Trickier question than it sounds, “Who’s your favourite Doctor?”, even though it’s the most traditional of Doctor Who memes.
I was pondering this the other day, because I realised there wasn’t one Doctor that I ranked above all the others. There’s something dissatisfying about each of them, I realised.
You see the question isn’t really “Which Doctor is your favourite?”, it’s really “Which Doctor and era of the show is your favourite?” Yes, David Tennant is very good and could well be the best Doctor of them all, but he kind of irritated me during the second series of new Who. And there was Daleks in Manhattan to cast a great big shadow over him, too. So I couldn’t, in all conscious, vote for him as my favourite Doctor because of the dead weight of those stories draining off my enthusiasm for him.
So I slowly progressed through each of the Doctors in turn, weighing them up.
- William Hartnell: The best Doctor for one episode only – the first one, An Unearthly Child, when he’s an evil git. After that, doo-lally tap, flying saucers on a pieces of string and stories that lasted longer than a tax audit and felt as bad to sit through.
- Patrick Troughton: Good stories and at least one fun companion, but there’s just something about his Doctor that leaves little impression, although I do like his slyness in Invasion.
- Jon Pertwee: Brilliant for his first season, where he’s imperious, alien and self-serving (“Screw you guys. As soon as I get this TARDIS fixed, I’m sodding off. You can fight the aliens yourself then”) and has the wonderful Liz Shaw as a companion. Then he turns into a wine-tasting git who goes to establishment clubs and has a companion with the mental capacity of a squirrel.
- Tom Baker: Again, a wonderful first few seasons of stories and a clever final season (that’s a bit dull, admittedly). But hampered by the rubbish Graham Williams era and Tom Baker slowly going round the bend in the middle.
- Peter Davison: Great stories, although some really turkeys here and there. Some interesting attempts at characterisations of companions, even the ones who were really irritating, as well as Turlough who was great (for a story). But the Doctor himself didn’t really have a personality except in Castrovalva (his first story) and The Caves of Androzani (his last story).
- Colin Baker: If you were going by his audio adventures only, one of the best Doctors. Possibly even the best. And the idea of a slightly mental, psychotic Doctor was quite fun. Plus he had Peri as a companion. Ah, Peri… But the eighth circle of Hell is probably filled with giant plasma screens playing his TV stories on a continual loop.
- Sylvester McCoy: Take any other Doctor, give him the same stories (yes, even Time and the Rani and The Happiness Patrol) and he’d make them into instant classics. But with Sylvester McCoy, even the best of the stories have an element that I will describe as “extreme suckiness”
- Paul McGann: Not a lot to go on really, is there? Could have been good. Definitely could have been better than in the TV movie, and when he’s good in the audio stories, he’s very, very good. But still not worthy of best Doctor honours.
- Christopher Ecclescake: Oozed loathing for the show from every pore of his body. Are you mental?
- David Tennant: Could have been the best. But isn’t. See above.
I eventually came to the conclusion that my favourite Doctor was Jon Pertwee, but only during his first season (season seven), although I could potentially swap him out for Tom Baker in Ark in Space.
So over to you guys, assuming you have the time and the inclination. What’s your favourite era of Doctor Who? It can be as long as you like (eg the 80s, any year with a 3 in it); it can be as short as you like (eg the pre-title sequence of Remembrance of the Daleks, the end of Utopia); it can be new Who or old Who; it can be based on any criteria (eg David Tennant iz sooo HOTT in eVERYTHING!!!!!, the hermeneutic coding in Kinda is the best seen in any performed text).
Answers on a postcard to the usual address or in the comments below.