Doctor Who Logo

Doctor Who Logo
The logo of the long-running British sci-fi show Doctor Who has gone through numerous updates since 1963, when its first version was introduced.

Meaning and history

Doctor Who Logo history


The science-fiction drama series made by the BBC told the story of a time-traveling humanoid alien. Since the first episode, “the Doctor” has been portrayed by fourteen different actors.

Evolution

1963-1967

Doctor Who 1963-1967
In spite of its simplicity, the original Doctor Who logo was very successful in creating a sinister atmosphere. It filled you with the anticipation of something supernatural coming from the night sky. The white letters were semi-transparent, which created a “ghost” effect. The “ghost” feeling was but emphasized by the white shapes on the background.
The lettering was given in the font Grotesque One Three. While the word “who” was much taller than “doctor,” its width was the same. The last time this version was used was in 1967 (the beginning of The Moonbase).

1967-1969

Doctor Who 1967-1969
Unveiled in Patrick Troughton’s fifth serial, The Macra Terror (1967), this emblem survived for the rest of the Second Doctor’s era. The “ghost” effect was still perceptible due to the combination of the semi-transparent white and black. The sans serif type was replaced by the Times New Roman font. Once again, the two words were of the same width but different height.

1970-1973

Doctor Who 1970-1973
The striking update was based on the contrast between black and luminescent cyan. The logo was in use throughout the Third Doctor’s era. It was developed specifically for the first episode of the series broadcast in color. Yet, the fantastic color contrast wasn’t the only upgrade. Eventually, the typography grew much more unique and recognizable. The generic Times New Roman font was replaced by a bolder type with several irregular elements. Because of them, the letters looked somewhat distorted.

1973-1980

Doctor Who 1973-1980
The following episodes featured a much more muted emblem, which was nicknamed the “diamond logo”. It debuted in the first episode featuring Sarah Jane Smith, The Time Warrior.
The insignia looked a bit like a led signboard. The light letters of the arched word “doctor” and the outline of the word “Who” contrasted the indigo filling. A bluish square could be seen in the background. While there was some playing around with the tints, the logo was typically dominated by shades of blue. In some situations, a version without the square on the background was used.

1980-1986

Doctor Who 1980-1986
The new version resembled a led signboard even more. The letter outlines grew brighter, while the background became darker, it now featured the night sky. First used in The Leisure Hive, the logo could be seen during all the Fifth Doctor’s era.

1984-1986

Doctor Who 1984-1986
The update was comparatively subtle. The color of the led outline grew somewhat more saturated. It now was purplish, which fit the “star-field” title sequence perfectly well.

1987-1989

Doctor Who 1987-1989
A completely new Doctor Who logo was developed for the Seventh Doctor episodes. The huge, bold purple “Who” in block capitals was complemented by the “handwritten” word “Doctor” in yellow.

1996

Doctor Who 1996
This one was inspired by the iconic logo of 1970-1973. There was more depth now, while the letters featured shades of blue.

2005-2010

Doctor Who 2005-2010
The first story featuring the Ninth Doctor started a completely new era in the history of the Doctor Who logo. This time, the lettering, which grew much thinner, was placed inside a shield. The shape of the shield resembled an eye or a UFO. It was the first time when the two words were positioned horizontally, within a single line. Over 10 versions of this emblem were used. They preserved the overall shape, yet played with the colors.

2010-2011

Doctor Who 2010-2011
This version can be broken down into two parts: the “DW” emblem and the lettering “Doctor Who.” The shape of the “DW” emblem is clearly linked with the TARDIS, the time-traveling space ship appearing as a blue police box.

2012-2013

Doctor Who 2012-2013
While the type featured for the “Doctor Who” lettering remained essentially the same, the “DW” emblem disappeared. The designers experimented with the colors of the insignia and the background throughout the following episodes.

2014-2017

Doctor Who 2014-2017
The calmer bluish design introduced in the “Deep Breath” story was based on the same typography. It looked different, though, due to the thin round shapes.

The 2018 symbol

Doctor Who symbol
The glyphs have grown thinner, while their shape became more recognizable, partly due to the horizontal strokes on the “D,” “H,” and “O.” The emblem was developed by the design agency Little Hawk.

Font

The two earliest versions of the Doctor Who logo featured the fonts Grotesque One Three and Times New Roman. The typography of the following versions has been more unique. Eventually, the 2018 logo is based on a customized version of the Gotham typeface

Colors

Doctor Who
The original black-and-white logos were replaced by color versions in 1970. Since then, there has been a lot of playing around with the palette.