THE DOCTOR WHO RATINGS GUIDE: BY FANS, FOR FANS

Colin Baker


(1943- )

The sixth Doctor's era

The Sixth Doctor, ("I am the Doctor, whether you like it or not!"), adopted a garish attire and matching personality at first, but later mellowed and became a champion of those made powerless by the tyrannous.


Reviews 1-20

My Least Favorite by Dennis McDermott 26/5/97

I received an E-mail a couple of weeks ago suggesting that I lay off Colin Baker. The argument ran that Colin is an excellent actor and his stiff, upright morality was a refreshing change from Peter Davison and Tom Baker.

Perhaps Colin Baker is an excellent actor. I don't believe he showed it during his tenure as the Doctor. The real problem was his persona; he simply wasn't very likable. From the beginning, when he hides behind Peri's skirts, figuratively speaking (regeneration crisis or not, that was deplorable) to his blowhard performances during his trial, I found it difficult to watch him, much less like him. He nitpicked, found fault, blew up, spoke too loudly, and generally was a horrible irritant. Even his penchant for quoting famous passages drove me nuts, as they were usually cliches and used to put down his companion. And he had no fashion sense. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

In short, his "upright morality" was the problem. He acted like a superior snob who "knows better" than everyone else, and I hate those kind of people. And I wonder what was so immoral about the fourth and fifth Doctors?


A Review by Anastasia Matejka 10/10/97

Colin's Doctor is one of my favorites, second only to Paul McGann. I think he was marvelous during his time in the role and doesn't get the credit he deserves.

The Sixth Doctor has been accused of being arrogant, rude, and violent, among other things. I don't see how the Sixth Doctor's treatment of Peri (after he stabilized) was any worse than the Third Doctor's initial reaction to Jo or the Fourth Doctor's superior attitude towards Romana. The Sixth Doctor may have been less reluctant to resort to violence, but his actions certainly weren't any more terible than the First Doctor almost killing a savage or the destruction of Skaro.

Only on the surface was the Sixth Doctor seemingly unlikable. Deep down, he was the same caring person he always was. He may not have always openly admitted his affection for Peri, but he showed it in other ways such as the putting a comforting arm around her at times or being constantly willing to risk his life for her if she was in danger. Colin's Doctor was a vibrant figure with a great passion for life who put his all into everything he did. He also had one of the strongest senses of justice of all the Doctors and was more determined than ever to stop evil. He may have been a little full of himself, but after 900 years of successfully saving the universe who wouldn't. :)

The Sixth Doctor was unpredictable, dramatic, and a definately charming rogue, which made him all the more lovable. His era was over way too soon.


A Review by Ari Lipsey 12/1/98

I was absolutely horrified. Right in front of my eyes, Doctor Who had died. The fair haired chapped who had saved so many people, my hero was dead. Never to return, not even in reruns! To add insult to injury, in his place was this fat, loud, obnoxious man who tried to pass himself off as my Doctor. Why was he being so mean to Peri? And that coat!

I assume this was more or less the reaction from the younger fans which may have lead to the slip in ratings that came about when Colin Baker took the helm as the sixth Doctor. I hated him.

However, after recently watching some of his work again over a period of a year, I can now say with full confidence Colin Baker was the best man who ever played The Doctor. Finally someone who to breath life back into the character of the Doctor, something not seen since the Troughton years. The 6th Doctor was dark, unpredictable, arrogant, crochety and witty. He was angry, but lovable and fun at the same time. I believe Doctor Who's success is based upon its ability to appeal to people's fantasies of exploration and heroism. I could always identify myself with parts of the 3rd, 4th and 5th Doctors. However, Colin's portrayal was truly alien. This made his appearences alot more fun, because it seemed more real. The Doctor's not human, remember, or at least he's not supposed to be.


A Review by Cody Salis 14/1/98

Colin Baker, the most enigmatic of all eight Doctors. Why? I can't answer all of the questions, but like his character in Attack of the Cybermen where he misjudged Lytton I feel that I have misjudged the sixth Doctor.

Like Ari, I saw The Twin Dilemma, and thought that he was arrogant, and boastful. I did not like his taste in clothes all that much, and everytime Peri said a certain word he would repeat it softly then louder, and louder, and his voice would get higher pitched each time. I thought is this the way I want my favorite character to be? No!

But as each story progresses I sense that he wants to fight for justice and compassion. In The Two Doctors, he meets Jamie and the two of them get along fine. In fact after the Second Doctor and Jamie return to their time stream, you see that the Doctor and Peri are becoming friends as the Doctor gives her a light hug as they return to the TARDIS at the end of the story!

So yes Colin was not everyone's favorite Doctor, but he seems to try to get it right. Even though I liked Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, and especially Peter Davison, I feel that Colin Baker should deserve some of the credit.


A Colin Baker Fan's Paradox by Daniel Callahan 8/3/98

Colin Baker, in his second season, finally became the sixth Doctor, with a flair for the unexpected and an unexpected flair. Until then, I donít know who he was. Some kind of gross impostor? The Doctor I remembered wouldnít attempt to strangle a companion, act cowardly except as a ploy, advocate deliberate murder... well, why up my word-count with the same-old same-old?

JNT, as he admits, made a mistake, and that mistake extends almost totally to Colin Bakerís first season. Baker played the role he was given and played it well, but that role wasnít the Doctor. The stories, under Eric Sawardís Terminator-like aesthetic, werenít even Doctor Who. (Note: as I squelch season 22, Iíll handicap myself by staying away from Timelash.) Watching The Twin Dilemma after the apocalyptic-in-miniature Caves of Androzani has the charm of a root canal. Attack of the Cybermen, a rehash of a clone of a sequel to stories that were mainly lost at the time, offers a silly man dashing around from place to place rather than being the ingenious moral agent we had for twenty odd seasons. Vengeance on Varos at least displays wit, but the "Begone! You are shadows...." speech exemplifies the fact that anything that could go wrong in Colinís first season had all the subtlety of a Stones concert. The Mark of the Rani: I guess the Master is immortal, then. And he still wants to kill our would-be Doctor. Whoopee. The season continued to be as grim and bloody and cold as our "hero," culminating in the indigestible Revelation of the Daleks (except for episode four... that was a morsel).

Then, the hiatus. Maybe Michael Grade had a point. Season 21 stumbled for the most part down the stairs, and season 22 completed the journey by falling into the septic tank, closing the lid, and mumbling Milli Vanilli lyrics. But after all of the miserable moments, Colin Baker finally became the Doctor in The Trial of a Time Lord. This time, the creative team finally gave Baker some decent material to work with. His charm and wit, repressed in his first season, began to shine on-screen. His Doctor cared about what was right, acted courageously, and argued his case like a champion. And one of his finest moments was the moment of horror and disbelief when the Valeyardís true identity was revealed. That was a moment worth waiting for.

So I have to stake my claim with the minority. After Trial (despite the rotten ending), I wanted another five years of the sixth Doctor. Iím a Colin Baker fan: I just ca'nít stand most of the stories he appeared in. What a paradox....


A Review by Jacob Cash 18/7/98

One of my earliest memories of television was watching Doctor Who. At that time, the ABC (Australia) was showing the Tom Baker era, and so for many years, he was the "quintessential" doctor in my mind. I think that fact initially clouded my judgement on all the actors to come.

At about the time in my life that watching Doctor Who became unfashionable, Colin Baker became The Doctor. He was my perfect excuse to stop watching Doctor Who, as to some extent he showed some of the weaknesses of the program, especially at the start. For years I joined the ranks of fans, shouting to get rid of Colin.

While at times Colin's Doctor is harsh and irritating (Oh and that 80's fashion!), now that I watch it all a second (and third, and forth, and...) time, I don't think Colin deserves all the criticism he often gets. Don't forget, he is only working with the scripts and direction given, and if the director says "do it angry", the actor does it angry!

The one thing that comes out in this era of The Doctor is that he seems truly alien... isn't that how it should be? He might not be The Doctor of days gone, but isn't that the point of regeneration? Once regenerated, The Doctor is still The Doctor, but he's been "rearranged". Of course he's going to be different.

While Colin Baker is still far from my favourite actor to play The Doctor, watching his era again gives me a whole new slant on who the Doctor is. As for people like myself, seven years of Tom Baker wasn't enough, but without others such as Colin, The Doctor would be a rather shallow character, don't you think?


He is the Doctor! by DWRC 22/12/98

You get a lot of slack for being a Doctor Who fan from many non-Whovians, and you get a lot of slack from many Whovians for being a Colin Baker fan.... Oh well, thatís life and it canít be helped, so here it goes -- Colin Baker is superb!!

After seeing all the Doctors in action, it slowly becomes clear why Colinís impact on the audience is so remarkable. Sylvester McCoy once said that he attempted to model the Seventh Doctor into a kind of past-Doctor dark forest chocolate cake, a mixture of Doctors One-Six. But itís Colinís Doctor that turns out to be the perfect and realistic amalgam: heís got Hartnellís sharpness and arrogance, Troughtonís uncertain nature, Pertweeís determination and action, Tom Bakerís eccentricity and Davisonís propensity to leap into situations without thinking, not to mention his own colourful, explosive character to boot! I remember sitting in anticipation during The Twin Dilemma as the Sixth Doctor slinked round the TARDIS console, his face becoming brightly menacing and then lunged at Periís throat after declaring her an alien spy. I loved it! Although it was a result of regenerative crisis, the instability would soon meld into his character so that you couldnít be certain as to the Doctorís motivations. And speaking of regenerative crisis, it was at its best here even though the story is somewhat below par. Colinís Doctor isnít a miserable, pitiful regenerated Doctor like Davisonís, McCoyís and later McGannís, but rather more dangerous that his greatest enemies! It was good to see a Doctor with a bit of agro.

