We are coming to the end of Jodie Whittaker’s first season as everyone’s favourite space and time adventuring Time Lord/Lady, so to celebrate I decide to take a look back over the show as a whole, and give you some of my thoughts on each era of the show. Now I love Doctor Who, and believe that every actor brought their own unique spin, and that should be celebrated, but we are always going to have favourites. And I would love to hear who your favourite Doctor is, and who your first Doctor was in the comments. Allons-y!
14) Colin Baker – Colin Baker just wasn’t great. He has spoken about a wish to develop the character over a large number of years. The problem was that where they started just wasn’t very likeable. He was far too standoffish and abrasive, which after the likes of Tom Baker and the Davison just didn’t gel with what The Doctor had become. They looked too far in the future, and whilst Baker may have become one of the greats in the role, they just didn’t allow him to grab the audience from the start. From what I’ve seen I’ve never been hugely compelled to seek out more of his work, he is comfortably bottom of the pile for me.
13) Paul McGann – I like Paul McGann as an actor, he’s done a lot of great work. However the problem with him as The Doctor was he’s mainly been restricted to the 1996 TV movie. That TV movie just never had a balance, it was too early for the show to really make any impact in America, but it was too American for McGann’s Doctor to truly resonate in the UK. McGann has gone on to appear in numerous audio dramas, but his only other filmed appearance was the short ‘The Night of the Doctor’ where he did a good job, and it’s a shame he never got a proper series.
12) Peter Davison – Now in terms of classic Doctor Who I’ve seen a lot of Pertwee and Tom Baker, and that is probably because those are the Doctors my parents watched when they were younger. And that has probably coloured my view of Peter Davison as little, because he was The Doctor they dropped off during. I know he’s a hugely popular Doctor, and I don’t mind the episodes of his I’ve seen. But they haven’t stacked up those of the two Doctors that preceded him, which I know is something of an impossible task. But hey at least his Doctor played cricket that one time.
11) Sylvester McCoy – now I will admit to being a little biased towards Sylvester McCoy, partially due to the fact that he’s Scottish, and mostly because he was Radagast the Brown in the Hobbit movies. This means that despite not having seen much of his tenure as the Doctor, only some of his best in ‘The Curse of Fenric’ and ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’, I do have a soft spot for McCoy. It also certainly helps that the only episodes I’ve seen are counted amongst his very best.
10) John Hurt – John Hurt may have only ever appeared once in the 50th anniversary special as The War Doctor, but he made a hell of an impression in that one appearance. His chemistry with Tennant and Smith was excellent, and to see him wrestle with this horrible decision that had haunted the following three Doctors was powerful stuff. But he cannot really go any higher on this list, purely because we haven’t seen enough from him.
9) William Hartnell – The original. Reverence has to be paid to the man who originated the role way back in 1963 even if the character has evolved a lot since then. Without Hartnell the show would never have grown into what it is today. That said he is a cantankerous and grumpy, rather than the inspirational figure The Doctor is now. But he has some great stories, and had good dynamics with Susan, Ian, and Barbara.
8) Peter Capaldi – Peter Capaldi is a wonderful actor, and I think could have been an even better Doctor than he was able to show because he was often hampered by some poor scripts. That said Capaldi did produce some of the finest performances from any actor in the role of the Doctor, and in his final season was finally able to get a season worthy of his talents as an actor. In episodes such as ‘The Witch’s Familiar’ and ‘Heaven Sent’, which were very Capaldi heavy episodes, he produced powerhouse performances that can be matched up against any other in the show’s history.
7) Jodie Whittaker – Right now, just as we finish season this is where Jodie is sitting from me. Being the first female Doctor brings a huge deal of (unwarranted) pressure, because there has been a fair amount of backlash online. But Jodie has risen to that challenge brilliantly. The general quality of episodes thus far has been pretty good with a few real standouts in ‘Rosa’, ‘Demons of the Punjab’, and ‘It Takes You Away’, whilst ‘Arachnids In The UK’ has been the only stinker (although terrifying to those of us who are scared of spiders). Whittaker herself has shown all the qualities needed in a Doctor, and has had some moments of brilliant acting prowess.
