The Doctor Who Companion

Get your daily fix of news, reviews, and features with the Doctor Who Companion!

800+ Episodes of Doctor Who and Its Spin-Offs Are Now on BBC iPlayer: Here’s Where to Start

As part of Doctor Who‘s 60th anniversary, and the franchise’s expansive future, nearly every episode currently in the archive (plus some missing, represented as animations) is available on the streaming service, BBC iPlayer.

That’s Classic Who, New Who (or NuWho, if you will), Doctor Who Confidential, The Sarah Jane Adventures, Class, and Torchwood, at your fingertips.

But where should you start? Here are some of the best and most underrated stories from each programme.

The Best Episodes of Doctor Who

Here are some of the best stories from Classic and New Who, including some overlooked treasures.

The Daleks: The very first story with the Daleks, and the second Doctor Who story.

The Aztecs: A superb historical in which the First Doctor’s companions discover that you can’t rewrite history — not one line!

The Dalek Invasion of Earth: The Daleks have taken over Earth! The second Dalek tale effectively kicked off Dalekmania in the 1960s.

The Time Meddler: The first pseudo-historical, in which we meet the Meddling Monk, a fellow Time Lord affecting human history.

The War Machines: The First Doctor takes on new companions, Ben and Polly, and fights an AI in contemporary London.

The Tenth Planet: The first Cybermen story, and the first regeneration!

The Power of the Daleks: Patrick Troughton makes his full debut as the Second Doctor.

The Tomb of the Cybermen: Lost of many decades, this four-parter was found again in the early 1990s.

The Ice Warriors: These Martian menaces are introduced to Doctor Who.

The Web of Fear: The Brigadier makes his debut, amid the Great Intelligence’s bid to take over Earth using his Yeti.

The Invasion: One of the best Cybermen tales ever.

The War Games: A sprawling epic which results in us finally meeting the Doctor’s people…

Spearhead from Space: The introduction of the Autons and Nestene Consciousness is a perfect jumping-on point, and kicks off a season of wonderful tales.

Doctor Who and the Silurians: Find out who originally ruled the Earth.

Inferno: A terrifying tale that explores another universe — and shatters the world.

The Three Doctors: The first time multiple Doctors meet, to celebrate the 10th anniversary!

The Green Death: A tearful end of an era. With complimentary giant maggots.

The Time Warrior: Hello to the Sontarans… and Sarah Jane Smith.

The Ark in Space: Doctor Who does Alien before Alien.

Genesis of the Daleks: Learn how the Daleks originated — and how the Time War began.

The Seeds of Doom: An all-consuming threat emerges from the permafrost.

The Face of Evil: The Doctor meets his new companion, Leela… who thinks he’s “The Evil One”.

The Robots of Death: One of the best stories ever, focused around an unsettling murder-mystery.

Horror of Fang Rock: A lighthouse on an isolated rock results in an edge-of-the-seat battle against a shape-shifting alien.

The Pirate Planet: Fantastic ludicrousness from Douglas Adams.

City of Death: More fantastic ludicrousness from Douglas Adams — this time, in Paris!

State of Decay: In another universe, the Fourth Doctor comes up against horrifying vampires.

Kinda: A trippy existential crisis for the Fifth Doctor.

The Visitation: A classic monster-of-the-week tale set in 1666.

Earthshock: The surprise return of the Cybermen, and a truly shocking ending that shows there are consequences to travel in space and time.

Enlightenment: Incredible ships float across space in order to obtain the ultimate prize.

The Five Doctors: The 20th anniversary special, taking us to Gallifrey.

Frontios: A moody serial in which the ground eats the dearly departed…

The Caves of Androzani: Often called the greatest Doctor Who story of all time.

Vengeance on Varos: When will our obsession with reality TV end?

Revelation of the Daleks: On Tranquil Repose, an old evil finds solace in recycling the dead.

Terror of the Vervoids: A good old fashioned Agatha Christie-esque murder mystery.

Remembrance of the Daleks: The Seventh Doctor and Ace visit London in the 1960s, where two rival Dalek factions are at war over something the Doctor hid there…

The Happiness Patrol: A wonderful but weird tale in which everyone has to be happy — or else.

Ghost Light: Confusing? Brilliant? Or brilliantly confusing? It’s up to you to find out.

The Curse of Fenric: A must-watch Seventh Doctor classic which examines the relationship between the Time Lord and his companion, Ace.

The TV Movie: The Eighth Doctor makes his mark, with an adventure in San Francisco, on the verge of a new millennium.

Rose: Doctor Who returns to TV, with a Ninth Doctor and new titular companion.

The Unquiet Dead: Charles Dickens meets ghosts — at Christmas.

Dalek: The last Dalek (ahem) meets the last Time Lord (ahem) in existence.

