Doctor Who: The five least 'user-friendly' Doctors

Aug 8, 2014

Peter Capaldi says his Doctor will be 'less user-friendly' than his predecessors – but will he be darker than this lot?


Like James Bond, Doctor Who has been played by many different actors over the years. Unlike Bond, though, there is an explicable reason for the casting change: the Doctor is an alien, capable of regenerating and taking different forms when mortally wounded.

Over the years, Doctor Who has been variously sombre, clownish, happy-go-lucky and – often – more than a little odd. The new Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi promises to be "less user-friendly" than his immediate predecessors. "I was keen he be a little darker," Capaldi told the BBC's Lizo Mzimba at a preview of the new series in London yesterday. "He's struggling with himself and who he is".

So how will Capaldi's Doctor fit in among the motley crew he succeeds? Most Doctors have ended up touching the hearts of their own generation of fans, but some have been less immediately lovable than others. Here are five of the least fuzzy. 

The sixth Doctor, played by Colin Baker

Some Doctors have been kindly, others not so much. Colin Baker's incarnation of the Doctor could be "arrogant, mean and even violent at times", IGN notes. Baker's not altogether charming reinterpretation of the character is sometimes held responsible for the show's gradual decline that led to its cancellation in 1989.

The first Doctor, played by William Hartnell

William Hartnell's Doctor could be "selfish, haughty and prickly", and even long-time fans of the series "have trouble reconciling some of the words, actions and attitudes of this first incarnation with the later versions of the Doctor", IGN says. Still, the Edwardian coat-wearing time traveller saw the show through its critical early years, and brought the Doctor into contact with his long-time foes, the Daleks and the Cybermen.

The second Doctor, played by Patrick Troughton

Doctor Who co-creator Sydney Newman suggested that after his first regeneration, the Doctor could be played as a "cosmic hobo", fan website Tardis Data Core says. Troughton, a veteran television and radio actor was the man to do it, although he reportedly hated publicity. As he said to one interviewer, "I think acting is magic. If I tell you all about myself it will spoil it". The actor embodied the role as a "father figure", said Doctor Who producer Peter Lloyd, and his stern appearance was offset by a tendency towards wit, and playfulness.

The ninth Doctor, played by Christopher Ecclestone

The actor credited with reinventing Doctor Who for today's television audience, gave the role a new steely edge. But in spite of the plaudits, he didn't last long on the show and left after just one series admitting that he "didn't enjoy the environment and the culture" of the production, and wanted to be his "own man".

The seventh Doctor, played by Sylvester McCoy

Though on the surface he appeared to be something of a buffoon, the seventh Doctor gradually developed into "a mysterious, cunning manipulator" and "a Machiavellian genius of frightful calibre," Tardis Data Core says. Though he had many fans during his short run at the Doctor, McCoy was rated as the fourth least popular actor in a poll of 20,000 Doctor Who fans, conducted by Entertainment Weekly last year. Baker, Hartnell and Paul McGann came below him.

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