skip to content



the doctors

Have you ever wondered just who the Doctor is? Well, this document won't tell you his inner-most secrets, however, it will provide you with some information on the actors to play each of the eight televised incarnations of the Doctor.


william hartnell: 1963-1966

William Hartnell
William Hartnell

Much of the mystery of the enigmatic Time Lord known as the Doctor was introduced by the late William Hartnell. Holding the role for a little under three years, from November 1963 to October 1966. He portrayed the Doctor as an irascible, irritable, arrogant, rude and senile old man. Accompanied by his grand daughter, Susan. The Doctor arrived on Earth, intending to repair his "borrowed" time-space ship known as the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space).

In the first story, An Unearthly Child, he wilfully abducts two schoolteachers, Ian and Barbara, and takes them on adventure back to the Stone Age. The adventures continue, with the following story, The Daleks making Doctor Who an overnight success. They progressively encounter many aliens and historical figures, most notably Marco Polo and King Richard the Lionheart. Three more adventures with the Daleks occur in this period with the twelve episode adventure, The Daleks' Masterplan being the longest story until Trial of a Time Lord.

Later in his tenure as the Doctor, ill health plagued William Hartnell, presenting a problem to the crew. This was uniquely solved in one story, The Celestial Toymaker where he was deemed to be invisible and intangible. William Hartnell's last story was The Tenth Planet, broadcast in late 1966, in which the Doctor faces his (second most popular) enemies, the Cybermen for the first time. This is also the story in which the Doctor regenerates.

William Hartnell maintained a love for the series and was invited back to reprise his role in the tenth anniversary story, The Three Doctors, but ill health forced him to a small cameo-like role in the studio. Of his twenty-nine stories, only seventeen of them exist in entirety due to a misguided BBC film junking policy.

patrick troughton: 1966-1969

Patrick Troughton
Patrick Troughton

When William Hartnell left Doctor Who due to ill health, the producers decided to cast Patrick Troughton as the new Doctor. Patrick decided to portray his character with a whimsical, heavily-jowled and elastic-featured persona and a Chaplinesque style. With his humour, charm and recorder, he appeared on the television screens from 1966 to 1969.

Patrick's Doctor displayed considerable knowledge and experience through his travels and, to an extent, gained some control of the TARDIS.

In his first story, The Power of the Daleks, which sadly, does not exist except in audio form, the Doctor magically regenerates, to the astonishment and scepticism of his current companions, Ben and Polly and foils a plan by the Daleks to exterminate all humans on the planet Vulcan. In his second story, The Highlanders, the Doctor encounters Jamie, a companion who stays with him until his last story, The War Games. Like the first Doctor, he encounters many aliens, most notably the Daleks, Cybermen, Ice Warriors and the Yeti. It is the second Yeti story, The Web of Fear that the Doctor encounters Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, who, later promoted to the rank of Brigadier, helps the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe foil a plan by the Cybermen to invade Earth with the help of Tobias Vaughn.

In Troughton's last story, The War Games, we first discover the origins of the Doctor, we see his home planet for the first time and meet the Time Lords, the race of which the Doctor is a member. It is in this story that the Doctor is charged with interfering with the affairs of lesser species and is exiled to Earth in the late 20th century with a change of appearance. His companions, Jamie and Zoe, are returned to their respective homes, with their memories erased of the time they spent with the Doctor.

Of the twenty stories of his period, only six remain in their complete form. Patrick reprised his role for the tenth anniversary story, The Three Doctors; the twentieth anniversary story, The Five Doctors and for one story in the twenty-second season, The Two Doctors, in which he appears with the sixth Doctor.

jon pertwee: 1970-1974

Jon Pertwee
Jon Pertwee

The late Jon Pertwee, was the third Doctor. He held the role from 1970 to 1974 and also had the distinction of being the first Doctor to have colour episodes. Pertwee introduced the persona as one of action and of gadgetry, the latter typified by the third Doctor's two cars, an Edwardian roadster, Bessie and the futuristic Whomobile, which could fly and was sort of a miniature hovercraft.

His first story, Spearhead from Space, broadcast January 1970, was the first in colour, and was the first to introduce UNIT as a regular part of the series. UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce), was led by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. It also was the first story to feature the Autons, best described as "mobile shop mannequins". All of his first season adventures were confined to Earth, where he encountered the Silurians (The Silurians) and also found himself in an alternate, fascist Earth (Inferno). The following two seasons he was allowed limited travel off Earth, but always at the behest of the Time Lords, possibly by the Celestial Intervention Agency. The tenth anniversary story, The Three Doctors, saw the Doctor save his home planet, and his freedom was restored to him and he travelled widely, but he often returned to 20th century Earth to help his friend the Brigadier.

