Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Previous Eight (1963-1996)

First Doctor

Portrayed by William Hartnell
Tenure 1963–1966
First appearance An Unearthly Child
Last appearance The Tenth Planet (regular)
The Three Doctors (played by William Hartnell) The Five Doctors (played by Richard Hurndall)
Number of series 4
Appearances 29 stories (134 episodes)
Companions on television: Susan, Barbara, Ian, Vicki, Steven, Katarina, Sara, Dodo, Ben, Polly

The First of our Doctors but not necessarily my favourites (though it should be pointed out that there aren’t any I detest), Hartnell’s rather old Doctor was a cantankerous so and so with a young granddaughter in Susan and a bigger desire to get rid of the two teachers who more or less became a part of his first adventures. An Unearthly Child was a rather modest way of opening a series that would have a 40 plus year history but it was also a nice way of establishing the show’s concept about travelling and in Hartnell’s era we did see Cavemen, Marco Polo and King Richard and he was also the same Doctor that gave us both the Daleks (both on Skaro in The Daleks and invading London in The Dalek Invasion On Earth) and Cybermen, with the latter’s introduction in The Tenth Planet signalling Hartnell’s exit from the TARDIS. Plus one of the companions also died during his tenure as Time Lord. Doctor Number 1 did also pop up to help/antagonise his successors in both The Three Doctors and The Five Doctors as well.

Second Doctor

Portrayed by Patrick Troughton
Tenure 1966–1969
First appearance The Tenth Planet
Last appearance The War Games (regular)
The Three Doctors, The Five Doctors, The Two Doctors (guest star)
Number of series 3
Appearances 21 stories (119 episodes)
Companions on television: Ben, Polly, Jamie, Victoria, Zoe

Would you believe that he’s one of my favourites? A rather happy, manic guy with a penchant for a recorder, Troughton brought some more humour to the role than his predecessor upon his debut in The Tenth Planet and we also got two of the best companions in both genius Zoe and Highlander Jamie as well as epic moments involving the Daleks in The Power Of The Daleks and The Evil Of The Daleks and the Cybermen in both Tomb Of The Cybermen and The Invasion as well as a memorable confrontation with The Ice Warriors and the Macra as well. Like Hartnell, Troughton’s duration on the series would only be for three seasons and his exit in The War Games is memorable for the callous way the Time Lords erased both Jamie and Zoe’s memories and their own particular punishment of the Second Doctor himself. It also didn’t stop him from popping up in The Three Doctors, The Five Doctors and The Two Doctors where where he offered his help to Doctors Three, Five and Six. It’s also around his era that UNIT would pop up to occasionally help The Doctor as well.

Third Doctor

Portrayed by Jon Pertwee
Tenure 1970–1974
First appearance Spearhead from Space
Last appearance Planet of the Spiders (regular) The Five Doctors (guest star)
Number of series 5
Appearances 24 stories (128 episodes)
Companions UNIT, Liz, Jo, Sarah,

Another incredibly strong Doctor, Jon Pertwee’s era represented an impressive lot of firsts for the series as a whole. Aside from the fact his lasted five years as The Third Doctor (along with Bessie the dream car), his era also saw the debut of some of the series most impressive of villains with the Autons in Spearhead From Space, rogue Time Lord The Master (played by Roger Delgado) in Terror Of The Autons and the Sontarans in The Time Warrior. This was also the very era that debuted many pivotal and fan favourite companions into the mix as well come to think of it. Cool, calm and collected scientist Liz Shaw made for a welcome relief of the more screaming assistants we had in the past and it’s a pity that she departs after the seventh season. Jo Grant is by far the most important companion of the bunch and perhaps the first in which The Doctor really showed feelings for. Her departure in The Green Death even saw The Doctor unable to celebrate her engagement to Cliff Jones and she’s the only companion to have lasted three full seasons during the Pertwee era of the series. Then again sassy Uber-feminist and journalist Sarah Jane Smith would then go on to be one of the most enduring companion and a lot of that is down to Elisabeth Sladen’s magnificent performance as well Sarah’s abilities to show her cunning, notably during her debut in The Time Warrior. Also 34 years after her first appearance on the series has her own series called The Sarah Jane Adventures. UNIT also played a prominent role in the Third Doctor’s largely earthbound adventures. Both The Brigadier and Sergeant John Benton had been familiar with the audience from the Second Doctor but here both men formed a close friendship with The Doctor and were able to get him out of many a tight predicament. The most interesting member of the UNIT bunch however was Captain Mike Yates. Aside from the fact his debut episode Terror Of The Autons was the same episode to debut both Jo Grant and The Master, Mike Yates may have featured less than The Brig or Benton but he was given some pretty interesting character development (when he wasn’t getting kidnapped half the time). In The Green Death he succumbed to being hypnotised by the BOSS computer and even betrayed UNIT during Operation Golden Age during Invasion Of The Dinosaurs through a misguided attempt to help the world. That resulted him being forced to retire from UNIT. The writers did give the man some redemption in Planet Of The Spiders when he alerted The Doctor and Sarah Jane to the goings on of a creepy cult in the Meditation Centre he happened to be staying in. He might also be the first gay companion if certain rumours are to be believed as well. It’s also worth noting that from here on in the show went from black and white to colour and even had The Doctor involuntarily bound to Earth as punishment from the Time Lords. The show also celebrated itself tenth anniversary in The Three Doctors with exiled Time Lord Omega attempting to become corporeal by using The Doctor and the rivalry between him and The Master surfaced throughout several episodes such as The Mind Of Evil, The Daemons and The Sea Devils as well as our favourite deranged pepper pots wreaking havoc in the likes of Day Of The Daleks, Planet Of The Daleks and Death To The Daleks as well as the brilliant alternative reality episode Inferno before departing in Planet Of The Spiders. To me this was definitely the best era in the old series history. We got the best Doctor, Villains, Companions and a lot of these stories just stand up better than later versions of the Time Lord.

