back to article Doctor Who returns to our screens next week – so, WHO is the worst Time Lord of them all?

Perhaps 13 is unlucky for some. That is, if you decide that the current Time Lord played by Peter Capaldi – the man who became a household name as shouty, potty-mouthed Malcolm Tucker – is the worst Doctor of all time. And anyway, should one describe the bovver-booted Scot as number 13? After all, John Hurt was known as the …

  1. linicks

    Having met two of them...

    Being old enough to remember all the Who's, I met Jon Pertwee many years ago (see and he was a pretty good Doctor. Tom Baker is the best though.

    As to my vote. A few years ago I would have voted for Sylvester McCoy as the worst Doctor, but I bumped into him at Gatwick airport and then on arrival in Malta airport. We had a brief chat, me starting it off with "What's up, TARDIS broke?" - he replied something like "Nah, some Scottish bloke took it off me". Hah! We had a great chat waiting for the luggage. He went up a lot in my estimate as a being a great guy.

    Peter Davidson is/was the worst.

    1. Graham Marsden

      Re: Having met two of them...

      McCoy wasn't the worst, he was just saddled with the worst assistant, Bonnie Langford. He actually got some very good (and very dark) storylines, but with lousy scripts.

      It was a shame The Happiness Patrol was spoiled by the ridiculous Bertie Bassett-alike when there were nice references to the Paranoia RPG in it :-(

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Having met two of them...

        but with lousy scripts.

        Not just lousy, he's admitted in interviews that they intentionally changed things to be as anti-establishment as possible, very much in the lefty-BBC-hates-Thatcher mould. By trying to make it a personal political crusade they just made themselves look stupid. Worst doctor by a mile.

      2. VinceH Silver badge

        Re: Having met two of them...

        Indeed. When I saw his episodes the first time around as a much younger person, I thought McCoy was awful - but watching them again some years later, I found I was able to appreciate his performance as the Doctor a lot better. He actually played him very well, and was definitely let down by other aspects.

      3. damworker

        Re: Having met two of them...

        I quite liked bonnie although I always thought she was about to sing a song from Annie.

        I hated sylvester at the time but caught a rerun a few months ago and he was quite good. He had a side kick IIRC called Ace who I detested. A right on girl hoodlum turned good with name to match who sounded like she was reading the news. Red Dwarf even used the same name for the good Rimmer a few years later.

        And I thought Corbyn was the latest Doctor. Feel free to add your own jokes about time travel to the 1970s.

        1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

          Re: Having met two of them...

          I HATED ACE. She reeked of something a coked up medja luvvie dreamed up to be down wiv da kids.

          1. Andrew Moore Silver badge

            Re: Having met two of them...

            We used to call her 'Arse'

          2. Tom 13

            Re: I HATED ACE.

            I loved her. She made a perfect counterpoint to the Doctor. One of the things I liked about her was that she stopped with constant screaming girl in distress syndrome that plagued the show. Yes, I like Sarah Jane too, but she screamed way too often. More in fact than many of the earlier companions. Once she started it lasted through Perry. So Ace was a very nice change.

      4. psychonaut

        Re: Having met two of them...


        you press the button.....CLANG!

        it sounds like something big fell off...

        great game.

    2. David 45

      Re: Having met two of them...

      Tom Baker I vote the best but can't decide the worst, being a toss-up between Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Peter Davidson. Thinks.........Probably Sylvester McCoy, methinks, again.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Having met two of them...

      I grew up with Tom Baker then PBS here stopped carrying the program. For years I thought the show ended and that he WAS the only Doctor.

      1. Phuq Witt

        Re: Having met two of them...

        "...I grew up with Tom Baker then PBS here stopped carrying the program. For years I thought the show ended and that he WAS the only Doctor..."

        In my view he WAS the only Doctor. Which is why I can't participate in the poll. Outside of Tom Baker [and Jon Pertwee], they were all the worst.

        As with everyone else though, I'm sure my viewpoint is coloured by which Doctor[s] were current when I served my apprenticeship behind the sofa, on a Saturday evening.

    4. asdf Silver badge

      Re: Having met two of them...

      >Tom Baker is the best though.

      Yep especially to us Yanks as mentioned above many don't even know any other doctor. And to the 30+ twits who voted for him as I write this, the question who was the worst not best, door knobs.

    5. Just Enough

      Re: Having met two of them...

      Well you can't judge the actor by the portrayal, and you can't take the portrayal on its own without the surrounding show. Sylvester McCoy was the worst Doctor. Totally not his fault, as the BBC were in the middle of flushing the programme down the toilet as cheaply as possible. But definitely the worst.