The Empty Child/ The Doctor Dances: A thrilling and memorable two-parter which has forever tainted the words, “Are you my mummy?”

Bad Wolf/ The Parting of the Ways: The Ninth Doctor bids adieu in a massive battle with the Daleks.

The Christmas Invasion: The Tenth Doctor sleeps for a bit… then beats the invading Sycorax with a simple sword fight.

Tooth and Claw: A werewolf wants to sink its teeth into Queen Victoria.

The Girl in the Fireplace: A heartbreaking tale of love, spread across the centuries.

The Impossible Planet/ The Satan Pit: A poisoned planet orbits a black hole, in this, one of the very best Tenth Doctor stories.

Smith and Jones: A fresh and gorgeous new run for the Tenth Doctor begins with the introduction of Martha Jones.

Gridlock: A beautiful parable plays out in the undercity of New New York.

Human Nature/ The Family of Blood: The Doctor turns human in a bid to escape the brutal Family.

Blink: A Doctor-lite episode that introduces the Weeping Angels.

Silence in the Library/ Forest of the Dead: We meet the doomed River Song, while she, the Doctor, and Donna Noble escape flesh-eating piranhas of the air…

Midnight: The focus is all on the Doctor here as an unseen alien presence latches onto the visitors of a diamond planet.

The Waters of Mars: A base-under-siege spectacular, made even scarier by the Time Lord Victorious.

The Eleventh Hour: Matt Smith ushers in a brilliant new era of Doctor Who.

The Time of Angels/ Flesh and Stone: The Weeping Angels are back; so is River Song. But who is she?!

Vincent and the Doctor: A beautiful story, in which the Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond meet the tragic, talented, and tormented painter.

The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang: A glorious series finale which reinvigorates the programme once again.

A Christmas Carol: Arguably the best Christmas episode ever.

The Impossible Astronaut/ Day of the Moon: The Doctor dies, and we meet the creepy Silence.

The Doctor’s Wife: The troublesome House introduces us to the Doctor’s true love.

The Girl Who Waited: Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill give two of the best performances in Doctor Who history.

The God Complex: Faith is tested, as the TARDIS crew’s fears are exposed.

The Angels Take Manhattan: A tearful farewell to Amy and Rory, as the Weeping Angels take over New York.

The Snowmen: The Eleventh Doctor meets Clara amid a wintry adventure with the Great Intelligence.

The Bells of St. John: The Eleventh Doctor meets Clara again, amid a thoroughly-modern adventure with the Great Intelligence.

Hide: A classic haunted house with a Stone Tape twist.

The Day of the Doctor: The 50th anniversary special, voted the best Doctor Who story ever.

The Time of the Doctor: The Doctor is dead. Long live the Doctor.

Listen: The Twelfth Doctor exposes his fears of being on his own. That is, if he really is alone…

Mummy on the Orient Express: The Doctor and Clara must defeat a killer they can’t even see.

Flatline: In Bristol, a 2D monster is determined to prove a multi-dimensional threat.

Last Christmas: Dreams become reality as the Kantrofarri give people’s faces a big hug.

Under the Lake/ Before the Flood: A terrifying time-twisting story with a base at the bottom of the ocean under siege from ghosts.

Heaven Sent/ Hell Bent: Peter Capaldi gives a startling turn in this meditation on grief.

The Pilot: The show gets another breath of fresh air with new companion, Bill Potts.

Smile: An underrated joyous gem.

Oxygen: A tense thriller which highlights that every breath brings us closer to death.

Extremis: Everything is a lie.

World Enough and Time/ The Doctor Falls: The Doctor, Bill, and Nardole realise the gravity of the situation as they witness the genesis of the Cybermen.

The Woman Who Fell to Earth: Jodie Whittaker debuts as the first female Doctor.

Rosa: Ryan Sinclair and Yasmin Khan are inspired by the life of Rosa Parks.

Demons of the Punjab: A historical story set during the Partition.

The Witchfinders: Another solid historical with a great mud monster… and some very human monsters too!

Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror: Highlighting an often-overlooked historical genius with his mind set firmly on the future.

The Haunting of Villa Diodati: A brutal Cyberman inspires Mary Shelley.

Village of the Angels: The Weeping Angels return amid the Flux.

The Power of the Doctor: The Thirteenth Doctor bows out, during a whirlwind of cameos.

The Best Episodes of Doctor Who Confidential

This BBC3 show took viewers behind the scenes between 2005 and 2011. Here are some of the best, although there are loads more fantastic episodes of Doctor Who Confidential.

Bringing Back the Doctor (Series 1, Episode 1): Learn how Doctor Who returned to TV screens in 2005.

The Daleks (Series 1, Episode 6): The Daleks are back! Well, one of them is anyway. For now…

The Dark Side (Series 1, Episode 7): An interesting look at our relationship with the media, focusing on The Long Game, but naturally also setting up Bad Wolf (not that we realised that when it aired).

