The classic Doctor Who episodes are those that originally went to air between 1963 and 1989. In total, there are 26 seasons, 155 serials and 695 episodes. Most episodes are 25 minutes long.
Seven actors played the role of the Doctor during this time – William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy. There were dozens of companions, including the popular Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen).
Due to the BBC’s policy of wiping its tapes in the 1970s, 97 classic Doctor Who episodes are lost. Of the 598 surviving ones, most are still available to watch online through various streaming and downloading services, and on DVD too.
Doctor Who Classic Episodes on Netflix
Netflix, a movie and TV streaming service, is usually one of the best ways to watch Doctor Who online. Many classic episodes are available, however due to copyright restrictions, the ranges differ between regions.
Netflix U.S. makes 75 classic episodes available, starring all classic Doctors except the Sixth (Colin Baker). Netflix UK has 18 episodes starring only the Sixth and the Seventh (Sylvester McCoy) Doctors. Netflix Canada has 24 episodes starring the Second (Patrick Troughton), Third (Jon Pertwee) and Fourth (Tom Baker) Doctors. Make sure to read our full Doctor Who + Netflix write-up to check if the episode(s) you want are available in your region.
Doctor Who Classic Episodes on Amazon Instant Video
If you want to watch Doctor Who classic episodes online and you’re in the U.S., Amazon Instant Video is one of your best options. It’s a video on-demand service that you can access for free if you’re an Amazon Prime member, and it’s still cheap if you’re not.
There are a total of 97 classic Doctor Who episodes available on Amazon Instant Video. The cross-section stars all classic Doctors from the First to the Seventh. All episodes are available to Amazon Prime members for free, and most are available to non-members for $1.99. For more information on episode availability and how you can get the service for free, read our full Doctor Who + Amazon Instant Video write-up.
Doctor Who Classic Episodes on DVD
Although 97 of the 695 classic Doctor Who episodes are missing from the BBC’s archive, almost all of the 598 surviving episodes have been released on DVD. The Doctor Who classic series DVDs are available from many retailers, but we recommend Amazon because of its low prices (sometimes discounted by as much as 75%) and its fast 1 or 2 day shipping.
There are too many titles to list here, so here are some of Amazon’s most highly-rated DVD’s.
- The Beginning: An Unearthly Child, The Daleks, The Edge of Destruction
- Genesis of the Daleks
- The Invasion
- The Seeds of Doom
- City of Death
- Terror of the Zygons
- The Robots of Death
- The Ice Warriors
- The Tenth Planet
Doctor Who Classic Episodes on iTunes
iTunes, Apple’s online music and video store, has 64 classic Doctor Who serials – each comprising about 4 episodes. This will probably be the option for you if you already have iTunes credit or an iTunes gift card.
The available episodes on iTunes feature all classic Doctors from the First to the Seventh, and each individual episode is $1.99 or £1.89. To see exactly which serials are available and which Doctor each features, read our full Doctor Who + iTunes write-up.
Doctor Who Classic Episodes on BBC iPlayer and BBC.co.uk
BBC iPlayer is the BBC’s catch-up service in the UK. Whenever a Doctor Who episode is repeated on BBC TV, it’s subsequently uploaded to iPlayer for 7 days. However, it’s very rare for classic Doctor Who episodes to be repeated on BBC TV.
If you’re out of luck, you can always head over to the official Doctor Who website at BBC.co.uk, where there is a short clip from many of the surviving classic episodes. These are free and available worldwide (not just to UK residents).
The information on this page is correct as of December 2013.