Overview: The Peter Capaldi Era (2013-2016)

CapaldiSteven Moffatt’s first Doctor, Matt Smith, became a fan favorite, and in some cases eclipsed his predecessor, David Tennant. It seemed as though he mostly proved he was a worthy successor to Russell T. Davies. But could the trend continue with Peter Capaldi?

“I do what I do because it’s right! Because it’s decent! And above all, it’s kind!”

About Peter Capaldi

At 59 years old, Peter Capaldi is the oldest actor to play the Doctor.  He follows the tradition of Colin Baker in that he actually appeared in an episode of a previous Doctor’s run, “The Fires of Pompeii” as Lobus Caecillius (which became a plot point of the era). he’s also the second Doctor to have appeared in a spin-off prior to becoming the Doctor, playing Dr. Frobisher in the Torchwood mini-series “Children of Earth”. (David Tennant was the first, appearing in one of Big Finish’s UNIT audio dramas. He was a longtime fan of the show, much like Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and David Tennant before him. Prior to Doctor Who, his most famous role was Malcolm Tucker in the BBC TV sitcom The Thick of It. He played a “WHO Doctor” in World War Z and plays Mr. Curry in both Paddington movies.

In a Nutshell:

  • Catch Phrases: “Pudding brain” and “Shut up!”
  • Series 8’s premiere “Deep Breath” was an extended episode, which continued to be a fixture for all three series.
  •  The Master returned in “Deep Breath”, having changed genders and referring to herself as “Missy.” She was played by Michelle Gomez.
  • Series 9 consisted mostly of 2-part episodes, with “Sleep No More” being the only stand-alone episode.
  • Series 10 was postponed one year, making the third time Doctor Who was put on hiatus during its history.
  • A new spin-off, Class, aired both online and on TV, but wasn’t nearly as successful as Torchwood or The Sarah Jane Adventures, only lasting one series.

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Overview: The Matt Smith Era (2010-2013)


In 2010, Russell T. Davies stepped down as show-runner, but not before handing the reins to his protégé Steven Moffatt. Moffatt had already proven his worth with stories like “The Empty Child”, “The Girl in The Fireplace”, and “Blink”, all of which were award-winners and fan-favorites. But could Moffatt do just as good as Davies, along with his new Doctor, Matt Smith?

About Matt Smith

Matt Smith is the youngest actor to ever portray the Doctor. He initially wanted to play pro football, but a diagnosis of spondololysis forced him to change his mind. He began his career with several stage plays in 2003. His first TV role was in 2007 on the TV series Party Animals.

“The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa the bad things don’t always spoil the good things or make them unimportant. And we definitely added to his pile of good things”–“Vincent and the Doctor”

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Overview: The David Tennant Era (2005-2009)

tenthWhen I saw Christopher Eccleston regenerate into David Tennant, my first thought was “If they can’t keep a Doctor for more than one season, I don’t have much faith in this revival.” It didn’t take long for Tennant to change my mind, in fact he’s my #2 favorite Doctor!

About David Tennant

David Tennant is the third Doctor to use a stage name (his real name is David John McDonald), naming himself after Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys. He joined the 7:84 Theatre Company upon graduating from drama school. His first major TV role was in the Scottish TV series Takin Over the Asylum. He was part of a Shakespeare troupe and is the first Doctor to play on Big Finish as someone besides the Doctor, playing a villain in their UNIT stories.  Upon getting the role of the Tenth Doctor, he was very enthusiastic, as he was a huge Doctor Who fan.

“You can spend the rest of your life with me, but I can’t spend the rest of mine with you. I have to live on. Alone. That’s the curse of the Time Lords.”–“School Reunion”

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Overview: The Paul McGann Era (1996-current)

paul mcgannThe period between 1989-2005 is dubbed the “Wilderness Years”. With no new Doctor Who material, the “expanded universe” kept it alive through books published by Virgin books (not to be confused with the record company of the same name), which eventually spun off into the Bernice Summerfield series. Doctor Who Magazine was also still being published.

But in 1996, the Doctor Who TV movie aired. Produced by American producer Phillip David Segal, it starred Paul McGann as the Doctor.  While the movie bombed, it provided a bridge between the Classic and current revival of Doctor Who. Big Finish began work in 2000 with their own stories, eventually adding Paul McGann to the ranks, and even though he regenerated in the web episode “Night of the Doctor”, Big Finish is still producing more audio dramas starring Paul McGann to this day.