6) Patrick Troughton – The idea of a character regenerating would obviously have been a foreign concept at the time that William Hartnell transitioned into Troughton, arguably putting more pressure on Troughton than was on his predecessor. And whilst he still had elements of Hartnell there, he was much more akin to a modern Doctor. The most famous of his companions, Jamie McCrimmon was one of the absolute best, and together they delivered a number of fantastic stories, and introduced so many classic villains. Troughton sometimes gets forgotten amongst the first four Doctors, but he should get more credit than that.
5) Christopher Eccleston – There was huge pressure on Chris Eccleston as the man charged with the revival of the show in 2005, but boy was he up to the challenge. It’s a real shame that we only got one season of Eccleston in the role due to his falling out with those that ran Doctor Who, but in that one year he displayed an incredible ability to mix a likeable and charming persona with a great pain and suffering under the surface. He had some wonderful episodes, and with him introduced three of my favourite companions ever in Rose, Mickey, and Captain Jack. Eccleston’s chemistry with them, particularly Billie Piper’s Rose, was great. The series had some low moments, but not many, and Eccleston was always a joy to watch.
4) Matt Smith – As the first Doctor in the move from the Russell T. Davies era to the Steven Moffat era we were always going to see a change in the way the character was written. Whilst Eccleston and Tennant were incredibly human in their Doctors, whereas Smith was incredibly strange and alien from day one. His bizarre, manic energy was infectious, and he managed to fill what was a huge void in the aftermath of Tennant’s departure. Smith’s chemistry with Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill was off the charts, and it was very clear to see that they were great friends off set. It’s not hard to see why Smith has become a huge favourite for many who came on board during his tenure, because he was the perfect Doctor to bring Moffat’s stories to life.
3) Jon Pertwee – A large portion of Jon Pertwee’s time as The Doctor was hampered by the budget leaving him constrained to Earth. But thanks to Pertwee, and his dandy charm, this never really felt like a drag. In fact it allowed them to use far more of the great supporting characters like the Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Pertwee himself was never one for the technobabble you’d expect from The Doctor (save for the iconic “reverse the polarity of the neutron flow”, although he certainly had no problem with throwing his intelligence around and delivering withering put downs. The once Pertwee was finally given the opportunity to explore the universe he was paired up with possibly the greatest companion ever, Elisabeth Sladen’s Sarah Jane Smith. Pertwee was truly unique amongst all The Doctors, I don’t think there’s ever been anyone like him, and I doubt anyone else would be able to pull it off.
2) Tom Baker – Not only is Tom Baker the greatest Doctor in classic era of Who, but he is still to this day the longest serving Doctor. Starring in the role of seven years there aren’t many more recognisable characters in the world of science-fiction than this incarnation of the character. He powerful, booming voice meant that he managed to make nearly any dialogue sound impressive. He managed to blend the strange otherworldly qualities of Matt Smith’s Doctor, with the charming human ones of a David Tennant. He truly has some of the greatest and most lasting stories ever told in Doctor Who, and he provided one of the incarnations that we will remember forever.
1) David Tennant – Without a doubt my favourite Doctor has to be David Tennant. There was something about his incredible charisma the surpasses everyone else for me. It’s hard to put into words just what it was that made Tennant so special, but there was something. He is probably responsible for more of my favourite episodes than any other Doctor, including my absolutely favourite ‘The Girl In The Fireplace’. Tennant’s Doctor produced so many memorable moments, speeches, and quotes and managed to turn potentially forgettable or throwaway lines and episodes into some of the best. His unique way of delivery was just so special, and all being done not in his native accent. Maybe if I was older Tom Baker would be in competition for my favourite, but Tennant truly is my Doctor.