Today sees Royal Mail celebrate the 50th anniversary of the world’s longest running science fiction series in TV history – Doctor Who – with the launch of a special set of 11 stamps.
The stamps feature each of the actors who have played the role of the Time Lord over the last 50 years. The stamp design sees the faces of each Doctor appearing out of the iconic swirling screen idents, made famous by the opening credits of the TV show. The first two stamps are in black and white, as the first two incarnations of the Doctor were broadcast in monochrome.
In addition to the 11 stamps featuring the Doctors, a five stamp miniature sheet will also be available. In the centre of the sheet is a stamp featuring the Doctor’s space and time travelling machine, the world famous Time and Relative Dimension in Space or the TARDIS as it is more commonly known. The remaining four stamps feature some of the Doctor’s most famous foes; a Dalek, a Cyberman, an Ood and a Weeping Angel.
Doctor Who – Stamp by stamp
1st Class – The Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith
With his trademark tweed jacket and bow tie Matt Smith was the youngest actor appointed to play the role. Regenerating from David Tennant in the 2010 Christmas special, Smith’s Doctor’s original companions were Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and her boyfriend Rory (Arthur Darvill) until 2012. His present companion is Clara (Jenna-Louise Colman). The series marked the return of the Silurians, new villains like the Silence and regular appearances of Alex Kingston as the Doctor’s wife River Song.
1st Class – The Tenth Doctor David Tennant
Kitted out in a slim fitting pinstripe suit, long brown coat, spiky hair and trainers Tennant’s Doctor was a garrulous extravert with a tendency to babble. He also had a darker more ruthless side when dealing with enemies. Regenerating from Christopher Eccleston at the end of the 2005 series, Tennant’s Doctor’s companions were Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) and Donna Noble (Catherine Tate). Returning villains included the Cybermen, Dalek leader Davros and the Master alongside new aliens like the Ood and the Weeping Angels.
1st Class – The Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston
With his leather jacket, jeans and Northern accent Eccleston’s Doctor was a radical departure from previous incarnations. He ushered in the rebooted 2005 series, with his companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) at his side and a brand new TARDIS set. The series also saw the reintroduction of the Daleks and the Autons alongside new villains like the Slitheen.
1st Class – The Eighth Doctor Paul McGann
Taking on the role for the 1996 made-for-television film, McGann’s Doctor regenerates in a San Francisco hospital mortuary after being caught in a gangland shooting. The Doctor fought his old enemy the Master for the fate of the earth on Millennium Eve, and shared a kiss with Dr. Grace Holloway (Daphne Ashbrook). Although critically well received, this one off adventure was ultimately unsuccessful as a pilot for a new series
1st Class – The Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy
McCoy played the Doctor from 1987 to the series cancellation in 1989. This Doctor began as an outwardly bumbling eccentric with the habit of playing the spoons, but developed into a cunning manipulator of his enemies. His assistants were Mel (Bonnie Langford) and later Ace (Sophie Aldred). McCoy made a brief appearance as the 7th Doctor in the 1996 TV Movie before regenerating into Paul McGann.
1st Class – The Sixth Doctor Colin Baker
Kitted out in a multi-coloured frock coat, yellow trousers and orange spats Baker’s Doctor was bombastic and overbearing egoist. However, beneath this brash exterior he retained a strong sense of morality and empathy. Playing the role between 1984 and 1986 he was assisted by Peri (Nicola Brown) and Mel (Bonnie Langford) and was put on trial by his own people, the Time Lords.
1st Class – The Fifth Doctor Peter Davison
Davison took on the role between 1981 and 1984. His costume was based on an Edwardian cricketers’ outfit, down to the cricket ball carried in his pocket. More of a team player than previous Doctors, Davison was assisted by Adric (Matthew Waterhouse), Nyssa (Sarah Sutton), air hostess Tegan (Janet Fielding), alien assassin Turlough (Mark Strickson), the android Kamelion (Gerald Flood) and Peri (Nicola Bryant).
1st Class – The Fourth Doctor Tom Baker
The longest serving incarnation of the Doctor to date, Tom Baker played the role from 1974 to 1981. A tall figure with boggling eyes and wild curly hair, Baker’s Doctor favoured an absurdly long scarf and a frock coat with pockets stuffed full of useful junk and bags of jelly babies. Brooding and eccentric, Baker’s Doctor is the one most frequently referenced in popular culture. His assistants included Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen), Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter), the savage Leela (Louise Jameson), robot dog K-9, Time Lord Romana (Mary Tamm and Lalla Ward), Adric (Matthew Waterhouse), Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) and air hostess Tegan (Janet Fielding).