The Master, a renegade Time Lord and possibly former friend of the Doctor, was introduced during Jon's tenure in the story, The Terror of the Autons. Played by Roger Delgado, his sinister attitude, schemes and his disguises, at one stage threatened, the popularity of the good Doctor. The Master, however remains one of the most popular villains.

At the beginning of his last season, a new companion was introduced: Sarah-Jane Smith, played by Elisabeth Sladen, accompanied the Doctor for three years and steered the Doctor through his regeneration into the fourth Doctor. She has been consistently voted as the most popular companion by fans. Pertwee's last story, Planet of the Spiders saw him regenerate due to severe radiation exposure.

None of the third Doctor's twenty-three stories were completely destroyed by the BBC, but some only exist in black and white form. Jon Pertwee reprised his role in the 20th anniversary story The Five Doctors, and also in two radio plays, The Paradise of Death and The Ghosts of N Space.

tom baker: 1974-1981

Tom Baker
Tom Baker

Tom Baker, now the elder statesman of the surviving Doctors, was the longest actor in the role: seven years from 1974-1981. His bohemian appearance of long overcoat, twenty-four foot long scarf and floppy fedora hat, enhanced the characteristics that he brought to the role; aloof, somewhat humorous and a strange mystery about him. His characteristic "teeth and curls" along with the scarf has made him the most popular and well known of the Doctors and is also the one which made Doctor Who an international success through introducing the series to American viewers.

His first story Robot, had him defeating the machinations of the SRS and Professor Kettlewell's Giant Robot. the following stories of that season; The Ark in Space, The Sontaran Experiment, Genesis of the Daleks and Revenge of the Cybermen are considered by some to be a classic period of Doctor Who.

The fourth Doctor also severed ties to 20th century Earth and to UNIT early on his tenure and settled into the role of "cosmic wanderer," exemplified by the fact that five of his companions, Leela, Romana (in two regenerations), Adric and Nyssa were not born on Earth. He also had K9, a robotic dog as a companion.

The fourth Doctor was also sent to recover the Key to Time, was framed for assassinating the Lord President of the High Council (The Deadly Assassin) and at one point, even assumed that position. (The Invasion of Time) He also encountered many of his foes... Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, the Master and met some new ones, namely the Rutan (Horror of Fang Rock) and the Black Guardian.

His last story was Logopolis, broadcast in 1981. Which saw the fourth Doctor regenerate after falling off a radio telescope in an attempt to foil a scheme by the Master to conquer the galaxy.

All of his forty stories are held by the BBC, but one of his stories, Shada by Douglas Adams was never completed due to BBC strikes. Shada would have been broadcast in 1980 and would have been the pinnacle of his penultimate season. The completed footage has been released with splendid narration by Tom Baker. Tom Baker has declined to take part in any major reprisal of his role.

peter davison: 1982-1984

Peter Davison
Peter Davison

Peter Davison turned out to be the fifth Doctor, after some speculation about who would succeed Tom Baker, suggestions were even made that it could be a woman who took on the part! Peter Davison portrayed a more youthful, milder and sometimes less confident Doctor and based his attitude on William Hartnell's portrayal, less physical with the tetchiness mellowed by youth and mild manner. Another similarity was in his companions, two women and a young man.

His first story was Castrovalva, a finalisation of a trilogy of stories featuring the Master, in which the Doctor foiled an attempt to be trapped by the Master in a recursion trap. In another story, Black Orchid, the Doctor showed his fondness for cricket and also met a "twin" of Nyssa in Anne Cranleigh. A touch of sadness occurred when Adric died saving Earth from the machinations of the Cybermen in Earthshock.

The fifth Doctor also encountered Omega a second time (Arc of Infinity), bent on revenge from his defeat in The Three Doctors. It was in this story that the Doctor was sentenced to termination by the Time Lords (which fortunately never occurred).

He also encountered the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Master, the Sea Devils and the Black Guardian who sent Turlough to destroy the Doctor. Turlough became a companion and then turned on the Black Guardian by siding with the Doctor (Enlightenment).

The fifth Doctor also met (most) of his previous selves during The Five Doctors, the twentieth anniversary story.

