'Doctor Who' Celebrates Its 47th Birthday With New Christmas Special Image And Archival Journey!

How do time-travelers celebrate their birthdays? Apparently, they commemorate the occasion with a trip down memory lane... and a look toward the future.

As noted by BBC America this morning, it was 47 years ago today that the long-running British science-fiction series "Doctor Who" premiered, and there's been no shortage of online applause from the network and various "Doctor Who" fans (including yours truly) throughout the day. However, it wasn't all backward-looking celebration, as BBC America unveiled a new image from the upcoming "Doctor Who" Christmas Special that airs December 25.

Doctor Who

While the new photo puts current "Doctor Who" star Matt Smith front and center, BBC Archives also turned a spotlight on many of the other talented actors who have filled the role over the years, as well as their co-stars.

First up was a look at the initial pitch for "Doctor Who," circa 1963, that offers the first peek at what would become one of the most successful science-fiction series in the world. The BBC Archives also offered up a set of photo galleries that should have longtime "Doctor Who" fans feeling nostalgic.

Among them is a series of photos featuring the original creators of "Doctor Who" (I love the shot of them celebrating the sales of the first series), several shots of the original "Doctor Who" cast at various points in the series' run, and a fun collection of images that feature many of the stars before they became The Doctor. (This shot of David Tennant? Brilliant!)

Oh, and just for "What If?" sake, there's also a fascinating gallery of actors who were almost cast as The Doctor.

The site has also presented the findings of the BBC's audience research report on the first "Doctor Who" serial, titled "An Unearthly Child" (an adventure definitely worth checking out if you can track it down). As the site points out, "Doctor Who" had a small but loyal following from the start: "As expected, those who liked the show seem passionate about it, while those who didn't like it appear almost as determined."

Finally, you might also want to check out the Twitter feed of our very own Splash Page contributor Alan Kistler, who's no slouch when it comes to all things "Doctor Who." He took it upon himself to offer up a long list of little-known "Doctor Who" facts today in celebration of the series' birthday.

Given how much he loves the series, you can probably imagine the peaks of geekery ascended when he and I get together. Sometimes we even surprise ourselves.

That's about it for now, but let me join the masses in wishing "Doctor Who" a very happy birthday from yet another fan on this side of the big pond.

Oh, and by the way, you know what would make this day even better? Having that "Doctor Who" performance from the Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson somehow find its way online. I'm just sayin'...

Let us know what you think of all the "Doctor Who" fun in the comment section or on Twitter! You can also follow me, Splash Page editor Rick Marshall, on Twitter!