Doctor Who: Looking Back At The COLIN BAKER Years - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: Looking Back At The COLIN BAKER Years

The Colin Baker era of Doctor Who is often regarded as one of the most divisive and controversial periods in the show's long history. Premiering on March 16, 1984, with "The Twin Dilemma," and concluding on December 6, 1986, with "The Ultimate Foe," Baker's tenure as the Sixth Doctor saw a series of creative highs and lows, marked by bold experimentation, ambitious storytelling, and behind-the-scenes turmoil.

Character Development

Throughout his tenure as the Sixth Doctor, Colin Baker portrayed the Time Lord with a larger-than-life personality and a colorful sense of style that set him apart from his predecessors. Baker's Doctor was characterized by his bombastic demeanor, flamboyant fashion sense, and sharp wit, as well as his occasional moments of vulnerability and self-doubt. Unlike previous incarnations, who often exuded confidence and authority, Baker's Doctor was more of a flawed and complex figure, prone to bouts of arrogance and impulsiveness. Despite these flaws, Baker's Doctor remained fiercely loyal to his friends and fiercely determined to fight injustice wherever he encountered it, making him a compelling and charismatic hero.

Accompanying the Sixth Doctor on his adventures were a series of memorable companions, each bringing their own unique perspectives and personalities to the TARDIS crew. Peri Brown, played by Nicola Bryant, was a feisty and independent American college student who frequently clashed with the Doctor's abrasive personality but ultimately formed a strong bond with him. Other companions from this era include Mel Bush, played by Bonnie Langford, a computer programmer from the 21st century who brought a sense of optimism and enthusiasm to the TARDIS crew. Together, these companions challenged the Doctor's perspectives and provided opportunities for growth and development, as they faced a series of thrilling adventures and encountered a host of iconic adversaries and monsters.

Producers and Creative Team

At the helm of Doctor Who during all of Colin Baker's era was producer John Nathan-Turner, who continued his tenure from the Peter Davison era. Nathan-Turner's leadership style and creative decisions came under increasing scrutiny during this period, as the show faced declining ratings and criticism from both fans and critics. Working alongside script editors Eric Saward and Anthony Root, Nathan-Turner oversaw a series of radical changes to the format and tone of Doctor Who, in an effort to revitalize the series and attract a new audience.

Notable Writers

Despite the challenges it faced, the Colin Baker era featured contributions from several notable writers, including Eric Saward, who continued to serve as script editor during Seasons 21 and 22. Saward's approach to storytelling remained consistent with his work on the Peter Davison era, characterized by a darker, more cynical tone and an emphasis on gritty realism and moral ambiguity. His tenure saw the introduction of memorable adversaries such as the Rani and the Valeyard, as well as a series of high-stakes storylines that pushed the Doctor and his companions to their limits.

Another standout writer from this era is Robert Holmes, who returned to pen the serial "The Two Doctors" during Season 22. Holmes' script brought together the Sixth Doctor and the Second Doctor, played by Patrick Troughton, for a thrilling adventure through time and space. Filled with witty dialogue, memorable characters, and inventive plot twists, "The Two Doctors" is often cited as one of the highlights of the Colin Baker era, praised for its ambitious storytelling and nostalgic appeal.

Notable Adventures

One notable adventure from the Colin Baker era is "Revelation of the Daleks," a serial from Season 22 that sees the Doctor and his companion Peri arriving on the planet Necros, where they become embroiled in a deadly conspiracy involving the Daleks and a funeral home run by the enigmatic Great Healer. Written by Eric Saward and directed by Graeme Harper, "Revelation of the Daleks" is notable for its dark and atmospheric tone, as well as its exploration of themes such as mortality, grief, and the nature of identity. The serial features memorable performances from Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant, as well as an iconic turn by Terry Molloy as the Dalek Supreme.

Another standout adventure is "The Trial of a Time Lord," a ambitious season-long story arc that spanned the entirety of Season 23. Written by Robert Holmes, Philip Martin, and Pip and Jane Baker, "The Trial of a Time Lord" sees the Doctor put on trial by the Time Lords for interfering in the affairs of other planets. The serial is structured as a series of flashbacks, as the Doctor recounts his adventures to defend himself against the charges. "The Trial of a Time Lord" is notable for its epic scope, complex narrative structure, and exploration of themes such as justice, morality, and the nature of truth. Despite its ambitious premise, the season received mixed reviews from fans and critics alike, with some praising its bold storytelling and others criticizing its uneven execution.

Behind the Scenes Production Details

Behind the scenes, the Colin Baker era of Doctor Who was marked by several significant changes and challenges, as the show struggled to find its footing in an increasingly competitive television landscape. One notable development was the introduction of a new title sequence and theme arrangement, created by Dominic Glynn, which gave the show a more contemporary and dynamic look and sound. The new title sequence featured a kaleidoscopic tunnel effect and an updated version of the iconic theme music, reflecting the darker and more experimental tone of the Sixth Doctor era.

In addition to changes in the title sequence and theme music, the Colin Baker era also saw advancements in special effects technology and production design, allowing for more ambitious and visually stunning storytelling. Serials such as "Revelation of the Daleks" and "The Two Doctors" featured elaborate sets, intricate model work, and groundbreaking visual effects that pushed the boundaries of what was possible on television at the time. These technical innovations helped to enhance the overall production value of Doctor Who and elevate it to new heights of cinematic quality, despite the show's limited budget and resources.

Notable Guest Stars

Throughout the Colin Baker era, Doctor Who featured a number of notable guest stars in supporting roles, including renowned actors from stage and screen. One standout example is Lynda Bellingham, who appeared in the serial "The Trial of a Time Lord" as the Inquisitor, a Time Lord tasked with presiding over the Doctor's trial. Bellingham's commanding performance added gravitas and authority to the character, as she presided over the proceedings with a sense of impartiality and integrity. Another notable guest star is Honor Blackman, who appeared in the serial "Terror of the Vervoids" as Professor Lasky, a scientist aboard a space liner who becomes embroiled in a deadly conspiracy involving a race of plant-based aliens. Blackman's presence added a touch of class and sophistication to the episode, as her character grappled with ethical dilemmas and moral ambiguity in the face of imminent danger.

Viewing Figures and Reception

Throughout its run, the Colin Baker era of Doctor Who experienced fluctuations in viewing figures, with some seasons proving more popular than others. Season 22, which introduced Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor and featured the departure of Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor, attracted strong ratings and positive reviews from fans and critics alike. However, subsequent seasons saw a decline in viewership, as the show faced increased competition from other television programs and changing audience preferences. Despite this, the Sixth Doctor era is widely regarded as a creative and artistic high point for Doctor Who, featuring some of the most ambitious and innovative storytelling in the show's history.

Themes and Legacy

Thematically, the Colin Baker era of Doctor Who explored a wide range of topics and concepts, from the nature of identity and the ethics of time travel to the consequences of unchecked power and the importance of redemption and forgiveness. Many serials from this era featured complex moral dilemmas and philosophical themes, challenging viewers to consider the implications of the Doctor's actions and the choices he makes in the name of justice and righteousness. The Sixth Doctor's emphasis on individuality and self-expression, as well as his willingness to challenge authority and question the status quo, served as a powerful example of heroism and defiance, inspiring audiences to think for themselves and stand up for what they believe in.

In terms of its legacy, the Colin Baker era of Doctor Who remains a controversial and polarizing chapter in the show's long history, cherished by some fans for its bold experimentation and criticized by others for its uneven execution and missed opportunities. While it may not have achieved the same level of commercial success or mainstream recognition as some of its predecessors, the Sixth Doctor era is nonetheless regarded as a creative and artistic triumph, showcasing the best of what Doctor Who has to offer and leaving an indelible mark on the series and its fans for generations to come.


In conclusion, the Colin Baker era of Doctor Who represents a period of creative experimentation and artistic ambition, marked by bold storytelling, memorable characters, and groundbreaking production values. From its dark and atmospheric tone to its exploration of complex moral dilemmas and philosophical themes, the Sixth Doctor era pushed the boundaries of what was possible on television and left an enduring legacy that continues to inspire and provoke discussion among fans to this day. While it may not have achieved the same level of commercial success or critical acclaim as some of its predecessors, the Colin Baker era remains a fascinating and complex chapter in the history of Doctor Who, cherished by fans for its creativity, imagination, and willingness to take risks in pursuit of great storytelling.

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