The big day has arrived for all ′Who-vians′ out there. This week marks the 50th anniversary of the BBC sci-fi hit TV show, ′Dr. Who′. All week long, BBC America has been playing episodes and other specials, leading up to today′s airing of ′The Day of the Doctor.′ So how did a low-budget TV show about a Gallifreyan Time Lord traveling the universe in his TARDIS, shaped like an old British police box, become such an iconic part of our culture? You don′t need a sonic screwdriver to find out…

Dr Who 50th anniversary

Dr. Who premiered on the BBC TV back on November 22, 1963. Unfortunately, the series launch became obscured due to the JFK assassination. The second part of the plot was to air two days after, but producers convinced the BBC to replay the first episode again. The show got off to a slow start, but when the world was introduced to the evil Daleks, a species that had integrated themselves inside robotic machines, the series began to draw huge audiences of 10 million viewers. The Doctor, his companions and TARDIS were off to a stellar success!

As a Time Lord, the Doctor could regenerate when killed up to twelve times. The series changed often as each new actor playing him appeared. Most Americans became familiar with Dr. Who during his 4th incarnation, played by Tom Baker, most noted for his mile-long scarf. PBS would air the show usually late on Friday nights along with Monty Python′s Flying Circus. During pledge drives, PBS would air full plot-lines, sometimes involving 3 to 4 episodes, with breaks to raise money. I even coughed up $25 once to get a TARDIS thermal coffee mug where the TARDIS would disappear when hot beverages were poured in.

The series ended for a while back in 1989 with the 7th Doctor, played by Sylvester McCoy. He returned for the opening scene of a 1996 TV-movie version where he was gunned down by street thugs and regenerated again, this by played by Paul McGann. After 9 years, the series made its big comeback starring Christopher Eccelston as the 9th Doctor. He was followed by David Tennant and Matt Smith, both of which will star in today′s special episode along with John Hurt, slated to play the original Doctor in an upcoming, big screen movie version. The newest Doctor will be played by Peter Capaldi, whom will make his debut next month in the annual Dr. Who Christmas special.

So break out the sonic screwdrivers and warm up your TARDIS! Today will be a full day of fun as the BBC celebrates the Dr. Who 50th anniversary with the special episode, The Day of the Doctor. You don′t need to be a Time Lord from Gallifrey to participate. Just keep your eyes open for any stray Daleks running about.