Yesterday I asked the question ”Who's your favourite Doctor?” and began a countdown of my own personal ranking order of all the canon incarnations of the character from my least-to-most-favourite. You can find positions 13 to 9 here, today I continue with 8 through 5.
Do you agree? Or disagree? Tell us your own rankings in the comments below. Oh, and only canon incarnations are in contention here. So no spoofs, alternates, stand-ins or soundalikes.
8 – The Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker (1974-81)
How do you even begin to describe the Fourth Doctor? His unique style (look out for that scarf!) and loud booming voice make him an instantly recognisable figure and is often considered the definitive version. Close your eyes and think of Doctor Who – that’s him. His unpredictability is unsettling but he’s such a warm and friendly man that you can be sure he’s on your side and will use that personality trait to disarm even the deadliest of foes, even if he does throw you a curveball now and then out of nowhere and irritate you beyond end. Good luck having a conversation with him, he’ll probably just tell you to go away and then go swanning off back to the TARDIS. Armed with his unique sense of humour he’d likely throw in a silly joke in the process, maybe offering you a jelly baby as well.
Finest moment: This Doctor has lots of good moments but nothing beats the moment when he threatens a savage with a desire to capture him by using a “deadly, deadly jelly baby.”
Best stories: To list all his best stories would take all day. Highlights include The Ark in Space, Genesis of the Daleks, Terror of the Zygons, Pyramids of Mars, The Brain of Morbius, The Deadly Assassin, The Talons of Weng-Chiang, Horror of Fang Rock, City of Death and Full Circle. I could go on.
7 – The Ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston (2005)
Proving to a new audience that Doctor Who is a good show was a tough job, but if anyone could do it Christopher Eccleston was that person. His take on the Doctor was a radical departure from the previous versions, as now the hero has become a war-torn man with survivor’s guilt and a need to prove himself as worthy to be called the Doctor once again. The Time War fresh in his memory and his knowledge of how it truly came to an end erased, the eccentricities we’d come to expect are gone and now we’ve got a moody man from the north. The Ninth Doctor is an intense man and if you cross him… let’s just say that he holds the distinction as the only Doctor to actively go boot a companion out of the TARDIS in a (not unjustified) fit of rage. But it’s not all doom and gloom because this guy has a sense of humour and loves a good bit of dancing. He himself put it best: the Ninth Doctor is – all together now – “Fantastic!” Watching his story through his ten (televised) adventures is a pleasure, as we follow him from the guilty veteran to the triumphant hero, and when he faces his end with a smile on his face after saving the woman he loves… you can’t help but stand and applaud.
Finest moment: No one moment better captures the anger and rage he feels about Time War than the cliffhanger to Bad Wolf. Rose is captured by a fleet of Daleks who contact the Doctor to tell him that they’re going to kill her if he tries to stop them. And he says “No.” That’s it, just no. Then, when pushed further, he’s unleashed…
DALEK: I will talk to the Doctor.…and then we see the Daleks terrified. It’s not only my favourite Ninth Doctor moment but also my favourite Doctor moment of them all across any incarnation.
DOCTOR: Oh, will you? That's nice. Hello!
DALEK: The Dalek stratagem nears completion. The fleet is almost ready. You will not intervene
DOCTOR: Oh, really? Why's that, then?
DALEK: We have your associate. You will obey or she will be exterminated.
DALEK: Explain yourself.
DOCTOR: I said no.
DALEK: What is the meaning of this negative?
DOCTOR: It means no.
DALEK: But she will be destroyed.
DOCTOR: No! Because this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to rescue her. I'm going to save Rose Tyler from the middle of the Dalek fleet and then I'm going to save the Earth, and then, just to finish off, I'm going to wipe every last stinking Dalek out of the sky!
DALEK: But you have no weapons, no defences, no plan.
DOCTOR: Yeah. And doesn't that scare you to death. Rose?
ROSE: Yes, Doctor?
DOCTOR: I'm coming to get you.
Best stories: With only ten to choose from and no bad ones whatsoever you really can’t go wrong with picking a story for Doctor Nine, but three that stand out from the crowd are Dalek, The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances and Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways.
6 – The Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee (1970-74)
An anti-authority dandy scientist with access to a Time Machine while fending off multiple invasions of Earth may sound like a daft idea, but for Jon Pertwee’s Doctor it worked perfectly. Don’t let his older looks fool you; this Doctor is a skilled man in many many areas, even able to disarm trained military figures with only his bare hands, as well as a skill for fast driving and swordplay. An incredibly arrogant man, seeing him get into heated arguments is a common occurrence, particularly with his boss Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Of course that’s just because the two of them were best friends and theirs is a beautiful friendship that lasts even to the Twelfth Doctor. He and the Brig serve as perfect foils for each other, with the Delgado Master the perfect foe for them to overcome their differences and together to defeat – just as well since the Delgado Master has no fewer than 8 stories with him, most of them all in a row.
Finest moment: The scene with companion Jo Grant locked with her in a dungeon in The Time Monster when he shares with her a story about the blackest day of his life. He tells her a beautiful story about a hermit and a flower, “the daisiest daisy [the Doctor] had ever seen”, and how you need to appreciate the beauty of life even in the toughest moments. I could have picked any of Pertwee’s scenes with Katy Manning but this one in particular is the best of the bunch.
Best stories: Spearhead From Space, The Silurians, Inferno, Terror of the Autons, The Daemons, Day of the Daleks, The Green Death, The Time Warrior, Planet of the Spiders.
5 – The War Doctor, Sir John Hurt CBE (2013)
How far the series had come in just ten years! Back in 2003 the BBC seriously considered Robbie Williams – yes, everyone’s second favourite member of Take That – as the next Doctor, skip to 2013 and they’re asking John Hurt to do it… sort of. It turns out that he was playing an earlier “secret” incarnation from the Time War. It was a big gamble on Steven Moffat’s part but it paid off and became the smartest move he’s ever made as showrunner. John Hurt slips into the part perfectly, as expected, giving us a Doctor who won’t call himself the Doctor but who deep down is “more the Doctor than anybody … on the day it was impossible to get it right”. While not calling himself the Doctor it’s all there: the thirst for justice, the appreciation for the finer things, excellent judgement of character, a gentlemanly demeanor and he even comes with a catchphrase (“No More”) and the best design yet for the sonic screwdriver, keeping his in a bandoleer. He’s still the Doctor, “same software, different case” as the Moment puts it. But don’t let that fool you into a sense of security because “the first thing you will notice about the Doctor of War is he's unarmed. For many, it's also the last.” John Hurt was knighted just over a year after his debut as this character – make of that what you will. It’s a role in which he recently made his Big Finish debut and I can’t wait to enjoy their work with his Doctor.
Finest moment: The epic climax to his story when all the Doctors team up and we see the Doctor that destroyed Gallifrey save it. His work done, he bids farewell to his future selves and sets off ready as a victorious hero to reclaim his name.
Best stories: Ooh, what a lot of choice! The Day of the Doctor. Also check out Listen to get a glimpse into what was going through his mind in the barn before he decided not to destroy his planet. The novel Engines Of War is pretty good too.
Who is your favourite Doctor? And how would you rank all thirteen? Let us know in the comments below and join me tomorrow for my own personal top four Doctors.
When he's not obsessing about Doctor Who whilst having I Am The Doctor play in his head, Dr. Moo can usually be found reading up on the latest in Quantum Physics. As you do when you're a physicist.