The Doctors

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****Please note that the years listed do not include any specials, audios, books, or other roles in the Who-verse that these actors have played.****

The First Doctor (1963-1966):  William Hartnell first introduced us to the character of “The Doctor” in 1963.  Found by his granddaughter Susan Foreman’s teachers Ian and Barbara, we quickly learn that this Doctor is inquisitive and an explorer, but also overtly grouchy with a soft spot well hidden.  Introducing the world to the TARDIS, Time Lords, time travel, and the ultimate foe – the Daleks, this set the standard for science fiction, yet to be surpassed in its fifty one year history.  This Doctor firmly establishes that while they can walk through time, they cannot and should not alter it; most notably highlighted in “The Aztecs.”  When Hartnell became ill, the concept of regeneration was brought about and the changes began.  Defeating the Cybermen, he realizes his body is “wearing a bit thin,” he collapses, and goes through his first regeneration.  While we love the following Doctors, and appreciate the many stories after Bill, the truth is, we’ll never forget *THE* first Doctor.

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The Second Doctor (1966-1969):  Patrick Troughton breathed new life into the part of The Doctor as the first regeneration/second incarnation of The Doctor.  A little more light hearted, playing his flute and stumbling into trouble in outer space, this Doctor was both funny and the serious man we always knew he could be.  He played the fool at times, but was inevitably several steps ahead of his opponents and companions, and did not hesitate to manipulate the situation to have the outcome go his way.  While there was still the dark edge to the character, at his heart, this Doctor had a firm moral compass and a huge desire and capacity to help those in need.  While this Doctor spends some time with Ben and Polly (originally companions to Hartnell’s Doctor), as well as Victoria and Zoe, his closest friend is a Highlander named Jamie McCrimmon, which allowed for a phenomenal partnership to emerge between Troughton and Frazer Hines who played Jamie.   Known for saying, “Oh my giddy Aunt!” when excited, Troughton’s Doctor regenerated when the Time Lords gave him a sort of cosmic plastic surgery – forcing the regeneration on him as a punishment.

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The Third Doctor (1970-1974): A charismatic, science oriented man, Jon Pertwee’s  Doctor spent his time exiled to Earth by the Time Lords, and settling into a job at UNIT (Unified Intelligence Taskforce, or at the time, the U.N. Intelligence Taskforce) as their scientific advisor.  He is first accompanied by Liz Shaw, who was replaced by Jo Grant later in his tenure, as his scientific assistants both at UNIT and as companions.   As a science oriented incarnation, his “catchphrase” was “reverse the polarity (of the neutron flow)” and he thrives in the lab atmosphere he works in.   It is this Doctor that first meets The Brigadier, Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, as well as Sarah Jane Smith, and become fond of earth “toys” such as his bright yellow car named Bessie he traveled in while he did not have access to his TARDIS.  Pertwee’s Doctor is the first incarnation that viewers see meeting The Master, and the rapport the two have is stunning.  He spent the majority of his time on Earth, but still let fans see that The Doctor was as clever, intense, manipulative, and brilliant as ever.  When poisoned by radiation on Metebelis III, The Doctor regenerated again.

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The Fourth Doctor (1974-1981):  Tom Baker graced our screens and gave the viewers a real treat.  This Doctor had been freed from exile from Gallifrey.  Unpredictable, wild, off beat, funny, serious, and eccentric, his friendship with Sarah Jane Smith flourished under his boundless energy and quirks.  Baker has the most T.V. episodes of any Doctor, and it is no mystery why he held the hearts of the viewers for so long.  With his iconic scarf and hat, Baker’s jacket pockets were full of unique items including his beloved yo-yo and famous “Jelly Babies.”  His other companions included the “savage” Leela, the robotic dog K-9, and the Time Lady Romana.  In one of his best performances, “The Genesis of the Daleks,” Baker has the chance to destroy the Daleks, but stops to question whether he has the right to commit genocide; a philosophical question that will haunt his coming incarnations as well as having viewers question what seemed like a very easy decision.  In the end, Baker’s Doctor confronts the Master, and after falls from the top of a radio telescope, regenerating.

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The Fifth Doctor (1982-1984):  The cricket loving Peter Davison was surprisingly young for a Time Lord when he was cast.  His Doctor dressed in a posh, neatly pressed cricket outfit and despite having old eyes and tremendous wisdom looked like a dashing young hero.  While he displayed a manic nature and traits of nervousness, this inevitably leads to him moving, talking, and thinking more quickly than those around him.  Davison travels with Nyssa, Tegan, Turlough, Adric, and Perri during his time as The Doctor, and every companion brings something new out of his performances.  Despite the fast talking, confident, nervous Time Lord he portrays, he is still slightly vulnerable and experiences self doubt that he allows his companions to see,  rounding out his character even more.  He wishes to be a pacifist and is in favor of peace over violence in any situation, often mild mannered and playing the part of the bigger brother rather than the more grandfatherly incarnation Hartnell portrayed.  This incarnation is offered the position of Lord President on Gallifrey but declines the offer in favor of traveling the universe.  The loss of Adric left fans in shock, but the love of this Doctor was never lost.  After contracting “spectrox toxaemia” with his companions on Androzani Minor, he shares his portion of the cure with companion Perri Brown, and regenerates.

