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The Doctor is the title character in the long-running BBC science fiction television programme Doctor Who. Since the show's inception in 1963, the character has been portrayed by thirteen lead actors. In the programme, "the Doctor" is the alias assumed by a centuries-old alien – a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey – who travels through space and time in the TARDIS, frequently with companions. The transition to each succeeding actor is explained within the show's narrative through the plot device of "regeneration", a biological function of the Time Lord race that allows a change of cellular structure and appearance with recovery following a potentially fatal injury.

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“Time travel is like visiting Paris. You can't just read the guidebook. You've got to throw yourself in! Eat the food, use the wrong verbs, get charged double and end up kissing complete strangers! Or is that just me?” - The Ninth Doctor (The Long Game)

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