      Colin Baker was a close run next worst. Again, not his fault. For some bizarre reason they decided to make his persona as obnoxious as possible. So everyone hated him from the start. Poor guy didn't have a chance.

      1. Cthonus

        Re: Having met two of them...

        Interesting poll if you take into consideration the mellowing of Colin Baker's Doctor in the Big Finish audio plays. I agree that his television performance bordered on the horrendous but he's a decent enough actor not to blame the performer but the direction and the scripts.

        He's very good in the BF stories if anyone cares to listen.

      2. Tom 13

        Re: decided to make his persona as obnoxious as possible.

        Yes, that was a mistake. Which if you skip a year and come back they sanded down quite a bit. Oddly enough they seem to have repeated the mistake with Capaldi. It will be interesting to see if they sand him down a bit this season.

    6. Andrew Moore Silver badge

      Re: Having met two of them...

      To me, McCoy was always the clown from Vision On...

    7. Michael Strorm

      Re: Having met two of them...

      For a long time there seemed to be a media consensus that Peter Davison's portrayal was a disappointing, lightweight followup to Tom Baker that started the show's slow decline in the 80s. It's interesting that this seems to have changed in the past few years, with far more people taking a positive view.

      It's probably fair to say that whatever one thinks of Baker, the length of his reign and the strong character of his portrayal defined the Doctor for large swathes of people- *anyone* following him was going to have a hard time. I think the change is down to those of us not old enough to remember Baker well- if at all (and thus not having judged Davison in his shadow to the same extent) now being established adults, as well as many of those who watched the shows later being in a similar position.

      I started watching Doctor Who at the tail end of Tom Baker's reign. (#) But- sacriligeous as it is to say this (##)- I preferred Peter Davison and he's probably "my" Doctor. In some respects I can understand why those who grew up with Baker felt that way- but Davison was an intentionally different Doctor.

      Colin Baker I didn't like at all in the beginning. IIRC that improved slightly, to the point I was slightly sorry to see him go. I've seen bits of his stories since, and I'm still not sure to be honest, but it's hard to judge him given the ultimately misjudged character development he was given, along with the then-state of the show in general. In hindsight, it's clear some of the problems I associated with the McCoy era (pantomime tackiness) started here.

      Sylvester McCoy- maybe lacked a bit of gravitas for my taste, but again, hard to judge fairly- the majority of the dislike aimed at him probably had more to do with the scripts and the state of the show itself. I remember being unhappy about the increasingly pantomime-like direction it was taking during his era, but in hindsight it had actually started to improve in its final season. (###)

      (#) I have vague memories of the "new" starry title sequence replacing the "classic" tunnel one just before I turned five, which implies I- barely- remember the former too, but Baker's final "starry" season is the only one I really remember. IIRC I think I first watched it for the Daleks.

      (###) I remember thinking Survival was the best story in a long time, though I didn't realise it was the final one until years later, as the show hadn't been publicly cancelled at that point.

      1. chr0m4t1c

        Re: Having met two of them...

        >For a long time there seemed to be a media consensus that Peter Davison's portrayal was a >disappointing, lightweight followup to Tom Baker that started the show's slow decline in the 80s. It's >interesting that this seems to have changed in the past few years, with far more people taking a >positive view.

        I think that is because Tom Baker has such a huge presence, anyone following him (apart from perhaps Brian Blessed) was always going to look really flat in comparisson.

        Like many here, I think McCoy was probably one of the better doctors, but had both the worst scripts and production values so was always going to be in trouble.

        1. Michael Strorm

          Re: Having met two of them...

          @chr0m4t1c; Yes, essentially that's what I was trying to say when I said "strong character". I guess maybe if you'd grown up with 7 years of Baker, Davison might have seemed bland.

          I've heard it said that Baker was grumpier and more downbeat during his final season (#)- apparently this reflected changes behind the camera- so maybe that's why I didn't take to him as much. But as I said, it's also the fact that I didn't have the 7 years worth of Baker memories that older viewers would have that probably lent a less biased gloss to my viewing of his successor.

          They obviously wanted to Davison's successor to contrast again- but that obviously deliberate attempt at a "huge presence" Doctor (i.e. Baker #2's portrayal (##)) was quite clearly misjudged in hindsight.

          (#) The only one season I really remember. As I said, I remember the "tunnel" titles changing to the "starry" ones, so I must have already been watching when the former were still in use, but I don't really remember anything about those episodes beyond vague memories of wanting to see Daleks.

          (##) I just thought... they did "The Three/Five/Two/Sixteen-and-a-half Doctors", why not "The Two Bakers"? ;-)

  2. sawatts

    Sorry Colin, but if I have to choose... but the problem there was the lack of quality and commitment that the Beeb was putting into the show, not the actor.