About Paul McGann

Paul McGann was born in Liverpool into an Irish Roman Catholic family.  He and his siblings were encouraged to pursue their talents. McGann’s breakthrough role was in the series Give Us a Break, which only lasted one season. His first major role was as Percy Toplis in The Monocled Mutineer. He later became part of the “Brit Pack”, a group of British actors including Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, and Tim Roth.  he also had small roles in Alien III and The Three Musketeers.

“It appeas someone has forced a role upon me. I prefer to find my own role to play.”–The Chimes of Midnight

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Overview: The Sylvester McCoy Era (1987-1989)

seventh doctor

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Colin Baker had had enough.  He’d been fired from Doctor Who, and didn’t even bother to come back for his regeneration.  John Nathan-Turner was still producer, but it seemed the only reason he still held the job was that no one else wanted it.  Eric Saward, his long-running script editor, had left his position, citing tensions as a result of the epic “Trial of a Time Lord”. Nathan-Turner was given one last chance to save Doctor Who. He hired Sylvester McCoy as the new Seventh Doctor. The final era had begun.

About Sylvester McCoy

McCoy’s real name is Percy James Kent-Smith and was born on August 20, 1943. He earned his pseudonym when he created a character named Sylveste McCoy while part of the Ken Campbell Roadshow comedy troupe. An r was added to his first name due to a superstition about a name that had 13 letters. He had numerous roles in British television and even starred alongside Laurence Olivier in the 1979 Dracula. He has also sung in the Welsh National Opera.

Crush the lesser races! Conquer the galaxy! UNIMAGINABLE POWER! UNLIMITED RICE PUDDING! ET CETERA, ET CETERA!”–“Remembrance of the Daleks”

In a Nutshell

  • Andrew Cartmel became the new and final script editor for the Classic Era. He had an anarchist attitude that was reflected in many episodes during this era.
  • The Rani, Daleks, Cybermen, and Anthony Ainley’s version of the Master all made their final appearances in the Classic period during McCoy’s era. Of the four villains mentioned, only the Rani has not appeared in the revival, although she has appeared in Big Finish albeit with a different actress.

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Overview: The Colin Baker Era (1984-1986)

sixth doctor

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When Patrick Troughton met Peter Davison while filming “The Five Doctors”, he advised Davison not to be the Doctor for longer than three seasons. He took the advice and stepped down. He was replaced by Colin Baker, who had actually appeared in “The Arc of Infinity”. He was ecstatic, as he was a childhood fan of the show But he was unaware of how things would get.

About Colin Baker

Colin was born on June 8, 1943 in Waterloo, England. At 23, he enrolled at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He appeared as Bayban the Butcher in Blake’s Seven. He has also appeared on Top Gear and I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!

“In all my travelling throughout the universe, I have battled against evil, against power-mad conspirators. I should have stayed here. The oldest civilisation: decadent, degenerate, and rotten to the core. Power-mad conspirators, Daleks, Sontarans, Cybermen – they’re still in the nursery compared to us. Ten million years of absolute power. That’s what it takes to be really corrupt.”–“The Ultimate Foe”

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Overview: The Peter Davison Era (1981-1984)

fifth doctor

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John Nathan-Turner became the final producer of Classic Doctor Who, having been part of the show since the 60’s. Tom Baker had stepped down as Fourth Doctor, and Nathan-Turner was poised to modernize Doctor Who with a new logo and new opening, and a new Doctor, Peter Davison.

About Peter Davison

Peter Davison’s real name is Peter Moffatt. He started out as a stage manager at the Nottingham Playhouse. He chose his stage name so he would not be confused with the director of the same name, who he later worked with at one point. Prior to his work on Doctor Who, his most famous role was as Tristan on the TV series All Creatures Great and Small. He was the youngest actor to play the Doctor before Matt Smith.

Peter Davison’s daughter Georgia appeared in “The Doctor’s Daughter” and later married David Tennant, the Tenth Doctor.

“The trouble with time travel is one never seems to find the time”–“The Caves of Androzani”

In a Nutshell

  • Catch Phrases: “Sorry, must dash!” and “Brave heart, Tegan.”
  • The Tom Baker era was the final era to have 6-part episodes. The Peter Davison era had mostly 4-part episodes, with some 2-parters as well.
  • The sonic screwdriver was destroyed in “The Visitation”. It would not be restored until the Doctor Who TV movie with Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor.

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Overview: The Jon Pertwee Era (1970-1974)

third doctor

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The Jon Pertwee Era marked the transition from black and white to color.  It brought many changes to the show’s structure, as this was the final era in which episodes were still being wiped. As a result of Troughton’s final serial “The War Games”, the Time Lords had exiled the Doctor on earth, taking away the one thing he valued most–freedom. Now, the menaces would have to come to him.

