As popular as Doctor Who is now, it’s impossible to imagine TV without it, but we were nearly forced to live that reality when, back in 2009 The BBC nearly chose to pull the plug on the legendary sci-fi drama.

Matt Smith as Doctor WhoThis was Matt Smith's face when he found out they nearly cancelled Doctor Who

The near miss came about when David Tennant exited the show. So effortlessly charismatic and popular was he, bosses were adamant that he couldn’t be replaced and set about bringing the show to its knees. "I think there were plans maybe to consider ending it," Steven Moffat admitted at the Hay Festival.

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"David owned that role in a spectacular way, gave it an all-new cheeky sexy performance and became a national treasure," he added. "So the idea that Doctor Who could go on at all in the absence of David was a huge question."

It was producer and writer Russell T Davies that steadied the ship, and paved the way for Matt Smith to join the stellar list of men to play The Doctor. Smith, who was considered by some to be too young to play the role, would go on to replicate and in many ways surpass Tennant’s successes, becoming the first Doctor to be nominated for a Bafta and leaving a trail of devastated fans when he decided to exit the show in 2013. 

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And now Doctor Who fans await series 8 of the new version, with Peter Capaldi the man taking over from Smith, while Jenna Coleman will return as companion Clara Oswald. A new teaser trailer confirms the show’s August return, and features a silhouette of the new Time Lord with his Tardis console ablaze in the background referencing to the cliff hanger at the end of last year’s Christmas special.