The first episode of Doctor Who aired on BBC November 23rd 1963, or 50 years ago today. It starred William Hartnell as the first of several actors to play the Doctor, a Time Lord who travels through space in time, currently being played by Matt Smith. The show is a national institution and a cultural phenomenon in its native Britain. It's the longest running science fiction television show in the world with 33 total seasons and nearly 800 episodes aired. The show ran from 1963-1989 with a TV film airing in 1996. The current incarnation of the show, which debut in 2005 and informally dubbed as "New Who," brought the Doctor and his adventures to a whole new generation.
For myself, I have only seen New Who with the Doctor being played by Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, and Matt Smith. John Hurt will be playing a "version" of the Doctor in the 50th Anniversary Special titled "The Day of the Doctor" which will air live worldwide in a couple of hour while Peter Capaldi will take over the role next season making him 12 or 13 depending on what transpires in today's episode.
Is it a perfect show? Hardly. But its longevity and cultural reach really is something to be admired. The stars is its limits. Below is "The Night of the Doctor," the prequel mini episode to the Anniversary Special starring the Doctor, though not the one anyone expected: