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    Doctor Who: The Doctors and the Actors Who Played Them

    National History

    Doctor Who: The Doctors and the Actors Who Played Them

    To be fair while there is just one Doctor, there are effectively nearly twenty (counting the
    War Doctor, the Fugitive Doctor, and the Valeyard), and whilst they are all, to all intents and
    purposes one person, and this person is always an eccentric traveller through Time and
    Space, who is in many ways a hero and one who is suspicious of authority, such are the
    differences of character that we otherwise see, there are in effect, well over a dozen more.

    Actors of Doctor Who - Dr Who History

    The various actors who have played “The Doctor” – Wikimedia

    It all effectively started back in 1966, when William Hartnell was finding playing the lead role
    too much of a physical and mental strain. It was a manifestation of the arteriosclerosis that
    he was suffering from, the complications of which he would die of nearly nine years later,
    after having to give up acting and being permanently hospital bound in his last months. The
    series was too successful to ditch, and they looked for another actor, but not one who
    would resemble William Hartnell and give a similar performance. No, they took the brave
    route and effectively re-wrote key parts of the character. No longer a grumpy, but
    compassionate old man, but a clownish, untidy, and slightly clumsy middle aged man with a
    mop of dark hair and well played by an already respected actor, Patrick Troughton.

    Patrick Troughton
    Patrick Troughton, The Second Doctor

    It started a trend and made the series easy to continue for as long as the BBC and the public
    wanted. If an actor had had enough, or had become too tiresome, or both, then replacing
    him would be easy. What was especially incredible is that the early Doctors were all very
    different from each other. The clownish Second Doctor was replaced by the action man and
    smartly, if over thrilly dressed, Third Doctor. The irony here is that Patrick Troughton was a
    well respected character actor of serious roles who played it light, and Jon Pertwee (the
    Third Doctor in question), was an actor with vast experience in cabaret and comedy, who
    played it more straight and serious than any other actor in the role.

    Jon Pertwee
    Jon Pertwee, The Third Doctor & His Foe, The Dalek

    Then there was Tom Baker, one of the most well known actors in the role and who gave one
    of the most unforgettable performances in the series. Baker first came to public attention in
    the Hollywood film, Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), and his career sank from then, to the
    point where he was making tea on a building site when the call came through to take the
    lead role in the series. One of the most charismatic of actors in the role, behind the scenes
    Baker could be charming, friendly, outgoing, outspoken, downright difficult, and a bit of a
    **** at times. He was good with other actors, but successive producers and script writers
    found him tough to work with. Several times Baker threatened to leave, the BBC Execs
    panicked because he was so popular in the role, and inducements were made to make him
    stay. That is until 1980, when new Producer John Nathan-Turner told Baker that his
    resignation was accepted, and then set about casting Peter Davison, whom Nathan-Turner
    worked with on All Creatures Great and Small.

    Colin Baker
    Colin Baker as Doctor Who

    There have been some criticisms of the successive casting of Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and
    Sylvester McCoy in the lead role by John Nathan-Turner in the 1980s, but all of them
    equipped themselves well and helped bring in more fans to the series. I am biased on one
    level, because Peter Davison’s Doctor is my favourite and the one I first grew up with (well
    technically it was Tom Baker but his last story was the first one I remember seeing), but
    while I agree with Tom Baker’s maxim that no one has really failed in the role, I do disagree

    that it does not need acting. It does, given the dialogue and that the Doctor is both an action
    hero and an eccentric professor, and that needs to be believable with no sense of

    jodie whittaker
    Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor

    Paul McGann gave a great performance in the TV Movie in 1996 and should have had a long
    TV run in the role, but since it has permanently returned in 2005, each of the actors in the
    role: Eccleston, Tennant (who came back briefly to the role last year), Smith, Capaldi,
    Whittaker, and Gatwa, have dominated the series and made their own stamp on the role
    and have ensured that the series has continued to develop and entrance successive
    generations of viewers. Be the Doctor a grumpy old man, a clown, a dandy, a Bohemian, a
    sensitive cricketer, a temperamental multi coloured jacket wearing individual, a canny
    middle aged Scotsman, a Victorian romantic, a calculating warrior (as played by John Hurt in
    the 50 th anniversary episode), a modern day Northerner, a temp in plimsols, a young man
    with a bow tie fetish, a white haired grumpy Scotsman, a young northern woman, a middle
    aged fugitive woman with a London accent (as played by Jo Martin as a possible past
    Doctor), or totally confident young man, he/she will always be the Doctor

    Doctor Who: The Doctors and the Actors Who Played Them
    Written By

    Paul is Nostalgia Digital's resident TV Nostalgia Expert, with a love of all things SciFi.

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