Since 1966, the key component to the ongoing success of Doctor Who is the concept of change. When William Hartnell was no longer able or willing to play the role of the Doctor in the popular time travel series, it was revealed the character could “change” into a totally different person with the exact same memories. And now, on New Year’s Eve, all the classic Doctor Who regeneration stories will be streaming back-to-back.
Starting on December 31, the streaming service BritBox will be grouping regenerations stories featuring the 2nd Doctor (Patrick Troughton), the 3rd Doctor (Jon Pertwee), the 4th Doctor(Tom Baker), the 5th Doctor (Peter Davison), the 6th Doctor (Colin Baker) and the 7th Doctor (Sylvester McCoy.) For viewers in the US, BritBox is the easiest way to access the entire catalogue of all Doctor Who episodes pre-2005. Earlier in 2017, BritBox also began a process of restoring previously lost Patrick Troughton episodes.
For fans who have only experienced Doctor Who from watching the contemporary series, these older regeneration stories will probably be a little weird. That telltale gold-energy we’re so used to now is absent, and in one story — when the 4th Doctor becomes the 5th — there’s a weird white mummy person called “The Watcher,” who actually ends up being the Doctor’s future self in some kind of fake-looking chrysalis.
Of all of these episodes, “The Caves of Androzani” — in which the 5th Doctor becomes the 6th — is probably the best. It also is the one which feels the most like contemporary Doctor Who. As the Doctor dies of radiation poisoning, he says “Feels different this time.” And, when he awakens as Colin Baker, the Doctor also gets probably the most memorable regeneration line of all time. When Perri asks what has happened to him he replies coldly, “Change my dear…and not a moment too soon!”
Check out all the classic Doctor Who streaming on BritBox.