    The "best" use to be easier - but Matt Smith threw a sonic spanner into that mix. When he and Tom appeared together - well, fortunately no one was present at the time to see a grown man go "squee!".

    Peter Capaldi is quite capable of filling the Time Lords shoes. Given how good Matt was in the role, he has to make *his* Doctor very different. I did get the impression his first season was still largely being written for Matt's character, and adapted. Hopefully the writers will be more in sync with the new character this year.

  3. Ol'Peculier

    I voted for Eccleston, not because he was the worse (and for those slating 6 & 7, that was more down to the writing and the declining budgets than acting style) but his continued reluctance to do anything connected with Who.

    Highly recommend finding "The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot" - one of the best things to have come out of the 50th birthday celebrations.

    1. PCar
      Thumb Up

      Re: "The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot"

      I have an x264 mp4 of that show.

      Amusing programme.

      Don't know if there is a PM mechanism here.

      If not some searching may uncover the show or similar.


      1. Ol'Peculier

        Re: "The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot"

        Actually don't need to do anything nefarious: it's still available on the BBC website:

    2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Imagine the anniversary ep with Eccleston instead of Hurt. Everything would have been perfect. Even as Hurt was saying the lines I could hear Eccleston in my head. The grump should have put aside his concerns and tied it all up.

  4. graeme leggett

    Team effort

    What got onto the screen was a team effort.

    It included the actor's performance with what he had in the way of a script, aided and abeted by the producers, director, designer, special effects, what remained of the budget at that time during production, BBC staff strikes, personnel interactions, the alignment of the planets, uncle Tom Cobbley and all. (I've probably missed one or two factors out) .

    All compounded by BBC senior management who where for the most part happy to put the programme on the box, but didn't care to give it the resources it needed. The show flagged towards the end under a producer (JNT) who had served his time, was arguably out of ideas, and wanted out but found he couldn't leave because there was no-one to replace him.

    I think even if you don't like the programme's material at all (either before or after its rebirth), you would find the complexities and drama of the production an interesting tale. While on-screen it may have appeared like a undying national institution from 1963 for many years, behind the camera it lurched from problem to problem.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Team effort

      You forgot the owner of the Quarry that serves at the Dr Who backlot especially when UNIT (and the Brigadeer) was involved.

  5. Chris King Silver badge

    Another vote for Smith

    Why ? Too young, too smug, and needed rescuing by Clara far too often.

    Capaldi could be great, if only they would give him some decent scripts to work with.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another vote for Smith

      I couldn't agree more with your second point; Capaldi has all the ingredients to be truly brilliant except for the script. It's a crying shame because exactly the same could have been said for Matt Smith (in my opinion).

      I found the last series was very hit and miss (there were some spectacular eps mixed in with some that were utterly dire - the series finale was terrible!). I can't stand Clara (too smug, too pretty), and her own love interest side story was just crap.

      I hope they've got some different writers in this year!!

    2. CanadianMacFan

      Re: Another vote for Smith

      For me it wasn't the age or the smugness (though this didn't help). And at times it did seem like he was the assistant to Clara being the Time Lord.

      What really made him the worst for me, through no fault of his own, was that his Doctor gave up on what it meant to be the Doctor too easily. I know that they were trying to make him dark, going through a tough time, and having him be in some sort of inner struggle. But I felt that his first response to a situation was to blow up the bad guys. This really turned me off the show. I'd watch it but I stopped buying the box sets. One of the core items of being the Doctor for me is that he always gives the bad guys at least one chance at redemption. That seemed to disappear during the Matt Smith era.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Another vote for Smith

        Yes!! Another good point! The novelty Clara bailing out the Doctor wore off extremely quickly especially as it got used nearly every episode...

        I liked that they weren't going to do yet another Doctor/Assistant love story (no hugs!), but the assistant love story they put in its place was awful! The only feeling I experienced was that of apathy - I just didn't care. And what the hell happened to the Master!? They could have done so much more with this...

        But hey ho, I'm sure it'll be entirely different this time around :D

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another vote for Smith

      And yet, when I mentioned the fact that I had stopped watching Doctor Who due to Smith's flat Doctor, I was flamed right here on this website's very forum.

      At least I am no longer alone...??

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Another vote for Smith

        You Are Not Alone :D


  6. ingie

    Difficult poll wording...

    When I look at questions for polls, I'm picky.

    With this one, the problem lies in the distinction between the question "Who played the worst Doctor Who?" and "Who was responsible for the worst Doctor Who?"

