The Washington Post

‘Doctor Who’: Hello, Dalek! Celebrating 50th birthday with today’s BBC special, interactive Google Doodle game

TODAY, Google hears a Who.

With Doctor Who’s new feature-length special just hours away, a massive new tribute Doodle — the “Whodle” — appears on the search giant’s U.S. home page thanks to a fan.

As the British phenomenon marks its 50th-birthday milestone Saturday, the golden celebration is global: “The Day of the Doctor” BBC special will be simulcast in at least 75 countries at 2:50 p.m. ET today, in addition to its limited theatrical release.

The BBC — that timeline lord — also has a great infographic up detailing a history of Doctor Who’s trips. And BBC America’s YouTube channel is having a pre-show video party.

But for Google’s participation in toasting the sci-fi program, it came down to the California company listening to an in-house Whovian.

“The idea for a ‘Doctor Who’ Doodle came from a fan here at Google,” the Doodle game’s lead artist, the London-born Matthew Cruickshank, tells Comic Riffs.

“We knew straight away it had special ingredients — technology, science fiction and art!” continues the Northern California-based Cruickshank, of the show that launched in Britain in 1963, with William Hartnell as its first Doctor — and with the Doctor’s junkyard TARDIS resting at 76 Totter’s Lane.

Matt Smith is the Eleventh Doctor in today’s 50th-anniversary special, “The Day of the Doctor.” (Adrian Rogers/BBC)

“I was interested in how graphic and simple I could make the characters, yet keep them recognizable,” Cruickshank tells ‘Riffs. “It had to be multiple levels, too. The Doctor can go anywhere!”

The interactive game involves retrieving the letters of “Google,” by time-traveling via the “policebox” TARDIS. The player naturally confronts those villainous Daleks — and can regenerate into each Doctor — as your time suctions away.

The “challenges were that I’ve never made a game before,” Cruickshank tells us. “But each Doodle is a ‘first’ in its own way.

“I had incredible engineers on hand to help too, which saved my English bacon!”

The show’s 11 Doctors (from left): William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith. (BBC via AP)
Writer/artist/visual storyteller Michael Cavna is creator of the "Comic Riffs" column and graphic-novel reviewer for The Post's Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in most any form.

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