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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > The Essential Doctor Who: Adventures in History > THE EDWARDIAN ERA, THE FIRST WORLD WAR & INTER-WAR YEARS 1901 to 1939


The twentieth century’s first four decades saw massive social, political and technological changes, punctuated by one of history’s bloodiest wars. There were also incursions by deadly statues, killer robots and murderous shape-shifting aliens...
Agatha Christie (Fenella Woolgar) in The Unicorn and the Wasp (2008), Adolf Hitler (Albert Welling) in Let’s Kill Hitler (2011) and Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) in Human Nature/ The Family of Blood (2007).

The earliest years of the twentieth century were a period of peace and prosperity with Britain leading the world in trade, finance and shipping. That initial decade was characterised by unique developments in fashion, architecture and lifestyle, and under the leadership of a new regent, King Edward VII (1841-1910), the affluent Edwardians indulged a passion for such fashionable pastimes as racing, gambling, shooting and sailing. In his book The Edwardian Turn of Mind (1968), Samuel Hynes wrote that it was a time ‘when the rich were not ashamed to live conspicuously, and the sun really never set on the British flag.’

Parties of aristocrats thought nothing of taking a steam yacht across the Channel to Deauville for a flutter in the seaside casinos of Normandy, before sailing back overnight to Southampton and catching a train up to London in time for the opening of the Stock Exchange. In Horror of Fang Rock (1977), one such group, led by the financier Lord Henry Palmerdale (Sean Caffrey), encountered heavy fog and ran aground on a small island off the South Coast of England. The survivors were slaughtered by a Rutan scout, an aggressive alien from Ruta 3 that was finally dispatched by the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) and Leela (Louise Jameson).

Lord Palmerdale (Sean Caffrey), Vince (John Abbott) and Adelaide (Annette Woollett) in Part Two of Horror of Fang Rock (1977).
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About Doctor Who Magazine

“History sometimes gives us a terrible shock, and that is because we don’t quite fully understand... We’re all too small to realise its final pattern.” Doctor Who’s first journey in 1963 took viewers back to the Stone Age. Since then the TARDIS has visited many other landmarks in a unique chronicle of the Doctor’s favourite planet. Purely historical stories were once a mainstay of the series, but for more than 50 years significant periods in Earth’s past have provided evocative settings for more fantastical adventures. This unprecedented guide takes a trip back in time with the people, places and classic episodes that are essential parts of Doctor Who history.