    The latter question is answered by name "Michael Grade".

    The former question [which was how our vulturazzi led us in] is Sylvester McCoy in my own thoughts, but not due to his portrayal or his skills, I really liked what he was trying to do. Colin, with his portrayal, was able to throw the production's bitterness at the executive into the character, and for me that worked. Sylvester's base character didn't really have the personality traits to allow him to shine, except in a slapstick corny way. He was desperately polishing Michael Grade's steaming turd.

    Oh, and Corbyn.

    because multi pass. chick-en. big badda boom. supreme being.

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: Difficult poll wording...

      For those who need their 6th and 7th Doctors redeemed from what the Beeb did for them, I can suggest the Big Finish audio productions where both Colin and Sylvester have had a chance to improve on what the 80s dealt them. Much as Paul McGann was able to move beyond his single on-screen appearance during the interregnum.

      Not just new original material but also with what scripts/scriptwriters available for the stories never made.

      1. CanadianMacFan

        Re: Difficult poll wording...

        I've come late to the Doctor Who universe and snot having seen the earlier TV shows I don't understand the reason why the earlier Doctors are so disliked. I've listened to their Big Finish audio dramas and have found them to be great. Colin and Sylvester are right near the top of my favourites. Perhaps it is a good thing that I haven't seen the older episodes.

      2. Chris King Silver badge

        Re: Difficult poll wording...

        I'll second that recommendation for Big Finish, their spin-off series and other ranges are pretty good too. Plenty of stuff free or for a fiver, and you get DRM-free downloads at no extra cost if you purchase CD's.

  7. Phil Endecott Silver badge

    The three following Tom Baker all blend together into a confusion of rubbish in my memory, but I've voted for Peter Davidson because his appearance made me think at the time "but he's Tristan off All Creatures Great And Small". Sylvester McCoy was probably even worse as the Doctor - he just clowned - but at least I could look at him without thinking about him having his arm up a cow.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      You just saved me some typing.

    2. Phuq Witt

      Peter Davison's Appearance.

      "...I've voted for Peter Davidson because his appearance made me think at the time "but he's Tristan off All Creatures Great And Small"...

      When I look at Peter Davison [in whatever he's in], all I can see is beige. I reckon he even bleeds beige. He's like cardboard made flesh.

      And he brought all those qualities to his portrayal of 'the Doc'.

      1. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: Peter Davison's Appearance.

        Didn't notice your post before, but I thought exactly the same thing elsewhere!

  8. GitMeMyShootinIrons

    For me, the worst would be Sylvester - but I tend to think it more the fault of the scripts and storylines than the actor. By this point, the series had truely devolved to a children's TV series. If Auntie aren't careful, Peter Capaldi could be heading down a similar path - a good actor hamstrung with poor storylines.

    For me, though, the best would be Tom Baker. It's the hat, scarf and maniacal eyes!

    1. Tom 13

      Re: and maniacal eyes!

      Have you seen him as Rasputin in the 1971 Nicholas and Alexandra?

      He was wonderful.

  9. croaker

    Sylvester McCoy

    His run was appalling but it wasn't his fault - he did his best with shite scripts, shite special effects and shite supporting actors

    1. Steve Crook

      Re: Sylvester McCoy

      I'd agree, except I'm not utterly convinced he'd have been better had the scripts etc. been better. But we'll never know. He certainly did suffer from the concerted effort of the BBC to rid itself of Dr Who by making it so crap no-one would watch. I'd always assumed he was part of the plan...

      Ironic that its become such a big thing for the BBC all over again, despite still having more than its fair share of dodgy stories, scripts and effects.

      For me, the one thing that would improve Dr Who out of all recognition would be to have the sonic screwdriver banned or at least not allowed anywhere near the last 20 minutes of any episode. At least then stories would have to rely on something else for that 'with one bound he was free' moment.

      Keep going back to it, watching a bit, not liking it, and still hoping that one day I will fall in love all over again.

      1. Paul Shirley

        Re: Sylvester McCoy

        The Big Finish audio stories confirmed that given a good script McCoy was a great doctor, much darker than the new series has managed. It surprised me after the shite tv episodes but yes, we can and do know.

        Colin baker has to be the worst, bitterness just isn't interesting and that was about all he brought to the part. Eccleston and Davison are close behind.

      2. Phuq Witt

        Re: Sylvester McCoy

        "...For me, the one thing that would improve Dr Who out of all recognition would be to have the sonic screwdriver banned or at least not allowed anywhere near the last 20 minutes of any episode..."