I guess the fans that donít like Colinís portrayal of the Doctor isnít so much because of his acting (after all, he was probably the best actor to appear in the series besides Julian Glover) but because of his impulsive, loud and often violent character that seemed to clash with the accepted view that the Doctor should be kind, gentle to his companions (I wonder what the Sixth Doctor would have done to K9?) and humble about his own intelligence. Rubbish! Bakerís Doctor wasnít a cardboard character who had to conform to BBC (and many viewersí) expectations. He was a bundle of emotions that lead shielding couldnít have held back: cruel and kind, deadly serious and hilariously funny, alienating and comforting, this Doctor was a 3-D walking time bomb with a unique and enviable fashion sense. He was a Doctor with passion. While many fans were relieved at the softening of the Doctorís character during The Trial of a Time Lord, I canít say that I joined them in supporting the decision. In Revelation of the Daleks, the Doctor is at his harshest, being obviously indignant when Peri busts his pocket watch and tries to apologise for it. Yet it is also in this story that the Doctor is at his most touching when he discovers his own gravestone in the garden of fond memories: "I never thought precognisance of my own death could be so disturbing." It is this realistic mixture that makes him a believable character--after all why shouldnít he react this way at losing both his favourite watch and his favourite regeneration? (When the sonic screwdriver was destroyed in The Visitation, the Fifth Doctor barely mourned its loss.) It'ís this emotional quality that I loved in Pertweeís Doctor; he never let human etiquette hold back his true feelings, re. the end of Inferno. Compare this to the Doctorís clownish behaviour during the Trial, and his character degenerates incredibly.

Ultimately this Doctor was doomed because the series itself had become a clichť and drastic change could not be tolerated (especially to the ratings). Colinís Doctor could have saved the series, indeed he was before his time and was better tailored to the 90ís version of a hero. Ari Lipsey put it best, and I'ím going to quote her here (although itís just a few lines above): "Colin's portrayal was truly alien. This made his appearances a lot more fun, because it seemed more real. The Doctor's not human, remember, or at least he's not supposed to be."


His Just Desserts by Robert Smith? Updated 23/1/02

The situation is quite desperate. Unless the Doctor can dispatch of the villain, thousands, possibly millions will die, including his young companion. Time is running out. The Doctor comes up with a shocking plan: gas the villain with cyanide. Its effects are horribly quick and cause the death of a man intent on evil. We, the audience, are appalled by this act of premeditated murder on the Doctors part.

Or are we?

When the fourth Doctor pumps cyanide up the ventilation shaft in The Brain of Morbius, it's a natural part of a classic story. What's worse is that it doesn't stop Morbius at all, it just kills Solon, one of the most sympathetic villains in the show's history.

Why then do we have such a problem with the sixth Doctor's killing of Shockeye in The Two Doctors? In many ways it's a far more necessary act than the killing of Solon. Is it because it occurs at the story's shocking conclusion and is thus better remembered? Or is there another reason?

As a witty riposte, "Your just desserts" isn't exactly up there with the best of the fourth Doctor's quips. It's a pretty tasteless pun (so was that one) and instead of reassuring us, it makes the Doctor look vindictive and not at all sorry for what he's just had to do.

For many years, popular fan myth (doubtless the same fan myth that believed Shockeye chomped into a live rat in episode 1 of The Two Doctors, as reported in DWM) held it that the Doctor actually pushed two guards into a vat of acid in Vengeance on Varos. This belief is still so prevalent that The Television Companion felt it necessary to include it in its "popular myths" section, thirteen years after the story was shown, long after the story's release on video for all to re-evaluate.

The main problem so many fans have with this scene is not so much the fact that two hapless guards fall into the vat (one even pulling the other in, in a style that would have been a riot had it occurred in a Troughton story or Hartnell comedy), but more that the Doctor then quips "You'll forgive me if I don't join you."

It's not so much what the sixth Doctor does that seems to cause a problem, it's how he reacts.

But take a look at what Colin does with these scenes. The look on his face after the guards tumble into the vat is very clear. He's utterly appalled by what has just happened. His reaction to his disposal of Shockeye is similarly horrified. That just makes his quips and comments seem all the more out of place. It's incredibly frustrating trying to watch the sixth Doctor's stories. Are we meant to cheer along with our hero for disposing of the villains? Clearly not, because one look at the anguish on his face tells of the horror we're seeing. The "jokes" just make this situation all the more uncomfortable; if we're supposed to be appalled by what's just occurred, why are we being given sub-Bondian puns at a supposedly serious time like this?

The settings also seem to reinforce this. The guards in Vengeance aren't rubber monsters, they're very obviously human. The shocking use of Oscar's butterfly net to 'capture' Shockeye in The Two Doctors, with a desperate, bleeding Doctor grabbing hold of a powerful, brutish villain intent on killing him, Peri, Jamie and indeed most of the population of Earth (Chessene "This planet is greatly overpopulated" Shockeye "By the time I leave it, madam, that may not be a problem") would be comical in any other situation; here it's the sort of macabre cross between the mundane and the deadly that got Terror of the Autons in so much trouble.

When the Doctor makes a cheery joke after committing an act of genocide, we aren't appalled, we laugh along with him... because it's Tom Baker, in The Horns of Nimon. The fifth Doctor is forced to gas what could be the last surviving members of not one race but two. But at least he appears remorseful, adding "There should have been another way" for our benefit more than anyone's.

The third Doctor committed terrible acts as well (the most repulsive of which is surely picking up a gun and shooting an Ogron in Day of the Daleks)... but this was fine, because he had a little reassuring speech afterwards about how much he hated the taking of any life. The second Doctor merrily sends Ice Warriors spinning into the sun, but once again, we're not appalled, we're happy, because of the way he and his companions react. (If it had been the sixth Doctor who'd electrocuted a pair of doors accessible to any poor innocent landing on Telos, the way the second Doctor does at the conclusion of Tomb of the Cybermen, I think eighties fandom would have had a collective heart attack.)

Why then do we find such horror in Colin's quips, but none in Tom's? Is it simply because Tom is a better actor, or that Colin had crap writers? I think that might be part of it, yes - but I also suspect that from the look on Colin's face and other clues, we're meant to be horrified at what's happened. The 'jokes' only reinforce this, because they're very much of the "bad pun" type, and not the "cheery guffaw" type. If they really were amusing, as opposed to groan-worthy, I'd guess that a lot fewer people would have problems with the sixth Doctor's actions.

Timelash is a bizarre story in many ways; it's trying to be traditional as all get-out, but it doesn't seem to understand all the things about the series it's trying to emulate. The whole climax is avoided with a "Remind me to tell you about that amazing and impossible escape someday" non-explanation. What's more, the Doctor gets to dispose of the villain in classic Doctor Who style: he talks the monster into disposing of himself.

Except that it just feels wrong, somehow. Instead of defeating the monster by showing him the appalling error of his ways or an appeal to the inner humanity (like the far more gentle seventh Doctor -- who still manages to destroy whole planets and get away with his reputation untarnished -- in Battlefield or Happiness Patrol), it takes the opposite approach. The Doctor essentially screams "You're a loser, no one ever liked you and your mother wears army boots!" at the Borad. It's unsettling, it's almost painful to watch and oddly our sympathies aren't with the Doctor, they're with an evil man responsible for the death of thousands (and ironically, the Borad is even allowed to survive the story). The sixth Doctor's actions makes him look cruel, yet they're inherently no different from any of the Doctor's actions we've unquestioningly accepted over the years. The perspective has been skewed, yes, but only a little and it's downright disturbing in what this perspective reveals about our "hero".

We're quick to reject the sixth Doctor's philosophy. His regeneration was shaky, the era was a violent one, Saward was a tired script editor, over-fond of violence and shock, the Doctor was unlikable. But remember that the production team was actively trying to present an unlikable character -- who was still unquestionably the Doctor.

Maybe, just maybe, the sixth Doctor is showing us the true horror of what the Doctor has to do on occasions... something that the confidence and parlour tricks of the other Doctors blinded us to before. It's an unsettling thought, isn't it?


The Cost of 'The Twin Dilemma' by John Geenty 6/12/99

When I first started watching Doctor Who the Doctor was played by Sylvester McCoy and I can recall watching Time and the Rani as a very young boy. However, deeper back in my mind lie memories of a different doctor, a big man in a coat of many colours, but the memories were too vague. As I grew older I turned back to Doctor Who with renewed interest and before too long had watched most of the episodes and found it difficult to understand why the 6th Doctor was so hated by fans normally protective of every aspect of the show. Yes his performance was different, but it was truer than any other. Yes some of the stories were poor, but no more than horrors of the past and he even had a classic in Revelation of the Daleks, but still he was disliked. Yet I had not watched what might be the most costly story in Doctor Who history - The Twin Dilemma.

Having a story with the new Doctor at the end of a season seemed like a good idea, it would get the viewers interested in the new doctor. The problem was, the story was terribly poor and it followed one of the best stories in Doctor Who history. This Doctor needed a fresh season so that the wild character from Twin could be allowed to develop quickly, so that the terrible quality of the opening story would not put people off the new doctor. Instead people had months to make their mind up about the new doctor based on one poor story. The Caves of Androzani made Twin Dilemma look even worse than it actually was and seeing Peter Davison at his compassionate best just prior to the new and erratic and uncaring doctor put people off in a big way. The fans cemented their view of the 6th doctor and it was not good, so although the ratings for season 22 were not bad, the BBC had an excuse to cut it for a year - people didn't like the doctor. And when Doctor Who returned, it never recovered. In my opinion the downfall of Doctor Who can be traced back to this story. Imagine an alternative situation, Season 21 ends with the superb Caves of Androzani and that fantastic cliff-hanger with the newly regenerated Doctor. Season 22 begins with Attack of the Cybermen, not the best story but not the worst either and I'm sure that the sequences with the unstable doctor could have been worked into the first ten minutes of Attack, thus cutting Twin altogether. Perhaps the 6th Doctor's reign would have been very different.


In the wrong place at the wrong time? by Tim Roll-Pickering 10/1/00

When I first started watching Doctor Who at the tender age of four, Colin Baker was playing the Doctor and he has remained my favourite to this day. Therefore I often have difficulty understanding much of the criticism that is levelled at him, a lot of which seems highly misplaced.

In many ways it seems as though all the great upsets of the mid 1980s are still going on. The postponement/cancellation of the series in 1985 with the subsequent attempts by the BBC to justify it, the fanzine DWB which ran a hate campaign against producer John Nathan-Turner, the decline in the series' ratings and the fallout between script editor Eric Saward and Nathan-Turner which quickly entered the public arena all contributed to far more mud being flung around than ever before. Unfortunately for Colin he was caught in the middle of all of this and as the most public face of the show during this period he has unfortunately received far more than his fair's share of criticism.

