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Feature
The Doctor Who's Who: A Guide To The Time Lord's Incarnations Through The Years
The Doctors profiled, vote for your favourite companion and the best episodes to watch

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The Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy, 1987-1989)

SYLVESTOR MCCOY
THE MERRY MACHIAVELLI

 

Sylvester McCoy's time on the show comes in for a lot of stick, especially for the earlier, wackier stories where the Beeb tried to return the show to its children's TV roots. But though the McCoy was hired for his comedy abilities, the show began to creep into darker territory, and he proved more than able to make that work, imbuing his take on The Doctor with the mystery of a Merlin-like figure who could be either good or bad, depending on the mood or the mission. This Doctor was a master manipulator, thinking several moves ahead and unafraid to take real risks to win in the end. Unfortunately, as with Colin Baker, the show around McCoy wasn't always quite at the same quality, partly because of a slashed budget. Still, some of the special effects were great – even if we do mean that in terms of Who's history, not its future. You can hear McCoy talking about his time on the show on this Podcast interview.
 


COMPANIONS

Mel continued to travel with The Doctor for a spell, and then we got Ace (Sophie Aldred), one of the few companions from the classic stories to display the gumption and zeal that now seems to come as standard in Who. A take-no-crap type, she was skilled at chemistry and delighted in creating explosives (which would come in handy even as The Doctor warned her about the dangers). She also had a dark, fearful past, one that the show would explore to great effect.
 

Quick poll: Vote for your favourite Doctor Who companion


FIVE EPISODES TO WATCH

1 Time And The Rani
This was the first McCoy story, as he was awkwardly introduced thanks to the weird, not-Baker regeneration scene. Kate O'Mara steals the episode (and chews most of the scenery) as the titular renegade Time Lady.

2 Dragonfire
The TARDIS arrives on Iceworld, a space trading post. It's here we meet a (literally) cold-blooded villain, a dragon, say goodbye to Mel and hello to Ace.

3 Remembrance Of The Daleks
Another classic Dalek story and easily one of the best McCoy adventures. This is dark, chilling and notable for being the first time a Dalek uses an anti-gravity system to float up the stairs. You hear that, fans of Russell T. Davies and those who loved to make jokes about the pepper pots' stair phobia?

4 Battlefield
King Arthur's story meets The Doctor's in this tale of legends fighting it out. It's the final nod to UNIT for the classic run and the return of the Brig (retired).

5 Ghost Light
Part of Ace's past clashes with future technology in this spooky tale of an old house with a very dark secret. The Victoriana is in full flow here, plus a little Darwin for good scientific measure.

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Have Your Say
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Your Comments

1
I might be missing something but shouldn't John Hurt be on the list as the 9th Doctor? More

Posted by CaptainAwesome on Thursday November 28, 2013, 13:53

2 This was great...
...although I guess **SPOILERS** (sort of) you'll have to re-arrange the numerical order now - and although it was a one-off, I would consider Sally Sparrow to be a companion, and definitely one of my favourites - such a shame that now Carey Mulligan has made it SO big, we're unlikely to see her reprise the role... well, not until the 2025 Children In Need special anyway More

Posted by christofurr on Monday November 25, 2013, 15:41

3 RE: Missed one
L: Morehumanthanhuman I'm not a massive Dr Who fan, but I fail to see why Paul Mcgann gets a mention as the 8th doctor and yet Peter Cushing played the character several times never gets a mention. I loved those films as a kid getting constant repeats during the summer holidays. Peter Cushing played A Doctor, not THE Doctor. And he only did it for 2 TV movies. While the two movies, Doctor Who and the Daleks, and Doctor Who: Daleks Invasion Earth were based on the television series, they are not considered as canon within the main, TV universe. Cushing's Doctor was a human inventor, not a Time Lord. He also invented and built his Tardis, rather then it being the product of Time Lord science. The characters name was also Doctor Who. Who being used as the family/surname, rather then just the title of The Doctor. More

Posted by GrizBe on Monday November 25, 2013, 00:05

4
livapr99. There WAS A Christmas Carol for the Doctor. It was called a Christmas Carol and aired on Christmas Day 2010 More

Posted by PaoloCorleone on Sunday November 24, 2013, 20:58

5 Missed one
I'm not a massive Dr Who fan, but I fail to see why Paul Mcgann gets a mention as the 8th doctor and yet Peter Cushing played the character several times never gets a mention. I loved those films as a kid getting constant repeats during the summer holidays. More

Posted by Morehumanthanhuman on Sunday November 24, 2013, 13:39

6
Nice handy article :) Also concur that The Girl In The Fireplace and Blink should be in the mix. Still don't understand why Moffatt's more intellectual approach to story-telling is often viewed negatively - beats the dumbed down approach of RTD's run (The Big Red Button Era). I would disagree with the comment on the 10ths Master - Jacobi was fantastic, Simms was pantomime dreadful! RTD's period was often camp, but Simm's Master was better suited to Adam West's Batman. Shame, as he is a great actor usually. More

Posted by sirvolkar on Sunday November 24, 2013, 11:54

7
until I saw the bank draft that said $8966, I be certain ...that...my father in law woz like they say truley bringing in money in their spare time on their apple laptop.. there neighbour has done this less than seventeen months and resently paid the dept on there mini mansion and bought a gorgeous Porsche 911. I went here,...JUMP85.COM More

Posted by RachelMcCarter9012 on Sunday November 24, 2013, 02:53

8 Love the article. But...
...it's DEREK Jacobi. Not David. More

Posted by wgfuzzydunlop1 on Friday November 22, 2013, 20:36

9
What about 'A Christmas Carol' for the Eleventh Doctor? Overall, though, a good article. More

Posted by livapr99 on Friday November 22, 2013, 18:25

10 Where's K-9?
You forgot the snooty dog thing. Both of them. More

Posted by Sean Alexander on Friday November 22, 2013, 17:23

11 Great Article
Fantastic piece this. Genesis of the Daleks from the Tom Baker era has to be my favourite Doctor Who story, even though I am a huge fan of the modern era shows. Despite the still somewhat wonky sets, Genesis was the first thing on television that showed me that a TV series could have real dramatic depth and still be entertaining. His moral anguish when on the brink of committing genocide is brilliantly played by Tom Baker, off an excellent script. More

Posted by Topper_Harley on Friday November 22, 2013, 00:48

12 Probably one of the best articles you've written for a while...
But I agree with the others. Girl in the Fireplace and Blink defiantely needed to be on the list for the 10th, and A Good Man Goes to War and Vincent defiantely for the 11th. More

Posted by GrizBe on Thursday November 21, 2013, 21:36

13 Great list but....
Great list but for me Girl in the Fireplace & Vincent and the Doctor are 2 of my favourites. Blink is a great episode too and well deserved to be on the list. More

Posted by casheliser on Thursday November 21, 2013, 20:19

14 Amazing Feature
But for the 11th Doctor, I feel "A Good Man Goes To War" should included. It perfectly shows eleven's wit and his amazing sense of showmanship, as well as his wrath. Best 11 episode in my opinion. More

Posted by tommyinglis on Thursday November 21, 2013, 19:23

15
Awesome list but there's an episode missing from Tennant's run in my opinion: the awesome Girl in the Fireplace; my favourite tenth stand-alone More

Posted by cahoopuk on Thursday November 21, 2013, 14:53

16
Excellent feature and beautifully presented. Thanks. More

Posted by TimEdwards on Thursday November 21, 2013, 13:57

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