The other night, I was watching the latest incarnation of The Doctor – Matt Smith – and it was mentioned he was number eleven. I ran through my memory (sadly, I am old enough to have watched William Hartnell) and could only remember another NINE. Who was I missing?
A quick look at Wiki told me. It was Doctor number eight – Paul McGann.
The reason I had forgotten him was he was highly forgettable, having starred in just ONE EPISODE – an 89-minute TV movie, made in 1996, during the 16-year “hiatus” and co-financed by America.
As an attempt to re-launch the series, it was aborted. However, the exercise spawned a whole slew of other media: books, magazines and what-have-you. And so it was awarded canonical status – along with the afore-mentioned Mr McGann.
But The Doctor has had WAY more than eleven incarnations, if you include the NON-canonical ones.
Peter Cushing had a fair stab at the character, in 1965. In an Amicus (calling themselves AARU, for unknown reasons) COLOUR movie, he was pretty good. The piece had a likeable supporting cast and a GREAT score.
However, there were too many “diversions” for the film to be classed as canon. F’rinstance, The Doctor was actually CALLED “Doctor Who”.
A year later, they did a sequel – but where the original studio-bound effort had been surreal, the second effort went outdoors and got LOST.
Then there are the actors who have starred in the many spin-offs on stage, radio, audio-tapes, printed media and charity events. They are too numerous to mention.
So what of the future? Well, Matt Smith is moving on. In his last normal episode (before the 50 Year Special and Christmas episode, where he will finally bow out) my old mate John Hurt was credited as The New Doctor.
But then a few months later, Peter Capaldi (it should have been Ben Whishaw) was announced as Doctor number twelve. It seems John will just be yet another of the “alternate” Doctors.
Of course, it does not matter too much WHO plays The Doctor (did you see what I did there?) It has ALWAYS been about the WRITING. And these days, there is no shortage of superior authors happy to keep the now seemingly unstoppable legend going…
As an epilogue: here is MY homage to The Doctor, which can be found on the ubiquitous YouTube.
It is that legendary sound-effect – STILL in use – the distinctive part of which was created by a BBC Radiophonic Workshop technician who ran his house-key up a piano-string, then played the recording backwards.
The accompanying graphic is mine. Hit…
It currently has well over eighty thousand hits – not bad for a piece that is of little interest in the USA…