Doctor Who: The Best Doctors

Doctor Who is both a television show and a global multimedia franchise created and controlled by the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). It centres on a time traveller called "the Doctor", who comes from a race of beings known as Time Lords. He travels through space and time in a time machine he calls the TARDIS. This ship — which looks like a small, London police box on the outside — has nearly infinite dimensions on the inside. It has become such an iconic shape in British culture that it is currently the intellectual property of the BBC rather than its actual makers, the Metropolitan Police Service. Since Doctor Who's revival in 2005, its production has been primarily based in Wales by BBC Wales, with its soundtrack regularly performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales since 2006. In order to accommodate cast changes, the narrative allows the Doctor to regenerate into an essentially new person on occasion. The cast is rounded out by one or more "companions", often females. On average, the main cast completely changes once every three or four years — a significant factor in the longevity of the programme.

"The Doctor" was the main alias used by a renegade Time Lord from Gallifrey who travelled through time and space with various companions in his obsolete and "borrowed" Type 40 TARDIS. He was the universe's "greatest defender", having saved the cosmos thousands of times throughout his long life, becoming a great legend across the whole universe.

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10th Doctor

Benefiting from the healing undergone by his immediate predecessor, the Tenth Doctor possessed an outgoing, lively and genial demeanour that hid his underlying guilt. For most of his incarnation, the Doctor was able to successfully project a convivial and even frivolous front. However, when he had to engage in conflict, the Tenth Doctor's energies would shift to reveal a fiercely protective man who resolutely guarded what he held dear, and who could be viciously unforgiving to the forces that dared menace them. He was unique in that he was the only incarnation of the Doctor who chose to waste and abort one of his regenerations, leaving him with just one left, after being hit by a Dalek ray, channelling the energy into his spare hand without changing his appearance, something his successor would attribute to "vanity issues" the Tenth Doctor had developed from enjoying being the person he was in his current incarnation.

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4th Doctor

Youthful in mind, manner and appearance, the Fifth Doctor expressed an interest in all things Victorian and Edwardian: cricket, tea, fair play, good manners, and a keen interest in science and exploration. He was also a sensitive and profusely humane incarnation of the Doctor, who did not make himself an imposition, preferring to be honest, reserved, and honourable. However, the Fifth Doctor was also less willing to do what he thought was immoral, and became highly conflicted about what choices he could make in a crisis that were truly right. His hesitancy made him seemingly more fallible than many other incarnations, making those around him wonder if he was capable of resolving difficult situations. Nevertheless, he was one of the most overtly fearless incarnations, and frequently found himself right in the thick of battle.

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11th Doctor

Bombastic, calculating, emotionally unpredictable and adventurous, the Eleventh Doctor was the final incarnation of the Doctor's original regeneration cycle. By this point in his life, the Doctor's reputation had grown immense, attracting a new strain of conflicts. As River Song put it, the Doctor could "turn an army around with just the mention of his name." Wishing to withdraw from the dangers it created, he became a secretive and guileful individual for the sake of himself and those he held close. He engaged in a centuries-long struggle to the death against his enemies, including an assassination plot by the Silence.

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9th Doctor

The Ninth Doctor is an incarnation of the Doctor, the protagonist of the BBC science fiction television programme Doctor Who. He is portrayed by Christopher Eccleston during the first series of the show's revival in 2005. Within the programme's narrative, the Doctor is a time travelling, humanoid alien from a race known as the Time Lords. When the Doctor is critically injured, he can regenerate his body but in doing so gains a new physical appearance and with it, a distinct new personality. The production team's approach to the character and Eccleston's portrayal were highlighted as being intentionally different from his predecessors, with Eccleston stating that his character would be less eccentric. To fit in with a 21st-century audience, the Doctor was given a primary companion, Rose Tyler, who was designed to be as independent and courageous as himself. He also briefly travels with Adam Mitchell, a self-serving boy genius who acts as a foil to the companions but ultimately proves unworthy, and Jack Harkness, a reformed con man from the 51st century. The Doctor, Rose and Jack form a close team but are separated in the series finale in which each character has to make difficult choices and face sacrifice.