Perhaps it is because of my age, but there are several ways in which I feel I diverge from many of the series' fans. First and foremost I have no great overriding appreciation of Tom Baker and indeed I am hard placed to name any of his stories that are among my favourites (The Robots of Death is one, but that's about it). Secondly, at the risk of having a fatwah issued, I'll admit that I don't hold The Caves of Anrozani in particularly high awe. And thirdly I did not enter fandom until the early 1990s, with the result that I was not caught up in the turmoil of the mid 1980s.

Anyone who ever talks about Colin's Doctor always mentions the same two stories-Serials 6S and 6Y (I'd rather not name them) -- which is a little unfair considering that even these two have their good points. They then try to find a reason for the so-called 'Cancellation Crisis' when one is clear -- the BBC was going through a period of immense belt tightening -- before finally trying to explain the decline in the series' ratings which is always a hornets nest. Whilst it is true that a strong case could be made for blaming Colin's era for the decline, an equally good case could be made for Peter Davison's era being the guilty culprit. At the time certain fans who could have been trying to defend the programme from charges levelled at it instead agreed with them as part of their hate campaign levelled at the producer. Colin and John receive by far and away the bulk of the criticism from many quarters, with Eric Saward receiving very little (despite arguably having an even greater level of creative influence). Much of the criticism seems a little unfair.

Colin Baker is reported to have once said that he wanted the Doctor to dress like someone who would alight on a certain outfit at one point and keep wearing it even when he realised what a mistake he had made. His costume was certainly a mistake, but an interesting one as it showed the Doctor to be truly alien. But I'm not surprised that none of the first three Missing Adventures to feature the sixth Doctor (State of Change, Time of Your Life and Millennial Rites) displayed the costume on the cover and there are many times throughout all the books when the Doctor abandons the coat, allowing us to see the man inside.

In many ways Colin's persona resembles my own-somewhat spiky with different priorities to other people but with a heart of gold inside. He cared, but did not always show it whilst his temper could quickly fly off the handle. By The Trial of a Time Lord there were clear signs that he was developing and had there been more time then the sixth Doctor could well have developed into so much more. But instead what we saw was all too brief.

One thing that comes out clearly in the stories is that the various writers and/or script editor were usually more interested in other characters -- witness the number of stories where the Doctor takes an episode or more to enter the main action (The Twin Dilemma, Attack of the Cybermen, The Two Doctors and Revelation of the Daleks and even novels like Killing Ground). It just goes to reinforce my belief that had events surrounding the production side of the series been a little different then Colin could have had a much longer run in which his character could have developed the way it was always intended and he may well have come to challenge Tom Baker for popularity amongst the fans. But sadly Colin Baker was in the wrong place at the wrong time.


The Noisy One by Mike Morris Updated5/8/04 Originally 13/1/00

Forgive me father, for I have sinned. I have tried, many times, to cast off the scent evil which lingers around me, and yet I have failed. I have watched all the stories, again and again. I have read the interviews. I have fought that dark, ancient malevolence that haunts my soul.

And yet I remain as I am; an anti-Colinite.

A degraded creature who does not like the Sixth Doctor.

I've tried all the little excuses, but they go nowhere. It's Not The Character It's The Stories; I gave that a go. It failed and I turned to You're Not Supposed To Like Him That's The Whole Point, and when that went wrong I lingered on the He's An Alien He's Not Like You Or Me. Finally I turned to It's Not Colin's Fault It's The Script, but I couldn't make myself believe that either. I've currently slipped back to He Could Have Been Great, and I'm holding on here, for the moment.

Still, I've made the decision. I can't be ashamed any longer. I have tried, so very very hard, to find something likeable in the brief televised run of The Noisy One. I've tried to tell myself that he glitters at a time when the stories were poor, but over the last few years, my opinions have hardened. I've decided that the fault, dear Brutus, lies not in myself but in the star. I've decided. I think the Sixth Doctor as seen on TV was pretty poor overall; a few wonderful moments, a liberal scattering of wince-inducing ones and a middle ground that's the wrong side of satisfactory. I think that the concept of the character, such as it was, was slightly misguided. I think that the waters were further muddled by some terrible scriptwriting. I think the final performance was patchy, frequently OTT, and lacking in subtlety.

Aaargh! No! I feel guilty already! Why, why, why do I feel so bad about myself? Somehow, slagging off Colin makes me feel so mean. I don't know why; he's not short of fans these days, and funnily enough, I'm sort of among them. I really, really like Colin Baker. He speaks so passionately in interviews, sounds so sharp on DVD commentaries, he showed such commitment to the role. Whenever I say I don't think he was that great on telly, I feel like I'm kicking a puppy.

The thing is that Colin Baker comes across as one of us. He seems to be the only Doctor who really, really understood and empathised with what the programme meant to fans. He's the only one, also, who came vaguely close to wanting to play the role as much as your average fan. It was a part he had long coveted and was overjoyed to land, and that's not really true of anyone else. I wish, I wish he was brilliant... but I don't think he was. He obviously had the capacity to be great; he has proved his ability since in the audios; he came into the show under circumstances that made it nigh-on impossible to perform well; and he was seldom supported by good scripting.

But still, sorry and all, but I don't think he was very good. I get no joy from saying it, and there's no pat answer as to why. I've seen a few theories as to why us crazy Sixth Doctor non-fans are silly enough to dislike him, and I have to debunk them all. It's not because I'm a squeamish pinko who squeals at the sight of blood. It's not because I'm a traditionalist that grew up with another era and can't stand change. And it is not, repeat not, because I don't like his coat. That last one somehow still manages to get an airing from a number of people; that non-Colinites just can't tell the difference between a character and the clothes they wear. That's right, we're that stupid. Strangely, I tend to credit non-fans of McCoy or Davison with a bit more intelligence, and don't think they can't get past a dislike for cricket or umbrellas, so it would be nice if people would show me the same respect. So how about putting that particularly arrogant little suggestion to bed? Thanks.

No, the problem goes a bit deeper, so it's worth starting with the basics. The concept of the character, say. And the concept of the character was...

Oh.

Well, what was it? The line that's trotted out is that he was brash, arrogant, and crotchety. Well, yes, but that's hardly the lot is it? You could say that about the First, Third and Fourth Doctors really, at various stages in their tenure, but they were hardly identical, and various other traits concerned themselves. The First softened up to a benign, if sometimes grumpy, grandfather figure. The Third had his boyish glee in gadgetry and his moral strength, the Fourth had his thoughtful side, and his joy in childish things. As for the Sixth... I struggle to think of another characteristic that was applied consistently. We saw flashes, in fact, of real tenderness and courage, but they would be actively undermined by complete insensitivity at other times. I don''t think this was a plan, by the way, to make him deliberately inconsistent; I think it's bad writing. And if it was a plan, the old "oh he's an alien" plan, it was a bad one.

Thing is, although there's a lot of stuff said about his character, a lot of it didn't find its way to screen. It's often said, for example, that Sixth Doctor was supposed to be unpredictable; generally, though, he's the most predictable of all Doctors in terms of how he reacts and how he delivers his lines. He's supposed to be detached, but by far his most effective scenes are when he's showing compassion or railing against cruelty. For example, Colin Baker likes to trot out the line about the Doctor crying at the death of a butterfly while stepping over ten dead bodies, but that didn't really happen on-screen. A good job too, as it's a bit of a crap idea; it wouldn't make him seem alien, it would make him seem stupid and a git.

I don't think the brief on the Doctor's character was at all clear. That's probably true of his previous incarnations as well, and is arguably not an unhealthy thing, with early stories often having the Doctor sketchily characterised, allowing the actor to direct as he felt comfortable, and his character evolving over time. The problem with Baker's Doctor, though, was that he was - unusually - the focus of his early stories. The Twin Dilemma is centrally about him, and Attack of the Cybermen is (in theory) a story of him and his misjudgement of Lytton. I think it's not a very good idea, since Baker is still finding his feet in the role, and the previous tactics of putting the Doctor in a strong, familiar story is a safer bet. As it is, the "character piece" of The Twin Dilemma is dreadfully written, dreadfully directed, and Baker completely misjudges the debut, overplaying the script horribly instead of softening it. It's not a good opening night.

Yeah, so the whole point of the Doctor's debut is to have the audience thinking "Who is this unsettling, unhinged stranger being mean to Peri? Where's nice Mr Davison gone?" The new Doctor was meant to be dangerous. Good idea, that. And yet... not, or at least, not as we saw. Even that final scene in Caves is wrong. It feels like the programme is dancing on the Fifth Doctor's grave, with the new Doctor sitting up and immediately rubbishing his previous incarnation who sacrificed himself so heroically. The previous Doctor's died, and we don't even get a chance to grieve him. It overplays its hand; the "You were expecting someone else" line would have been enough. It immediately sets the Sixth Doctor up as (in the words of a friend at the end of Caves) an Obnoxious Little Man, who glibly trashes his previous self.

It spreads into The Twin Dilemma, where the audience does indeed find itself wondering who this new stranger is; but it's not "who is this dangerous character," it's "who is this loud irritating dickhead who keeps going nuts and getting in the way of the story?" It doesn't help, either, that there's not much story to get in the way of. Rob Matthews has already put his finger on why it doesn't work as it should; the Doctor had been around too long for a few fits to put make us distrust him. It's compounded by the fact that, after the first one, the Doctor tells us exactly what they are! So we know these things are out of character, and rather than being unsettling they just become inconveniences. By the time we get a few nice-ish scenes with Azmael towards the end, the story's been too shit for too long to make us care too much, and Colin Baker's performance has gone roaring so far over the top that we don't know, or care, what he's really like. Really, The Twin Dilemma contributes nothing and just gets the new era off on the wrong foot.

Attack of the Cybermen does rather better, and in many ways is set up as an alternative beginning. It's probably, the second-best story of the season, and Baker's tenure, and although it goes to pieces in the second part it's pretty watchable. There is a school of thought that it chased 1.7 million viewers away between Parts One and Two... yes, of course it did. Just like Pyramids of Mars is shit too; the viewing figures fell by 1.9 million between Parts Two and Three, after all.

