Doctor Who - My Doctor

Doctor Who Tom Baker

Today is 'Who is your favourite Doctor' day here in the office. The best essay gets published and here is the winner - My Doctor by steven harris aged 50 and 1 month...

All Whovians will tell you they have a Doctor. The one that meant most to them as they were growing up. My brother's is Patrick Troughton and I remember watching along with him when I was very small. My mum says that I was, as one is supposed to be when tiny and watching Doctor Who, behind the sofa or at least peering out now and then from behind a cushion.

She also says that I was scared of the theme music but I've seen plenty of Troughton stuff on DVD now and I think she's wrong. When the Second Doctor's face appears in the swirling black and white background during the title sequence there is a moment where he almost seems demonic, just before his wonderfully expressive features fully coalesce on the screen. I think I was scared of that split second, wondering if the devil was trying to crawl out of our television set. Well, I was only three or four.

Then came Jon Pertwee and for many my age he was their Doctor. I watched him a lot, it must be said and I might well look back from 2013 and consider him 'mine' were it not for what happened early in 1974. I was eight and the massive, if unrealistic, spider from Metabelis 3 had done for Pertwee. He fell out of the Tardis on arriving back at UNIT HQ and he began to go all Tom Baker.

From the off I was smitten with this teeth and curls, scarf and jelly-babies Doctor. For the first time I actually believed that the person in charge of the Tardis was genuinely an alien. I mean come on, Baker's a fruit cake, isn't he? Possibly the most brilliant fruit cake I have ever hero-worshipped, and I've hero-worshipped quite a few of them. Not real cakes. I eat them. Waste of time worshipping them, they'll go stale or mouldy.

I still remember sitting with my mouth agape during his first ever serial, Robot. He was a clown, like Troughton. He was a flawed genius, like Pertwee. But he was also something else entirely: he was utterly unpredictable. Still moral, still very much the good guy, but you never quite knew what was going to come out of his mouth or whether he'd side with the apparent alien bad guys instead of the humanoids they were often terrorising.

During Genesis of the Daleks when he has only to touch two wires together to destroy the entire Dalek race before they've even had a chance to get beyond the foetal stage, he slumps unexpectedly into a soliloquy about whether he has the right to basically exterminate these proto-mass-murderers. Pertwee often sympathised with alien foes but when it came down to it he was a man of action and would reverse the polarity of whatever it was that week that needed its polarity reversing and boom-a-bang, aliens all dead. Not Baker.

There is something of the Shakespearean tragic hero in Tom Baker's portrayal of The Doctor. Something Hamlet-like in the way his madness often has method in it as well as in the fact that his conscience could sometimes seem to make coward of him (something we see Chris Eccleston's 9th Doctor admit to as well). When it most mattered, however, the Fourth Doctor knew a hawk from a handsaw and was but mad north by northwest.

He was my Doctor for so many reasons. The male companion alongside the Doctor and Sarah-Jane Smith to begin with, Harry, provided perfect opportunities for myself and my friend George from across the road to swap roles without having to be a girl when we played Doctor Who in the park after each episode had finished. Eight year old boys think girls are yucky but that Timelords are freaking amazing. There was a fair bit of arguing about who had played The Doctor last time but on the whole I think George and I were reasonably democratic.

I stuck with Tom Baker for the entirety if his tenure. At times my interest waned a little but then they'd do cheeky little things like bring Leela into the show and make me go all wibbly in ways I was not yet old enough to comprehend. Towards the end I was properly into my adolescence and I guess it is fortunate for me that Four became Five. I loathed Adric and, after seven years, it really was time for a change. For me the show was never quite the same again yet those viewers who got into the show just as Peter Davison took over, like a certain David Tennant for example, will tell you Five was the best Doctor.

Perhaps in the end none of them have been best. But they have all been owned by various viewers for various reasons. It's still the same today. If I had been eight when Matt Smith took over from Tennant then I'd have fond memories of Ten but probably call Eleven 'mine'. They are, of course, all ours. They're all this same mad man with a box who has bewitched, beguiled, befuddled and delighted audiences for fifty years. Can we have another fifty now please?

Image - BBC.