Doctor Who celebrates 50 with eyes on global space

Sat Nov 23, 2013 1:22pm EST
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By Alexander Winning

LONDON (Reuters) - Thousands of "Doctor Who" fans from across the world descended on London on Saturday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of a sci-fi series that has gripped generations with a quirky blend of time travel, merciless robots and evil aliens.

"Doctor Who", first aired on British television on November 23, 1963, is the world's longest-running science-fiction series according to Guinness World Records, telling the story of a half-human with two hearts and the power to travel in time. It is now a major part of BBC efforts to press sales overseas.

From its inception it had British children cowering behind sofas, untroubled by sometimes less than convincing sets and aliens that looked frequently like men in rubber suits.

The doctor's chief enemy, the Daleks, are an alien race forced by an apocalyptic war to retreat into robotic shells, bereft of all emotions bar hatred; mansized salt cellar-shaped villains with probes reminiscent of sink plungers and flashing lights on their heads strangely similar to those on a car seen widely on British streets in the early 1960s.

Scrapped 24 years ago, it re-emerged in 2005 in what many view as a more sophisticated form, going from strength to strength.

As well as building a strong fan base in Britain among so-called "Whovians", the show has made its mark in the United States, Australia and Canada and is expanding in other languages to markets such as China, Brazil and Mexico.

Randy Bloch, a computer engineer from Chicago, Illinois, was one of an expected 24,000 fans gathering at a conference center for a 50th anniversary edition, "The Day of the Doctor", to be broadcast in more than 90 countries and 15 languages.

Some wore Dr Who costumes, took part in workshops, bought up merchandise and took part in workshops.   Continued...