1st Class – The Third Doctor Jon Pertwee
Between 1970 and 1974, Pertwee’s Doctor was a 1970s dandy in frilled shirts and velvet suits, and the first Doctor to be filmed in colour. He was also a bit of an action man. Stranded on Earth and forced to regenerate as a punishment by the Time Lords, Pertwee’s Doctor worked with the military taskforce UNIT to save the planet from creatures like the Autons, Silurians, Sea Devils, Sontarans and renegade Time Lord the Master. He was assisted by Liz Shaw (Caroline John), Jo Grant (Katy Manning) and journalist Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen).
1st Class – The Second Doctor Patrick Troughton
Regenerating from William Hartnell in The Tenth Planet, Troughton’s tenure as the Doctor between 1966 and 1969 saw the show move towards faster paced stories with more monsters. Often described as a cosmic hobo, Troughton’s Doctor favoured a baggy suit and bow tie and often played the penny whistle. During his travels he was assisted by Polly (Anneke Wills), sailor Ben Jackson (Michael Craze), Highlander Jamie (Frazer Hines), Victoria (Deborah Watling) and future astro-physicist Zoe (Wendy Padbury).
1st Class – The First Doctor William Hartnell
From the show’s start in 1963 through to 1966, Hartnell played the Doctor as an irascible old man in Edwardian dress. Initially accompanied by his granddaughter Susan (Carol Ann Ford) and her teachers Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) and Ian (William Russell) their adventures through time and space were intended to educate young viewers about history and science. The introduction of the Daleks in the second serial secured the show’s success, leading to it becoming on the world’s longest running science fiction series. Hartnell’s Doctor later met the Cybermen and was joined by orphan Vicki (Maureen O’Brien), space pilot Steven Taylor (Peter Purves), ancient Trojan Katerina (Adrienne Hill), Sara Kingdom (Jean Marsh), Dodo Chaplet (Jackie Lane), Polly (Anneke Wills) and sailor Ben Jackson (Michael Craze).
Doctor Who Miniature Sheet – Stamp by stamp
1st Class – TARDIS
The TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) is the Doctor’s ship, capable of travelling anywhere in space and time. A product of Time Lord technology, the interior of the ship is much larger than its exterior. The Doctor’s TARDIS is an unreliable, obsolete TT Type 40, Mark 3 TARDIS with a faulty chameleon circuit, stuck in the shape of a mid-twentieth century police telephone box.
2nd Class – The Ood
Humanoid in appearance, but with tentacles on the lower portions of their faces, the Ood speak through a translator device: a small sphere connected to their “mouths” by a tube. The tube originally connected their bodies to a hive brain, but in the far future, a cruel human organisation isolated them from the brain and used them as a slave race. Their first appearance was in The Impossible Planet, 2006.
2nd Class – Cyberman
The Cybermen were originally humanoids originating on Earth’s twin planet Mondas. They implanted more and more artificial parts into their bodies leaving them coldly logical and calculating cyborgs, with every emotion deleted from their minds. Their first appearance was in The Tenth Planet in 1966. The Cybermen returned as a parallel universe version in the 2006 two-part story, Rise of the Cybermen and The Age of Steel, and have been recurring villains in the revived series ever since.
2nd Class – Weeping Angel
The Weeping Angels are an ancient race of aliens that feed off the time energy created by sending their victims back in time. When they are not being observed by another being, they can move very quickly and silently, but when they are being watched, they become “quantum-locked”, occupying a single position in space and becoming stone. If two Weeping Angels look at each other at the same time, they are trapped in stone form until an outside force moves them apart, so they cover their eyes while moving, giving the impression that they are weeping. Their first appearance was in Blink in 2007
2nd Class – Dalek
Bent on dominating the Universe the Daleks were created on the planet Skaro by the crazed scientist Davros when he implanted mutant Kaled bodies into tank-like robotic shells during the thousand-year war between the Kaleds and the Thals. They have had every emotion purged except hate, leaving them with the desire to purge the Universe of all non-Dalek life. They are popularly known for their catchphrase “Exterminate!” and are a well-recognised reference point in British popular culture. The Daleks first appeared in 1963’s The Daleks.
Bonus Doctor Who
In 1999 Royal Mail released The Entertainers’ Tale issue, which included a 44p value stamp showing a Dalek from Doctor Who. Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury, footballer Bobby Moore and film star Charlie Chaplin were also featured on stamps in this issue.
The Royal Mail Archive holds this photo showing two Daleks trying to board the Sittingbourne Postbus, and being rather challenged by the step up into the vehicle! We think that these galactic conquerors were at large in Sittingbourne because it was the home of Doctor Who writer Terry Nation, the man who created the Daleks.
The Doctor Who stamps are available online at www.royalmail.com/stamps, by phoning Royal Mail on 08457 641 641, and in 9,000 Post Office branches across the UK.