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Doctor Who: A guide to the seasons (and series) numbering of the time-travel show

Are you looking for season 1 or series 1 or... season 1 (but new)?

Doctor Who
Image credit: BBC

Are you ready to start (or continue) watching Doctor Who? Are you finding the season (and series) numbering system incredibly confusing? Well, you're not alone, and it's also unfortunately about to get even more confusing.

But no worries, if you're lost, you can follow along with our guide below.

Classic Era Doctor Who (Season numbering)

Tom Baker in promotional photograph for Doctor Who
Image credit: BBC

Doctor Who first hit airwaves in 1963 with William Hartnell as the First Doctor. The fact that the Doctor "regenerates" into another body (read: another actor) is a big driver behind how the show has run for decades and many, many seasons.

Here is the first chunk of Doctor Who out there and how the seasons are numbered:

Season Doctor Year
Season 1 First Doctor (William Hartnell) 1963
Season 2 First Doctor (William Hartnell) 1964
Season 3 First Doctor (William Hartnell) 1965
Season 4 Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) 1966
Season 5 Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) 1967
Season 6 Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) 1968
Season 7 Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) 1970
Season 8 Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) 1971
Season 9 Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) 1972
Season 10 Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) 1972
Season 11 Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) 1973
Season 12 Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) 1974
Season 13 Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) 1975
Season 14 Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) 1976
Season 15 Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) 1977
Season 16 Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) 1978
Season 17 Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) 1979
Season 18 Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) 1980
Season 19 Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) 1982
Season 20 Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) 1983
Season 21 Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) 1984
Season 22 Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) 1985
Season 23 Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) 1986
Season 24 Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) 1987
Season 25 Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) 1988
Season 26 Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) 1989

New era Doctor Who (Series numbering)

Doctor Who: Ravagers
Image credit: BBC/Big Finish

Doctor Who didn't air from 1989 until its revival in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston playing the Ninth Doctor. With this revival also came a new numbering system, starting with a brand-new Series 1.

Here is how the revival series are numbered:

Series Doctor Year
Series 1 Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) 2005
Series 2 Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) 2006
Series 3 Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) 2007
Series 4 Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) 2008
Series 5 Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) 2010
Series 6 Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) 2011
Series 7 Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) 2012
Series 8 Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) 2014
Series 9 Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) 2015
Series 10 Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) 2017
Series 11 Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) 2018
Series 12 Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) 2020
Series 13 Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) 2021

Global era Doctor Who (Season numbering)

Ncuti Gatwa in a white shirt and untied tie
Image credit: BBC

Russell T. Davies has just confirmed that Ncuti Gatwa's new season of Doctor Who will be renumbered as Doctor Who season 1, perhaps in a way to capture a more global audience. So that means that there will be two season 1s of Doctor Who, along with a series 1.

Here is how what we're calling the Global era of Doctor Who is numbered:

Season Doctor Year
Season 1 Fifteenth Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) 2024

Doctor Who: How and where to watch the wibbly wobbly, timey wimey show