        There was a similar problem back in the day, when Tom Baker got saddled with the irritating K-9 who, likewise, tended to provide a tension spoiling 'Get out of jail free' card for every cliffhanging situation. I think that's why they got rid of the irritating hound.

      3. Tom 13

        Re: have the sonic screwdriver banned

        I concur that the sonic needs to go back to being the sonic instead of the ex machina Tool. Having watched the episode in which it was introduced, it was cool. I can even buy off on it opening mechanical locks by finding the right frequency. But this tricorder in a round thing with Treknology sensors plus stunner mode has got to go.

      4. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: Sylvester McCoy

        They deliberately destroyed the sonic screwdriver during one of Davison's episodes, pretty much for that reason..

    2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Sylvester McCoy

      He was the one who finally had me switching off. It probably wasn't solely his fault, just that it had become a pile of shite and he was mired in it.

    3. Steven Jones

      Re: Sylvester McCoy

      Agreed that they were crappy scripts, but then they were playing to a political agenda and he was part of that. When you subjugate story lines to something completely unconnected, then that's what happens. Of course it's not that the most recent incarnations haven't been showing tendencies that way, but at has tried to be a little subversive to its own liberal line (although rather failing recently).

    4. Tom 13

      Re: Sylvester McCoy

      Don't forget the shite technical support including sound.

  10. xeroks

    Bonnie Langford

    Ok, she wasn't a Doctor, but I think she was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. I don't recall actually watching an episode with her in it, so she might have been fantastic. She just had too much establishment baggage with her.

    The production values, etc, and weekday slots were probably the real issues.

  11. Alistair Dabbs

    Tom Baker knock-offs

    You could rephrase the question as: "Which is your least-favourite embarrassing and desperate copy of Tom Baker?"

    After William Hartnell, each actor to play Doctor Who did it differently from the previous (re)generation. But after Tom Baker's nutball Doctor in his long coat, scarf, wooly jumper etc, each subsequent actor just tried to copy the Tom Baker template, with rapidly decreasing returns.

    For this, I blame Peter Davison, who also did a lot to make the series overly child-friendly. Scowling Colin Baker looked uncomfortable in Tom Baker's jolly clothes and gave up. Poor old Sly McCoy got the thinnest of all wedges: same tired "madcap" outfit and character AGAIN. But it was all Peter's fault.

    1. Trygve Henriksen

      Re: Tom Baker knock-offs

      I must agree.

      Here in Norway we have an expression 'Jumping after Wirkola' which pretty much defines the difficulty of following Tom Baker.

      The only way of doing it is really to do YOUR OWN THING, not to mimic whoever came before you.

      And that is what most actors did, until after Tom Baker.

      My favorite Doctor is Hartnell... As for who I voted worst... Bowler hat?

      1. linicks

        Re: Tom Baker knock-offs

        Interesting - never heard of that before. It also applies to other 'actoors'. One that springs to mind is David Jason - no matter what he is in, he is David Jason. Very few 'actoors' can change from who they are and actually create a new role that is different.

        Tom Baker changed that in Dr Who. He was the best.

        Here's some stuff :)

        Tom Baker Prime computer adverts


        1. phil dude
          IT Angle

          Re: Tom Baker knock-offs

          David Jason? Frost-Rincewind-Delboy-Granville-Dangermouse(!)

          The man is a fine actor...


          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Tom Baker knock-offs

            Mr. Toad

        2. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Tom Baker knock-offs

          Granville and Del Boy are totally different, then of course Blanco

        3. ChrisCabbage

          Re: Tom Baker knock-offs

          Oh I don't know, Dangermouse was his own man.

          ...erm, mouse!?

    2. Tom 13

      Re: Tom Baker knock-offs

      I have no idea what parallel world you fell out of, but please go directly back to it.

      Much of the criticism Davidson takes is because the Bebe tried to go exactly opposite of what Baker was doing. Both Eccleston an Smith have stated that they were looking to pre-Baker Doctors for some of the inspiration and mannerisms of their doctors.

  12. Fraggle850

    McCoy & Corbyn

    I picked Sylvester McCoy, loved the guy in children's telly as I was growing up but didn't like him as the doctor. Don't think it was his fault, suspect it was largely due to BBC nonsense.

    Tom Baker was definitely my favourite, with Pertwee a very close second.

    With regard to the second question, it obviously can't be JMcA because he's going to be busy sorting out the USA when he becomes president, also a tad too gung-ho for the doctor.

    I've gone for Corbyn simply because he's obviously eccentric and other-worldly. He also seems to have mastered time travel, although I do wonder whether his 1970's in the 21st century shtick will lead to some dimension-rending paradox that will destroy us all (probably a good reason to give him access to the Tardis?)

