Doctor Who

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Doctor Who first graced television screens in the United Kingdom in November of 1963. By the time it went off the air in December of 1989, there was a thriving and active fan fiction community based on the show. Things like professional novel tie-ins, a 30th anniversary special in 1993, a made-for-television film in 1996 and a new show airing in 2005 kept the fandom alive and moving.

The Show

Created in 1963 by The BBC, Doctor Who chronicles the life and adventures of a mysterious alien called "The Doctor", who belongs to a race of super-intelligent, humanoid beings called "Time Lords" from a planet called "Gallifrey" and his friends (usually referred to as 'assistants' or 'companions') he meets along the way as they travel through universe in his time machine/space ship called a TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space), which is permanently stuck with the exterior of a British police call box. The series is made as a serious Science Fiction/Drama, but it has captured the minds and hearts of millions around the world thanks to its quirkiness and limited budget. It was originally created as a show for children, but it appeals to both children and adults.

Canon Related Timeline

The 1960s

The 1970s

The 1980s

The 1990s

The 2000s


Below is a list of terms and their definitions that are used in this fan community.

This section needs more information.


Below is a partial timeline of events that took place in the Doctor Who fandom.





  • "The first Panopticon was held in 1977" [17]. For many years, this was one of the largest Doctor Who conventions held worldwide. [18]



1983 to 1985



  • "The mid 1980s has been described by some fans as "the golden age of A5 fanzines", as this period saw an explosion of activity, particularly in the UK." [23]


1987 to 1993


  • "The earliest known use of 'Whovian', outside of the 'Whovian Times', is from Flaming Carrot Comics issue number 19 (circa 1988), when Flaming Carrot leads a combined group of Trekkies and Dr. Whovians into rebellion - note the now deprecated usage of 'Dr.'." [27]















Google Trends information from January 2006
Google Trends information from 2006


Doctor Who: Blog references for the past six months as of December 30, 2007


Chart showing frequency of people searching for Doctor Who in the United States in January 2008.
The long-running campy BBC TV series Doctor Who is back on the airwaves after a 15-year absence, and the U.S. fan base is growing rapidly. This weekend, hundreds of fans will gather in Los Angeles for Gallifrey One, the biggest Doctor Who convention in the country.
"The Time Meddlers [fan club] has gotten a lot of new fans coming to our doors since the new show came on," says Aaron Cistrelli, president of the 20-year-old Los Angeles-based Time Meddlers. [80][81]


  • The first Doctor Who Locations Tours are launched covering Cardiff.[90] London [91] and England and Wales [92]


This section needs more information.


This section needs more information.

Fan Art

This section needs more information.

Avatars and Icons

The icon community in the Doctor Who largely evolved from LiveJournal giving users the ability to have multiple icons to express themselves when they post. Prior to that, icon making had mostly been confined to AOL Instant Messenger. The size of AIM icons was prohibitive in terms of creating a large art based icon community around them. Icon making had caught on in the Doctor Who fandom by 2004, when, on April 5, 2004, dwicons was created. [93]


Livejournal hosts the communities 'Ihasatardis' for Doctor Who macros asn 'Ihasastopwatch' for macros about its spinoff torchwood.

Fan Clubs

Motor City TARDIS was a Detroit area Doctor Who fan club which existed from the late 1980s through 2002.

TARDAA (Time and Relative Dimensions in Ann Arbor) was a Doctor Who fan club based in University of Michigan - Ann Arbor. The club existed in the 1980s through the early 1990s. The club met on campus every Tuesday night and the occasional Saturday for video marathons. Tuesday meetings alternated between watching Doctor Who and other British series like Red Dwarf, Blake's 7, The Prisoner and Robin of Sherwood. The club also published the fanzine "The Console Room," a multi-media gen zine that focused primarily on Doctor Who fan fiction.

Time Lords of the Great Lakes was a Detroit area Doctor Who fan club which preceded Motor City TARDIS. Formed in 1983, the club had monthly meetings in the Detroit suburbs and the Ypsilanti-Ann Arbor area. The group existed through most of the 1980s.

Fan Fiction

Fans, like Nikki White, had begun to write fan fiction based on the show during its first season on television. (White) The stories these early writers created remained in their drawers or were privately distributed by hand. It would be a number of years before they would be published in fanzines. One of the influences in getting them out of the drawers was the influence of Star Trek fans. By the 1970s, they were clearly a force in the community.

By the early 1980s, Star Trek fen had migrated to the Doctor Who. In doing so, they brought with them publishing traditions, critique habits and their terminology. This included use of the term Mary Sue, the concept of slash, etc.

Graeme Burk offered a synopsis of the 1990s Doctor Who fan fiction community in the article Doctor Who Fandom: An A to Z dated July 20, 2000:

During the 1990s, the authors of the various forms of Doctor Who fiction alone are responsible for Doctor Who as we know it these days. As it's a form of Doctor Who without actors, directors, set designers, etc., the authors alone get to be in the limelight for making the series continue to happen in some form. At US conventions, in fact, they were treated like rock stars by fans, which can explain the yearly migration from Heathrow Airport to a hotel in Van Nuys, California every February. On-line and off, fans are enchanted by the authorial community's seeming foreignness, their charm and the fact that one of their own (more or less their own age) has managed to directly influence the ongoing story of "official" Doctor Who. Fans collect their books, defer the balances of power on newsgroups over to them, and follow them on-line as virtual groupies. More than all this, though, fans want to be them, and they keep sending their scribblings chock full of angst and continuity to the last Lawrence Miles book to the slush pile in Wood Lane in the hope that they too can receive adulation via e-mail and a hospitality suite at the Airtel Plaza Hotel.

