On Saturday 5th November, 1966 the Daleks returned to Doctor Who only to be upstaged for a change. After the screening of episode one of The Power of the Daleks, the viewers were all talking about one thing – the new Doctor.
Nobody was quite prepared for just how radical a step the change of lead from Hartnell to Troughton would prove to be. A replacement actor playing the same role was not an entirely unfamiliar occurrence for sixties TV audiences. But what made Doctor Who unique was the bold and scripted way in which the character completely changed personality too, with the first and second Doctors like chalk and cheese.
Fast forward fifty years and the character’s ability to reinvent himself through regeneration is a central conceit - so much so that almost immediately after a new actor has been announced in the role, rumours and suggestions about the identity of his successor begin to surface.
Not counting Sir John Hurt’s War Doctor, twelve actors have taken up the mantle, each of them bringing their own twist to the mercurial Time Lord.
The Brigadier was quite right when he said “splendid chap, all of them", but it would be churlish not to concede that some were better than others.
We all have our personal favourites, but a more objective measure would be to consider how each perform across a range of criteria. We selected five essential qualities and scored each Doctor from 1-12, and the results were quite surprising...
12. The Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker)
OVERALL SCORE: 14
Poor Colin I was hoping that this scoring system would see him off the bottom of the list (for a change), but alas, no. Unless there’s a category for the most outlandish costume, it’s hard to see what permutation could give the Sixth Doctor a better deal.
Some argue that had Michael Grade not put the show on temporary hold and later demanded that Colin Baker be replaced, then we would be remembering the Sixth Doctor with greater fondness. But if the recent audio reconstructions of the cancelled episodes are anything to go by, even if he had been given more material to work with, Colin Baker would not have been served well by the writers. The stories we did get were at least engaging, if a little continuity obsessed.
Colin Baker is a fine ambassador for the show and a mainstay of the convention circuit, but sadly the Sixth Doctor simply did not work out. A character as ‘in your face’ as his costume who commanded centre stage, even when he had softened his nasty side the Sixth Doctor was hard to like. The costume was supposed to represent his alienness, but instead it highlighted an attention seeking self-obsession which unlike Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor is not a temporary phase in the hero’s journey towards enlightenment.
At least the Sixth Doctor only came last in one of the five categories, but despite that saving grace there is still a massive 10 points between him and the Doctor in eleventh place – the biggest gap in the entire list.