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Experience Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary

story by Laura Gjovaag Slightly more than 50 years ago, a Canadian television producer had an idea for a family-friendly science fiction show that could fill a Saturday time slot on the BBC... 50 years later the show is considered a British institution and has fans around the world. The show, “Doctor Who,” was originally conceived by Sydney Newman, a Canadian working for the BBC. It was also notable for being initially produced by Verity Lambert, the only female producer at the corporation in 1963. “Doctor Who” is about a time traveler who visits places throughout time and space using a time machine that is bigger on the inside than the outside. The Doctor, the main character, also takes along other people on the adventures, which tend to be exciting and dangerous. The show ran 26 years on the BBC before being canceled in 1989. An American company produced a TV movie in 1996. Then in 2005 the series was relaunched to rave reviews. Filmed in Cardiff, Wales, the show has led to a very popular tourist attraction, The Doctor Who Experience. This weekend, on Saturday, Nov. 23, the show will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a special episode that will be shown in movie theaters throughout the United States at the same time it airs on British television. In Seattle, the Experience Music Project Museum will be holding a celebration starting at 7 p.m.

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The time machine in “Doctor Who,” called the TARDIS, took the form of a British police telephone box, a common sight in 1963 but very rare nowadays. Police boxes gave officers a way to communicate with headquarters before radios came into common use. This police box is a prop on display at The Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff, Wales.

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This alternate TARDIS console was created by a fan in a contest, then used in a “Doctor Who” story written by author Neil Gaiman.

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Other props available to see at The Doctor Who Experience include the Doctor’s crib, from a 2011 episode of the show.

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The Daleks, robotic creatures that yell “Exterminate!” a lot, are the main foes of the Doctor in the TV series. The Daleks first showed up in the fifth episode of the show in 1963 and sparked a mania in Britain. They eventually helped the show get two spin-off movies starring Peter Cushing.

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Another main villain of “Doctor Who” is the Cybermen. The concept of the Cybermen is that a human-like race slowly replaced all body parts with robotics. They were first created for the show in 1966. This display is from a 2013 episode of the series.

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A costume for Madame Vastra is part of a back-office display at The Doctor Who Experience. The display shows what the offices of the BBC staff would look like during the production season of a series of “Doctor Who”.

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