What constitutes an "era"? How do you divide eras?

What’s the best way to divide eras of Doctor Who? Should we primarily divide by actor playing the Doctor (the Hartnell/First Doctor era, the Tom Baker/Fourth Doctor era, etc)? Or should we divide by Production Team (the RTD era, the Philip Hinchcliffe era, the Graham Williams era, the Eric Saward era, etc)? And if you divide eras, how do you factor in expanded media? Do the Virgin New Adventures fall under the McCoy/Seventh Doctor era, the Cartmell era, or their own unique era? Just things to think about and discuss since Doctor Who fans love organizing and classifying things.

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I think for me, for TV I mainly go either by Doctor or by production team, depending on what I’m talking about - sometimes you want to discuss the themes of the Hinchcliffe era, for instance, or think about a specific Doctor as a whole.

For BF I think I either do production team - definitely this is how I refer to Gallifrey - or by companions. For instance, the Charley era of 8 is different to the Lucie era, to me. Of course, complicated by various factors but in general, I think I think in terms of production or Doctor/Companion


I usually try to group by either story arcs or by the main creative voices. Usually those align (although I am grouping the 60th specials in with series 13 because that makes much more sense than as pre-season 1)

Basically I tend to think of it in terms of jumping-on points, and an era is what comes after a given starting point

For 8’s audios, that ends up meaning “Storm Warning” through “The Girl Who Never Was” ends up being considered the Gary Russel era (I like to throw 6+Charley’s run in here too, even though I know that’s more Nick Briggs, because it’s a part of the same story working from the same starting point). “Blood of the Daleks” up to and including “Dark Eyes” is the Nick Briggs era (because Dark Eyes works much better following on after To The Death than it does as a starting point for a new era, and it’s the same creative voices (at least initially)). “Doom Coalition” and onward I tend to think of as the John Dorney era (though I admit identifying a single showrunner is slightly muddier in the current era so that may not be accurate).

For 8’s books, it’s a clean split. “The Eight Doctors” through “The Ancestor Cell” is the Steven Cole era, and “The Burning” through “The Gallifrey Chronicles” is the Justin Richards Era.


I go by Doctor, when speaking specifically, or by showrunner. So, to use my favorite example, the Sixth Doctor Era is under the JNT Era umbrella. I don’t ever use the term “Era” to describe companions, nor do I use companions to describe eras (as sircarolyn mentioned above).

For example, with Six, even though he’s had many companions and his characterization has evolved over time, I wouldn’t say something like “his Peri Brown era” or “his Constance era” to describe him (nor would I say “his TV era” or “his audio era”). I’d say, instead, “when he traveled with Peri on the show” or “when he traveled with Peri in the audios”.

To me, Era is a broad term, and breaking it down to the Doctor-level is as small as I’m willing to make it. The Sixth Doctor Era comprises the entirety of the Sixth Doctor’s media; there is no need to make separate eras for the books and the TV serials and the audios.

The VNA’s I would put under the Seventh Doctor era.


It really does depend on the context of the discussion in hand. Sometimes simply grouping by Doctor makes the most sense but at others it would make sense to look at producers or even script editors - there is a world of difference, for example, between the approaches of David Whitaker as oppose to Dennis Spooner or between Eric Saward and Andrew Cartmel.

In the expanded universe, again context means we might be discussing the EDAs or the VNAs or Big Finish but, again, there are eras such as those presided over by Gary Russell or Nicholas Briggs or in the books the influence of people like Rebecca Levene, Steve Cole or Justin Richards.


To sum the rest of my long post, I usually go by actor, but sometimes production overshadows that and can make me group Doctors together.

This is such a difficult (and subjective) question to answer isn’t it. I always find that Hartnell/Troughton feel more similar than Torughton/Pertwee, despite the two eras being so different in themselves. Not sure if its because they’re both black and white and my ape brain groups them because of that though.

Production-wise, to me they do feel different. Each of Troughton’s 3 seasons have 7 stories apiece, whereas each of Hartnell’s are a bit higgledy-piggledy with him only having 2 stories in season 4 and a whopping 10 in season 3.