(As an aside, if Sixth Doctor fans can be a bit defensive, I don't blame them. So many patently ridiculous criticisms have been laid at Colin Baker's door that even I get defensive about him sometimes. The 1.7 million viewers is a particularly crass example.)

So things are rather better here; there's the Doctor striding energetically about London, imposing himself on screen through his physical presence. There's some great scenes which show up genuinely shocking differences between this Doctor and his predecessor, like the "handful of heartbeats to a Time Lord" bit. That's a very funny sequence, which has - like a lot of good scenes from the era - become unfairly lumped in with what's around it. For God's sake, the Doctor didn't really want Peri to shoot! It was a bluff! He told her to do it because he knew she wouldn't! I mean, crikey...

Then there's the end of course, when the Doctor berates himself for misjudging Lytton. Of course, the early resentment between them is a bit off the mark, since the Doctor and Lytton didn't actually meet in Resurrection of the Daleks; and besides, it's not exactly clear that Lytton's particularly nice anyway. Still, things should be seen in context, and Lytton was so dominant in Resurrection of the Daleks that a casual audience wouldn't actually remember that the Doctor and he didn't meet. It's intended as a character examination, and even though the script's all over the place it works as such...

...and yet establishes so much that annoys me about this Doctor. That final scene, on one level, is very good, with Bryant and Baker beautifully conveying, respectively, gentle understanding and understated regret. On another level, though, it's incredibly crass. "Didn't go very well did it?" says the Doctor. "The earth is safe," Peri replies, and the Doctor comes back with "I meant on a personal level."

On a personal level? A personal level? The Doctor emerges from the usual bloody adventure having saved a planet, and the most important thing he takes from it is that he misjudged someone a bit? What about the deaths? What about the self-sacrifice of all those Cryons? What about those humans being used so coldly? Have some sense of proportion for crying out loud! Yes, the story is supposed to be about the Doctor's character, but having the Doctor actually say so makes him seem unpleasantly self-obsessed. What's wrong with the conclusion is that, although the Doctor makes a great play of saying "I must save him," and then berates himself afterwards, he doesn't actually mourn Lytton. What makes him so unhappy isn't any empathy with Lytton's horrible death, it's the fact that he failed, he made the misjudgement. It's all about him. And sadly, it's something that we see again and again.

He's always bloody talking about himself! He makes that "I am a man of passion" speech early on in the TARDIS, he witters on endlessly about his regeneration on the London streets, he makes great play of that "watch, listen and learn" catchphrase, in the midst of all the death and destruction he takes some time out to have a go at the Time Lords for putting him in the middle of it, and then at the end he obsesses over his own failure. He's so bloody self-involved! Is this supposed to constitute "character"? Is this "presence"? You've got to be kidding. It's not like this is a one-off either, it's a trait that runs consistently through Season 22. In Vengeance on Varos he whines about regenerating again and again in the TARDIS. Mark of the Rani actually takes this as a theme, with the Rani mocking the Doctor/Master rivalry, and they do come across as squabbling children (again, while people die all around). The Two Doctors again showcases the Doctor bickering, this time with himself mostly, and showing off the rest of the time with dreary know-it-all speeches about Burberry's bloody noose and whatnot.

And here's the thing about the Sixth Doctor. After three years of the supposed wet vet, you know, the guy who didn't feel he had to dominate all proceedings, who was modest enough to listen to others, who didn't take every opportunity to show that he was the most important person in the room... which, apparently, means he was bland... we get this opinionated sod striding around the place. And like all self-obsessed people who adore the sound of their own voice, he is unbelievably, endlessly, obnoxiously boring.

If there was one person I wouldn't want to travel around the universe with, it's Season 22's Doctor. I wouldn't want to spend time with an arrogant loudmouth who makes quotes up about fishing because he loves sounding clever. I wouldn't want to be told that it's the function of wisdom to impart knowledge and the function of blah blah blah pompous git blah blah. I wouldn't want my travelling companion to talk down to me all the time, and tell me what a man of passion he is by way of excuse. I wouldn't want to travel with someone who would faint, clearly be ill, and then when I helpfully suggest going to a doctor have him fail to thank me and pretend he thought of it himself. I wouldn't want to travel with someone who says portentous things like "the waves of time wash us all clean" in a schoolteacherly way, really just to show me he thought of it. And I would't want to travel with someone who - who... oh, sod it, I'm going to talk about Oscar's death scene for the six millionth time. The thing about that scene is that Oscar, Anita and Peri do it beautifully. But as for the Doctor... the "Goodnight sweet prince" line is wrong, Colin says it in a sort of well-that's-done-then way, and then immediately afterwards starts a trivial squabble with his other self about how much trouble he's had to go to. Self-involved doesn't even come close; and at that moment, I really, really hate the Doctor. I cannot, just cannot, come close to liking someone who can behave like that, moments after a good woman has cried at the death of the man she loves. And if it's supposed to be "because he's an alien," - frequently trotted out to excuse inconsistent characterisation and crass lines - then I cannot like that alien either.

Two sides to every story of course. I would want to travel with someone who could hold the hand of a dying mutant with such compassion; who could rail so beautifully against the Rani's barren philosophy; who would take a moment to console me over the death of the D.J. There are isolated scenes in the season that show just how good he could be, on occasion. I don't doubt and have never doubted Colin Baker's potential, ability or commitment. Much of what I dislike about Baker's Doctor is the words that are put in his mouth...

...but that's not to exonerate him completely. Admittedly, many of Baker's ideas were good and just couldn't be matched by the writers - his determination to have the Doctor use beautiful, obscure words for example. The writers just weren't as eloquent as they needed to be for this to work, and rather than beautiful words the Doctor just tended to use long ones for the sake of it.

Still, I would say that Baker's performance is often over-the-top and too theatrical, and he gets some bits wrong. That (apologies in advance) acid-bath scene, for example. I half-believe the whole thing that the Doctor's horrified, then gets on with it... except that he doesn't look horrified, he looks a bit more like someone wincing at a skinned knee or a fat bloke falling over on You've Been Framed. And while the "long words" bit is mainly the writers' fault, it's also not handled well by Baker, who stresses the words so much that he sounds pompous - it's all rather too much for the stage, which is a common theme in Baker's performance. Now, he has his moments of being utterly dreadful, of hamming it up; gurning during his fight with the Luddites, that dreadful delivery of "Stop! You are phantoms!" in Vengeance on Varos, the woeful "there's more than one way to cook a cat" scene in The Two Doctors. Still, all Doctors have their wobbly scenes and it ain't fair to judge them on those alone. I think the real problem is the way that Baker tends to take the obvious interpretation of the script; his delivery is very straightforward and predictable. It means that he can't hide bad dialogue in the way that his predecessors can.

Example; look at the end of Revelation of the Daleks, the thing with the flower and the protein. It's not Colin's fault that this plot convenience is shoehorned in so badly (and really, wasn't that necessary). Still, the way he delivers the line... "when refined, that produces protein"... it really emphasises it how silly it is. Imagine if Tom had been given a line like that; he'd toss it out carelessly, thinking of something else, and then his attention would have flitted elsewhere while Takis and Lilt looked at the flower in amazement. He could have winked his way out of a bad bit of dialogue, and he did it all the time. Think of The Ark in Space, when the Wirrn shut off the oxygen pumps and Tom says, "Of course. In their pupil stage the Wirrn don't need oxygen! An easy way of killing us!" See, that line's actually a bit of a clunker, but he works hard to hide it; delivering it with that careless grin, as if fascinated by the concept and unconcerned by the outcome, and making the Doctor seem truly alien.

So while there's a definite level of truth in the "It was the scripts" reasoning, in a way a level of criticism should be levelled at Colin Baker for playing them, well, as they asked to be played. It's not always so simple. Part of what made Tom great was how he played against the scripts when necessary. To lesser extents, all the previous Doctor did this when it was needed. In fact, we see it in a Colin Baker story; William Gaunt as Orcini, given cynical lines and a character who was supposed to be scripted as an absurd has-been, playing against type and creating a noble character whose death scene is one of Doctor Who's most memorable. Colin Baker's interpretation of a script never shows that subtlety; rather, he seems to take the script and turns it up to eleven, without saying hey, that line's not right, it sounds pompous at a time when I should show compassion or at least self-effacement. But, suppose I deliver it this way? Then would it work?

Of course, there are some things that it's nigh-on impossible to analyse. Things like "presence" or "charisma" are, ultimately, subjective opinions. I've seen a lot of people refer to Colin Baker's screen presence, and I don't think he has any at all. I think he has to shout, and get in the foreground, and wear that coat to compensate for his lack of presence. Conversely, I could watch Peter Davison doing the plumbing, and I think he's magnetic on screen even when he's not saying a word. So some people find Colin Baker relentlessly watchable, and good luck to them, but he always strikes me as the kind of irritating guy at a party who won't let anyone get a word in edgeways and does Father Ted impressions for two hours.

The Doctor gets better in the following season of course. Oh... hang on...

Well he does, a bit, in so far as there's no more scenes when I despise him; but dammit, I still don't like him, and I still find him boorish. The trial scenes are simply painful. Again, it's not Colin's fault that the stock joke was to put lots of different words in front of the word "yard" (fetch a needle and thread, my sides have split), but he overstresses it all the bloody time! He's still loud and opinionated and irritating. Every time a trial scene pops up, I just want to shout "oh shut UP" at him! And because he's so bloody pompous, I don't engage with the emotional scenes either. When he reacts to Peri's death, it seems to drop like a stone into the story, and while that scene's excellent in isolation, it's actually pretty unbelievable when viewed as part of Mindwarp.

Baker is, of course, pretty dreadful in Mindwarp, although the well-documented behind the scenes wranglings make it hard to blame him. He's dodgy in the trial scenes too if you ask me. However, he's far more settled in the other stories, although I still don't see his performance as particularly brilliant or anything. In The Mysterious Planet he's largely rather good, but his scenes with Drathro are crap. About two seconds into them the viewer has made the leap that hey, it's a robot fulfilling its programming, you can't just dissuade it. But the scenes go on and on and on, and Baker plays them in a really whiney, pleading way - it would have been a good time for that righteous indignation that he does so well, but he gets it badly wrong. If that's as good as it gets, than it ain't good enough. It's a bit like when I read yet another review saying how brilliant those scenes with Peri in the forest are... oh come on now. It's just two people walking in a forest. Just because they're not tedious, irritating scenes of the two of them bitching at each other, let's not elevate them to greatness or anything.