The Last Battle (Series 1, Episode 13): A history of the Time Lords and the Daleks, yes, but most importantly, Christopher Eccleston’s final Confidential.

Script to Screen (Series 2, Episode 4): An inspiring journey, charting the full genesis of The Girl in the Fireplace, from draft to readthrough, filming to post-production.

The Writer’s Tale (Series 2, Episode 7): An in-depth chat with writer, Mark Gatiss (The Idiot’s Lantern).

You’ve Got the Look/ Religion, Myths and Legends (Series 2, Episodes 9 and 10): Confidential doesn’t do two-parters really, but this pair, accompanying The Impossible Planet/ The Satan Pit, is as perfect a thematic exploration as the show gives.

Finale (Series 2, Episode 14): Yes, there’s a lot of emotion as Billie Piper says goodbye to Doctor Who, but this is also quite a joyous episode, in the wake of the Daleks and Cybermen meeting.

Music and Monsters (Series 3, Episode 1): Only loosely linked to The Runaway Bride, this special actually delved into Doctor Who: A Celebration, the 2006 Children in Need concert.

Meet Martha Jones (Series 3, Episode 2): As Martha was such a breath of fresh air in Doctor Who, Freema Agyeman proves to be for Confidential.

Do You Remember the First Time? (Series 3, Episode 10): Sometimes called the best episode of Confidential ever, this is a love letter to the show as a whole (including 20th Century Who) and to BBC Television Centre, presented by David Tennant, who also makes his directorial debut.

Kylie Special (Series 4, Episode 1): Oh heck, Kylie Minogue on Doctor Who!

The Italian Job (Series 4, Episode 3): Charting the overseas adventures of the crew as they film The Fires of Pompeii.

Shadow Play (Series 4, Episode 9): The best thing Confidential does is make you think of the challenges and fun of production, specifically the bits that would never cross your mind otherwise — case in point: lighting in Silence in the Library, where shadows are so important…

Look Who’s Talking (Series 4, Episode 10): Behind the scenes on one of the most brilliant productions of Doctor Who, Midnight.

The Eleventh Doctor (Series 4 special): Confidential was so important, this episode aired on BBC1 and introduced the world to the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith.

Allons-y! (2009 Special): David Tennant’s last day on set (until the 50th and 60th) and Matt Smith’s first.

All About the Girl (Series 5, Episode 2): Looking at how the art and design departments created Starship UK in The Beast Below.

Eyes Wide Open (Series 5, Episode 4): Behind the scenes of The Time of Angels, but also looking at The Adventure Games.

Death in Venice (Series 5, Episode 6): Though The Vampires of Venice was filmed in Croatia, Confidential took writer, Toby Whithouse, to Venice itself to investigate the plague and vampiric reports with Venetian Historian, Francesco Da Mosto. An utterly fascinating episode.

Extra Time (Series 5, Episode 11): Series 5 of Confidential saw the show doing some really unusual and brilliant things, including, here, sending Karen Gillan to discuss the prime meridian, the nature of space-time, and time travel with Dr. Aderin-Pocock and Marek Kukula.

Alien Abduction/ Out of Time (Series 5, Episodes 12 and 13): All the challenges of filming the Series 5 finale (which also inspired by book, The Black Archive: The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang!).

Christmas Special 2010: Exploring A Christmas Carol, with the script readthrough proving a great jumping-off point.

My Sarah Jane: A Tribute to Elisabeth Sladen: This special, often considered part of Confidential, says a sad farewell to the one and only Elisabeth Sladen.

Breaking the Silence (Series 6, Episode 2): Filming in America!

Bigger on the Inside (Series 6, Episode 4): Neil Gaiman essentially presents an episode of Confidential.

Heartbreak Hotel (Series 6, Episode 11): This episode is particularly thought-provoking (with a discussion on the parallels between the Doctor and the Minotaur in The God Complex) and joyous, with Whithouse bringing his children on set to meet Matt Smith.

When Time Froze (Series 6, Episode 13): The last ever episode of Doctor Who Confidential.

The Best Episodes of Torchwood

Running for four seasons, Torchwood had great highs and depressing lows. Here’s what to want the best view of this Doctor Who spin-off. These are intended for adults only.

Everything Changes: Gwen Cooper is thrown into the grim and gritty world of Torchwood.

Ghost Machine: The team investigate a horrific murder as they’re seemingly thrown into the past.

Small Worlds: Sapphire and Steel creator, P. J. Hammond, gives us a terrifying take on fairies.

They Keep Killing Suzie: The team has to resurrect their departed comrade/enemy, Suzie Costello.

Out of Time: A displaced trio from the past have to find their ways in 2007, discovering that the future isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The best of Series 1.

