Today marks fifteen years since the broadcast of Rose, the first episode of Doctor Who in the twenty-first century. We look back on that special day, and how it began a huge new start for the show.
Fifteen years. What an extremely long time. While it’s just a couple of years more than half the Classic Series, that’s still longer than most TV series last. So the fact that the New Series of Doctor Who is still going after all this time is simply amazing.
And of course, it’s changed so much over the years. We’ve seen five Doctors with their own series; many companions; countless enemies both old and new. We’ve had three showrunners, twelve series, three spin-offs, and so many stories. And that doesn’t even begin to cover the number of books, comics, and audios based on the New Series alone. There is no question that the New Series has been a success in its own right.
However, it’s important to remember that there was never any guarantee of that. While there had been a lot of excitement around the return of Doctor Who – the first full season on television in over fifteen years – there was also trepidation too. No one knew for sure whether or not it would be successful.
Would it be too different from the Classic Series? Would it be too similar and fail to appeal to a modern audience? After more than fifteen years since the end of the original series, one failed attempt to bring it back in 1996, and five years after the Millennium, we had to ask ourselves: did Doctor Who truly belong in the twenty-first century?
A new beginning
Thankfully, after the broadcast of Rose, the answer was a definite “yes”. While I think many of us can agree that Rose isn’t exactly the best episode of the New Series, it did its job well, at least. Specifically, of establishing a brand new era for the show.
The story by Russell T Davies was light, but that allowed him to establish the new characters. Particularly Rose Tyler, who represented the audience’s eyes and ears. This was a great way of “refreshing” the show, without simply rebooting it. Christopher Eccleston was the Ninth Doctor, not the First, and there were even hints of a recent regeneration.
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But the audience who hadn’t grown up with the Classic Series (ie most of the millions watching it) didn’t need to know any of that. Through Rose’s eyes, it was all brand new. The series had a sense of magic to it. It was new. It was exciting. And it would lead to an era that would become at least as greatly loved as any that came before it, perhaps even more so.
And it all started with Rose. So thank you, Russell T Davies, for reviving a much-loved series in a big way. Thank you Billie Piper, for making Rose so likable and helping to set a high standard for the modern companions. And of course, thank you, Christopher Eccleston. While your run on the show was far too brief, you helped to redefine the Doctor for the twenty-first century in a big way, while still remaining true to what made the character so lovable in the first place. Thank you all for giving the New Series a beginning so fantastic, that we’re still talking about it fifteen years later. Here’s hoping that Doctor Who continues for a long time to come.
Did you watch Rose when it was broadcast fifteen years ago? Did it make you into a brand new fan of Doctor Who, or had you been watching the show for years before that point? Let us know in the comments below.