The eternal question for every Whovian – who is the greatest Doctor of them all?
For the uninitiated the titular Doctor is an alien called a Time Lord and he has an ability to regenerate himself when critically injured or ill to extend his life. When the Doctor regenerates he remains the same person but his personality and behaviour changes from the previous incarnation. From a practical stand point it was an inspired way to continue the show and change the lead actor from time to timesaver well as rejuvenate the show.
We have had thirteen incarnations over the show’s more than 50 year history and currently Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi (do not get me started on that “numbering of the Doctors” debate) has been doing a fantastic job in the role. But how does Capaldi stack up against his predecessors? And will his Doctor take the top spot or will it be another? Let’s get to the ranking (based solely on television appearances and not radio dramas, comics, novels et cetera):
#13 Eighth Doctor Paul McGann (1996 Doctor Who movie, 2013 Night of the Doctor special)
You were expecting the Sixth Doctor weren’t you? Well he’s not here. Now I thought McGann made a decent Doctor with his adventurous drive, stylish swagger and romancing but his sole major appearance, the 1996 Doctor Who movie, is so bad that it it practically unwatchable. The Eighth Doctor did get some justice with the “Night of the Doctor” special though and I would love to see more of him.
#12 War Doctor John Hurt (2013 Day of the Doctor 50th anniversary special)
Yes still no Sixth Doctor.
Hurt’s performance as the War Doctor was spectacular – layered, moving and witty. But as the War Doctor his haunted spirit overshadowed the wanderlust of the Doctor and he was not truly the Doctor, though in fairness he was not meant to be. A nice one off character that accomplished what it needed to and then regenerated into the sunset.
#11 Sixth Doctor Colin Baker (1984-1986)
Here’s the Sixth Doctor. Happy now?
A few years ago I was on a mission to watch all Classic Who and I distinctly recall when I reached the Sixth Doctor. My first thought – well this is…different. It was not easy going from the youthful, energetic and hopeful Fifth Doctor to the rude, superior and condescending Sixth Doctor. If it was unclear that they were trying to make him unlikable in his first episode he attempted to choke his companion Peri to death. His outfit aloud looked like someone vomited a rainbow on a clown and some of his episodes were cringe worthy.
But as his story progressed the Sixth Doctor mellowed a bit and we saw him show care and emotion for his companions. And seeing him face off against Dalek creator Davros and future evil incarnation The Valeyard was pretty cool and important pieces of Who lore.
#10 Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy (1987-1989, Doctor Who movie)
He initially appeared as a buffoon but beneath that exterior was a sly, cunning master tactician who was just a tad manipulative. How can you not love the Seventh Doctor? Fearless, thirsting for knowledge and always thinking two steps ahead this Doctor was not to be trifled with lightly.
#9 First Doctor William Hartnell (1963-1966, 1972 The Three Doctors)
When we met the first incarnation of the Doctor he was cranky, impatient and a bit cantankerous. Like that grumpy uncle always telling you how to live your life at family gatherings.
But under his crusty exterior was a wise, thoughtful and passionate man with a big heart. At 55 Hartnell was the oldest actor until Capaldi took on the role full time at the same age.
#8 Third Doctor Jon Pertwee (1970-1974, 1983 The Five Doctors)
If you crossed James Bond with a Time Lord and left out the philandering you would get the third Doctor. He was a dandy of a dresser, loved his vehicles and used Venusian akido to disable foes which is unique among the usually pacifistic incarnations.
The first Doctor in colour Pertwee was charming, shrewd and ready for action. His adventures are in two parts: defending the Earth with UNIT after he was stranded on Earth by the Time Lords for his meddling ways, and secondly when he was forgiven by the Time Lords after the events of “The Three Doctors” and resumed his travels in time and space.
#7 Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston (2005)
At the halfway point we come to the Doctor that revived the series in 2005 and began what is affectionately called “NuWho”. Eccleston’s Doctor traded in the dandy outfits and question mark clothing of his predecessors for a simple leather jacket. He was alternately wacky and dark and the wounds of the loss of his planet Gallifrey were still very fresh. The Ninth Doctor really revitalised the show and it was a shame that we only had one season of him and Eccleston declined to return to the show for the Day of the Doctor.
#6 Fifth Doctor Peter Davison (1981-1984)
When Peter Davison became the Fifth Doctor at age 29 he was the youngest ever at that time; he would be beaten about three decades later by Matt Smith who suited up as the Doctor at just 26. Davison brought boundless youthful energy to the show, a wide eyed optimism and also an inexplicable cricket outfit with an incongruous piece of celery on his lapel.
A fun Doctor he loved to travel with multiple companions he had some great adventures under his belt, including one of the best of all Who “The Caves of Adrozani”.
#5 Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith (2010-2013)
It was not an easy job to take up the mantle from one of the best Doctors of all time David Tennant but kudos to Matt Smith for making the role his own.
The Eleventh Doctor was goofy, unpredictable, deeply compassionate and could deliver a powerful speech like it was nobody’s business. And he also made bow ties cool again and for that we are all forever grateful.
#4 Second Doctor Patrick Troughton (1966-1969, The Three Doctors, The Five Doctors, 1985 The Two Doctors)
If you have not seen Classic Who then you are missing out on the gem that was Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctor. A big change from his more stern predecessor this Doctor was silly, bumbling, thoughtful and brilliant. You will have a whale of a time watching him battle Cybermen, Daleks, Yetis and Ice Warriors or just taking some time off to play his trusty recorder.
#3 Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi (2014-present)
As we enter the top three we give the bronze medal to current Doctor Peter Capaldi. Initially a bit arrogant and seemingly heartless the man with the eyebrows evolved into a passionate, caring character with a fun loving side (guitar solo on a tank anyone?) as well as a razor sharp wit and cunning mind. He may not be some fans’ cup of tea but he is one of the best Doctors of all time and as far as I am concerned Capaldi can stay on in the role as long as he wants.
#2 Tenth Doctor David Tennant (2006-2009, Day of the Doctor)
Okay put down your pitchforks and torches! Yes Tennant is not number one on the list but he is still the second best Doctor of all time. He was undeniably brilliant in the role – clever, witty, driven and prone to odd behaviour when his thinking juices were flowing.
He has some of the best adventures of all of NuWho and some of the most memorable moments (don’t think of “Doomsday” farewell, don’t think of “Doomsday” farewell). As the Ninth would say the Tenth Doctor was “fantastic” and I must give Jack his jacket and Jane her blouse before she gets cold.
#1 Fourth Doctor Tom Baker (1974-1981)
For seven seasons, a still unbeaten record, the Fourth Doctor entertained us, thrilled us, made us laugh and made us think. During his journeys we met great companions like Leela, K9 and the two Romanas and evil villains like the Zygons, Davros and the Black Guardian. A major reason that Doctor Who has endured for more than five decades is because of the brilliant performance of Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor. And think about it – one of the most iconic Doctor Who items is his ridiculously long scarf. Hello!
When Tom Baker made his cameo in Day of the Doctor as the mysterious Curator I was so happy that I cried. And that was because the Fourth Doctor is a cornerstone of the franchise and the greatest Doctor of all time.
Well you have seen my list. Now it is time for you to vote for your favorite:
For my Top 9 Most Wanted Doctor Returns you can click here and for my Top 7 NuWho Doctor/Companion Combos you can click here. And for more Doctor Who lists you can check back every Saturday for “So Who Saturdays” and we also have other TV/Movie posts on redmangoreviews from Monday to Friday.
Julien is outie like a navel. l8rs