Doctor Who Voted Second-best BBC Television Show of All Time

BBC viewers have voted Doctor Who the second-best BBC television series in the broadcaster's 100-year history. The long-running sci-fi series comes in close behind popular sitcom Only Fools and Horses, which aired seven series from 1981 to 1991 and seven additional specials from 1992 to 2003. Doctor Who comes ahead of popular shows like Strictly Come Dancing, Line of Duty, Call the Midwife, Fawlty Towers, Blackadder, Planet Earth, Killing Eve, and Sherlock. Doctor Who will celebrate the BBC's centennial with a special episode in the fall. The episode will be Jodie Whittaker's final performance as Doctor Who's Thirteenth Doctor, the first female Doctor in series history.

BBC One's The One Show conducted the poll. Participants could vote from a shortlist of 50 BBC television shows, selected from across genres and eras by members of the press and a BFI archivist. Here are the top 20 vote-getters:

  1. Only Fools and Horses
  2. Doctor Who
  3. Strictly Come Dancing
  4. Line of Duty
  5. Call The Midwife
  6. Gavin and Stacey
  7. Fawlty Towers
  8. Blackadder
  9. Morecambe and Wise Show
  10. The Vicar of Dibley
  11. Dad's Army
  12. Planet Earth I and II
  13. Killing Eve
  14. Dinnerladies
  15. Yes Minister / Yes Prime Minister
  16. Sherlock
  17. The Good Life
  18. Top of the Pops
  19. The Royle Family
  20. Blue Peter

Doctor Who debuted on the BBC in 1963. Sydney Newman, C. E. Webber, and Donald Wilson developed the series as an educational program for British children and families. The series would lean on the Doctor's scientific knowledge and time-traveling TARDIS to teach kids scientific principles and historical facts. However, sci-fi adventures proved more popular than historical ones, both with audiences and writers. Over time, Doctor Who abandoned its educational premise and became a sci-fi institution in the United Kingdom. In the 1970s, the series became a cult hit overseas, including in the United States, where episodes aired in syndication on PBS.

The BBC stopped airing Doctor Who in 1989 but revived it in 2005, reformatted for modern viewers under showrunner Russell T. Davies. Since then, Doctor Who has reached a new level of mainstream popularity. Davies is returning to the program for Doctor Who's 60th anniversary season in 2023.

"I'm beyond excited to be back on my favourite show,," Davies said when the BBC announced his return. "But we're time-travelling too fast, there's a whole series of Jodie Whittaker's brilliant Doctor for me to enjoy, with my friend and hero Chris Chibnall at the helm – I'm still a viewer for now."

Chibnall worked with Davies on earlier seasons of Doctor Who and the spinoff series Torchwood. He said, "It's monumentally exciting and fitting that Doctor Who's 60th anniversary will see one of Britain's screenwriting diamonds return home. Russell built the baton that is about to be handed back to him – Doctor Who, the BBC, the screen industry in Wales, and let's be honest everyone in the whole world, have so many reasons to be Very Excited Indeed about what lies ahead."

What do you think of BBC viewers voting Doctor Who the second-best BBC series ever? Let us know in the comments. Classic episodes from Doctor Who's original run are streaming now on Britbox. Season 1 through Season 12 of Doctor Who's 21st-century revival are streaming now on HBO Max (Check out our viewing guide to catch up quickly). The latest season, the six-part Doctor Who: Flux, is streaming now on AMC+.