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The 2000s

When Doctor Who returned to television in the 21st century every major aspect of the series’ costume design was informed by a new sensibility.

The runaway success of Doctor Who when it returned to television in 2005 was arguably the result of a greater shake-up in style and tone than the series had ever seen. A radically new approach to costume, especially for the Doctor, was key to the distinct identity of the new series, forged under the detail-conscious eye of showrunner Russell T Davies. According to star Christopher Eccleston and the 2005 series’ costume designer Lucinda Wright (both speaking in early episodes of the making-of documentary series Doctor Who Confidential), the Ninth Doctor’s leather jacket – an unthinkably butch and ‘street’ item for the Time Lord as late as 1996 – was specifically scripted by Davies himself.

But to begin an appraisal of costume in the 2000s with the Doctor’s startlingly new look, for all that it represented such a seismic shift, would be to undercut the way this new version of Doctor Who was framed and focused, especially during the 2005 series. The very first episode in 1963 had been entitled An Unearthly Child, making a precocious schoolgirl, Susan Foreman, the focus of a mystery eventually uncovered by the main protagonists, teachers Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton. The premiere for the 2005 series, by contrast, was called Rose. As the title suggested, the story’s focus is primarily on the experience of Rose Tyler as she encounters the Doctor and the increasing maelstrom of alien threat that swirls around him. It’s Rose’s world that is dominant. Her unfulfilling work in a (soon-to-be-blown-up) department store, her possessive boyfriend Mickey, her needy mother Jackie and their domestic lives in a modest housing estate: these are central to the action and tone. The Doctor is the interloper, recurring throughout the episode to catalyse events rather than being at its heart.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Few television programmes make the same production demands as Doctor Who. With such diverse settings as distant points in Earth’s history and alien civilisations in the far future, the series has always stretched the ingenuity – and resources – of its talented costume designers. This unprecedented magazine features numerous rare and previously unpublished illustrations showing how the look of a Doctor Who episode evolves from sketch to screen, plus exclusive interviews with many of those designers including: • Alexandra Tynan (costume designer in the 1960s who created the look of the Cybermen) • Barbara Lane (the designer of Azal, Alpha Centauri, the Axons and more – this is her first interview in over 40 years) • Lee Bender (designer and owner of Bus Stop, a boutique which supplied outfits for Sarah Jane Smith) • June Hudson (designer of the Fourth Doctor’s final outfit and many elegant costumes for Romana) • Colin Lavers (designer of the Fifth Doctor’s costume) • Amy Roberts (designer of Anthony Ainley’s Master) • Lucinda Wright (designer of Christopher Eccleston’s series as the Ninth Doctor) • Howard Burden (designer of the Twelfth Doctor’s costume) • Ray Holman (designer of the Eleventh and Thirteenth Doctor’s costumes, and Doctor Who’s current costume designer) Plus, the stars who wore the designers’ creations in Doctor Who look back at their characters’ clothes: • Anneke Wills (Polly) • Katy Manning (Jo Grant) • Sophie Aldred (Ace) • Camille Coduri (Jackie Tyler) • Catrin Stewart (Jenny Flint)