Matt Smith is the current lead in the BBC series...

Matt Smith is the current lead in the BBC series "Doctor Who, which is marking its 50th anniversary in 2013. Credit: BBC

Who has lasted 50 years on television around the world, inspiring radio shows, comic books, toys and fan conventions?

Who? Yes. Who.

Doctor Who, more properly called The Doctor -- that galactic-traveling time lord, whose first tube appearance on the BBC on Nov. 23, 1963, is being celebrated worldwide this week with hours of video tribute, here on BBC America.

Kicking it off is Monday's marathon of "The Doctors Revisited" (9 a.m.-9 p.m.), profiling the actors who have portrayed the "regenerated" hero, from cranky original oldster William Hartnell to '70s hip Tom Baker to recently beloved David Tennant. (It's actually preceded at 8 a.m. by "The Companions," about the Doctor's human partners.) Monday night at 9 comes the new special "Tales from the TARDIS," with backstage reminiscences, followed at 10 p.m. by "The Science of Doctor Who" with Brian Cox.

Tuesday morning at 10 begins a five-day run of the modern "Doctor Who" continuation that launched in 2005 starring Christopher Eccleston. With 9 p.m.'s "The Parting of the Ways," The Doctor morphs into Tennant, then morphs again into Matt Smith with Wednesday's 8 p.m. "The End of Time."

Friday night, Nov. 22, holds two premiere specials -- "Doctor Who: Explained" (8 p.m.), help for the uninitiated, and "An Adventure in Space and Time" (9 p.m.), dramatizing the show's 1963 creation. Saturday, Nov. 23, brings the big global simulcast of the 50th-anniversary drama "The Day of the Doctor" (2:50 p.m., with a 7 p.m. encore), pairing Tennant and Smith in action set in both 2013 and 1562.

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