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The 20 best Doctor Who episodes ever

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This year marked the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who (at least, the only 50th anniversary we know about – after all, the famous Gallifreyan is said to be between 400 and 1,000 years old).

As we eagerly await this year's Christmas episode, we’ve gathered clips from our 20 favourite episodes ever.

Do you agree with the list? Did we miss one of your favourites?

1. THE DALEK INVASION OF EARTH

Year: 1965

Doctor: William Hartnell

In this episode, the Daleks don’t just invade Earth, they pummel the planet with plague-carrying meterorites, turn humans into robot slaves and decide to drill to the centre of the Earth. And to think we laughed at them for not being able to navigate stairs.

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2. THE RUNAWAY BRIDE

Year: 2006

Doctor: David Tennant

A Christmas special in which the Doctor is distracted by the loss of Rose Tyler when Catherine Tate's bride Donna teleports into the TARDIS wearing a wedding dress, and her wedding is overrun by robot Santas. It's a festive thrill ride which gives a taste of the riotous time the Doctor would spend with Donna as his companion.

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3. TOMB OF THE CYBERMEN

Year: 1967

Doctor: Patrick Troughton

The Doctor goes on an archaeological dig on the planet of the Cybermen only to find that they're still very much alive, and much more creepy than their modern fibreglass equivalents. This episode is a bit like The Mummy - only with metallic, monotone villains, and no snogging.

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4. THE BEAST BELOW

Year: 2010

Doctor: Matt Smith

Many years in the future, Earth's inhabitants live aboard a massive spaceship. However, certain citizens keep disappearing if they fall foul of the sinister, doll-like 'Smilers'... This episode confirms every irrational fear we've ever entertained about carnival puppets and ventriloquists' dummies.

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5. GENESIS OF THE DALEKS

Year: 1975

Doctor: Tom Baker

A moral dilemma presents itself when the Time Lords send the Doctor and co back in time to destroy the Daleks before they can start to cause trouble -- but does the Doctor have the right to do so? We also meet the Daleks' wrinkly creator here, Davros.

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6. MIDNIGHT

Year: 2008

Doctor: David Tennant

A very spooky episode where we never really figure out what's going on. The Doctor takes a leisure trip on an alien shuttle - but the engines mysteriously fail, and one of the passengers starts acting oddly. Is she possessed? This scene, where the passenger (played by Lesley Sharp) predicts what the Doctor is going to say, is a masterpiece.

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7. THE CAVES OF ANDROZANI

Year: 1984

Doctor: Peter Davidson/Colin Baker

In this brilliantly hammy episode, the 1980s cricket-jumper Doctor goes spelunking in an alien cave, gets covered in weird goo, and is captured by a local baddie. He manages to fool the baddie with a robot double, but the cave goo is toxic, and his only way to survive is to regenerate... into Colin Baker.

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8. THE GIRL IN THE FIREPLACE

Year: 2006

Doctor: David Tennant

The Doctor and crew find themselves on a 51st-century spaceship which contains, among other things, windows into the baroque life of an 18th century French noblewoman. And it turns out she's being stalked by malevolent clockwork robots with china faces. Another superbly tense episode.

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9. AN UNEARTHLY CHILD

Year: 1963

Doctor: William Hartnell

The first time audiences ever saw the TARDIS, it was in a junkyard in London by a couple of unassuming teachers called Ian and Barbara. Next we meet the Doctor - who, it turns out, has a granddaugher called Susan - and they all take the TARDIS on an adventure in the Stone Age.

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10. LOVE AND MONSTERS

Year: 2006

Doctor: David Tennant

An offbeat episode where the Doctor and his companions only have bit-parts. Instead we meet Elton Pope, who is a member of a paranormal detective agency-cum-support group for people who have encountered the Doctor. It's funny and touching and, if that's not enough for you, it also features Peter Kay as a spotty alien.

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11. THE SEEDS OF DOOM

Year: 1976

Doctor: Tom Baker

An alien plant, unearthed by scientists in the Antarctic, starts attacking people and turning them into plant monsters. In a very British adventure, the Doctor has to fight both the alien plants and ecological red tape to save the planet - but he succeeds by improvising a bomb, enlisting the RAF, and escaping in a limousine.

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12. THE ELEVENTH HOUR

Year: 2010

Doctor: Matt Smith

This energetic episode is Matt Smith's first outing as the Doctor (and Steven Moffat's first spin as the series' head writer), crash-landing the TARDIS in seven-year-old Amelia Pond's garden, demanding fish fingers and custard, then disappearing from her life for 12 years. When he comes back, the adult Amy Pond, her fiancé Rory and the Doctor track down the escaped alien convict, Prisoner Zero.

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13. THE CURSE OF FENRIC

Year: 1989

Doctor: Sylvester McCoy

A wonderful 1980s mix of supercomputers, Viking runes, sea vampires, psychic barriers and a massive plot twist featuring the Doctor's companion, Ace.

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14. THE EMPTY CHILD

Year: 2005

Doctor: Christopher Ecclestone

"Are you my Mummy?" A chilling episode set during the Blitz in 1940s London. A small boy in a gas mask wanders through the rubble asking for his mother, but people won't touch him, saying that he's "not a real boy". This episode also introduced us to Captain Jack Harkness, who went on to feature in the BBC show Torchwood.

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15. THE GREEN DEATH

Year: 1973

Doctor: John Pertwee

This episode is stuffed with classic Doctor Who imagery - bright green slime, a slag heap explosion, giant rubbery maggot monsters - and John Pertwee in his half-cape, striding in to save the day with a small blue alien crystal. Brilliant.

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16. ROSE

Year: 2005

Doctor: Christopher Ecclestone

We had no idea what to expect when Doctor Who was revived with a film and theatre actor and former pop singer in the starring roles, especially when the opening minutes looked like a scene from EastEnders. But it was jaunty and unpredictable, with bags of chemistry, and it worked like a charm.

17. THE MEDDLING MONK

Year: 1965

Doctor: William Hartnell

In 11th century England, amid Saxon and Viking clashes, the Doctor encounters a mischevious Gallifreyan who's been travelling through time wreaking havoc. In case you're wondering, it turns out that he helped to build Stonehenge using anti-gravity, and he's the one who told Da Vinci all about helicopters. FYI.

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18. DOOMSDAY

Year: 2006

Doctor: David Tennant

This episode changed the rules of Doctor Who. First it pitches super-villains the Cybermen against ultra-baddies the Daleks. Then it took Rose - the Doctor's companion for two seasons - and dumped her in a parallel universe, and the Time Lord's grief was palpable. Could it be that the Doctor was... in love? With the person who sang Because We Want To?

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19. THE ROBOTS OF DEATH

Year: 1977

Doctor: Tom Baker

In addition to sporting the coolest title in this list, The Robots of Death - in which the inhabitants of a mining vehicle on another planet are mysteriously being strangled to death - also features the Doctor's leather-clad, knife-wielding companion, Leela. Which some people (mainly male) quite liked at the time.

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20. BLINK

Year: 2007

Doctor: David Tennant

You'll never look at a statue in the same way. With the Doctor and his companion engaged elsewhere, it's actually Sally Sparrow (played by Carey Mulligan) who discovers the Weeping Angels - statues who stand still while you look at them until you look away or blink, which is when they pounce. Terrifying.

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