest fears: heights and flying. In his early twenties, two terrifying experiences on roller coasters made him realize he was an acrophobe—and unfortunately, both experiences happened on dates. "From what I had seen of it in movies, it seemed to me that my date would scream and would cling to me, something which, I thought, would be delightful," Asimov wrote in his memoir of taking his girlfriend on a roller coaster at the 1939 World's Fair in New York. Instead, the ride had the opposite effect. "I screamed in terror and I hung on desperately to my date, who sat there stolid and unmoved."

A second similar coaster ride at Coney Island confirmed his fear, and after two early trips on planes, he never set foot on an airplane again. To travel, he took cars and trains around the U.S., and he took cruise ships on his trips to Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. Quite ironic for the man whose Foundation series has now flown out to deep space, thanks to SpaceX.

12. Isaac Asimov met his second wife at an autograph signing.

Asimov married his first wife, Gertrude—she of the second roller coaster adventure—in 1942 after a six-month courtship, and they had two children together. As he described it, their marriage slowly began to deteriorate: "It's just that annoyances multiply, frictions come slowly to seem irreconcilable, forgiveness comes more reluctantly and with worse grace." Worse grace was right—later on, he partially blamed his wife's smoking habit and rheumatoid arthritis on their split, though he insisted on staying together until their children were older.

In 1956, Asimov was signing autographs at a convention when he met Janet Jeppson, a psychiatrist and fan of his writing. A few years later, they met again at a writers' banquet. They began a friendship and correspondence over the next decade, and when, in 1970, Asimov and Gertrude separated, Jeppson helped him find an apartment in New York just a few blocks from her own. They started dating soon after, and when his divorce was finalized in 1973, Asimov married Janet two weeks later.

13. Isaac Asimov and Jeppson collaborated on numerous writing projects.

Cover of Asimov on his science fiction magazine
CHRISTO DRUMMKOPF, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Asimov collaborated with Jeppson on several sci-fi novels, including the Norby series. While she did most of the writing, he polished her manuscripts and let publishers add his name to the book covers so more copies would sell. In the '70s, Jeppson began writing science fiction novels for children, using the name J.O. Jeppson, and she took over her husband's pop-science column after his death. She also compiled and edited a few of Asimov's memoirs, collecting entries from his journals and excerpts from his letters.

14. Isaac Asimov was infected with HIV during a blood transfusion.

In 1977, Asimov had a heart attack. Six years later, in December 1983, he had a triple bypass surgery, during which he received a blood transfusion. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to doctors, the blood they gave him was infected with HIV. Asimov contracted the virus, and it developed fully into AIDS. He died of heart and kidney failure, caused by AIDS, on April 6, 1992.

15. Isaac Asimov's true cause of death wasn't revealed until 2002.

Although the family considered telling the world Asimov had AIDS, his doctors dissuaded him—the general public was still fearful of HIV and very little was understood about it. His HIV status remained a secret until 2002, a decade after his death, when Janet disclosed it in It's Been A Good Life, a posthumous collection of letters and other writings that she edited. "I argued with the doctors privately about this secrecy, but they prevailed, even after Isaac died," Janet further explained in a letter to Locus Magazine (a science fiction and fantasy publication). "The doctors are dead now, and … Isaac's daughter and I agreed to go public [about] the HIV."

35 Fascinating Facts About Doctor Who

Bradley Wash, Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill, and Tosin Cole star in Doctor Who.
Bradley Wash, Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill, and Tosin Cole star in Doctor Who.
Ben Blackall/BBC America

Since making its BBC debut on November 23, 1963, Doctor Who has entranced several generations of fans (including a few of its future Doctors) with its quirky mix of history and sci-fi. Here are 35 fascinating facts you might not have known about the groundbreaking series.

1. Doctor Who was created as a kids' series.

Peter Capaldi as The Doctor in 'Doctor Who'
Simon Ridgway/BBC America

Though it certainly maintains plenty of pint-sized fans to this day, the original concept for Doctor Who was specifically an educational program aimed at teaching kids about science and history. In an interview with the BBC, Waris Hussein—who, at the age of 24, directed the very first episode of Doctor Who—said that the series “was meant to be educational for kids. We were trying to educate kids about certain things about the human condition.”

2. The Doctor was partly inspired by Sherlock Holmes.

Nothing could be Better'' said Holmes', 1893. Illustration from The Stockbrokers Clerk by Arthur Conan Doyle, published in Strand Magazine March 1893. Artist Sidney E Paget
Historica Graphica Collection/Heritage Images/Getty Images

As one of the most adapted literary characters of all time, it’s hardly surprising that The Doctor shares a few characteristics with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famed detective. According to the BBC, Doctor Who was partly inspired by Sherlock Holmes (and both the Fourth and Eleventh Doctors have even dressed up as him).

3. The Doctor didn't become a "Time Lord" until 1969.


Michael Webb/Keystone/Getty Images

While even the most casual of Doctor Who fans can probably tell you that The Doctor is a “Time Lord,” an ancient alien species that has the power to travel through time, the term itself wasn’t actually used until the series’ sixth season episode “The War Games.” His home planet of Gallifrey wasn’t mentioned by name until 1973.

4. The Doctor may or may not be a doctor.

Patrick Troughton (1920 - 1987), star of the popular British television sci-fi series 'Doctor Who', with members of the BBC's 'Blue Peter' team, 8th December 1967. From left to right, John Noakes, Troughton, Valerie Singleton and Peter Purves. They are so
'Doctor Who' star Patrick Troughton with members of the BBC's 'Blue Peter' team sorting out children's designs for a new alien in 1967.
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Is the Doctor really a doctor? According to the Second Doctor (played by Patrick Troughton), the answer is yes … or at least he thinks so. In the season 4 episode “The Moonbase,” the Doctor’s companion, Polly, asked what audiences had been wondering for years: “Are you a medical doctor?” To which the Doctor replies, “Yes, I think I was once, Polly. I think I took a degree once in Glasgow. 1888 I think.”

5. The First Doctor's health problems led to the regeneration concept.

William Hartnell, who played the First Doctor from 1963 to 1966, was having health problems toward the end of his run on the series. To ensure that the show could go on without its original star, and to avoid enraging viewers who had come to love Hartnell, the showrunners decided that, instead, they would make the ability to regenerate be a part of The Doctor’s mythology.

6. The Doctor's regeneration is supposed to feel like a bad acid trip.

William Hartnell stars in 'Doctor Who' in 1964.
William Hartnell stars in Doctor Who in 1964.
Harry Todd/Getty Images

Years after it was written, an internal BBC memo was uncovered that outlined the “metaphysical change” that would take place as the First Doctor became the Second Doctor. “It is as if he had had the L.S.D. drug,” the memo explained, “and instead of experiencing the kicks, he has the hell and dank horror which can be its effect.”

7. The TARDIS isn’t always supposed to look like a police box.

Lin (CHARLOTTE RITCHIE), The TARDIS, Mitch (NIKESH PATEL) in 'Doctor Who'
Sophie Mutevelian/BBC America

The TARDIS has always looked like a police box, but it turns out that’s only because of a technical malfunction. In “An Unearthly Child,” the pilot episode, we learn that the TARDIS is supposed to blend into whatever time and place it has traveled to. But its cloaking device, known as a chameleon circuit, is broken.

8. Ridley Scott was supposed to design the Daleks.

Ridley Scott circa 1979
A portrait of Ridley Scott circa 1979.
Graham Morris/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Considering what he did with Alien and Blade Runner, seeing what Oscar-nominated director Ridley Scott would have dreamed up for the Daleks would have been pretty fascinating. Unfortunately, we’ll never have the chance. Though Scott, who worked for the BBC at the time of Doctor Who’s creation, was assigned the enviable task of designing the show’s devilish Daleks, he ended up leaving the network to concentrate on becoming a director.

Instead, we have the late Raymond Cusick to thank for the Daleks’ iconic design. "People do say I was inspired by a pepper pot—but I always think 'If that's all it takes to become a designer then it's a doddle,'” Cusick once said of the final design.

9. One of Doctor Who's original creators was not happy about the Daleks.


Mike Lawn/Getty Images

Sydney Newman, the BBC’s then-head of drama and one of Doctor Who’s original creators, was very specific about one thing he did not want to see in the series: “Being a real aficionado of science fiction, I hated stories which used bug-eyed monsters, otherwise known as BEMs,” he recalled. “I write in my memo that there would be no bug-eyed monsters in Doctor Who. And after a few episodes, [producer] Verity Lambert turned up with the Daleks! I bawled her out for it, but she said ‘Honest, Sydney, they’re not bug-eyed monsters—they’re human beings who are so advanced that their bodies have atrophied and they need these casings to manipulate and do the things they want!’ Of course, the Daleks took off and captured everybody’s imagination. Some of the best things I have ever done are the thing I never wanted to do.”