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The Sixth Doctor (1984-1986):  Colin Baker burst onto our screens with a brash and loud outfit and personality.  Colorful both in jacket and personality, this Doctor also displays a softer side, reciting poetry, and mellowing over the course of his tenure.  He is called home to Gallifrey and put on trial, where it eventually revealed the entire plot has been created by the Valeyard, who promised to return between The Doctor’s twelfth and final incarnation to mount revenge.  Pompous and self centered, Whooligans had trouble warming to this Doctor, but as it becomes more and more clear that this Doctor is as dedicated to fighting evil as ever, the flaws were overlooked and his more mellow side revered.  He traveled with Perri, Mel, and The Rani; meeting his end and regenerating when The Rani mounts a laser attack on the TARDIS.

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The Seventh Doctor (1987-1989):  Sylvester McCoy is the first Scottish actor to land the role of The Doctor and the last Doctor portrayed (with the exception of a McGann film in 1996) until the series re-boot in 2005.  Marked with question marks across his outfit, this is a darker and more manipulative Doctor.  While we enjoy his magic tricks, spoon playing, and funny quips, we learn throughout his episodes that underneath is a darker side to the Time Lord.  The Brigadier comes out of retirement to take up a case with this incarnation, marking the return of a beloved character in Nicholas Courtney’s portrayal of the Brigadier.  This Doctor enjoys chess, and is a master player, both in the actual game as well as being a few steps ahead of everyone in real life as well.  He travels with Melanie and later Ace (the final companion of the classic series).   McCoy’s manipulative Doctor is able to both get Davros to destroy Skaro, the Daleks home world, as well as use his companion Ace as a pawn in a game against Fenric.  While Ace is part of a larger game, she decides to continue traveling with him after the confrontation with Fenric.  Throughout their travels, McCoy tries to educate her, while she affectionately calls him “Professor.”  Carrying Nitro-9 cans in her backpack, it seems The Doctor does not approve, but he finds them to be convenient and handy when he needs them.  McCoy was able to act like the clown in the room with his magic tricks and spoons but would quickly turn into the master chess player he truly is when it was necessary.  This secretive, darker, and more manipulative Doctor would be the last incarnation of the Classic Series until the TV Movie.  In 1996, Whooligans rejoiced when they finally got to see McCoy regenerate, something that had not happened during his last episode of the series.  Stepping out of the TARDIS, he is shot, brought to a hospital, where soon to be companion, Grace Holloway accidentally kills him while performing a life saving heart surgery, not knowing he has a binary vascular system.

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The Eighth Doctor (1996):  Portrayed in a 1996 film by Paul McGann, this Doctor is dapper, light hearted, and determined.   Though McGann has the least amount of screen time of any of the Doctors, he has done more scripts than any other – more than David Tennant and Matt Smith combined – if we count his audio dramas.  And it would be a crime not to consider his Big Finish productions as he flourishes in these episodes and his incarnation is fleshed out.  The movie showed a light hearted, happy, and clever Doctor, who was capable of not only defeating The Master, but winning over the confused and troubled teen, Chang Lee that The Master recruited to open the eye of harmony from the TARDIS.  He scored the first on-screen kiss The Doctor has in a wonderful scene with his companion Grace.  The pair rush to fight The Master while meeting a Cinderella-eque midnight deadline.  While the movie has received mixed reviews, there is no doubt that McGann was truly amazing, and he demonstrates The Doctor’s mission of fighting evil by defeating one of his greatest enemies, The Master by the end of the movie.  Before the credits roll, McGann, companionless enters the TARDIS and takes off.  The audio dramas that came later introduce us to his many new adventures and friends (and are still being released, Dark Eyes 3 expected to land late this autumn 2014).  In 2013, Whooligans finally got to see the cause of his regeneration in the webisode special “The Night of the Doctor.”  We learn that in an effort to save a woman on a crashing ship, he crashes to the ground and “dies” while the Sisterhood of Karn revive him with his choice of type of elixir, he chooses to be a warrior, and drinks it turning into The War Doctor.

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The Ninth Doctor (2005):  Portrayed at the relaunch of Doctor Who back into television in 2005 by Christopher Eccleston.  Eccleston came in with a no nonsense attitude and attire, making him the perfect Doctor to bridge what is now the divide between the “Classic Series” and “New Who.”  While he had little patience for human beings (or any species really), he took a particular interest in his friendship with Rose which lead him to learning a little bit of kindness can fix a whole lot of problems.  When trouble brewed, this Doctor would exclaim, “fantastic!” which sometimes lead people to question if he was there to have fun or save the day.  He oozed alien-ness while maintaining the humanistic nature The Doctor often displays.   Eccleston regenerated after his cells degenerated from him absorbing the Time Vortex from Rose.

