Doctor Who is a British science fiction TV show, which first began in 1963 with William Hartnell playing the lead role. It follows the adventures of an extraterrestrial named the Doctor, who travels through time and space in a spaceship known as the TARDIS. The Doctor typically travels with one or more (usually human) companions and together they rescue people and save planets.
The original seasons (now known as “Classic Who”) ended in 1989. The show was rebooted in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston playing the Doctor. These later episodes are collectively referred to as “New Who.” To help distinguish the two, Classic Who is divided into seasons (season 1, season 2, etc.) while New Who is divided into series.
The show has maintained its longevity in part because, as an extraterrestrial known as a Time Lord, the Doctor is able to regenerate when killed. Each new regeneration gives the Doctor a new body and a new personality. Thus, each time an actor playing the Doctor leaves the show, the Doctor regenerates into a new version of the Doctor. Each regeneration is numbered for easy reference.
So where do you begin with a fandom that has such a long history? Watching some of the TV episodes will be helpful before jumping into any of the spinoff series or comics, but there are many possible starting points. Our guide explains some of your options.