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: McCoy & Corbyn

      Anyone else remember Sylvester McCoy and David Rappaport as a superhero double-act? What kids' programme was that in?

      1. Dr. G. Freeman

        Re: McCoy & Corbyn

        Jigsaw. They were the O-men.

        1. Little Mouse

          Re: McCoy & Corbyn

          Jigsaw. Ah man - that was the business. And the O-Men were the best thing about it. Pants-wettingly funny.

          I still feel bitter about never receiving my sheet of stickers though. ALL correct answers were supposed to get sent a sheet of stickers. The answer was "S.I.M.P.L.E.". I got it right so where are my stickers? It's been 35 years, FFS.

          Unless it was Pepper, not Salt that Noseybonk sprinkled on his sandwich. In which case the answer would have been "P.I.M.P.L.E.", but I don't think it was.

          Mrs Mouse says I should "Forgive and forget", but that's easier said than done.

      2. Fraggle850

        Re: McCoy & Corbyn

        Oddly enough, having mentioned S McCoy's children's telly work I was channel surfing after a few shandies on Saturday evening and noticed that a new local TV channel was showing a mid seventies episode of Tiswas - lo and behold one S McCoy! Coincidence? Or evidence that McCoy is in fact a real timelord and this was played to me to obscure that fact and preserve temporal integrity?

  13. linicks

    Just thinking...

    This is a stupid vote really. I am 56 next month, and can remember all the Doctor's (including going to the cinema to see Peter Cushing as the Doctor in the 60's).

    There are going to be people voting here who haven't even seen some of the earlier Doctors in action - let alone know the story lines!

    1. Steve Crook

      Re: Just thinking...

      "There are going to be people voting here who haven't even seen some of the earlier Doctors in action"

      That can't stop the hate :-)

      There are of course DVD box sets, Netflix.

      1. linicks

        Re: Just thinking...

        "There are of course DVD box sets, Netflix"

        But they don't work at 16:55 on a Saturday night watching from behind the sofa.

        1. Steve Crook

          Re: Just thinking...

          Ahhhh, those were the days. FWIW I'm 59, and can remember Hartnell (just) and I most certainly did spend a lot of time peering out from behind furniture.

        2. Kiwi Silver badge

          Re: Just thinking...

          But they don't work at 16:55 on a Saturday night watching from behind the sofa.

          That you Jeff???? (see my earlier post later in the thread.. :) )

        3. Simon Harris Silver badge

          Re: Just thinking...

          "But they don't work at 16:55 on a Saturday night watching from behind the sofa."

          ... and you don't get the same anticipation at 17.25 after the cliffhanger waiting a week for the next episode.

      2. M7S

        Re: Just thinking...

        For Old Who at less than the extortionate prices for the DVDs, try The Horror Channel (Freeview 70) which is currently running most of them in some sort of order, mind you we're reaching The Mark of the Rani so it may all come to a halt soon as I suspect they've not purchased "new who", but its around two episodes each weekday morning with a repeat of those each afternoon as well. Hopefully it will loop back to what remains on tape of the early doctors when they finish but that remains to be seen.

        They used to do compilations (out of order) on a Sunday but they seem not to have run for a few weeks.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Just thinking...

          the horror channel aren't actually repeating that many there are loads and loads of missing episodes :o(

        2. Simon Harris Silver badge

          Re: Just thinking...

          'I suspect they've not purchased "new who"'

          Netflix has most of those - you should be able to get through the good episodes in your free trial month if you're not already signed up.

    2. Quip

      Re: Just thinking...

      I am 61 and remember seeing the very first episode. I think the third doctor was about last I saw. So best: Hartnel, worst —don't really know— I assume like everything when you reach your seventh decade, it is all just going downhill in a handcart.

      "peering out from behind furniture"—not me but I remember my younger brother finding the opening graphic music too scary to watch.

  14. EddieD

    Hard to choose.

    My first memory of Dr Who was a monochrome Troughton being offered a series of different faces which he rejected (too old, too young etc). Then Jon Pertwee fell out of the Tardis in colour, and my Saturday evenings became fairly bound by ritual...

    Throughout the 70s I watched as Pertwee became Baker - and then I turned 16 in 1980, got a girlfriend, and all of a sudden I had something far better to do of a Saturday afternoon, so I didn't really watch much after that - and in 1982 I went to Uni, and telly became a rare treet - so I only have occasional episodes to base my opinions on.

    In the end, it had to be Ecclestone. I really didn't like his portrayal of the character...I can't judge Matt Smith as you can number the episodes I saw with him on the fingers of one head...