The fifth Doctor's last story was The Caves of Androzani in which he regenerated after he and his new American companion Peri contracted spectrox toxaemia and he only had enough antidote to save Peri.

colin baker: 1985-1986

Colin Baker
Colin Baker

The fifth Doctor regenerated into the form of Colin Baker, a persona that was (literally) violently opposite to his predecessors. He had a love of literature, and his brusque and loud (like his clothes) manner became irritating and exasperating - particularly to Peri, his current companion.

His first story, The Twin Dilemma, saw him take on wild mood swings possibly due to post-regenerative trauma. One moment he was trying to strangle Peri, and the next deciding to become a hermit. His tenure also marked the first major hiatus of the show, with no Doctor being seen for eighteen months between seasons twenty-two and twenty-three.

The sixth Doctor encountered the Cybermen, the Master, the Daleks, the Sontarans and found new foes in the Rani: a female renegade Time Lord, the Mentors, a race of ruthless business operators, described as "green slugs", and the Valeyard.

The Valeyard was introduced in season twenty-three - The Trial of a Time Lord and was given the task of prosecutor in a trial in which the Doctor's remaining lives were at stake. Most distressing to the Doctor was seeing the apparent death of Peri. But was relieved to hear that she had been saved. This also was proof that the Matrix evidence had been tampered with. This was revealed by the Master, with the assistance of Mel and Sabalom Glitz. The Valeyard was discovered to be an amalgam of the twelfth and final regenerations of the Doctor.

Also noteworthy is that Colin Baker left the series without filming a regeneration scene, necessitating his successor, Sylvester McCoy to double for him.

Colin appeared with the second Doctor in the story The Two Doctors, the last Doctor Who appearance of Patrick Troughton before his death.

sylvester mccoy: 1987-1989

Sylvester McCoy
Sylvester McCoy

The seventh Doctor, played by Sylvester McCoy, started off with amnesia, induced by the Rani in his first story Time and the Rani. In this story he is seen as a spoon-playing, malapropism-spouting clown. The seventh Doctor then mellowed and became a more darker and manipulative Time Lord - "Time's Champion".

McCoy and the BBC both felt that the Doctor had lost most of the mystery surrounding him. So attempts were made to reintroduce more mystery, making him appear more than what he seemed. Links were established linking him to the period of Rassilon and Omega, the founders of Time Lord society. Had the series continued past it's twenty-sixth season, this theme would have become even more prominent.

The seventh Doctor encountered the Daleks, the Cybermen (in the twenty-fifth anniversary story Silver Nemesis) and the Master in the last televised story of the twenty-six year run, Survival. In Dragonfire, the seventh Doctor's fourth story, he met Ace, a sixteen year old "teenager with an attitude", someone content to blow things up with Nitro9: a nitro-glycerine derivative, and after a promise by the Doctor to see the galaxy, she joins him as his companion.

As another link to his past, he met up with the Brigadier again in Battlefield. The Brigadier, played by Nicholas Courtney, has had the honour of appearing with six of the seven Doctors in televised stories.

Sylvester McCoy appeared in twelve stories, all of which exist in entirety. His first story was Time and the Rani, broadcast in 1987 and his last was Survival, broadcast in 1989. He also appeared in the 1996 telemovie, Doctor Who before regenerating into the eighth Doctor.

From 1991 to 1997, Virgin Publishing produced a range of novels featuring the seventh Doctor, entitled The New Adventures, these full-length novels "take the TARDIS into previously unexplored regions of space and time." The novels originally featured Ace as his companion, but new companions: (Professor) Bernice "Benny" Summerfield, an archaeologist; Roslyn "Roz" Forrester and Christopher Cwej, two Adjudicators from the 30th century joined the seventh Doctor in his travels.

paul mcgann: 1996

Paul McGann
Paul McGann

Not much has been seen of Paul McGann as the Doctor, as he has only appeared in the 1996 telemovie, Doctor Who. But first impressions have been of a Time Lord who has a habit of guiding the future, has a more sexual side to him and another side which could be something completely different: "I'm half human, on my mother's side"

At the present time, Paul McGann has only appeared as the Doctor in Doctor Who, but the possibility exists that a new television series could be made with Paul McGann continuing the role of the world's best known Time Lord, in a series which has a forty year legacy.

Since June 1997, BBC Books has published a range of novel-length books featuring adventures of the Eighth Doctor. In addition to this, Big Finish has produced three "seasons" of audio adventures featuring the eighth Doctor.