There is enough to suggest, as ever, that he could develop. It's often said that the darker direction of the Cartmel era would have suited Colin Baker beautifully, and he would have emerged into a magnificent Doctor. I agree with this utterly. His sacking was a disgrace, a fine actor being shabbily treated by the BBC. And so, as I struggle to come to terms with what his character's about, I find the story rudely truncated. The reading I'd like to have is that he was the most angry, the most moral, the most missionary of all the Doctors, who hid his outrage behind a veneer of pomposity. His greatest moments are when he's played this way. His railing at the Time Lords with the "They're in the nursery compared to us," speech is rightly held up as great - and if I've given Colin a bit of a pasting in this piece, I'll say that no other actor could have wrung as much from that scene as him. The fury with which he spits out that evangelical Hamlet quote at the Rani is a powerful, overwhelming, valedictory triumph of raw emotion. That's how I like to see him, and that's how most of the Sixth Doctor novels seem to write him.

But I'm not reviewing my idea of the ideal Sixth Doctor, I'm reviewing what appeared on-screen. If the above reading of his character is the right one (and okay, maybe it's not), then the writers and the actor himself didn't always understand it. Going on screen time, I could equally interpret him as a self-absorbed, obnoxious egomaniac, far more concerned with his image as a hero than the people he chose to help. He is arrogant and crotchety, which was intended - but you know, I don't like arrogant, crotchety people. Furthermore, although he shouts a lot - because he shouts a lot - he's a crashing bore.

So, overall, I do not like the Sixth Doctor we got on TV. He is the only Doctor I actively dislike, and I hope I've explained why. It hurt me more than it hurts you. Honest.


A Review by Steve Scott 23/1/00

Colin Baker's Doctor was on the telly during my formative years. And, funnily enough, his is my favourite Doctor. If I am permitted to use this adjective, 'spunky' is the best word to describe his performance - and without ever going over the top (more often than not it was the scripts going melodramatic). But I'm not going to advocate Timelash as a triumph or indicate that people have misunderstood the ethos behind the 8 stories produced while Colin Baker was the Doctor - thereby implying that those who do like his portrayal and the stories in which he starred form some kind of warped minority. What I believe Colin's Doctor exhibited, and his era for that matter, was Doctor Who's potential as a geniunely adult series.

Season 22, the best representation of 'Sixth' Who, demonstrates this potential, however continuity-cluttered or artistically unsound. Its peaks are Vengeance on Varos and Revelation of the Daleks - two visually striking and original tales. They both feature an interesting ensemble of characters and actors to play them - there is none of the hallowed JNT 'guest-star' nonsense (Alexei Sayle in Revelation, yes - but this piece of (original) casting is hardy touted as the big draw for the story).Both also come across very well in production - gloomy sets artistically obscure the sellotape used to stick them together. They also escape the contrived continuity curse (how's that for alliteration?) of 80s Who - surprising, since the latter comes from the pen of one of its worst perpetrators, Eric Saward. Revelation, which can be seen as the second part of the 80s Dalek trilogy, is by far the strongest, since it is more confidently told than 84's Resurrection and lacks the fannish self-indulgence of 88's Remembrance.

What is most appealing about these tales is that they do what quitessential Doctor Who is so magnificently - mix a sense of near-realism with the deliciously absurd. When characters die, be it exterminated, burnt, stung or stabbed, it hurts. We are venturing into adult territory here, and perhaps Doctor Who's legendary budgetary limitations expose the stylistic change as uneven. Perhaps also, after years of fans claiming Doctor Who to be hard-nosed adult sci-fi, they were exposed to what hard-nosed, adult Doctor Who could be like - an alien anti-hero with a deep sense of justice up against original and iconic villans with a sense of acid humour almost matching that their opponent.

It can be viewed as something of a minor tragedy that the postponement decision was taken when it was - had it been made midway though the 84 season would fans lament Resurrection as over-violent or Warriors of the Deep as tacky and childish, and therefor e responsible for the hiatus? Demonstrating a series that has run out of steam? Think about it. There was no ratings drop between seasons 21 and 22. Had financial pressures and Michael Grade's personal preferences not intervened, we would have been treated to a very different season 23. Yes, the return of the Toymaker, the Ice Warriors and the Autons smack of yet more continuity joys - but that is indicative of early 80s Who in general. The real season 23 had its moments, but the unhealthy enviroment in which they were produced mars any enjoyment of the stories. As for the crictisms of The Twin Dilemma, ranging from scorn for an awful lumbering monster, exaggerated and unbelievable performances and poor design work - they could be easily applied to Warriors of the Deep. Perhaps this so-called rot set in earlier.....


A Review by Matt Haasch 8/2/00

I must admit, when I first saw him, I didn't really like him. In fact, I really hadn't liked how things had been working since good ol' Tom Baker left. And now that Peter left, I had to stand through with this guy with bad hair and lousy manners. Then, I'm happy to say, I grew up. Colin was probably more of an opposite to Peter Davison than Peter was to Tom Baker, and I think that it's good that they made the Doc a guy who was tough to love. Shakes the foundations a bit and separates the hard core fans to those who are just in it for the Daleks.

A reason why I didn't like him as much is because, I chose not to without any good reason, because I barely watched him on the tellie. Then 2 months ago I saw Trial of a Tme Lord (in one night) and a few episodes of Revelation of the Daleks I managed to tape off of PBS when I was a wee Time Tot. I found Baker's Doctor to be very well played, with so much arrogance, I just rolled on the ground laughing surprised that this Doctor had more cahonies than Davison could've counted. I like Davison and all, but this was a good change. I could identify with this Doctor the most too, outside of Tom Baker, not just because I'm a mental case that walks the streets of Wisconsin with a 12 foot scarf, but this man is the definition of non-conformist. He puts up with nothing, laughs in the face of danger, and uses (and I mean uses) violence when necessary. (I loved it when he shot that Cyberman before Lytton died in his arms) He purpously clashes with his surroundings, and sometimes has his plans backfire on him.

I find that there are only a few problems with Colin's regime as the Doctor.

  1. The stories. This doctor did not deserve to have stories like Timelash and Twin Dilemma. Even the Dalek story he was in seemed cheesy because of that stupid DJ.
  2. The production team. Ever since Graham Williams left and JNT began his reign of terror, we saw alot of good things go. The off-the-wall comedy the Doctor had was vested in other charecters. Tom Baker's old costume, Dudley Simpson's wonderful music (listen to the soundtrack of City of Death and tell me I'm wrong) and a lot of the fun, just vanished with barely any trace.

Despite this, Colin Baker managed to make a really good season with Trial, and I highly recommend it all, especially episodes 1-4, 9-12.


My Way by Robert Thomas 15/10/00

Before I get all serious I have a quick confession to make. I have received counselling and I am finally ready to say the following if you will bear with me.

I LIKE THE SIXTH DOCTORS COAT.

Now I've got that out of my system on with the review. Those favourable reviews of Colin Baker have tended to be more defensive. Definitely not my style. Colin Baker has a terrific actor and Doctor, who appeared in the program at its most turbulent time. His portrayal was fantastic, original and bound to annoy some people.

This was a Doctor who despite his brash exterior was not fully in control. Due to the extreme circumstances of his regeneration until the end of his first season the Doctor was introduced as someone who had been put through the mill and was now experiencing emotions and attitudes alien to his nature. Up until Vengeance On Varos his character degenerated, but as far as I am concerned after this Colin Baker found his step. Indeed there is a moment in The Mark Of The Rani when he is checking for mines with a branch while trying to save the day which makes you think, 'yes he's finally found himself.'

During the next three stories The Doctor became more of how Colin Baker wanted him to be. Less bombastic, more alien and still caring for people in some strange way. From Revelation Of The Daleks we will never know how he developed. The portrayal seen in The Trial Of A Time Lord is one that I think Colin would have eventually developed. But due to Michael Grade and the cancellation this development was never seen and to many was not convincing. That scene where The Doctor and Peri walk through the woods is purely magical and shows us a glimpse of a Doctor we would nearly never know.

Let's be honest, the BBC completely botched up the 6th Doctor. Completely messed Colin Baker around and he cannot be blamed for not recording a regeneration story. Thankfully we would get to see The Doctor that Colin wanted to play. Through the books the likes of Steve Lyons, Gary Russell, Craig Hinton, Justin Richards, Terence Dicks and the like would give us that Doctor wrapped up in juicy little stories. Even luckier for Colin that thanks to Big Finish he would get the chance to play this Doctor. With stories such as The Marian Conspiracy he recaptured the essence of his Doctor and showed us that side we never got to see.

Indeed where the BBC messed him around The 6th Doctor was developed and helped by the fans. This Doctor's legacy would be in the books, audio's and those stories in his brief reign where he was on form. Forget about the few duds and think about The Two Doctors, Revelation Of The Daleks and The Ultimate Foe, his TV classics.

Without doubt due to the contributions of fans like Steve Lyons, Justin Richards, Jacqueline Rayner and Gary Russell where Tom Baker was the people's Doctor, Colin became the fan's Doctor.

If I had the sense that last line would be the end of the review. But, I want to have some more fun. Like me, some of you may have wondered what would happen if Colin had continued after The Trial Of A Time Lord. Well when I sat down to think about I think he would have lasted until 1994. Which would have given him enough time to break Tom's story record. From the stories that have been released since he left this is how Colin Baker's reign would have gone my way.