  15. Pax681


    The Fifth Doctor – Peter Davison

    The Sixth Doctor – Colin Baker

    The Seventh Doctor – Sylvester McCoy

    The Eighth Doctor – Paul McGan

    All plain shite.

    1. Chadzo

      Re: blech

      I have to agree Peter Davidson was the beginning of a decline that bottomed out with Colin Baker. He was horrible. The next two were shite as well but I don't despise them like I do Baker.

      Let's face it, none of those guys could life Tom Baker's sonic screwdriver!

      1. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: blech

        I think the problem with Peter Davison for me was not just that he had some rather large shoes to fill, but that he'd just previously been a rather piss-poor vet.

        It took a lot to get over the new Doctor being Tristan Farnon.

  16. john devoy

    Sylvester McCoy was worst but it wasn't all his fault, he got some truly awful scripts.

  17. TheProf

    Not voting

    It's all very well saying 'Tom Baker was brilliant and everyone else was rubbish' but have you actually watched all the Tom Baker stuff? I mean really watched it?

    While he did make the part his own, I'd say he was the definitive Doctor, he did do some bloody awful stories and his acting to the camera in some of them is downright embarrassing.

    Each of the actors have brought something special to the role and to point at one and say 'you're the worst' is, frankly, in poor taste.

    Plus you're really going to have a lot of actors who won't be giving you the time of day after this. See Doctor Who Magazine no. 489 for how 'upset' some actors can get about this sort of thing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not voting

      Good point. It started out as "Tom Baker is The Doctor" and towards the end you could see "TOM Baker IS the Doctor"

      There are times when his understanding of the character he created counteracts a script oversight and there are others when he dominates because there isn't forceful director to hold him check, or a supporting actor who won't be cowed.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: have you actually watched all the Tom Baker stuff?



      And honestly, some of the cheesy special effects are what are so endearing. Including the bit where they keep running down the same stairwell in one of the chase scenes and he makes a joke about it.

  18. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    A Yank's Opinion

    I never liked McCoy's era but I will second the many comments that was not really his fault. I never saw any of the Hartnell episodes.

    1. Trygve Henriksen

      Re: A Yank's Opinion

      Not seen any Hartnell episodes?

      As far as I know, they're available on DVD(I have them) and from what I understand, at least some of the stuff can be found if you use the right search terms on a popular videosharing site.

      In other words; there is no excuse for not seeing them.

    2. Phuq Witt

      Re: A Yank's Opinion

      "...I never saw any of the Hartnell episodes..."

      Hartnell [and Troughton] were before my time, but I've subsequently downloaded them all and watched them.

      For me the worst thing about [especially] the Hartnell era is the exclusive use of [apparently tiny] studio-based filming which makes each episode almost unbearably claustrophobic to watch: the characters may be supposed to be exploring a vast alien jungle or sprawling city, but they spend almost the entire episode standing almost on top of each other beside the same couple of trees or doorway. The sense of "don't take a step to the left, or you'll walk off set" is palpable.

      On the up-side, watching Hartnell fluff his lines regularly while the rest of the cast try to soldier on around him is quite amusing [albeit cruel, given that his deteriorating health was the cause of this].

  19. x 7 Silver badge

    so who's the medievalist who set the questions?

    "The nineth doctor"????!!!!

  20. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge

    Er, isn't this poll a...

    ... pointless distraction?

    Best "companion" please.

    {Fnar, fnar}

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Er, isn't this poll a...

      Well that's surely going to come down to Lalla Ward (a proper lady, extra points for doing four episodes in a school uniform) or Jenna-Louise Coleman. While I am disappointed the whole Impossible Girl thing seems to have been forgotten, she does cute quite well and I feel is more interesting than many of the recent companions (Amy Pond was also good, but ultimately let down in the end as the stories with her and Rory got increasingly ridiculous, even by Whovian standards).

      Just. Don't. Mention. Bonnie Bloody. Langford.

      1. Phuq Witt
        Thumb Up

        Re: Er, isn't this poll a...

        "...Well that's surely going to come down to Lalla Ward..."

        Pffft! –Louise Jameson [Leela] and Mary Tamm [the original Romana] by a mile.

        In fact, I've often thought the shot where Tom Baker recovers consciousness to find Romana standing over him, wearing a long slit-sided dress –and the cameraman pans slowly up her legs to her face– may very well have provided the breakthrough moment in my childhood, when I suddenly realised my willy wasn't just for wee-ing out of and that it could move all by itself.

        1. lorisarvendu

          Re: Er, isn't this poll a...

          "Pffft! –Louise Jameson [Leela] and Mary Tamm [the original Romana] by a mile."