See also Doctor Who fan fiction for additional information.


During the 1980s, multi-fandom zines were circulating. If a fan wanted to read a story from their particular fandom, they may well have to read the story in a zine that contained stories outside their fandom. According to Langley, this would often gateway fans into other communities, creating in them an interest that would lead them to seek out the source material. This would help a number of fandoms including Battlestar Galactica, Blake's 7, Dark Shadows, Doctor Who, Man from UNCLE, Star Trek, Star Wars and others.

By 1993, this fandom was represented in the saffic zine community when Sappho was a published. There was a follow up, Sappho 2, published 1995. The zines were published by Melissa Mastoris. Fandoms includes in this saffic fanzine included Blake's 7, Doctor Who, Cagney and Lacey, Star Trek, Fried Green Tomatos, Carmen San Diego, Batman: The Animated Series, Wonder Woman, X-men and others. (

Graeme Burk offered summed up the 35th anniversary of Doctor Who fanzines in the article Doctor Who Fandom: An A to Z dated July 20, 2000:

This year, 2000 will mark the 35th Anniversary of Doctor Who fanzines. Generations have gotten high on gestetner fumes, dirty with photocopy toner, lost thumbs from exacto-knifing artwork and developed carpal tunnel syndrome from desktop publishing. And 35 years on, whether as a print or on-line publication, it's still the best place to read what fans are thinking and still the best forum to organize fans. And as long as we're producing zines, there is still things to talk about this beloved television series of ours. And as long as there's still things to talk about, there will still be fandom.

See also Doctor Who fanzines for a list of Doctor Who fanzines published by year.

The Internet

Graeme Burk explained Doctor Who's move to the Internet in the article Doctor Who Fandom: An A to Z dated July 20, 2000:

Here's another joke: "Why was the Internet invented? So computer lab geeks could discuss Star Trek when the original series was on the air the first time". Okay, it's a bit lame, but the links between Doctor Who and the net date back as far as when the original networks came to full bloom 15 years ago. Internet fandom is perhaps the most powerful voice fandom has right now. With the TV series still Missing in Action, they have ways of influencing the series as it exists right now as never before. 15 years ago, you could write BBC Worldwide all you like, you weren't going to get the episodes you wanted on video any sooner. Last year, Worldwide pulled a big-ticket box set of remastered early Hartnell episodes in part due to fan complaints on rec.arts.drwho. Robert Holmes wrote to entertain a faceless mass equalling near 12 million people. Today's novelists and audio writers can receive direct response to their work before during and after its publications by fans through e-mail, newsgroups and mailing lists. Whole novels in 1999 were seemingly produced primarily to answer debates on the r.a.dw newsgroup. And yet, in spite of the Internet being a powerful tool to influence the series, it seems to also propagate divisions and factions within fandom faster than anything else.


There is a sizable Doctor Who community on LiveJournal. The existence of the community predate September 16, 2002, when one of the first Doctor Who LiveJournal communities, doctorwho [94], was created. Since that time, the size of the population has exploded. A contributing factor was that some people on mailing list migrated away from them and to LiveJournal.

By 2005, the community began to organize more cohesively on LiveJournal with a number of ship specific, character specific and general communities. Some of this was tied together through newsletters like who_daily which was created on December 28, 2005. [95]

See also Doctor Who LiveJournal communities and Doctor Who fan fiction: LiveJournal.

Mailing Lists

Mailing lists began to appear in the Doctor Who fandom prior to 1998, often run on private, university run servers. Mailing lists served to bring together fans from different parts of the world and to cater to specific needs in the Doctor Who fandom.

The creation of such services as Coollists, Topica, egroups, Yahoo!Groups and Google groups meant that anyone could easily create mailing lists for their specific niche interest, for when they got annoyed at other lists or people in the fandom, or as a way to communicate with their circle of acquaintances in fandom. These services began to get popular in fandom in 1998.

See also Doctor Who mailing list timeline.

Influential fanworks

This section needs more information.

See also Influential Stories for a list of influential Doctor Who fan fiction.

Fandom Members


The following is a partial list of Doctor Who fanzine contributors who later went on to be involved professionally with Doctor Who.

Fandom Size

This section needs more information.

See also:

External Links

Meta discussion

See also


Lofficier, Jean-Marc (1989) Doctor Who; The Programme Guide


Below is a partial list of articles and academic sources to help you continue to learn about this community.

  • Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth By Camille Bacon-Smith. [104]
  • Dadds, Kimberley. "Harry Potter Fan Fiction Phenomenon." Digital Spy 9 July 2007. 10 July 2007 <>.
  • Jenkins, Henry. Textual Poachers: Television Fans & Participatory Culture. New York: Routledge. 1992.
  • Jenkins, Henry & Tulloch, John (1995). Chapter 6 - ‘But why is Doctor Who so attractive?’. Science Fiction Audiences, 1 (3), 108-124. Retrieved February 14, 2008, from
  • Jenkins, Henry & Tulloch, John (1995). Chapter 4 - Throwing a little bit of poison into future generations’. Science Fiction Audiences, 1 (3), 67-85. Retrieved February 14, 2008, from
  • McKee, A. (2004) ‘How to tell the difference between production and consumption: A case study in Doctor Who Fandom’, Cult Television, S. Gwenllian-Jones and R.E. Pearson, eds., Minneapolis:University of Minnesota Press, 167-185

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