Season 21
The Twin Dilemma Peri
Season 22
Attack Of The Cybermen Peri
Vengeance On Varos Peri
The Mark Of The Rani Peri
The Two Doctors Peri Jamie
Timelash Peri
Revelation Of The Daleks Peri
Season 23 Trial Of A Timelord
The Mysterious Planet Peri
Mindwarp Peri
The Ultimate Foe Mel
Time Inc Mel Peri
Season 24(Costume change, the trousers and shoes had to go. A change to co-ordinate with the coat.)
Time Of Your Life (4) Angela Grant
Paradise Towers (4) Grant
Killing Ground (3) Grant
Business Unusual (3) Brigadier Mel
Season 25
Remembrance Of The Daleks Mel
The Happiness Patrol Mel
Silver Nemesis Mel
Greatest Show In The Galaxy Mel
Season 26
The Nightmare Fair (4) Mel
State Of Change (4) Mel
Players (3) Mel
Dragonfire (3) Mel Bernice
(Yes I'm serious).
Press release : Due to the refound popularity of Doctor Who it has been given a slot on Saturday evenings. Also had its seasons extended from fourteen to twenty weeks a year. Sad news is that Michael Grade has choked on humble pie. (The following are all four parters).
Season 27
Millennial Rites Bernice
Managra Bernice
Transit Bernice
The Highest Science Bernice
The Pit Bernice
Season 28
Evolution Bernice
Ultimate Treasure Bernice
Tomb Of Valdemar Bernice
Whispers Of Terror Bernice
The Hollow Men Bernice
Season 29
The Scarlet Empress Bernice
Alien Bodies Bernice
Winter For The Adept Bernice
Grave Matter Bernice
Illegal Alien Bernice
Season 30
The Four Doctors Bernice Sarah Romana 2 Nyssa
Vampire Science Bernice
Legacy Bernice
Wish You Were Here N/A
Scientific Adviser Brigadier
Season 31
The Marion Conspiracy Evelyn
The Spectre Of Lanyon Moor Evelyn
Apocalypse Element Evelyn
The Murder Game Evelyn
An Ending Of Sorts Evelyn
(The Doctor coming to terms with the fact that he may not become the Valeyard. Coming to believe in hope for the future.)


Hmm... by Adrian Loder 27/10/00

When addressing myself to the task of reviewing the 6th Doctor, there were a few things I had to consider before beginning, the first being, who would I review, Colin Baker, or the character of the 6th Doctor? I have chosen the latter, as I really don't see much use in reviewing Mr. Baker''s acting skills.

The second was not so much an item to consider as simply something to be aware of, and to make all of you aware of, as well. I have not viewed anything from the first full season of the 6th Doctor, nor the final story of the prior season. All I have viewed is The Trial of A Timelord, and while some would say that I might not be qualified for a full judgement of the 6th Doctor, I would answer that several of the Doctor's incarnations have taken a bit of time to get 'warmed-up', whether this is due to the actor in question, the scriptwriters, or both. The 7th Doctor that is lauded is not usually the one from Time and The Rani. In short, TTOATL is probably a truer measure of what the 6th Doctor was meant to be than what came before, and a better measure of what would have followed had Colin Baker not been sacked. And being free from the prejudices which having viewed, oh, say, Timelash would have bestowed upon me, I think I can make a pretty objective case for the 6th Doctor.

Well, except for one thing... Dr. Who is easily my favorite show...and when I'm watching Dr. Who, I want to have fun. I don't get a kick out of watching something awful and cursing at the screen. As such, I tend to concentrate on the good points and ignore the bad, so that I can at least enjoy what it is that I'm watching. As a result, I tend to weight the good points more heavily than the bad.

That said, the two major charges against the 6th Doctor are that he is repulsively arrogant/childish/immature and that he shows a lack of caring for others. Regarding the latter, it is rather easy to see that that is not the case. When Peri almost trips in the beginning of The Mysterious Planet and he immediately rushes back at her yell, and tells her that he has told her to be careful, we see his caring. When Crozier suggests that Peri be the host for Kiv's brain, he is visibly upset by the idea, and again we see his emotional side. There are many more instances and it would be a waste of time to deal with them all here.

It is undeniable, however, that even as he does show concern for the well-being of others, indeed seems to value it above almost all else, he does tend to become absorbed in technological or intellectual matters and pay more heed to his own curiosity than to Peri's wishes or desires, at certain points in their adventures. Many of the most beloved of the Doctor's incarnations have done the same, however. In Masque of Mandragora, Sarah Jane is told to stay inside the TARDIS when the 4th Doctor steps outside to investigate the helix they have landed inside; when she comes out anyhow, he reprimands her, but does not force her back inside until danger becomes imminent. The 7th Doctor nearly sacrifices Ace as he takes a gamble with Fenric in a final attempt to defeat him. The 4th Doctor, however, as already noted, is notorious for indicating that he will be the one to deal with the danger, and then allowing his companions to leap into the fray anyhow. Yet he is arguably the most popular Doctor of all time.

As for the charges of being childish or arrogant...again, let us turn to the 4th Doctor, who wondered what the fun of being an adult was if you couldn't behave like a child every once in awhile. And let us not forget another scene from Masque of Mandragora wherein The Doctor is in grave danger but makes light of the situation in his reply to Hieronymous. Or in The Robots of Death, etc etc; Most of you know the scenes I am referring to, so I shan't explain every single one. The long and short of it is that the 6th Doctor, once he has been allowed to mellow some and assume his real form, does very little that hasn't been done by himself during one of his previous incarnations, but he is still almost universally hated for it.

I can only attribute that to the vigor with which he presents himself, and his apparent reluctance to come out and give a full-fledged, articulate sermon every time he objects to someone's behavior, instead striking out with an insult or harsh but empty outburst. This is probably the 6th Doctor's only true failing -- when he speaks, it is often not to say anything of real substance. When he is passing along information or conversing during an adventure, he does alright, but especially on Trial one gets the sense that he has a real argument lurking under the surface but would rather cover it with simple abuse, for whatever reason. Or alternatively, perhaps he is so confident that he is correct (and he is) that he sees no need to explain himself, assuming others will realize the same as he.

Whatever the case may be, this is not so major a flaw for me as others find it to be, and I can only conclude by saying that although the 6th Doctor is not even in the top half of my favorite Doctors, he is not so bad as many find him to be, and I still find a great deal to like about him.


Poor old Colin by Jonathan Martin 30/4/01

Now, what can I add to the wealth of arguments for and against this controversial (the oft-used word) Doctor? Firstly, I think Colin would have been very disapointed regarding the reaction of the fans of Doctor Who - he shared the basic traits of the Doctor - but in vastly different and often difficult to find ways, and he thought that the fans would accept his way and realise what he's all about. The other reviewers have summed it all up pretty nicely, but there are some things I would like to add and exaggerate.

Firstly, most reviewers have mentioned the words "violent" and "dangerous." The former's a bit uncalled for - he simply wants to get the job done, save the good guys, and if the baddies have to go, then he outwardly and spontaniously simply doesn't care. He could, and probably does mourn for them later. But the latter I would certainly like to eggagerate - that is what springs to mind most when thinking of this Doctor, along with "action." This Doctor, no doubt about it, is the most action-orientated: the reason that he doesn't say as many memorable things as the others is because he's always dashing around - being persecuted or unthinkingly acting in a way leading to the death of a bad guy to save his companion or an innocent bystander (The Two Doctors and courtroom scenes in Trial being the exceptions).

I don't remember much about The Twin Dilemna, and I found Timelash entertaining, Vengeance on Varos is classic, same with The Two Doctors.

I didn't like him at first either! But I did what Colin would have wanted - to accept him and to see what his characterisation was all about.

Imagine if Tom's and Colin's eras were swapped around; 178 episodes (including Shada) to 32? My goodness, it's no wonder they're on either end of the scale - Tom (my 2nd favourite doc, Col 3rd) wasn't all that good in his first season! Anyway, that's just my opinion - e-mail me if you want to discuss or maybe argue. Incidentally, there should be a chat room for that - how's that for an idea?


Panned? Panned? Panned?! by Rob Matthews 20/1/02

Well, it's taken some time, but it seems Colin Baker is finally getting the respect he deserves from us DW fans. In a review of Jon Pertwee's Doctor, dated 1997, John Riordan referred to Doc #6 as 'universally panned', but fortunately one need only look at this page to see that this isn't the case. Partly, perhaps, this is because fans have finally started to separate his performance from the dark themes the show explored at that time; some have wondered how his character might have developed if he'd stayed on into the Cartmel era, others have enjoyed his performances in the Big Finish audios, to the extent that he's became a favourite Doctor due to stories that aren't even part of the show proper.

There are four main criticisms of this Doctor, none of which hold water for me-

  1. He's too violent
    -A criticism based on his attempt to murder Peri in The Twin Dilemma, and then his actions in various stories in season 22. For the former, his attack on Peri was portrayed as shocking even to him. It didn't suggest anything about his new personality - which was at that point still not properly fomed -, only that he was subject to the same violent impulses as any of us, and was temporarily robbed of the psychological processes that would have prevented him from acting on them. This was part of the show's expansion of the concept of regeneration; in both Twin Dilemma and Castrovalva before it, it's nature a violent biological process was emphasised - the Doctor's brain was physically reforming itself and his mania was in essence an illness; he was therefore not responsible for his actions.

    Next there was Attack of the Cybermen, where he beat up a villain, who was threatening him with a gun, and a Cyberman, who was just generally threatening. In both cases, this was self-defence. In fact, I'm astounded by the complaints about the Doctor 'killing' Cybermen - how come no one cares that Tom Baker did the very same thing in Revenge of the Cybermen? Oh, I remember now; it's because that was Tom Baker.

    Next, Vengeance on Varos, and I have to admit that here I can see the critics' points rather more clearly. The Doctor activates a laser gun that kills a Varos guard, he causes another two guards to fall into a bath of acid (though, contrary to popular myth, he pushes neither), and later lures some nasty sods into their own poisonous vine trap. The story is admittedly shoddily scripted, but I think each case is (as suggested about this era by by Mike Morris in his superb Visitation review) morally ambiguous rather than genuinely immoral. We don't know that the Doctor's intention is to kill with the laser weapon; it's possible that he assumes it will simply hold them off. He doesn't actually fire it at them directly. We see in his confrontation with the two guards that he's just recovering from being knocked out and doesn't immediately recall the trouble he's in, so approaches them without realising he's going to end up in a struggle. His callous pun "You'll forgive me if I don't join you" is bad, but it's more the flippant musical score than Baker's performance that makes it offensive. And finally, the stinging vines scenario is a case of 'us or them' - he's in an impossible situation and he's acting in self-defence.

