In today’s pop culture-dominated landscape where crossovers and role reprisals are part of every fandom’s dreams come true, it is truly hard to comprehend how novel and daring the idea was back in 1973 when the BBC decided to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Doctor Who by bringing together Jon Pertwee’s incumbent with his two predecessors in The Three Doctors. With the 60th anniversary coming this year, what better time to take a look back at the innovative approach the BBC took to celebrating what was at the time a landmark moment, one they’d commemorate time and time again? The nature of the Doctor’s character allows for crossovers in a way that only comic books could do, by combining eras and actors for anniversary events.
From the triumphant team-up of three Spider-Men in No Way Home to two X-Men casts uniting, as well as the various meetings of Star Trek captains over the decades, all these are pre-dated to this initial team-up of Doctors, the first time a television show could get away with this concept, now part of the franchise experience but untested in 1973. Fortunately, the crossover proved itself a huge success, and before the Internet or television re-runs, children at the time surely found themselves fascinated by the appearance of William Hartnell’s initial Doctor or Patrick Troughton’s flamboyant Second Doctor, mostly gone from the archives at that point, in colour for the first time, battling a figure from Time Lord mythology, the powerful Omega. Fifty years later and the show is still going strong, and whilst we’re anticipating the return of David Tennant as a mysterious new incarnation in November, let’s celebrate arguably the first fandom anniversary event.
Watch a clip from Doctor Who: The Three Doctors here, Via BBC: