Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Let battle commence

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Let battle commence

We asked 11 Whovians to champion 11 Doctors and settle the argument of who is the best Time Lord to set foot in the Tardis. Who is the Doctor?


1. WILLIAM HARTNELL

The man who started it all brought to life a character we're still discussing half a century later. Mysterious, sometimes scary, wise and otherworldly, he defined the DNA of the Doctor and blazed a trail for all others to follow. Hartnell was the granddaddy; without him you can forget frilly shirts, jelly babies and sonic screwdrivers. An old man lurking in a junk yard, tinkering with a police box that can travel through time and space? Ludicrous. But Hartnell saw the magic, took the preposterous and made it wondrous.

Jack Richards

2. PATRICK TROUGHTON

Troughton needed to be a great Doctor. Regenerating the role from Hartnell could have been a catastrophe but it was superb. Bumbling, scruffy and affable, Troughton's Doctor was more of a best mate to his companions — his friendship with Jamie McCrimmon one of the most enduring in the show's history. His era had some genuinely terrifying stories —Yeti in the London Underground and Cybermen reawakening from an icy tomb are just two. It's a pity the BBC lost so many of his episodes.

Simon Swift

3. JON PERTWEE

Pertwee was Gallifrey's answer to James Bond. Suave, dandyish and elegant even in a crisis, he was a dab hand at Venusian Aikido (a martial art successfully deployed without ruffling velvet). In his first adventures, the Time Lords disabled the Tardis, exiling him to Earth, making him more immediate and saving a fortune in scenery. He also christened the phrase 'reverse the polarity of the neutron flow'. The first Doctor to be seen in colour, his greatness is etched by a bunch of sensational episodes with arch-nemesis The Master. David Phelan

4. TOM BAKER

The boringly obvious choice — but for good reason. Tom Baker was weird, dangerous and unpredictable. A louche, bohemian 1970s uncle (his scarf and hat were inspired by a Toulouse-Lautrec painting of cabaret singer Aristide Bruant) who when he wasn't playing the Doctor, was getting drunk with Francis Bacon in Soho. He had the eccentricity of Troughton with the authority of Pertwee. The shouty silliness and gurning of the new Doctors are basically an inferior Tom Baker tribute act. The scarf has it.

Martin Stevens

5. PETER DAVISON

Davison ushered in an era of darker, grittier stories, matching the mood of 1980s Britain. Reassuringly, he gave us a friendly, accessible Doctor and, with it, a slew of series-defining characters, including the brilliant new incarnation of The Master, companions Tegan, Adric and Turlough — not to mention the high-concept, low-budget lute-playing Kamelion. Davison's Doctor had charm, calm and moral indignation. More complex than his predecessors, just as eccentric, and the last great of the classic series. A legend in beige.

Stuart Jackson

6. COLIN BAKER

With an outfit Liberace would consider loud, Colin Baker was never going to be conventional. His first story saw him strangle his assistant, so here was a Doctor we were not meant to like. The writers created a long character arc before he settled into some sublime performances, proving Baker's Doctor was a bottle of Bordeaux that needed to breathe. He triumphed despite production values that would embarrass a Dalek. I once met Baker and nervously told him he was my favourite; he was charm personified. If only he had been afforded that opportunity on screen.

Matt Neale

7. SYLVESTER McCOY

The dark side of McCoy's Doctor came way before Christian Bale's Batman and Daniel Craig's Bond made the move fashionable. Mysterious, wise and terribly sad, so says 50th anniversary producer Steven Moffat, this was a Time Lord battling his own imbalance as well an interplanetary one. McCoy could defeat enemies — even a Dalek — by talking them into self-destruction. And if something needed blowing up, Ace was his joker in the pack. All the while at the mercy of substandard scripts, sets and a BBC no longer in love with the series. I take my panama off.

James Day

8. PAUL MAGANN

The 1996 movie was supposed to usher in a new TV series but it never happened. Mainstream audiences were alienated by a fan-pleasing story about The Master's execution on Skaro. Fans were alienated by the sacrilege of a half-human Doctor kissing his companion. Worse, new fans spent the first half getting used to McCoy. But McGann was still a great Doctor — wild, energetic, heroic. The recent Moffat mini episode, The Night Of The Doctor, with McGann oozing charisma for all of its seven minutes, was a cruel, tantalising reminder of what might have been.

Stephanie Martinez

9. CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON

Where previous players treated the Doctor as a jolly bit of camp, panto folderol, Eccleston brought a blokeish leather jacket and serious acting chops to the Tardis. His hatred for the Daleks and love for assistant Rose could raise goosebumps and tears. Though sartorially the most 'normal' looking Time Lord, he imbued the role with an alien intensity, dangerous manic gleam and virile dynamism crucial to launching Russell T Davies's reboot as credible here and internationally.

Larushka titan-Zadeh

10. DAVID TENNANT

If Eccleston brought the Doctor back, it was Tennant who cemented the show as a Saturday-night must-see. A Doctor Who geek before being cast, Tennant's love for the series was always evident. He looked like he was gleefully inhaling in every minute — and we did, too. His top-class acting made us laugh but also delivered plenty of tear-jerking moments, most notably his heartbreaking final line: 'I don't want to go.'

Daniella Graham

11. MATT SMITH

The debate of the Doctors is dominated by sentimentalists and Whovian blowhards. But engage in a bit of DVD time travel and it's clear the unheralded No.11 has taken the Gallifreyan gadfly on his greatest journey. Most Time Lords merely travel through time and space — only Smith crossed dimensions both comic and tragic and back again. From physical slapstick and romantic smoulder to sheer existential angst, Smith is the only Doctor who will surprise you time and time again.


Don't agree with our panel? Of course you don't. Carry on the debate online by tweeting #MetroWho or visit www.metro.co.uk/ents-tech

Disclaimer: These citations are created on-the-fly using primitive parsing techniques. You should double-check all citations. Send feedback to whovian@cuttingsarchive.org

  • APA 6th ed.: Kennedy, Colin (2013-11-22). Let battle commence. Metro (England) p. 52.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Kennedy, Colin. "Let battle commence." Metro (England) [add city] 2013-11-22, 52. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Kennedy, Colin. "Let battle commence." Metro (England), edition, sec., 2013-11-22
  • Turabian: Kennedy, Colin. "Let battle commence." Metro (England), 2013-11-22, section, 52 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Let battle commence | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Let_battle_commence | work=Metro (England) | pages=52 | date=2013-11-22 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=15 November 2019 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Let battle commence | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Let_battle_commence | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=15 November 2019}}</ref>