    In The Two Doctors he kills Shockeye, again in self-defence, and makes another of those punning remarks after doing so - but Baker delivers the line with appropriate weariness and regret, and the line can be seen as a reminder - both to himself and the viewers - that such an horrific action was necessary - as such, it's proof that this Doctor's conscience prickles him even in these desperate circumstances. You know what Hartnell's Doctor would have done in this situation? Been killed. So, as Jonathan Hili pointed out in his season 22 review, it's not the case that the Sixth Doctor is any more violent - it's that the universe he exists in is, and that there are a lot more pricks to kick against. (whew... deep breath...)

  2. His coat is awful.
    - True. It's vile. But the blame for that can hardly be laid at Baker's door.
  3. He's arrogant.
    - Er, so is every other Doctor. That's part of his character - don't all of the Doctors refer to themselves as geniuses?

    One criticism amongst previous reviews is that this Doctor acts like he knows better than everybody else - I think it's more the case that he's put in situations where he does; very often situations where he's the only one who knows that it's wrong to kill people etc.

    In fact, I'd cite one scene that shows beautifully where the Sixth Doctor's forthright, some would say self-righteous, attitude comes from - in Revelation of the Daleks, where he overhears Peri screaming at a Dalek about its murder of the DJ, her words cut ominously short. The Doctor closes his eyes in the most terrible sadness and it is only after that his face takes on its blustrous, angry expression. It's a cover - just as the Fourth Doctor's jokey joviality was a cover, which would only occasionally slip and be all the more convincing for it (in The Ribos Operation where he admits how scared he is, or in City of Death where he says simply to the Count "Because I'm going to stop you").

    Come to think of it, there's another line in Revelation that demonstrates this - while conversing with Davros with the usual mock pleasantry, the Doctor furiously demands "Do you never do anything but kill?" - it's on a par with that well-known scene in The Pirate Planet.

  4. He doesn't get on with Peri.
    ... or at least until season 23. While I agree that all those dull bickering scenes should have been excised from season 22, I really don't see that their relationship was entirely antagonistic. They get on just as well in Mark of the Rani as they do in The Mysterious Planet, and there's that moving line in Revelation, "I'm sorry about the DJ"
Given that Baker's Doctor is - or was - so often mistaken for a horrible, aggressive lout, it's ironic that Baker himself ended up more of a victim. Eager to stay in the role for years and rival Baker's reign, passionate and convincing in all of his performances, he was forced to compete with his own atrocious clothes for attention and then unceremoniously sacked by Michael 'Sutekh' Grade, as if he were to blame for the appalling mess the producer and writers made of season 23. And then the fans demonised him too.

Though I came to love McCoy's Doctor too, and think no-one could have done those melancholic lines better than him, he had the benefit, in the long run of good scripts. Very few of Baker's scripts were superb; the best of his stories, Revelation of the Daleks, featured him only peripherally, and he never got into any really powerful scenarios like playing chess with Evil or blowing up Skaro, so we never got a chance to see him really excel - he was never even allowed a proper confrontation with the Valeyard thanks to the botched Trial finale.

His performance was more the equivalent of those Tom Baker gave in mediocre stories, brightening them up considerably despite the scripts being weighted against him. I like McCoy just a smidge better, but Colin Baker's performance was a hell of a lot more consistent - McCoy could, upon occasion, be awful. Baker never ever was. Someone said of his performance in Mindwarp that he deserved to be sacked, but I can't see why. Again, the problem was with the scriptwriters and not the performer - Eric Saward and Phillip Martin never specified whether the Doctor was supposed to be acting, or if the scenes were fabricated by the interference with the Matrix. Baker decided to play the scenes with the latter explanation in mind, and did a fine job.

Amongst Baker's standout scenes: confronting his own death in Revelation of the Daleks, mourning Peri in Mindwarp, getting iconoclastic in The Mysterious Planet, impersonating Pertwee's Doctor in the same story, and condemning the Time Lords in The Ultimate Foe. I plan on buying some of his Big Finish dramas, so recommendations will be gratefully accepted :-)


"Manic depressive me!!!?" by Joe Ford 4/10/02

"Doctor?"
"You're expecting someone else?"
"I...I, I...."
"That's three I's in one breath makes you sound a rather egotistical young lady."
"What's happened?"
"Change my dear...and it seems not a moment too soon..."
Oh my dear, dear Colin how right you are! Has there ever been a better scene in all of Doctor Who? Out steps the bland, boring, degenerate Doctor and in steps a bold, spiky anti hero! I can understand why people were apalled... it was like a damn good slap in the face for all those fans that had gotten used to a sloth for a protagonist with about as much adventure as a snail! Here was a mean, shocking figure of a man who was going to return the show to its adventurous roots and show us how unpredictable the Doctor can be again.

The sixth Doctor is my all time favourite but then anyone who's read any of my reviews would know that already. I just love this guy and his scizophrenic ways and here, finally, is why...

He is certainly a flawed hero which is instantly appealing. If you meet this guy on the street (besides expecting a clown show to start!) you'd probably try and escape his company pretty damn quickly. Upon meeting he states in a loud, boasting voice "I am known as the Doctor!" and can be frightfully rude or pig faced if you are unco-operative. Compared to Davison's handshakes and pleasant conversation (hell you'd probably try and escape that too!) he is like a having a bucket of water thrown over your head. But that is the point, culture clashes are hysterical on television (and often the most thoughtful episodes of any show!) and his instant clashes with people (Hugo in Twin Dilemma, himself in The Two Doctors, Lytton in Attack of the Cybermen, Drathro in Mysterious Planet) are so funny. The declaration from one character in Mark of the Rani that he is eccentric is wonderful, forgotten about by everyone but him until the end of the scene where he whispers to the audience "Eccentric... me? Preposterous!"

In another sharp contrast with Mr Davison's protrayal this Doctor quite simply THROWS himself into the action! Suffering from a bad regeneration and rife with personality problems, hes not exactly at his best in The Twin Dilemma so what does he decide to do? Charge out into the universe and defeat some evil! And he follows that pattern throughout his tenure, often searching for adventure (and a good rest!) he dives into trouble at the first opportunity. Watch in Vengeance on Varos as he materialises during Jondar's excecution and immediately frees him and sets about bringing down the corrupt system. Or in The Two Doctors where he refuses to leave the recently attacked space station until he finds out what has happened. Even better is The Mysterious Planet where he rushes about, trying to save as many lives as possible. The sixth Doctor has a thirst for adventure, for mysteries... like an enthusiastic child it is great fun to watch him walk into these often horribly violent situations and sort them out!

People complain that he is too moody. Yes he does snap at people, sometimes insultingly and take his tantrums out on people around him (geez he reminds so much of my partner who has no time for stupid people and will go to any lengths to avoid them!) but I have to disagree with public opinion again and state that I think this just makes his more tender moments all the more special. No other Doctor could bellow about his sanity to his companion and then follow it up with a gentle tap of the nose, stating quietly "I wont hurt you... I promise." No other Doctor could react so poetically to the end of the Universe in The Two Doctors ("No more sunsets... no more gumblejacks.... never more a butterfly") after storming around the station and boasting about his intelligence! No other Doctor could react so calmly (and yet compassionately) about the apparent destruction of Earth whilst his companion is practically in tears ("Planets come and go, stars perish, matter coelasis, reforms into other planets, other worlds. Nothing can be eternal.") It is these gentle moments that prove he is not just a big bully and that he has a big heart underneath all that bluster (similarly good are his quiet reaction to Azmael's death in Twin Dilemma, his compassion towars the Cryons in Attack of the Cybermen especially his tender moments with Flast and his silent understanding of Orcini's death wish in Revelation of the Daleks). The sixth Doctor did care about those around him, he just didn't know how to show it all the time. Compelling.

The violence. The sixth Doctor beats up a policeman holding a gun on him. The sixth Doctor fires a gun which causes the accidental death of a guard. The sixth Doctor cyanides one of his villains to death. He causes the extermination of an entire species. This is a subject of great controversy, after all the Doctor had never used violence before (except when he beat up that assasin in The Romans, re-electrified the doors to the tombs of the Cybermen, beating up various nameless gaurds and nasties during his exile on Earth, punched the sadistic Scorby viscously in the face, cyanided Solon to death to stop his evil schemes, almost assasinated Davros....) and is supposed to use his vast intelligence. Oh balls to all that. Let's have a hero who does use violence, sometimes even unnecessarily, let's have a Doctor who we're not sure when to trust (physically), who could get nasty in a second and snap off your fingers. Let's have someone unpredictable (and let's face it those moments stated above were great shock moments) and who doesn't just roam the universe being an anti-violence banner (ahem, you know who I mean). Let's have somebody who is interesting, to watch! Who we can side with but not be too sure of (like the early, compelling First Doctor). Somone who keeps us watching to see just what he'll do next. Let's have the Sixth Doctor.

Character development is not something I expect to see to much of in the televison series. This is an adventure show after all and the plot is just important as the characters. But for once a Doctor/companion relationship was allowed to evolve slowly and intruigingly. I'm talking of course about Doc 6 and Peri. They start of on the wrong foot (he tries to kill her) and have quite a nervous, edgy relationship in their first few stories. Come Vengeance on Varos and it's clear that he has developed strong feelings for the girl (desperate to bargain any information he has to save her life!). By the end of the season they have mellowed considerably, sharing knowledge (her on botany, him on EVERYTHING!) and clearly enjoying their time together. Come Trial of a Time Lord he has his arm around her, comforts her, jokes with her... they are good friends. All in time for her dramatic death at the end of Mindwarp. The Doctor's speechless, angry reaction to which is possibly the sixth Doctor's (and Colin Baker's) finest moment in the show. Finally the producers decided to keep a Doctor/companion team for an entire season and it certainly pays off. While their constant biting at each other is always good for a laugh (especially in Varos ("Here, a little something to stop you sighing like a steam engine!", The Two Doctors ("Perhaps you should see a Doctor?" "Are you trying to be funny?") and Revelation of the Daleks ("I'll be lucky if I can lift you the amount you weigh!" "Oh watch it porky!") it is the moments where they work together as a team that impresses me more. The scene where the Doctor orders Peri to shoot the copper in Attack is so wonderful, as is much of their investigating in Mark of the Rani ("You suspect another motive?"). Kate Orman (who loves both characters, surprisingly!) says Peri is like a neurotic Watson to the Doctor's Holmes!! What I especially love about these two though is how they can be as nasty as they like to each but the second they suspect the other is in danger they are desperate to rush in and save them. The cliffhangers to both Varos (Peri watching the Doctor de-hydrate to death) and Revelation (Peri rushes over as a statue topples onto the Doctor) and even Twin Dilemma (c'mon now you know the words....."Peri!!!!" he screams as he finds out she has been kidnapped!) are especially revealing in that respect.

