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Who's your favourite?

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Will it be dashing David Tennant, madcap Tom Baker or present incumbent Matt Smith? As the time Lord turns 50 next month, four top writers decide...

Dorothy Koomson on Jon Pertwee (1970-1974)

Three Doctors have made a significant impact on my (not so secret) life as a sci-fi geek. David tennant (I'll say that, not drool it), tom baker (I wear long scarves because of him) and the late, great Jon Pertwee.

I was a baby when the Doctor entered his third incarnation in 1970, but I came to know him when I was a little older. And to know the frilly-shirted, velvet-clad Pertwee was to be fascinated by him.

All through my childhood, I'd try to sneak downstairs on Friday and Saturday nights after my parents had gone to bed to watch black-andwhite Hammer horror movies. those Dracula and Frankenstein yarns were complete nonsense, of course, but only when I look back at them now. As a wide-eyed, tV-obsessed youngster, they were addictively scary. And the third Doctor's adventures had exactly the same quality of moreish terror - but they were on at teatime.

Doctor Who was one of the shows that expanded my mind while filling it with all sorts of scary things to wake me up in the night.

Pertwee's Doctor faced some horrific foes but the ones that stayed in my mind, even to this day, were the Autons, plastic figures that could kill (Terror of the Autons). For years, I gave the side-eye to shop mannequins because of that episode.

When the Autons reappeared in christopher Eccleston's first episode, I was living in Australia but it felt like I was instantly transported back through time and space to my parents' south-London living room.

Apart from feeding my love of shoddy movies, the third Doctor also fostered my enduring affection for men who wear velvet jackets. His Inverness capes reminded me of Sherlock Holmes (one of my all-time favourite literary heroes), his cravats always seemed appropriate no matter what he was battling, and I'm sure his ruffle shirts are what led me to fall so completely head over heels, a few years later, for Adam Ant.

Pertwee's Doctor also had the best assistants. I love rose tyler, Martha Jones and Donna Noble, but only because they're cast in the mould of Sarah Jane Smith. these girls are people in their own right and exist with and without the Doctor.

Sarah Jane was just as interesting as her time Lord boss, and she had the coolest job in the world as an investigative reporter. I often wonder if I decided to become a journalist because of Sarah Jane. Now I've written this, I'm going to have to dig out my old Pertwee videos. I haven't done that in years and I can't wait to see him in action again.

But I know it'll be a while before I can face a shop dummy.

Jenny Colgan on David Tennant (2005-2010)

The rules of engagement between the Doctor and human girls were laid down a long time ago. tom baker, on meeting a stunning-looking adversary, says simply, "You're a beautiful woman.. probably."

Humans and time lords simply do not mix, and as a long-time fan of the show that suited me just fine. Does Aslan have a girlfriend? No. Neither should the Doctor then. In fact, the 1995 film with Paul McGann was roundly slagged off for the fact that he kisses his assistant in it. Ahem!

When I wrote my Doctor Who novel, Dark Horizons, a query came back from the big bosses who make the show in cardiff. the Doctor is saving someone from drowning and, in the original draft, "tore off his shoes and trousers and leapt into the water".

This came back with a big red pen line through it, along with the note, "the Doctor does not remove his trousers." Well, quite. I should have known better.

Of course, that was all fine until David tennant came along. Peter Davison and christopher Eccleston had both been attractive men but David was, not to put too fine a point on it, gorgeous.

They tried to play down his instant chemistry with billie Piper, but it simply could not be denied. She fancied him because you fancied him, your mum fancied him, your granny fancied him, everybody fancied him, whether he took his trousers off or not. So he combined everything you already loved about the Doctor - his wit, his brains, his joie de vivre and usefulness in a tight spot - and added the cherries on the top: dashing black eyes, a heart-melting grin and really, really good hair.

Then the show took billie away and broke his heart, and suddenly he became even more attractive, in a wounded puppy fashion (who was also brave, resourceful, clever etc).

But there's another reason tennant is my favourite Doctor, which is that he starred in some of the greatest episodes there have ever been of Doctor Who, or in fact any television series. Blink, Family of Blood and Silence in the Library, to name but three, were all outstanding with some wonderful writing.

Being Scottish helps, too, but what really gives Dt the edge are those brown eyes, and the intense look they got when river Song told him his true name or he found himself on the wrong side of the wall from rose.

It's so nice to know that in some alternate universe, spliced with a little bit of human DNA (from the marvellous Donna Noble, if you remember - I expect all their children have bright-red hair), this Doctor, alone of all the transfigurations, was allowed to fall in love with rose, settle down and live happily ever after. the Doctor so rarely gets a chance to be happy, but this one did.

Shappi Khorsandi on Tom Baker (1974-1981)

I love tom baker. love him. His Doctor was a mercurial cosmic nutter. A borderline sociopath with swivel eyes in eccentric orbit around some binary star system, and the sci-fi equivalent of Kevin Keegan's perm. I was only a child, but I knew this man's attention-grabbing flamboyance would change my life. I, too, could blast through time, space and my native Ealing, making dramatic and misguided style and hairdo choices.

For a child of the 70s, tom's Doctor was a time-travelling peek at your future student geek, garbed in battered hats and dodgy hand-knits, talking gobbledegook with complete conviction and switching moods in a nanosecond. In tom's boho hands, offering a jelly baby to an authority figure became an act of rebellion. the show attracted the ire of Mary Whitehouse, not for insubordination - for its scenes of strangulation by "obscene vegetable matter", actually. but still...

baker once said the best way to pay an alien with "dark thoughts and wonderful thoughts.. is just to be tom baker".

Not shy about beating his own tom-tom, tom turned upstaging into a new spatial dimension. His Doctor had two hearts and two egos. to this day, he time-lords it over all the other incarnations. Give me a raging, shameless, big kid of a Doctor any day.

And he was silly. boldly silly as no Doctor had been before. baddie with gun: "turn around". tom throws a 360-degree pirouette with the grace and energy of a Gallifreyan Michael Jackson. then ignores him. He plucks Groucho Marxist asides from the ether (tom didn't like to read the scripts too carefully). "Alas poor skull", he whispers, with vincent Pricey Gothic gravitas, offering the skull monster a jelly baby. A few blinks of space-time and he's grappling with big hairy monsters and channelling Monty Python: "Oh! Ooooh! My fingers... My arm...

My everything!"

So there you have it. the man who dominated the show for seven years and rode it like a mutant, intergalactic pony for every gasp, thrill and laugh he could squeeze from it. It took 25 years for DW to recapture those peaks - years that tom baker spent dining out on how he'd grabbed teatime tv by its 1970s lapels and sent it whizzing into our futures - Woo-woo, Woo-ooo-ooo... Shappi is currently on a national stand-up comedy tour. Her memoir, A beginner's Guide to Acting English (£7.49), is out now.

Wendy Holden on Matt Smith (2010-2013)

"Don't worry," my husband told my seven-year-old son, "I found it difficult to get used to Patrick troughton." the year was 2009 and the Doctor was regurgitating - sorry, regenerating - again. Andrew's beloved 10th Doctor, the charismatic David tennant, was handing on the sonic screwdriver to some 27 year old called Matt Smith.

Personally, I didn't care one way or the other. I'd never been interested in time lords. Science fiction, to me, was definitely a man thing. Although the discovery that Smith played the piano was useful. If eventually he passed muster, I could prod my children to the keyboard by saying the new Doctor had got grade seven.

then the new series started and I found myself pausing by the door into the sitting room. there was definitely something about this crazy guy with his sunken eyes, bony features and attractive, twisty way of speaking. I liked his look - the skinny trousers, the bow tie, the tweed, the rockabilly hair. And the proper shoes - tennant's converses and long coat had never really done it for me. but what got me sitting down to watch Smith with the rest wasn't any of this. It was the romance.

Not the one with Daisy lowe, which we were never really happy www.about.No Doctor worth his salt, we felt, should be kicking around with models flashing lots of flesh. the romance I mean is the one with the glamorous redhead. With miniskirtwearing, flame-maned, colt-legged Amy Pond. From the moment Matt arrived in Amy's Scottish garden to call her to the cause of intergalactic sidekickdom, it was clear something special was going on. the two of them not only looked fabulous together - his angled face, her round one, his short hair, her long - but the chemistry was truly great. Matt and Karen Gillan, who played Amy, were the Nureyev and Fonteyn of the infinite universe, Amy's boyfriend rory-the-male-nurse notwithstanding.

I was always waiting for them to fall properly in love - off screen as well as on. the fact they didn't, or said they didn't, made their occasional on-screen embraces absolutely electric.

And then there were the Proms. the first Doctor Who Prom was in 2009, during the last days of David tennant. It was sold out within seconds but I battled madly with the royal Albert Hall switchboards and after calling practically every hour for days, I got a couple of returns. Son and husband went - and returned disappointed. tennant had been present only via video message.

two years later, it was Matt Smith's Doctor Who Prom and we all went. but would he? Our nervousness was due to more than the cybermen stalking among us in the arena. Our joy when the familiar quiff emerged from a hole in the Albert Hall floor to save the world was unconfined.

Thanks for that, Matt, and for the rest. However improbable your Doctor Who adventures, you were real.

GRAPHIC: Third Doctor Jon Pertwee, sporting his trademark velvet jacket and Inverness cape, comes face to face (again) with his greatest foes the Daleks David Tennant as the soulful-eyed 10th Doctor had an obvious chemistry with his assistant Rose (Billie Piper)

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