Played by: Christopher Ecclestone
Significant contributions to the Whoniverse: The most obvious contribution to the Whoniverse with the start of Ecclestone’s reign as the Doctor is that he started the second, more successful, attempt to reboot the franchise. More successful in that this is the reboot which is still running today and that has us all excited for the 50th anniversary coming in November. Ecclestone only stayed for one season, citing his displeasure with the team behind the cameras as a major reason why. So it was already a known fact to the audience part way through the season that he was not sticking around.
That said, he helped establish what Doctor Who has become from then until now. The serial structure of the show was dropped for a more episodic structure with a single story normally lasting only one or two episodes. The idea of an overarching story for the season was also established though, despite the fact that not every episode may speak directly to this overarching theme. For instance, in this series, the repeated use of the term Bad Wolf in a number of episode ended up feeding directly into the season conclusion. This type of structure and theme has remained until today.
It is also made evident that some time has passed since we last saw the Doctor. Many references are made to a Time War, in which all Daleks and Timelords aside from the Doctor himself were obliterated. It is clear that the Doctor had to act to cause this genocide of one race and personal isolation as a result of the near genocide of the other. In some episodes it is made very clear is suffering from having had to make that choice.
Finally, there are a few other firsts for the Doctor in Ecclestone’s sole season. Eve Myles and Naoko Mori both appear in episodes, both of whom go on to become cast regulars in Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood. Their appearances in these episodes even get written into the plot of the latter show. John Barrowman also gets introduced as Captain Jack Harkness, whom will later go on to lead the Torchwood team. [SPOILERS] It is indeed as a result of events at the end of this season that lead to Captain Jack’s immortality, which makes a very important plot point of the Torchwood series.