Doctor Who's 50th anniversary episode airs Saturday - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Doctor Who's 50th anniversary episode airs Saturday

Peter Capaldi was announced as the Twelfth Doctor in August. (Source: Stuart Crawford/Wikicommons) Peter Capaldi was announced as the Twelfth Doctor in August. (Source: Stuart Crawford/Wikicommons)

(RNN) - A momentous Who year will be capped by the worldwide premiere of the 50th anniversary episode, The Day of the Doctor, featuring Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt, which will air at 1:50 p.m. Central Time on Saturday.

To whet the appetites of Who fans, a prequel webisode, The Night of the Doctor, has been making the rounds online, with a former Doctor making a starring appearance.

Also, the BBC created a cinematic trailer laden with references, and Doctors, from across the decades.

BBC America has also filled the week with Doctor Who programming, including a dramatic retelling on how the show began with An Adventure in Space and Time, with David Bradley starring as the first Doctor.

In October, the BBC announced that nine missing episodes from the 1960s were discovered in Nigeria.

And, in August, Scottish actor Peter Capaldi was announced as the Twelfth Doctor, taking over for Matt Smith in the Christmas special.

Capaldi is best known as fiery, foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in the BBC political comedy The Thick of It and movie In the Loop. He also previously appeared in the Doctor Who franchise in the 2008 The Fires of Pompeii and Torchwood multi-episode odyssey Children of Earth.

Capaldi is 55, the same age William Hartnell was when he was cast as the First Doctor, according to Capaldi's IMDb biography.

Who history

The first episode of this British time-and-space bending TV show aired on Nov. 23, 1963, predating the original Star Trek by three years.

It featured a white-haired doctor who more resembled a curmudgeonly professor emeritus than any incarnation since, flanked by his presumed granddaughter and two teachers.

He travels through time and space in a police box-looking, and often malfunctioning, craft called the TARDIS, which is bigger on the inside than on the outside.

When the lead actor, Hartnell, had to ditch the show after three years, the show's staff launched the concept of regeneration to help explain the Doctor's change of appearance as another actor stepped into the Edwardian boots.

What could have been dismissed as a cheap trick transformed into a key element that more or less kept the franchise fresh and alive.

During the '70s, the show cultivated multigenerational appeal that hopped across the pond via PBS, and the production was liberated a bit from the sound stage it had been trapped in, going on location, even with some scenes filmed in Paris and Amsterdam at the show's height.

The franchise has now spanned the decades, surviving even cancellation in 1989 to come back in movie form in 1996 before roaring back in a big way with the launch of the modern Doctor Who episodes in 2005.

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