10. Operators controlled the Daleks from inside—and it was no easy task.

An actor inside his Dalek costume on the set of 'Doctor Who' in 1964.
An actor inside his Dalek costume on the set of 'Doctor Who' in 1964.
Ronald Dumont/Express/Getty Images

The Daleks were designed in two parts so that an operator could wedge themselves into the bottom portion in order to operate the device. The space was hot, cramped, and made it difficult to hear anything going on outside the Dalek. “You had to have about six hands: one to do the eyestalk, one to do the light, one for the gun, another for the smoke canister underneath, yet another for the sink plunger” John Scott Martin, one of the original Dalek operators, said. “If you were related to an octopus, then it helped.”

11. The Daleks almost didn't make it into Doctor Who's revival.

When Doctor Who made its triumphant return to television in 2005, it almost happened without the Daleks. The estate of Terry Nation, who created the mutants, had initially attempted to block their return to the new series, claiming that it would “ruin the brand of the Daleks.” At one point, when negotiations between the BBC and Nation’s estate seemed to have broken down, the show’s producers even created a new villain. Fortunately, they were able to work it out.

12. Douglas Adams wrote several episodes of Doctor Who.

Author Douglas Adams poses for a picture in 1985.
Author Douglas Adams poses for a picture in 1985.
Ed Kashi/Liaison/Getty Images

At the same time he was creating episodes of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for BBC Radio 4, Douglas Adams was commissioned to do some writing for Doctor Who. According to Adams, the first episode of The Hitchhiker’s Guide “more or less coincided with the summer period at the BBC, where, in order for anything to get approved, you have to wait for people to come back from whichever beach they're lying on. So that took a long time. While I was kicking my heels, I sent in my pilot episode to the then script editor of Doctor Who, Robert Holmes, who said 'Yes, yes. Like this. Come round and see us.' So we discussed ideas for a bit, and I eventually got commissioned to write four Doctor Who episodes. It took a long time to reach that decision, and then, after all this period of nothing happening, I was suddenly commissioned to write four Doctor Whos and the next five Hitchhikers all at once."

13. Tom Baker had the longest tenure as The Doctor on Doctor Who.

Tom Baker played The Doctor for a record seven years.
Tom Baker played The Doctor for a record seven years.
Michael Putland/Getty Images

Fourth Doctor Tom Baker played the Doctor for seven years and 172 episodes—longer than any other actor. As far as the rebooted series goes, David Tennant holds the record with six years and 47 episodes.

14. The Fourth Doctor hawked computers in the 1980s.

In the 1980s, personal computers were still pretty futuristic. So it makes sense that Prime Computer would enlist Tom Baker, who played the Fourth Doctor from 1974 to 1981, to serve as their spokesperson/spokestimelord. His faithful companion Romana (Lalla Ward) made an appearance, too.

15. It took six years to trademark the TARDIS.


Chris Jackson/Getty Images

In 1996, after years of selling TARDIS-branded merchandise, the BBC attempted to officially trademark The Doctor’s preferred mode of transportation—but the move was met with resistance from the Metropolitan Police, as the time-travel machine is essentially a police box. Six years later, in 2002, the BBC finally won the case, while the Metropolitan Police were ordered to pay £850, plus legal costs.

16. David Tennant became an actor with the specific goal of playing the Doctor.

David Tennant stars in 'Broadchurch'
Colin Hutton, BBC America

When the Tenth Doctor was just a kid, he knew exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up: the star of Doctor Who. It was Tom Baker’s version of The Doctor in particular that inspired David Tennant to become an actor. He carried around a Doctor Who doll and wrote Who-inspired essays at school. "Doctor Who was a massive influence," Tennant told Rolling Stone. "I think it was for everyone in my generation; growing up, it was just part of the cultural furniture in Britain in the '70s and '80s."

17. Peter Capaldi was a major Whovian, too (and wouldn't leave the BBC alone).

Peter Capaldi at 'Doctor Who' panel during 2017 Comic-Con International in San Diego.
Peter Capaldi at 'Doctor Who' panel during 2017 Comic-Con International in San Diego.
Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi was obsessed with the series as a kid, too. As a teenager, he created a ton of Doctor Who fan art and even managed to get some of it published. More than 40 years before he became The Doctor, some BBC staffers already knew his name—because he used to inundate them with letters requesting production photos and begging to be named president of the show’s fan club.

