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What Only Hardcore Doctor Who Fans Know About The Infamous Orange Spacesuit

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Has there ever been a TV program with a more devout fanbase than "Doctor Who" over the years? The long-running BBC series has seen generation after generation of viewers tune in and analyze practically every single moment of the show — even details from the costumes the characters are wearing. This brings us to today's "Doctor Who" hardcore fan topic of the day: those orange spacesuits.

For those who aren't aware, orange spacesuits have been worn multiple times by the Doctor and their companions in recent years, with the Tenth (David Tennant), Eleventh, (Matt Smith), Twelfth (Peter Capaldi), and Thirteenth Doctors (Jodie Whittaker) all donning them at some point. During the initial run of "Doctor Who" from 1963 to 1989, the orange digs were never once used. It wasn't until the 2006 Season 2 episode of the revived "Doctor Who" series — titled "The Impossible Planet" — that they'd make their iconic debut. Since then, the suits have been featured at least eight different times (via BBC).

"It's clear we love the orange spacesuit," wrote the BBC in a 2016 appreciation post. "It's a classic look that transcends regenerations! But have we seen the last of it? We certainly hope not!" At the end of the day, anyone can do a quick Google search to see why and where the suits show up in "Doctor Who" exactly. But what about the stuff that only diehards know? Let's take a quick dive into that.

The real-life inspiration behind the orange spacesuits

According to "Doctor Who" expert and YouTuber Richard Lloyd, the orange Sanctuary Base 6 spacesuits that continue to sneak their way into "Doctor Who" episodes were apparently inspired by — you guessed it — actual NASA spacesuits. But these aren't the ones you're probably thinking of.

As explained by Lloyd in a 2020 video, the book "Doctor Who: The Inside Story" by Gary Russell has some excerpts from costume designer Louise Page saying she initially planned on a large, white, and puffy design as a nod to what astronauts wore during the legendary Apollo missions from 1968 to 1972 (via NASA). But writer Russell T. Davies was against this and instead insisted that the suits be modeled after NASA's orange spacesuit collection used during the Space Shuttle missions of 1972 to 2011. 

Per Russell's book, Davies ultimately preferred orange because it stood out better on film against the dark backdrops of Krop Tor, the planet David Tennant's Tenth Doctor was on when the suit first appeared. Later iterations have not included the Sanctuary Base 6 patches and insignia seen on the original, leading some to wonder if they're all the same suit or just different ones. The BBC has implied that they are the same several times before in the past, but nothing has been confirmed.