With Jodie Whittaker taking the helm of the TARDIS and a new era of Who imminent, Impact magazine takes a journey back through space and time to explore the history of TV’s most beloved – and enigmatic – character.
- The First Doctor – William Hartnell/Richard Hurndall/David Bradley
New Who fans might be a bit shocked at the first ever take on a character best known today for his big heart(s) – Hartnell’s Doctor was curt, to-the-point and sometimes rude, showing a particular disdain for humans. Nevertheless, the first Doctor carries a sense of mystery which is enough in itself to keep newer fans interested, and with David Bradley set to reprise the First Doctor’s role in the upcoming Christmas special, no doubt Hartnell’s character might see a bit of a resurgence in the fandom.
- The Second Doctor – Patrick Troughton
When Hartnell was forced to leave the show due to vascular dementia, leading to muddled lines, the original showrunners came up with an ingenious concept to keep Doctor Who going – regeneration. Now a series staple, it allowed the Doctor to change his face and personality to stay alive, giving the series the longevity which has kept it alive for more than 50 years. Known as the ‘Cosmic Hobo,’ Troughton helped develop the Doctor into the character we all love today – clever, witty and weird.
- The Third Doctor – John Pertwee
With the Doctor exiled on Earth, Who met James Bond during Pertwee’s (slightly more) action-oriented episodes. After a shaky comical start set to capitalise on Troughton’s funnier moments, Pertwee opted to just play himself – a move which ensured the distinctive personalities of all Whos in the future.
- The Fourth Doctor – Tom Baker
Still to many the definitive Doctor, it’s amazing how fresh Baker’s episodes feel even in 2017 – though perhaps this shouldn’t be much of a shock given that both Tennant and Smith have cited Baker as major influences. Baker defined the role for generations and no doubt his presence can be felt in the show throughout the remainder of his run – something which the showrunners haven’t forgotten, as Baker cameoed as a potential future incarnation of the character in the 50th anniversary special ‘The Day of the Doctor.’
- The Fifth Doctor – Peter Davison
The youngest actor to play the role until Matt Smith, the cricket-obsessed incarnation played by Davison looked back to Troughton for inspiration and proved himself a more human and empathetic Doctor, laced with what Davison described as ‘reckless innocence.’
- The Sixth Doctor – Colin Baker
Poor Colin Baker. How must it be to get the part of your dreams only to be loathed by fans due to poor scripting and a costume too over-the-top even for the 80s? Colin Baker’s Doctor could be harsh and unempathetic, but naysayers will retrospectively find his incarnation not so bad after all. ‘I am the Doctor, whether you like it or not’ Baker declared in ‘The Twin Dilemma’ – unfortunately, the passion and solid acting beside enough to stop him from gracefully stepping down from the role to save the show from crashing ratings . . .
- The Seventh Doctor – Sylvester McCoy
…Unfortunately, the darker take McCoy brought to the character wasn’t enough to save Doctor Who, but the Seventh Doctor managed to bring back some of the mystery of the character which had been previously lost.
- The Eighth Doctor – Paul McGann
The 1996 Doctor Who movie with perhaps too many Americanisms for British audiences might not have been a massive success, but McGann’s Doctor helped launch the franchise into modernity almost a decade before the 2005 reboot – this unfortunately one-off Doctor (2013 mini-episodes excluded) was smart, sharp and sexy. McGann even shared the Doctor’s first proper on-stage kiss. A perfect taste of what was to come in New Who, McGann’s role was woefully short-lived.
- The War Doctor – John Hurt
Dark and dangerous and a side to the Doctor not even hinted at until 2013, Hurt’s ‘forgotten’ incarnation proves just what the show is capable of. Unfortunately, Hurt’s muted and contemplative portrayal paled besides Tennant and Smith’s more energetic Doctors, but at least he proves why Nine was so moody.
- The Ninth Doctor – Christopher Eccleston
Launching a new era of Who, Eccleston still seems like an odd choice for the Doctor, but his interspersed, darker and broody moments with the genuine humanity and youthfulness Tennant would emphasise in his portrayal, and many of Eccleston’s episodes can now be considered classics unfortunately undermined by startlingly noughties-SFX.
- The Tenth Doctor – David Tennant
If Tom Baker was the quintessential original Doctor, Tennant no doubt holds that role for New Who – as smart, sharp and sexy as McGann but infinitely more human, Tennant proved a massive hit with younger viewers and ushered in a new golden age of Who.
- The Eleventh Doctor – Matt Smith
If there was one thing Tennant was missing, it was that overt alien sense of the character. Happily, Smith brought that back in abundance, with a youthful energy and cheeky playfulness to match that of Tennant’s. His boyishness and relative immaturity were a front for one of the most sensitive and wise Doctors in recent memory – his ‘We all change, when you think about it’ speech is one of the most quotable and profound in the show’s history.
- The Twelfth Doctor – Peter Capaldi
Not to everybody’s taste, Capaldi’s occasional do-what-I-say-I’m-your-grandfather attitude may have put off fans more used to Tennant and Smith’s incarnations. Capaldi’s character very much brought back the wisdom and profundity of the Original Whos – and though some of his early episodes were honestly awful, Capaldi’s underrated run proved that Doctor Who can still be relevant without a young lead.
- Introducing The Thirteenth Doctor – Jodie Whittaker
Why does the BBC insist on revealing the Doctor before the regeneration? Spoilers much. . . With my qualms towards this put aside, no doubt many fans will be feeling a sense of relief after the constant teasing throughout the 10th series. As the first female Doctor of the show, Whittaker will be stepping into the character’s shoes in the upcoming Christmas special and – to quote Colin Baker’s Doctor – ‘it seems not a moment too soon.’
Though it is way too early to even predict what Whittaker’s Doctor might be like, there will always be the naysayers who have already dismissed her as simply being a female lead. Michelle Gomez proved an infinitely better Master/Missie than John Simm, and one can only hope Whittaker does an equally fantastic job with the Doctor to prove all the naysayers wrong! With all the different faces and personalities the Doctor has donned over the years, there’s no reason why this will be any bigger change than any we have already seen, and the appointment of Whitaker may just be the right modification the show needs to kick the decline in ratings. . .