Nobody duels with his adversaries better than the Sixth Doctor. His outbursts in the Trial room in his second season are brilliant. He's like a child desperate to fight against the evil of the universe and using his most effective weapon... his voice!!! His judgement on the Time Lords in part thirteen is compelling drama. He had similarly good moments with the Rani ("These are human beings Rani, living creatures that have done you no harm!"), Davros ("But did you bother to tell anyone they might be eating their own relatives?") and Sil/Varos ("I can show you new prosperity!"). His argument with Drathro on the meaning of life in The Mysterious Planet is fantastic and perhaps the best example of his compassionate side ("Everything in life has its place Drathro, every creature plays its part. But the purpose of life is too big to but knowable... a million computers couldn't solve that one!"). With the Sixth Doctor you KNOW when you're his enemy.

Going back to the flawed hero part, this is a Doctor who makes terrible mistakes. I find that very refreshing. From his mis-judgement of Lytton to his grief at killing the Vervoids I find a hero who sometimes gets it wrong very engaging.

Colin Baker has come in for so much flack over the years but being the wonderful man that he clearly is he continues to support and be involved with the show. His performances are easily the most underatted part of the show ever. He is funnier/more dramatic than Davison, a hell of a lot more consistent than McCoy, more dangerous than Hartnell, more ALIEN than Tom Baker and better suited to the violence than Pertwee. He has such a large personality it just lights up the screen (again the coat helps!). When he is acting you can't take your eyes off him. He doesn't just command your attention he is standing there with a big leather whip in case you turn away! And more importantly Colin Baker LOVED being in the programme and his affection for the show shines through in every one of his performances. I couldn't have cast a better man for the role.

Of course it's easy to say his work in the Big Finish audios has re-captured a waning interest in this phenomenal Doctor but I was hooked before they came along. Of course Colin turned out to be the best (and most popular) audio Doctor and has some of the most strikingly written and performed pieces of Doctor Who under his belt. His compansionship with Dr Evelyn Smythe has been a major success (and who would have guessed that, a doddery old fogie and a lightning bolt of a Doctor... one of the best teams ever! Certainly not me...) and made his stories a continual delight. Thank god somebody decided to tap at that unrealised potential!!!

Yes some of his TV stories were badly written. Yes he had to endure Timelash. Yes he could go over the top on occasion. But these are just niggles. The Sixth Doctor was a great success (in my eyes...), a return to adventure, a return to unpredictably, a return to fun and frolicks in space. A return to form for the greatest show of all time.

Well done Colin... you MORE than deserved the number ONE spot of best Doctor in this year's DWM.


Long Live the Cat by Ronald Mallett 6/3/03

More consciously heroic than his predecessor, though arguably less manipulative and aware of the larger picture than his successor, The 6th Doctor proved to be a bombastic, slightly arrogant and certainly alien character. While The 5th Doctor always seemed bewildered and susceptible to rising panic (which of course made him seem a more vulnerable character), The 6th Doctor simply strode in where angels feared to tread and always appeared confident that he would find an answer to any problem - even if it wasn't always to prove as easy as he thought. This was very different from The 7th Doctor who often seemed to know exactly what was going to happen and why and simply seemed to be manipulating events to serve his own ends.

The 6th Doctor gives his age as 900 years in Revelation of the Daleks, while The 7th Doctor claims he is 953 years old, just after the regeneration in Time and The Rani. We are therefore looking at a life span of around 50 years for The 6th Doctor, wherein Peri was his first companion and Mel was his last. Unfortunately Colin Baker was only able to play the part for two seasons. What was to have been his second season was cancelled for largely economic reasons and when the show returned, it did so with a radically reduced episode rate. Therefore we never actually got to witness the long term game plan thought out by Colin and the production team in relation to his character. We have been left to guess at what might have followed Season 23; perhaps the dark manipulative side of The 7th Doctor may have been realised anyway?

Despite a popular view that the character of The 6th Doctor did not work on television, Colin created a seamless interpretation that mellowed gradually but maintained certain crucial elements right from his first scenes. He is overtly heroic, verbose, eccentric, over-confident, callous in regards to the fate of his enemies but still capable of displaying compassion and remorse when it comes to the innocent (ie. Oscar's death in The Two Doctors). The scene in The Mysterious Planet where he attempts to reason with Drathro about the importance of valuing life is a great example of the highly moral facet of his personality. Except shortly after his regeneration and during the story Mindwarp where his mind has been scrambled - you always know he's on the side of good because he won't stop telling you so! Far from being a "Wholigan", his speech to The Rani in The Mark of The Rani (forgive me as I paraphrase Pip and Jane Baker) about there being more things in heaven and earth that could ever fit in her grim philosophy is testimony to the moral fortitude of the character. At the same time there is a dangerous edge to him: in Attack of the Cybermen when Peri asks what happened to the other false policeman he tells her that "he's having a little lie down!". Colin Baker has admitted he wanted the character to be alien and because of that therefore slightly inaccessible, perhaps this is what some people have found alienating about it as a performance? In many ways The 6th Doctor was a return to the character's roots in that William Hartnell's Doctor was also unpredictable (he kidnaps his new companions in An Unearthly Child!) but with a heart of gold. I think the public relations problem relates to the fact that the 6th Doctor simply isn't as cuddly as the 5th Doctor or as deceptively harmless looking as the 7th Doctor.

That is why the cat motif is so appropriate. Most will agree there is something alien about the species. They are ultimately unknowable. There are many references to the 6th Doctor's cat like aura in his stories starting with the cat pendants he chooses to wear. All of the Doctors resemble the archetypal cat in some way: they are constantly curious, they exist in a special relationship to time which means to them as a famous poem declared "all places and times are the same". But most importantly all the Doctors believe they work to their own agenda (and are outraged when they realise they don't i.e. Attack of the Cybermen!). However in the 6th Doctor's case this cat analogy is even more apparent: he claims peripheral vision in The Mark of The Rani; he even looks cat-like, particularly when scurrying away from behind with his multi-coloured coat and big head of curly hair - like an over-sized tabby cat on the prowl for trouble; many of Colin's gestures, including the "large arm curls" when he waves people on, have a feline nature.

In conclusion I think The 6th Doctor's era is well worth celebrating as an aborted success rather than a short-lived failure.


A Review by Peter Chandler 29/7/05

It would seem that the general consensus of the 6th Doctor is gradually changing (Definitely a good thing), as more and more fans start to look at the character in a more realistic and analytical way. Me personally, have only become a Whovian from the adventures of the 9th Doctor, but I assure you, I'm definitely making up for lost time, having missed all of the 7th Doctor's run, which should have been the Doctor that I grew up with. Having said that, Doctor Who was not alien (Ahem) to me: I had an idea of some of the mythology, technology, ethos etc - 'layman' knowledge. The thing that I have to point out is that, as my inevitable interest grew in the 9th Doctor, I wanted to get to know rest of them, and strangely enough, the first DVD that I decided to buy, was, in fact, Vengeance on Varos. The thing that drew me to this Doctor was the overall confidence of Colin Baker's portrayal. Even down to the clothes that he wears, he oozes confidence and oozes character, and to me, is a very attractive quality to have in a hero.

What I have found from being a new Whovian is that there is a lot of talk among fans on the subject of comparisons of the characters and actors of the Doctor. To me, there is little point for such a discussion, as the whole idea of regeneration is to bring about a new actor and character to give a rendition, a new personality to the Doctor, and opinions aside, that is exactly what have happened throughout Who history. In fact, it could be said that the 6th Doctor is the one Doctor that is the best example of such a change, and I say it is a right and just one. Looked at by today's standard, the 6th Doctor definitely wasn't one for beating around the bush, and would in no way hide his feelings towards things, very much like the first Doctor, in which Hartnell had the character of an old, eccentric, and sometimes seemingly heartless old man.

In comparison to the other Doctors, Tom Baker's and Pat Troughton's Doctors are very much the type of Doctor that an audience can easily like, because of the hijinks and the tom-foolery. The 6th Doctor, is more the no-nonsense Doctor who only really brings out the wit to make his opponents angry, forcing them to react, the same way Tom Baker used his fake stupidity. The 5th Doctor was a big step down from the 4th, and showed a lot less care for the comedy. I've found the 5th Doctor to be more of a naive, vulnerable, but curious character - a big contrast to the 6th. I'm guessing that the 6th Doctor was written with the idea that this was the one that would be the 'man of science' that the Doctor has always been, but had a big injection of 'gung-ho' and a straight-to-the-point attitude. He wasn't going to take any rubbish from anyone, and if they did, would definitely point them in their place with a quick snap of his sharp tongue - something that Bond has been doing for years, and is loved for. Also, let's face it, attacking Peri aside, has any of the comments directed to non-evil characters been that scathing? It would seem that the audience has snubbed him purely for the fact that he is harder to relate to than any other Doctor, again the comparison to other Doctors, which regeneration had the job of explaining. No, he is nothing like the 4th, 5th, 1st... etc Doctors, but then, he isn't meant to be! It's also a good point to compare some of the 6th Doctor's exploits with the 9th Doctor's, and notably, the speech that the conspiracy theorist has in the first episode, and the climax to The Doctor Dances in which the Doctor surprises himself with the fact that everyone has 'benefited' from his intervention.

I also think that because of the drop in quality of stories and scripts, that it was easier to say that this Doctor obviously was the worst one ever, and it is easy to see this reasoning. However, unfortunately, as an audience, we will never know. If only the BBC had let fresh blood into production to give a new lease of life to the franchise... again we'll never know. In the meantime, all those who ridicule the 6th Doctor should hang your head in shame for jumping on the bandwagon. Give the sixth Doctor a chance, and take a look at him with objective eyes, I think you'll be surprised.

Continue to the next page