After season 7, Letts &co. made it a lot more coherent with Pertwee, given they ran his whole era, with 5 stories per season and much fewer episodes per year than either Hartnell or Troughton, and that is where I start to see a bit of a change in how I would view the eras of the show.

Baker obviously had the 3 showrunners (not including Letts for ‘Robot’), but to me that feels roughly consistent as well with the season formats (6 stories, 5 of 4 episodes 1 of 6), and while you can definitely tell the difference between Hinchcliffe, Williams, and JNT I think I’d be happy grouping it into one era.

Despite the changes in production with Colin Baker’s seasons, I generally consider Davison and CBaker as sort-of-one-era, probably due to Saward being the SE for those seasons. S22 feels a bit like an odd one out with its double-length episodes, but as it didn’t stick I don’t personally count it as being different enough.

With McCoy’s seasons, that does feel like its own standalone era. The music is much different, the stories are less similar to Davison/Baker’s the titles are wildly different from what came before, and the production of the show changed again to 4 stories (2 of 4 and 2 of 3 episodes), and to me that does feel entirely different from what came before.

McGann’s is a film produced 7 years after McCoy’s ended, it is its own era I don’t think anyone would argue otherwise.

Personally, I consider both Eccleston and Tennant’s series as an era together, as the stories all share a similar vibe, the titles are the same (bar the music) for all 4.5 series, and they both feel very very interlinked, moreso than any two Doctor tenures to come before or after in my opinion. Helps that they were both ran by the same person.

The Eleventh Doctor’s tenure feels like such a change both from RTD1 and the Twelfth Doctor’s tenure that I usually consider it its own thing. S5 production-wise felt much more similar to RTD1 than any of Capaldi’s series or even Smith’s other series, but I think in S6 Moffat explored and played around a bit more, and that cemented it more as its own thing. The vibe of the stories Smith got were much different to 9/10’s stories, and I think sufficiently different enough from 12’s stories that I am comfortable putting it in its own era.

The same goes to say for Capaldi’s era, it feels rather disconnected to me from Smith’s era (odd considering Clara), and I usually consider them different. This isn’t necessarily down to the episode number, but that does impact it slightly.

Like McGann, I don’t think anyone can argue against saying Whittaker’s era was its own era. S11 felt entirely disconnected from what came before (which I don’t really mind), and a lot of production changes were made, from the episode count to the filming techniques to the music, it felt to me like a complete revamp of the show.

So far, from what we’ve seen of 14/15, I don’t think I can say with any feeling either way. The episodes and trailers so far make it feel like RTD1 in that both Doctor’s tenures feel much more interconnected than say 11/12 or 2/3.


Honestly, vibes. Literally. When there’s a sharp vibe change, I consider that a change into a new era. One with Susan is very different thematically from One with Vicki and then you face the overwhelming darkness that is just Season 3 in general before things take a turn towards more fun once he regenerates. I am one of those people who finds a very easy split in the vibes of the three Troughton seasons. Meanwhile, you can make a more interesting split in the Pertwee years between his companions and, of course, Tom Baker is famously split by his producers. I can go on. But yeah, vibes.


Old Who by Doctor, NuWho by Showrunner broken down into Doctor runs.


Honestly, how you divide eras is going to depend the topic at hand. Sometimes classic vs. new who makes sense, when talking about things like serials vs. season arcs, the Doctor getting into romances and such.

Contrasting showrunners eras can make sense as well, since RTD vs. Moffatt vs. Chibnall are very different, for example.

Sometimes it might make more sense to talk about particular Doctor’s eras, since they all have different personalities.

What companions the Doctor has makes a big difference, too. Amy/Rory vs. Clara vs. Bill/Nordole/Missy all have rather different feels, and you could really break it down by them as well!

Generally, it’s all going to depend on what you’re talking about at the time.


Context dependent, each doctor I consider an era, post 2005 you also have the added era (perhaps these should be called epochs?) for each different showrunner as well, though I suppose for Chris Chibnall’s run he only oversaw one Doctor so its the same as 13s era (assuming we aren’t getting a Chibnall 2 in 20 years time). Oh and RTD1 vs RTD2 are ofc, seperate eras/epochs