“Courage isn’t just a matter of not being frightened, you know. It’s being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway.”–Planet of the Daleks

About Jon Pertwee

Pertwee was born in Chelsea, England. Acting ran in his family–his father was an actor, and his cousin Bill was in the comedy Dad’s Army. His son Sean currently plays Alfred Pennyworth on Gotham.

Pertwee was an officer in the Royal Navy and was on the survivors of the HMS Hood after it sunk during WWII. After the war, he became a well-known comedy actor.

During his tenure as the Third Doctor, Pertwee felt as though the cast and crew were a surrogate family. He saw Barry Letts as a sort of surrogate father, and John Levene saw Pertwee as a surrogate father, as his relationship with his own father was estranged at best. He even had a close friendship with Roger Delgado, the first actor to portray the Master. In fact, it was his untilmely death that led to Pertwee’s departure.

After he left Doctor Who, Pertwee continued to find work. He was in Worzel Gummridge, and voiced for SuperTed. He also appeared in video games based on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. He appeared as the Doctor in two stage plays and in a never-finished fan project (he died before it could be finished).

In a Nutshell

  • Catch Phrases: “Reverse the polarity”, “Oh good grief”
  • The Pertwee Era had shorter seasons than its predecessors. Season 7 had a total of 21 episodes; and seasons 8-11 had between 25-26. From season 8 on, no episodes were over 6 parts.
  • Two openings were used during this era, for the first time ever. A colorized howlaround was used for most of the era, while the final season introduced the famous “diamond logo”, which was used the longest in the show’s history.
  • First appearance of the Autons: “Spearhead From Space”
  • First appearance of the Silurians: “The Silurians”
  • First appearance of Roger Delgado as the Master: “Terror of the Autons”
  • First appearance of Omega, First multi-Doctor story: “The Three Doctors”
  • First appearance of he Sontarans: “The Time Warrior”
  • First mention of Gallifrey by name: “The Time Warrior”

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Overview: The Patrick Troughton Era (1966-1969)

2nd doctorsecond doctor logo

With William Hartnell stepping down, Innes Lloyd brought in Patrick Troughton. Like his predecessor, Troughton continued to lay down the foundation of the show, and became the Doctor many successors attempt to emulate in some way.

“There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things. Things that act against everything we believe in. They must be fought.”–The Moonbase

About Patrick Troughton

Troughton was born in 1920, in Middlesex. He attended the Embassy School of Acting and later joined the Tonbridge Repertory Company.  One of Troughton’s most famous roles prior to the Second Doctor was in Robin Hood (he was the first the play the title character on television).

Troughton left the show in 1969, citing both a hectic schedule and concerns about being typecast in science fiction. He would return as the Second Doctor for three Multi-Doctor stories before his death in 1986.

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Overview: The William Hartnell Era (1963-66)

One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine.”–“The Dalek Invasion of Earth

Welcome to my new “Overview” series. This will provide you with basic information on each Doctor. I will give you info on the actor, the companions, and the impact he had on the show’s history. I will close with an opinion on the era as a whole and recommend my favorite episodes.

About William Hartnell

William Hartnell was the son of Lucy Hartnell, an unmarried mother, and was raised in a foster family. He started out as an actor in 1928 in the play Miss Elizabeth’s Prisoner, where he met his wife, Heather McIntyre. His first movie was Say It With Music. Most of his roles were either comic characters or “tough guys”. It was his role in The Sporting Life that inspired Doctor Who’s co-creator Verity Lambert to cast him as the first Doctor. Tired of being typecast and intrigued at the aspect of acting in a children’s show, he took the job.

William Hartnell struggled with atherosclerosis, which resulted in what many fans call “Hartnell flubs.” He retired from acting after he was replaced by Patrick Troughton, but returned to the role of the Doctor for one last time in “The Three Doctors”. He died in 1975.

In a Nutshell:

  • Catch Phrases: “What’s that?” “Hmm?” “My child/boy”, “Goodness, gracious me!”
  • Many episodes from Hartnell’s era are missing. Some serials have replaced these episodes with animated reconstructions.
  • Classic Doctor Who was broadcast in a serial format, with each episode usually running for 25 minutes. For most of Hartnell’s era, each episode had an individual title. This stopped with “The Savages”.
  • First appearance of the Daleks: “The Daleks”
  • First “pure historical” episode: “Marco Polo”
  • First “pseudo-historical episode: “The Time Meddler”
  • First Cybermen episode/First regeneration episode: “The Tenth Planet”

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