Fourth Doctor

Portrayed by Tom Baker
Tenure 1974–1981
First appearance Planet of the Spiders (Episode 4)
Last appearance Logopolis (regular)
The Five Doctors (archive footage)
Number of series 7
Appearances 41 stories (172 episodes)
Companions on television: Sarah, Harry, Leela, K-9 (Marks I and II), Romana(I and II) Adric, Tegan, Nyssa

Tom Baker was certainly a force to be reckoned with and regardless of on set antics, there’s no denying no matter how a particular story in his era was, his presence could be felt in outer space. For a lot of people, he is the Doctor and in the seven years since his first full story in Robot, Baker’s Doctor had both Sarah Jane and Harry for the first year and a half when the latter left in Terror Of The Zygons and the former was abandoned in The Hand Of Fear. The main villains of the series had some interesting outings but after the Daleks, Cybermen and The Master, another long lasting big bad emerged in Dalek creator, Davros. Every bit fuelled with hate as his creations Davros schemed against The Doctor/Sarah Jane/Harry in Genesis Of The Daleks (which is possibly the best story in the series’ history) and Destiny Of The Daleks. Our pepper pots also caused their fair amount of chaos in both these instalments and the Cybermen also re-emerged in Revenge Of The Cybermen. When Sarah Jane departed, Leela had been the next main girl before the sixteen season had The Doctor travelling with Time Lady Romana Mark 1 for the season’s 26 episodes/6 stories. Played by Mary Tamm, Romana was another companion written to intellectually equal The Doctor and her second incarnation played by Lalla Ward both encounter Davros in Destiny Of The Daleks and married Tom Baker in real life. Her tenure was also significant for the introduction of K9 and an unaired episode called Shada in which bits would be used for The Five Doctors. The Master who hadn’t been seen since 1973 would also return aged and decayed in The Keeper Of Traken and then rejuvenated and played by Anthony Ainley by the time of Logopolis. The Master’s latest form would look like that of one of The Doctor’s companions Nyssa’s father before The Doctor himself would regenerate in this particular story. By the last season in his tenure, The Doctor had three companions including the reserved Nyssa, unfairly loathed by some Adric and mouthy air stewardess Tegan Jovanka.

Fifth Doctor

Portrayed by Peter Davison
Tenure 1981–1984
First appearance Logopolis (Episode 4)
Last appearance The Caves of Androzani
Number of series 3 Appearances 20 stories (69 episodes)
Companions on television: Adric, Nyssa, Tegan, Turlough, Kamelion, Peri

By far the younger cast of the Doctors, Peter Davison was a strapping 29 year old when he bagged the role as Time Lord and his debut in Castrovalva had him in yet another one of The Master’s elaborate traps and their rivalry would certainly escalate in the 19th season’s convoluted finale Time-Flight which also saw a temporary departure for Tegan. Not that she could be missed as she appeared in the opening episode of the twentieth season Arc Of Infinity, which was also significant for the return of Omega. Maybe it’s me but there’s some rather unsatisfying about Omega’s return and some of the stories in Davison’s tenure aren’t quite as strong, despite him being a wonderful Doctor. A lot of the departures however are incredibly powerful such as Adric’s sacrifice against the Cybermen in the glorious Earthshock or Tegan’s realisation that’s it’s no longer travelling with The Doctor in Resurrection Of The Daleks, another episode that would see the return of Davros. Nyssa’s in Terminus is more downbeat and creepy school boy’s Turlough is okay enough. Another significant moments from the Fifth Doctor’s era includes the show’s twentieth anniversary special The Five Doctors which not only had the first five time incarnation of The Doctor together but it also was the only story to have the Daleks, Cybermen and The Master together as well as several returned companions like Susan, Jamie, Zoe, Sarah Jane. Other companions in this time included Kamelion and botanist Peri Brown, the show’s American companion whose debut in Planet Of Fire saw a fiery death for The Master and the show hit a dark moment in The Caves Of Androzani when The Doctor suffered one of his most violent regenerations. Post onscreen action, Davison has reprised the role of The Fifth Doctor for audio CD’s thanks to Big Finish and for the 2007 Children In Need scene called Time Crash, he will end up meeting David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor.

Sixth Doctor

Portrayed by Colin Baker
Tenure 1984–1986
First appearance The Caves of Androzani
Last appearance The Trial of a Time Lord: The Ultimate Foe
Time and the Rani (Replaced by Sylvester McCoy)
Number of series 3
Appearances 11 stories (31 episodes)
Companions on television: Peri Brown and Melanie Bush

Quite possibly my least favourite Doctor from the ten there has been on TV but nevertheless poor Colin Baker was a good example of doing the best he could with what he had. He wasn’t quite as awful as you’d think but sadly he came onto the show at a time when the people behind the show weren’t supporting it enough. He’s also been the only person cast as The Doctor who has played another role in the series, such as Maxil in Arc Of Infinity. The Twin Dilemma is a decent enough debut but the return of the Cybermen in Attack Of The Cybermen is easily one of his best stories from the series as well as the forced team up between The Master and rogue Time Lady The Rani in Mark Of The Rani, set during the Industrial Revolution. One of the things that bugged me is that Baker’s Doctor could often be too shouty or overly aggressive towards Peri. Granted Peri can be quite annoying but it’s still a shock to see him try to strangle her in The Twin Dilemma and while Timelash is one of the worst episodes in the show’s history, there’s another interesting Dalek/Davros confrontation in Revelation Of The Daleks as well as the meeting of the Second and Sixth Doctors against the Sontaran in The Two Doctors. Halfway throughout the series, Peri then left and The Doctor wound up with high screamer Melanie Bush with a very OTT performance and once again, The Doctor ended up facing trial in Baker’s last season. Thanks to the joys of Audio CD, Baker has gotten the opportunity to continue his role as The Doctor.

Seventh Doctor

Portrayed by Sylvester McCoy
Tenure 1987–1996
First appearance Time and the Rani
Last appearance Survival (regular) Doctor Who (guest star)
Number of series 3
Appearances 13 stories (43 episodes)
Companions on television: Mel and Ace

Heading into the last three years of the show, despite producers being interested in the series, it seemed the poor show had even less support, which is odd given how interesting a lot of the stories in the era really are to a point. Time And The Rani was a good way of introducing Sylvester McCoy as well having a return for Kate O’Mara’s bad girl Time Lady but the season’s finale Dragonfire ditched us of annoying Mel and debuted IMO the original series’ best companion to boot Ace. A volatile girl with an aptitude for explosives and out dated phrases, Ace’s dynamic with The Doctor is something that would definitely be influential to the likes of Rose, Captain Jack and Martha but here it’s more father/daughter than lovers and as a results, it’s perhaps more effective. Ace goes through personal journeys in the likes of Battlefield and The Curse Of Fenric and even has the pleasure of physically assaulting a Dalek in Remembrance Of The Daleks, which would be the last story for both them and Davros as well as meeting the Cybermen in their last tale, Silver Nemesis. In the series finale, Survival, Ace would then have an encounter with The Master as the series then wrapped up with The Doctor musing about work that had to be done. The show’s cancellation may have came out of nowhere but it didn’t kill McCoy doing Audio adventures like Peter Davison and Colin Baker.

Eighth Doctor

Portrayed by Paul McGann Tenure 1996
First appearance Doctor Who: The Enemy Within
Last appearance Doctor Who: The Enemy Within
Number of series None
Appearances 1 story (1 episode)
Companions on television: Grace

The shortest running of the Doctors with only the 1996 TV Movie as a credit, McGann’s adventure with doctor Grace against The Master (played by Eric Roberts) was the Beeb’s first attempt to resurrect the series and while it may have it’s flaws, it’s certainly not the worst thing I’ve seen. McGann was great but perhaps the most vulnerable of our Time Lords and his credibility is cemented due to an image of him in the Tenth Doctor episode Human Nature. We’ve also gotten more adventures for him via Big Finish and the wonderful world of comics.

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