BBC America’s Third Doctor celebration to include Jon Pertwee’s 1970 debut episode

Featured, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Television, Top story

As the 50th anniversary year of Doctor Who marches on, BBC America’s next monthly celebration of the long-running British sci-fi series will come on Sunday, March 31, one day after a brand-new episode ushers in the second half of the reincarnated show’s seventh season. Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited — The Third Doctor will look at Jon Pertwee’s stint as the multifaceted Time Lord, an era that began at the dawn of the ’70s and represented a dramatic shift for the character. Venusian aikido. Bessie and the Whomobile. Brigadier General Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. Liz Shaw. Jo Grant. Sarah Jane Smith. The Master …

Jon Pertwee in Doctor Who (BBC)Stripped of his time traveling capability and marooned on Earth, the Third Doctor was a man of action as well as science, who set up shop with U.N.I.T. to defend the Earth against one alien invasion after another. His earthbound time saw the introduction of steel-nerved journalist Sarah Jane Smith, one of the Doctor’s most popular companions who was played by Elisabeth Sladen, who sadly left us in 2011 after a triumphant return appearance in the modern series that spawned a popular spinoff. It also introduced The Master, an unscrupulous renegade Time Lord, as well as the primeval Silurians, who have made several key appearances in the show’s current incarnation.

As is tradition, the documentary special will include clips and interviews (this time, current producers Steven Moffat and Caroline Skinner, Tenth Doctor David Tennant and recent co-star and Downton Abbey don Hugh Bonneville), then introduce the presentation of a full episode of the classic series. This time it will be “Spearhead From Space,” Pertwee’s debut in the role and also the introduction of the Nestene, who seek to replace Earth’s population with plastic duplicates called Autons. (Coincidentally, it’s the premiere of the original program’s seventh season.) These mannequin-impersonating alien nasties, certainly terrifying for their time, would return in “Terror of the Autons,” also with Pertwee, as well as “Rose,” the premiere of the modern series, and several others.

Significantly, “Spearhead” was also Doctor Who’s first episode filmed and broadcast in color (though it wasn’t perfect).

If you miss it, don’t worry: “Spearhead From Space” is one of a few episodes of classic Doctor Who available for streaming on Netflix.

Share your favorite memories of the Third Doctor below!

Related and recommended