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12th Doctor

Emerging from his previous incarnation's explosive regeneration on Trenzalore, the Twelfth Doctor was the first incarnation of the Doctor's second regeneration cycle, bestowed upon him by the Time Lords at Clara Oswald's urging. Assured of the survival of Gallifrey, the Doctor was no longer chained down by guilt, becoming a less amiable character with a withdrawn attitude who habitually questioned his own goodness. Although he was no stranger to kindness and humour, the Twelfth Doctor often dispensed with niceties in a tense situation, becoming cold and calculative in critical moments that required sound judgment and the occasional application of sharp practice.

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8th Doctor

Leading a life of great temporal complexity, the Eighth Doctor was so frequently involved in time paradoxes and parallel universes that it was impossible to know with certainty how the major epochs of his existence fitted together. Complicating the matter even further were his frequent bouts of amnesia, as well as several phases of his life where he lived in one place for more than a hundred years, such as Earth and Orbis.

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7th Doctor

Originally a man with the demeanour of an eccentric, light-hearted buffoon, the Seventh Doctor darkened into a mysterious, cunning manipulator to combat the return of Fenric. Though he delighted in humorous reverie, it was only the surface layer of his true nature. Beneath, he was a Machiavellian genius of frightful calibre who could tactfully use his mind to manipulate almost any situation into reaching his favoured outcome. Despite this, he could also show profound warmth and affection to his companions, and built a strong bond with many of them.

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3rd Doctor

The Third Doctor is an incarnation of the Doctor, the protagonist of the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who. He was portrayed by actor Jon Pertwee. Within the series' narrative, the Doctor is a centuries-old Time Lord alien from the planet Gallifrey who travels in time and space in his TARDIS, frequently with companions. When the Doctor is critically injured, his body can regenerate; as a result, his physical appearance and personality change. Pertwee portrays the third such incarnation, a dapper man of action of stark contrast to his wily but less action-oriented predecessors. While previous Doctors' stories had all involved time and space travel, for production reasons Pertwee's stories initially depicted the Doctor stranded on Earth in exile, where he worked as a scientific advisor to the international military group UNIT. Within the story, the Third Doctor came into existence as part of a punishment from his own race, the Time Lords, who forced him to regenerate and also disabled his TARDIS. Eventually, this restriction is lifted and the Third Doctor embarks on more traditional time travel and space exploration stories.

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1st Doctor

The First Doctor is the initial incarnation of the Doctor, the protagonist of the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who. He was portrayed by the actor William Hartnell from 1963 to 1966. Hartnell reprised the role once, in the tenth anniversary story The Three Doctors (1973), although due to his failing health the story was written so he would not have to appear very extensively. Within the series' narrative, the Doctor is a centuries-old alien Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who travels in time and space in his TARDIS, frequently with companions. When the Doctor is critically injured, he can regenerate his body; in doing so, his physical appearance and personality change. Hartnell's Doctor is the Doctor's "original" form. The regeneration plot device was introduced when Hartnell needed to leave the series, and consequently has extended the life of the show for many years. His original companions were his granddaughter Susan (Carole Ann Ford) and her schoolteachers Ian Chesterton (William Russell) and Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill).

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13th Doctor

The next star of Doctor Who has been announced after intense speculation – and the person stepping into the role of Time Lord is Jodie Whittaker. She is the first woman to take on the role, playing the 13th Doctor in the BBC1 drama. Whittaker, who rose to fame in ITV’s crime drama Broadchurch, had been touted as one of the contenders. Debate has been whirring over who would play the Doctor ever since Peter Capaldi announced in January that he was leaving the programme.

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5th Doctor
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War Doctor
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6th Doctor
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Metacrisis Doctor