“He haunted my time running the fan club, as he was quite indignant he wasn’t considered for the post,” recalled Sarah Newman, an assistant to the show’s producer at the time, who was forced to tell the teenage future-Doctor that they had already named a president.

18. Catherine Zeta-Jones could have been The Doctor.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Though Jodie Whittaker is the series' first official female Doctor, she's not the first actress to be considered for the role. Back in the 1980s, Sydney Newman had an idea for how to revitalize the show: regenerate the Time Lord into a Time Lady. For years, the show’s producers have toyed with the idea of making The Doctor a woman. In 2008, showrunner Russell Davies broached the idea yet again, citing Catherine Zeta-Jones as his top pick to replace Tennant.

19. Benedict Cumberbatch and Hugh Grant both turned down the chance to play The Doctor.

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch of 'The Fifth Estate' poses at the Guess Portrait Studio during 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on September 6, 2013 in Toronto, Canada
Larry Busacca, Getty Images

Catherine Zeta-Jones isn’t the only famous could’ve-been Doctor: Hugh Grant was offered the role of The Doctor when the show was being revitalized, but reportedly turned it down because he worried it wouldn’t be a hit. Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch also said no. “David and I talked about it but I thought it would have to be radically different,” Cumberbatch said.

20. Matt Smith auditioned to play Sherlock's Dr. Watson a week before auditioning for Doctor Who.

Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch star in 'Sherlock'
BBC

Though Cumberbatch was always the first and only choice for Sherlock’s lead role, a number of actors—including Matt Smith—auditioned to play his sidekick, Dr. John Watson. Smith auditioned for the role just about a week before he went in and read for the Eleventh Doctor. Fortunately, the latter worked out for him. (Steven Moffat was the showrunner on both Doctor Who and Sherlock, though Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall took over those duties beginning with season 11.)

21. The Eleventh Doctor was originally supposed to have a buccaneer-inspired look.


Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Matt Smith’s professorial tweed jacket and bow tie ensemble are now pretty iconic in the Doctor Who universe, but it took a while to land on that look. The costume department tested a lot of different looks (you can see photos here), though everyone eventually agreed that the geek chic bow tie look worked for him.

22. The Eleventh Doctor’s look created a demand for bow ties.

While Matt Smith, as the Eleventh Doctor, was finding his look in his first episode, he declared that “bow ties are cool”—and he was clearly on to something. In 2010, British-based retailer Topman said that "Since the new Doctor Who aired, we have seen a dramatic rise in bow tie sales, in the last month up sales have increased by 94 percent.”

23. There's an asteroid named after the TARDIS.

Matt Smith stars in 'Doctor Who'
BBC

On May 3, 1984, Brian A. Skiff discovered a new asteroid: Asteroid 3325 TARDIS, which he named for The Doctor’s police box time machine.

24. Jodie Whittaker was Chris Chibnall's first choice to play the Thirteenth Doctor.

Jodie Whittaker stars as The Thirteenth Doctor in 'Doctor Who'
Sophie Mutevelian, BBC

Jodie Whittaker wasn't the only newcomer to the 11th season of Doctor Who: Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall, who worked with Whittaker for years and has written for the sci-fi series in the past, was tapped as the show’s new showrunner. While it’s always a big deal when the Doctor regenerates on Doctor Who, Chibnall made it clear that he wanted the next Doctor to be a woman. And Whittaker quickly rose to the very top of his list of the very few actors who could pull the role off.

"I always knew I wanted the Thirteenth Doctor to be a woman, and we’re thrilled to have secured our number choice," Chibnall said when Whittaker's casting was announced. "Jodie is a force of nature and will bring loads of wit, strength, and warmth to the role."

25. Jodie Whittaker doesn't think she was an obvious choice to play the Thirteenth Doctor.

Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor and Haley McGee as Dorothy Skerrit in 'Doctor Who.'
Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor and Haley McGee as Dorothy Skerrit in Doctor Who.
Ben Blackall/BBC Studios/BBC America

Because so much of Whittaker's past work has been dramatic in nature, Whittaker is pretty sure that it was only because Chris Chibnall knew her offscreen personality that she was even considered for the part.