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The Tenth Doctor (2005-2010):  Played by Scottish actor, David Tennant who grew up watching the show, the 10th Doctor screamed “Geek Chic” with his fitted suit and sandshoes.   While Tennant’s Doctor was loveable, and arguably given one of the most human romance stories to date in Doctor Who (Doomsday), he portrayed the wrath and fury the post- Time War Doctor held with equal brilliance.  He is often voted the favorite Doctor in unofficial online polls, and many Whooligans revere him for his je n’sais quoi to the part.  In “The Journey’s End” we see just how many companions this incarnation has had, and what a beautiful family they make while flying the Earth home with the TARDIS.  When this man shouts, “Allons-y” we run.  He speaks quickly and plays a fool if it will throw his foe off of his real intentions.  He gives “no second chances” which does add an edge to the otherwise boyish and free footed Doctor he often portrays; and it is no secret that underneath he is “the man who regrets.”  His past mistakes haunt him and strengthen his resolve to protect life in all forms.  Tennant technically regenerated twice, the first time by a Dalek shot, which he ends up creating the meta-crisis Doctor out of and retains his face thanks to siphoning the extra regeneration energy into his spare hand.  In his final regeneration scene, he has been poisoned by radiation once again while heroically saving Wilfred Mott.

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The Eleventh Doctor (2005-2010):  Played by goesch young actor, Matt Smith.  26 when cast, the youngest actor to ever play the part, he managed to insure his character always had the look of a weathered old professor.  Starting in a tweed jacket and his now famous bow tie, Matt Smith took audiences through the journeys of an old and tired Time Lord and his current companions.  While the majority of his time was spent with Amelia Pond, Rory Williams, and Clara Oswald, this is also The Doctor who gets married to River Song.  Probably the most family-oriented (both having family ties to his companions, as well as tolerating domestics in the TARDIS), there was no shortage in his abilities to let you know he could be merciless and calculating if his opponents did not heed his warning to stop of their own volitions.  Flapping his hands about and talking even more quickly than his previous incarnations could, his seemingly aimless bouncing around a room always had an end game.  Happily shouting “Geronimo” and jumping into trouble, this Doctor thrived off of well ordered chaos.  Impossible to tie down, as demonstrated in “The Power of Three” he was full of Tigger-like energy, but delivered epic speeches reassuring the viewers that this man IS The Doctor.   On the fields of Trenzalore, this Doctor regenerates with a sort of re-set.  He had been aging, having used his 12 regenerations granted by the Time Lords, but is sent extra regeneration energy through the crack in the universe and given a brand new set of regenerations from Gallifrey.

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The Twelth Doctor (2014- Present):  Played by Peter Capaldi, who has had one previous appearance in Doctor Who, as well as a role in Doctor Who spin off, Torchwood (Caecilius from “The Fires of Pompeii” and John Frobisher in “Torchwood:  Children of Earth” respectively).  Capaldi, the third Scottish actor to take on the role was the same age as William Hartnell when cast, though he will technically be older than Hartnell was once his first episodes are aired.  Capaldi is the newest Doctor, and while it has been promised he will be “no nonsense” and we will question how “safe” he is, from what I can tell, the series has found the perfect man to replace Smith.   Age has nothing to do with it, Capaldi simply plays the part well from his “attack eyebrows” to his determination to rectify past mistakes, and promises to deliver a stellar incarnation.  This Doctor has yet to regenerate.

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The War Doctor (2013):  Played by John Hurt, this is The Doctor who fought in the great time war.  He may not have called himself The Doctor at the time, feeling he has betrayed his name’s promise, we as the audience know he is “The Doctor more than anyone, [he was] The Doctor when it was impossible to get it right” as David Tennant tells him.  Little is known about this period of the Doctor’s life as The War Doctor has only appeared in two television episodes “The Time of the Doctor and “The Day of the Doctor.”  “The Day of The Doctor” is the primary story we have about this era, and he works alongside his future selves, Tennant and Smith.   Giving a heartwarming, brilliant performance, I would be very happy indeed, if The War Doctor were to be explored a bit more in other episodes.  After saving Gallifrey, this Doctor steps into his TARDIS and realizes the incarnation is “wearing a bit thin,” a lovely throwback to Hartnell, and begins his regeneration, hoping his ears will be “a bit less conspicuous this time.”

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****Please note that the years listed do not include any specials, audios, books, or other roles in the Who-verse that these actors have played.****

 

Throughout all of time and space, we have long been comforted by an overtly alien Time Lord named The Doctor. Join us as we explore the world of Time Lords, time travel, and imaginative ideas that create the masterpiece that has become the global phenomenon known as “Doctor Who.”