A celebration of Doctor Who doctors

A celebration of Doctor Who doctors

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Tuesday, 11th January 2022
Credit: BBC
Credit: BBC

A cult staple in British popular culture, Doctor Who has provided entertainment for many generations, with a huge following around the world.

The longest running sci-fi show, Doctor Who first aired in 1963 and follows the adventures of a Time Lord called the Doctor who travels through space in a TARDIS and helps people in need. 

Over the years there have been 13 different actors portraying the Doctor, all with their own unique take, here are some of the most notable.

Patrick Troughton (Second Doctor)

Troughton first appeared as the Doctor in the 1966 episode The Tenth Power of the Daleks and was chosen by producer Innes Lloyd due to his extensive experience as a character actor.

His interpretation of the character showed the Doctor as a cosmic Chaplinesque type character, complete with oversized coat, stovepipe hat and bow tie.

Compared to the first Doctor, Troughton brought a lighter, more youthful touch to the role, taking the show in a more family friendly direction.

Troughton's tenure introduced the Time Lords and saw the return of the Cybermen who were even more menacing than before.

He was eventually punished by the Time Lords for meddling in the affairs of alien races, leading to his exile to Earth and regeneration. 

John Pertwee (Third Doctor)

Pertwee first appeared as the Doctor in the 1970 episode Spearhead from Space and was influenced by the James Bond film series.

His character behaved as an active crusader with a love of action and fancy clothes, foregoing Pertwee’s reputation as a comic actor.

Due to his exile, the Doctor teamed up with the United National Intelligence Taskforce as a special scientific advisor helping to defend the Earth.

Pertwee also enjoyed doing his own stunts and experimenting with different vehicles and gadgets. 

The series was the first one in full colour and featured a fellow Time Lord, the evil and sneaky Master (Roger Delgado). 

Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor)

Baker first appeared as the Doctor in the 1974 episode Planet of the Spiders.

He described not feeling as though he was playing a character at all when it came to the Doctor but just playing himself.

He gave the Doctor a crackpot, scatter-brained dynamic, in a way that was often seen as charming and endearing, and was known for his iconic hat and extra-long scarf. 

Baker battled with the Daleks and the creator of the Daleks, Davros, tackling darker themes such as fascism, genetic engineering and free will.

The show took a dark more satirical direction, leading to Baker battling ancient curses, alien possession and body snatching.

Christopher Eccleston (Ninth Doctor)

Eccleston first appeared as the Doctor in the 2005 episode Rose, taking up the mantle of the now iconic Doctor after the series was rebooted. 

Donning his black leather jacket, Eccleston’s Doctor was a man who lost everything he ever loved and was born of tragedy.

Full of survivor’s guilt, pain and anger, Eccleston still tried to believe the best in people and find wonder in the universe. 

Rose (Billie Piper) acted as his most trusted companion and helped him in the fight against the Daleks.

Eccleston cared so much for Rose he sacrificed himself to save her life, leading to his next regeneration. 

David Tennant (Tenth Doctor)

Tennant first appeared as the Doctor in the 2005 episode The Parting of the Ways and has often been considered as one of the nation’s favourite doctors. 

His Doctor was known to be very charismatic and charming, whose adventurous spirit is very magnetic, however he can become cruel and dismissive when provoked. 

He was known for his pinstriped suits, different coloured converse and young boyish looks. 

This time the Doctor was not averse to using violence if needed and operating in the moral grey areas. 

Tennant encountered the chilling Cybermen, war hungry aliens and balanced his relationships with companions Rose, Martha (Freema Agyeman) and the fiery Donna (Catherine Tate).

Matt Smith (Eleventh Doctor) 

Smith first appeared as the Doctor in the 2010 episode The End of Time and had the pressure of carrying on the mantle after David Tennant.

Described as an old man in a young man’s body, Smith portrayed an exuberant, thrill seeking, often reckless adventurer. 

Always ready to look for the good in bad situations, his main companions were the intrepid Amy (Karen Gillan) and mysterious Clara (Jenna Coleman).

He also had multiple encounters with his future companion and wife, fellow time traveller River (Alex Kingston).

Smith faced enemies such as the Weeping Angels, hypnotic aliens the Silence and, of course, the Daleks. 

John Hurt (The War Doctor)

Known as The War Doctor, Hurt first appeared as the Doctor in the 2013 episode The Name of the Doctor

Born into the Time War, the Doctor disavowed his former name, believing he had broken the promise it represented. 

Fighting alongside the Time Lords, he became a well-regarded war hero, but after a lifetime of fighting, he turned old and battle weary. 

In order to save Gallifrey from destruction, Hurt teamed up with his future selves to find a peaceful way to end the devastating war. 

Peter Capaldi (Twelfth Doctor)

Capaldi first appeared as the Doctor in the 2013 episode The Day of the Doctor and portrayed a more alien Doctor compared to his previous incarnations. 

Not preoccupied with being liked and being seen as a hero, Capaldi’s portrayal is one of a darker Doctor Who with more acidic wit but the same fearlessness and passion. 

Along with his companion Clara, Capaldi faced the reincarnation of his nemesis the Master in the form of Missy (Michelle Gomez), who tried to turn all the Earth's dead into Cybermen. 

He also teamed up with alien Nardole (Matt Lucas) to save New York against evil aliens intent on world domination and faced off against the Cybermen.

Jodie Whittaker (Thirteenth Doctor)

Whittaker first appeared as the Doctor in the 2017 episode Twice Upon a Time, as the first woman to ever play the Doctor.

High energy, funny and warm, Whittaker marked a new, livelier kind of Doctor who valued friendships and discovering non-violent solutions. 

Her companions included Ryan (Tosin Cole), his step grandfather Graham (Bradley Walsh) and Yasmin (Mandip Gill). 

Whittaker faced the warlike Stenza race, battled against the regenerated Master (Sacha Dhawan) and discovered the truth about the cover-up surrounding her origins. 

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A cult staple in British popular culture, Doctor Who has provided entertainment for many generations, with a huge following around the world.