“If Chris had only known my work, I don't think he would've necessarily thought of me as right for the role, because a lot of my work has been emotional or heavily traumatized, with a quite heavy energy,” Whittaker told TV Guide. “But in real life, I'm quite hyperactive and manic. So I think he saw qualities in me that lent themselves to the role. I was lucky that he knew me personally, and knew that I was a team player and I really enjoyed being part of an ensemble, and I really love filming and being on set. You need someone who enjoys the job, because it's long hours.”

26. Jodie Whittaker's first episode was the most watched Doctor Who episode in more than 10 years.

When Jodie Whittaker made her official debut as The Doctor in the fall of 2018, approximately 9 million people tuned in to watch—making it the highest rated Doctor Who episode in more than a decade. Only Christopher Eccleston’s debut—which was the debut of the series’ reboot—beat Whittaker’s numbers (9.9 million tuned into that).

27. A 1979 episode is the most watched Doctor Who episode ever.

City Of Death,” which aired in October 1979 and featured the Fourth Doctor, boasted an amazing 16 million viewers. “Voyage of the Damned,” the 2007 Christmas episode starring Kylie Minogue opposite David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor, came in second with 13.31 million viewers.

28. A 2008 episode of Doctor Who featured both a future Doctor and a future companion.

Actors Karen Gillan and Matt Smith at a Los Angeles signing for 'Doctor Who' in 2011.
Actors Karen Gillan and Matt Smith at a Los Angeles signing for Doctor Who in 2011.
Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

The 2008 episode “The Fires of Pompeii,” which recreated the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, was notable for two of its guest stars: Peter Capaldi played a sculptor named Caecilius, while Karen Gillan—who played the beloved companion to Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor—was cast as a soothsayer.

29. Caitlin Blackwood, who played the young Amy Pond, is Karen Gillan’s cousin.

Caitlin Blackwood

was just nine years old when she famously played the younger version of the Eleventh Doctor’s beloved companion Amy Pond. If you noticed a resemblance between Blackwood and Karen Gillan, who played the adult version of Amy, it might be because the two actors are cousins (though the first time they ever met was during an on-set table read).

30. A proposed Doctor Who movie, starring Michael Jackson, was abandoned.


Getty Images

In the late 1980s, at the height of Michael Jackson mania, Paramount Pictures proposed a Doctor Who movie that would see The King of Pop play a Time Lord. Obviously, and unfortunately, this never happened.

31. The Tenth Doctor married The Fifth Doctor's daughter, who played the Tenth Doctor's daughter.

Confused? In 2011, David Tennant married Georgia Moffett, who played his artificially created daughter, Jenny, in the 2008 episode “The Doctor’s Daughter.” In real life, Moffett really is The Doctor’s daughter; her father is Peter Davison, who played the Fifth Doctor from 1981 to 1984.

32. More than 100 Doctor Who episodes are lost.

William Hartnell and Jacqueline Hill in a 1964 episode of Doctor Who.
William Hartnell and Jacqueline Hill in a 1964 episode of Doctor Who.
Moore/Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, archiving media was a much more difficult—and physical—process. As a result, more than 100 episodes of the show’s original incarnation were deleted, destroyed, or otherwise lost. Fortunately, the series’ fan base has been able to step in and help, providing the network with their own personal copies to help rebuild the Doctor Who library.

33. The original Doctor Who pilot was among the missing episodes.

Initially, it seemed as if the very first episode of Doctor Who was one of the many that had been lost to time. However, in 1978 it was fortunately rediscovered in a mislabeled film can.

34. Several Doctor Who words have made it into the dictionary.


Frank Barratt/Getty Images

In 2017, sonic screwdriver was added to the Oxford English Dictionary, which defined it as "a (hand-held) electronic device which uses sound waves to perform various mechanical and technical functions. Originally and chiefly in (or in reference to) the British television series Doctor Who." It’s not the only one of the show’s phrases to make it into the OED: TARDIS, Dalek, and Cyberman are in there, too.

35. Only a few people know The Doctor's real name.

Jenna Coleman, who plays companion Clara Oswald, poses with the TARDIS in 2014.
Jenna Coleman, who plays companion Clara Oswald, poses with the TARDIS in 2014.
Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Though audiences only know him as The Doctor, the Time Lord does have a real name and a few people do know it, including The Master, River Song (the Doctor’s wife), and longtime companion Clara Oswald.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER