Memory Cheats: A Doctor Who Newbie's Digest

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Published by Matthew Davidson on Fri, 15/02/2013 - 11:03pm in

For quite a while now, I've been wanting to compile a list of essential Doctor Who stories from the series original 1963-1989 run, for the benefit of my friends who are only familiar with the series post-2005 and find that first 26-year trove a little intimidating.

For all those in this unhappy position here is a digest of the unmissable Doctor Who stories that will enable you to bluff your way through the next high-society gathering where ignorance of the Whoniverse is as disastrous as forgetting the second verse of that Venusian lullaby that may one day save your life. You no longer need to have lived through it; with my guidance you shall all become "the Memory Cheats". (You will get that joke as we proceed.)

This isn't a comprehensive list of the good, or even the great stories. It's the minimal set of inflection points that will give the uninitiated some sense of the general flow of this extraordinary programme that was simultaneously utterly unlike anything else on television, yet oddly representative of everything on television in it's time, yet again utterly timeless, yet... Oh, bollocks; just watch these. You'll thank me for it.

  • An Unearthly Child
  • The Tomb of the Cybermen
  • Spearhead from Space
  • Terror of the Autons
  • Carnival of Monsters
  • The Green Death
  • The Time Warrior
  • Planet of the Spiders
  • The Ark in Space
  • Genesis of the Daleks
  • The Seeds of Doom
  • The Masque of Mandragora
  • The Deadly Assassin
  • The Talons of Weng-Chiang
  • City of Death
  • Warriors' Gate
  • Logopolis
  • Castrovalva
  • Kinda
  • The Caves of Androzani
  • Vengeance on Varos
  • Revelation of the Daleks
  • Paradise Towers
  • Ghost Light
  • Survival