Captain Jack Harkness: Learn more about Jack Harkness. No, not that Jack Harkness.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang: Jack returns to Torchwood after the events of Doctor Who Series 3, but have things changed too much?

To the Last Man: The Torchwood team’s relationship with death is examined once more when they have to bring back a cryogenically frozen soldier from the First World War.

Reset: Martha Jones is temporarily recruited to the team.

From Out of the Rain: Two celluloid film stars escape into the real world.

Adrift: The best of Series 2. A haunting and emotional reminder that travels in time and space don’t always end well.

Fragments/ Exit Wounds: The Series 2 finale tears the team apart.

Children of Earth: This is technically Series 3 in its entirety, but you can’t separate individual episodes as it’s one five-part story — and the absolute best of Torchwood.

Miracle Day: The New World: Another season-long story, which is considerably less enjoyable than Children of Earth, but there are still some decent episodes, notably this opening part.

Miracle Day: The Categories of Life: The mid-point in Series 4 also gives us one of the most shocking and terrifying cliffhangers.

Miracle Day: The Blood Line: The season conclusion, in which we find out why no one on Earth (except Captain Jack) can die. Farewell, Torchwood.

The Best Episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures

The best Doctor Who spin-off? There’s no question: it’s definitely The Sarah Jane Adventures. Each story is comprised of two episodes.

Eye of the Gorgon: A superb take on a classic myth, and tackling the subject of dementia in a compassionate and smart way.

Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?: A deal with the Trickster means the Third and Fourth Doctor companion is erased.

The Lost Boy: The Slitheen are back, claiming Luke Smith, Sarah’s son, as their own.

The Last Sontaran: The first story of Series 2 picks up in the wake of The Sontaran Stratagem/ The Poison Sky.

Day of the Clown: Bradley Walsh proves absolutely terrifying in a tale that also introduces new character, Rani Chandra.

The Mark of the Berserker: Clyde Langer is one of the best characters in the Whoniverse; here, the focus is on him as he finds his estranged father, Paul.

The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith: When Sarah finds herself in the past, she’s given the opportunity to meet her parents.

Enemy of the Bane: Notable for introducing the Black Archive… and bringing back Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart!

Prisoner of the Judoon: Series 3 opens with the return of this memorable Doctor Who alien searching for a deadly fugitive on Earth.

The Mad Woman in the Attic: In the future, a young boy stumbles upon 13. Bannerman Road and meets the titular mad woman: a shattered Rani Chandra…

The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith: David Tennant guests as the Tenth Doctor — the last thing he filmed as this incarnation of the Doctor until the 50th anniversary.

The Nightmare Man: Julian Bleach’s creepy character haunts Luke as he prepares to leave for university.

Death of the Doctor: Matt Smith guest stars as the Eleventh Doctor in this glorious tale which also brings back Jo Jones (née Grant)!

The Empty Planet: Rani and Clyde find themselves the last humans on Earth.

Lost in Time: A possible Time Lord scatters Sarah, Rani, and Clyde through different time periods.

The Curse of Clyde Langer: An exploration of homelessness, better than you’d find on adult TV, let alone CBBC. Probably the best SJA story ever.

The Man Who Never Was: And the story goes on…. forever.

The Best Episodes of Class

An underrated spin-off set at Coal Hill School was ultimately axed, but there’s plenty of goodness to be found in this eight-episode series.

For Tonight We Might Die: Peter Capaldi puts in a guest appearance as the Twelfth Doctor.

Nightvisiting: A spooky night-time visitor strengthens the character work in this ragtag team of students.

Detained: The class are held in a nightmarish detention.

The Metaphysical Engine, or What Quill Did: An episode focused on Catherine Kelly’s Miss Quill, probably the show’s best character.

The Lost: The series ends on a truly shocking cliffhanger which is yet to be picked up in the Doctor Who universe.

Special Mention

K9 & Company is also on BBC iPlayer (and is, of course, available on DVD too), and, as the first Doctor Who spin-off, is well worth a watch!

Tales of the TARDIS reunites Doctors and companions across six nostalgia-filled episodes, launching the so-called Whoniverse with new stories for Steven Taylor and Vicki, Jo Grant and Clyde Langer, and the Seventh Doctor and Ace, to name just a few.

Feel free to add more suggestions in the comments section below!

Philip Bates

Editor and co-founder of the Doctor Who Companion. When he’s not watching television, reading books ‘n’ Marvel comics, listening to The Killers, and obsessing over script ideas, Philip Bates pretends to be a freelance writer. He enjoys collecting everything. Writer of The Black Archive: The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang, The Silver Archive: The Stone Tape, and 100 Objects of Doctor Who.

800+ Episodes of Doctor Who and Its Spin-Offs Are Now on BBC iPlayer: Here’s Where to Start

by Philip Bates time to read: 13 min
%d bloggers like this: