So we are having a new Dr Who. I am not sure that I care but it is one of those ritualistic things that is part of Sci Fi Culture. I am not a great fan of the Doctor but I like popular culture…much under-rated in History. I saw the first ever episode of Coronation Street in 1960 and I saw the first episode of Dr Who in 1963. Just on a Saturday when the world was convulsed or paralysed by an assassination in Dallas, Texas.
There have officially been eleven Dr Who incarnations. Now dont start commenting about Peter Cushing and John Hurt. Or that Richard Hurndall, a lookalike of William Hartnell should be included. We are talking about incarnations, rather than Actors. Increasingly the new Doctor is chosen as an icon.
Yet back in the early years, it was not seen that way. Most young boys (it was always boys) did not realise that their sons and daughters would fixate on the shows glaring inconsistencies. Nobody predicted internet forums and debates about whether William Hartnell was the First Doctor or merely the latest incarnation.
First Doctor….(William Hartnell) was actually a fairly sinister person. Pragmatic rather than Good. And the heroes in the early days were actually the first companions, teachers of Science and History, who were suspicious that the Doctors granddaughter knew too much. The Doctor was a grumpy old bugger and so was Hartnell, his mood not helped by live TV and a growing inability to remember lines. Heis a familiar member of the cast of a lot of post-war British films usually portraying a professional military man such as a platoon sergeant.
Second Doctor….(Patrick Troughton) deliberately more upbeat than the First Doctor. A likeable outlaw. Troughton had been a familiar face on BBC in the 1950s and early 1960s.
Third Doctor….(John Pertwee) the dandy southerner in Edwardian clothes and probably too earth-bound. It was all about Invasions and the Brigadiers and on the plus side Sarah Jane. Pertwee struck me as an Actoooooorrrrr in the grand tradition. Didnt care for him.
Fourth Doctor…. (Tom Baker) still the most iconic and long serving. Eccentric but not quite mad uncle. Baker was a familiar Actooooorrrrr in Soho drinking clubs. Bohemian. Alas he now seems to be a parody of himself.
Fifth Doctor….(Peter Davison) a slightly nervy , not quite macho Doctor. Davison is one of Britains most loved and talented actors. Rarely off TV.
Sixth Doctor…. (Colin Baker) was the uncle that you didnt like. By this stage the old series was losing viewers and well past its sell by date. Colin Baker has not aged well but prior to Dr Who he was oft on TV as the devilishly good looking bad boy. Too smug for my liking.
Seventh Doctor…. (Sylvester McCoy). Dr Who…from Scotland. A shock to viewers who thought the Doctor was Home Counties Man (ie no more than forty miles from London) Played him as eccentric clown, which was in fact what McCoy does best. He was one of Ken Campbells troupe of left-wing satirists. McCoy is forced to carry the can for being the Last Doctor.
Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann)…wasnt he justbinvolved in a one-off to see if a new revival would flyI cant say that he left an impression on me at all.
The New Series.
Ninth Doctor…. (Christopher Eccleston). The Doctor as a gritty but grim Northerner did not work for me. Even though Eccleston is a Manchester United supporter, which is a badge of being brilliant in every possible way. To me the Producers seemed too keen to be dark, almost gothic ..like Michael Keatons Batman is so radically different from Adam West.
Tenth Doctor….(David Tennant) Exactly the right mix for the Doctor. brave but only when absolutely necessary. The right degree of Humour and arguably the first Doctor who was watched by women. Tennant, a brilliant actor but possibly over exposed. A 21st century version of Peter Davison.
Eleventh Doctor ….(Matt Smith) Suffers in comparison to the Tenth Doctor. Too nerdy. And the first since Hartnell to be unknown to me for his TV work.
The New Doctor…..well you re all invited to submit suggestions. Im inclined to go with Adrian Lester or Marc Warren. On previous form we are talking about a man aged 28-40 with a good TV track record. And strong enough to impose a new character. And respectful of the fans and Dr Who “lore”. Not an actor looking for a stepping stone (as it will be) to better things. Of course the new Doctor might be a Ladyyyyyyyy. And why not indeed?
There is no reason not to cast a woman….or a black actor (indeed that would be very welcome) or gay. Why not? Well the only downside possible is that its all irrelevant and yet would be sold as relevant.
If the choice was mine….I would play on the fact that the Doctor has TWO hearts. And that the incarnation all goes wrong and we get TWO Doctors. Sibling rivals….TWINS!!! Boy and Girl. Actually thats a pretty good idea. And wouldnt it be great if the Twins were….black and white.