As we continue to salute the anniversary of Doctor Who's return to our screens, we come now to a fascinating ' what might have been'! Soon after the revival, having seen Christopher Eccleston in action as the Ninth Doctor, Colin Baker, aka the Sixth, had something to say:
"The costume that I wanted is exactly what Christopher Eccleston got- a long black coat... you can lurk in the background and achieve things you can't achieve when you go around looking like an explosion in a rainbow factory! It's just absurd, but it was a reflection of the time. It was 1983, it was glam rock and all that was going on..."By which logic you can forgive his wondering what it might have achieved if Six was Nine! We'll give Colin the floor once more. It would seem he intended for his costume to reflect his Doctor's personality- he wanted to take the Time Lord on an extended dark night of the soul, as perhaps hinted at by his crazed post-regenerative attempt to strangle companion Peri in The Twin Dilemma and those guards thrown into an acid bath in Vengeance On Varos- which may have inspired the Game Station from the later Doctor's Bad Wolf/The Parting Of The Ways.
But as cracked.com put it:
"Enter Colin Baker, no relation to Tom, as the 6th Doctor, known to Who fans as "the unspeakable Mid-Life Crisis". Colin is notable for having appeared on Doctor Who before, as Time Lord Guard Commander Maxil. He's also notable for wanting the role so badly he agreed to wear an outfit that gave clowns nightmares."A decision that left Baker, and probably several million viewers watching at home, more than a little baffled. 'I'm With Geek' lays the blame squarely at the feet of John Nathan Turner and his production team. In considering just why the Sixth Doctor's era was a comparative flop, the conclusion is made that:
"a prevailing factor is, undeniably, the show's producers and their lack of conviction in their choices. After deciding to take a step down tonally, it becomes completely baffling as to why you’d dress your darker, angrier Doctor as a clown."
Noticing a theme here? Let's now look at the other side of the coin and the Ninth Doctor. Having secured Christopher Eccleston's services as the revival Doctor, Russell T Davies hinted at the sort of darker nature that Baker would have relished. Without giving away too much about the narrative thread of the Time War he hinted that there was a good reason why he "strides through the universe wearing a dark leather jacket saying "Don't touch me"". Eccleston echoed similar sentiments when saying "I didn't want the costume to be my performance- I wanted any flamboyance and colour to come out of my acting."
Sadly for Colin that rather garish coat precedes him! So you can perhaps understand his gripe when he says:
"All the Doctors' costumes reflect the era in which they played the part. I think, 'Why do we have a costume? Why can't he wear clothes? Why does he have to have a look that he wears all the time? Who else does that?' Nobody I know."Yet Chris may have had Colin in mind when he reflected on his choice of costume as the Doctor, Russell T calling his performance a ''stripped down'' take in comparison to the eight men who had held the key to the TARDIS before his new leading man. Even his personality would not be "as eccentric and as foppish as he was in some of his incarnations" .
We can even get a more fashionable perspective on the leather jacket & jeans thanks to clothesonfilm.com. Budding designers, take note!
"The character is hard, harsh, and his costume reflects this. The Ninth Doctor wears black, loose fitting trousers, a knit V-necked shirt (usually in shades of plum and green), and a worn, double-breasted leather jacket. Overall his clothes are utilitarian, easy to move in and hard working, able to withstand a lot of wear — all of these qualities being important in the clothes of one fighting a war.Turning our attention back to the Sixth Doctor, Tim Stanley wrote for the Telegraph:
Although the Time War is over for the Ninth Doctor, his harsh experiences of the War still colour his clothing choices.Overall the costume of the Ninth Doctor projects a tough image, and reflects the idea of a lone wolf.
The costume recalls the iconic look associated with classic actor James Dean, who often played tough loner characters in movies such as Rebel Without A Cause. After suffering so many losses in the Time War, the Ninth Doctor uses his harsh exterior as a type of armour to protect against further suffering."
"Why did Colin get the part? Well, John Nathan Turner – the eccentric producer of the show – met him at a wedding and thought he was quite amusing. So he offered him the role.He was at least kind enough to later add that Baker...
Error #1: don't hand out to jobs to random people you once shared a finger buffet with. Error #2: don't give your new actor a costume that makes the viewer want to throw up. Seriously, the Sixth Doctor's costume was not only an ugly design but a major production flaw. It meant that everything had to be exaggerated to compete for the viewer's attention."
"...was the victim of a series of bad production decisions and bad scripts. It was decided to make his character initially unlikeable, to have him grow into a more sympathetic person as time wore on. The problem was that the development never really happened and he just stayed unlikeable."Fair criticism, or a tad too harsh? It certainly seems that the man in the multicoloured coat had the misfortune to be working on Doctor Who during a period that can retrospectively be seen as the beginning of the end, while his Northern successor was fortunate enough to be the man to lead it from the wilderness!