          Nope. Jo Grant every time for a pubescent 70s boy. Mini-skirt, kinky boots, and the ever-hovering promise of a flash of knicker...

  21. Bruce Ordway

    Dr Who vs. the writers?

    When Doctor Who is mentioned I see Tom Baker, Lalla Ward and K9.

    I actually like Peter Capaldi and Jenna-Louise Coleman too.

    Rather than compare actors, I get a bit more interested in comparing previous writers with the current crop.

    I have fond memories of a low tech, campy and fun to watch.

    The version I was first exposed in the U.S.(around 1983).

    Recently the more serious themes and emotional baggage are detracting from my viewing pleasure. Think about character of Danny Pink. Who would write this way and why? When Danny wasn't boring me completely, he just came off as mildly creepy or even sad.

    Even if it's not as light as I'd like, I think Doctor Who still > most other shows.

    1. Wibble

      Re: Dr Who vs. the writers?

      Ugh, Jenna-Louise Coleman. IMHO easily the worst companion ever. Poorly cast and just poorly acted. I'd even prefer Ace to that wooden "impossible gurl". Struth, K9 has more feeling.

      For me the best companion was Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane). Something about her.

  22. EL Vark

    Matt Effing Smith

    As has been strongly addressed, the best actor is only as good as the lines they're handed. Prior to Smith's smirking boyishness, for which Moffat has a lot to answer, I'd single out Colin Baker who just sort of bugged me but, again, he had to work with what he was given. I liked McCoy despite the scripts and was as fond of Davison as was possible after Tom Baker had established himself as the de facto Doctor. Pertwee was my first by a smidgen past Troughton, but most of what I loved about his tenure was spelled "Katy Manning". Ohh, Katy...

    Right, I'm back. Does anyone, anyone at all, really count McGann as a/the Doctor? How does a single, tepid, Hollywood "movie" provide him any standing despite the shoehorned script continuity? If McGann counts, so does Cushing, and without question far moreso. Since I like Eccleston, Tennant, and Capaldi in general, I'll give each of them a "meh" and a pass, no matter how poor the plots. Smith, though, got me to stop watching until he was replaced.

    1. x 7 Silver badge

      Re: Matt Effing Smith

      "If McGann counts, so does Cushing"

      Cushing can't count because the continuity doesn't work. Cushing's character was an eccentric English human professor actually named "Dr Who", not a Gallifreyan Time Lord renegade with an unknown identity

      besides which, the McGann film was made with input from the BBC and was intended to be a series relaunch (which failed to happen), while the two Cushing films were nothing to do with the BBC. The characterisations were changed enough to avoid copyright issues - and deliberately breach continuity, even though the plot lines were lifted from the TV series

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Matt Effing Smith

        No mention of Galifrey until Troughton as far as I remember. Early Hartnell references being from another time, not so much another planet.

        Does anybody but raving OCD fans really care about canon, certainly not the producers or writers.

      2. graeme leggett

        Re: Matt Effing Smith

        The film makers paid BBC and Terry Nation for rights to make film as adaption of the tv stories.

        Not a question of avoiding copyright issues but adapting to make the film of more broad appeal to other markets eg USA.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Matt Effing Smith

      McGann's credentials as The Doctor include a series of audios broadcast on BBC radio (commissioned from Big Finish) and 70-odd novels (published by BBC books from 97 to 2005)

      The writers of the latter include people who have contributed to new era Doctor Who/Torchwood/SJA.

    3. Boris Blank

      Re: Matt Effing Smith

      McGann was the only good thing about the TV movie. His performances in the early Big Finish audios are first class and, for me, cement his position as a "real" incarnation of the Doctor. Anyone wanting to dip in should seek out the early adventures from the monthly range or the stories with Sheridan Smith as companion. A TV spinoff starring Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith could be amazing with the right production team and a willingness to diverge from Nu Who's cliches.

      As for the worst, it has to be Colin Baker. Regardless of any arguments about the writing, after all Tom Baker made some truly dire episodes watchable, CB's acting and delivery was always too overblown and stagey, pulling the material down rather than lifting it. Everyone I knew *hated* his performance at the time and saying he was a victim of circumstance is a rather more recent bit of revisionism.

  23. CanadianMacFan

    Seems like

    From the comments on here the problem is less with the actual Doctor and more with the people behind the scenes.

  24. Andalou

    I promise I am not just being contrarian. I think Tom Baker's was the worst. Tom Baker is a great charismatic person - but he is Tom Baker. He played Tom Baker not the Doctor.

    1. Phuq Witt

      Baker's Doesn't

      "...I promise I am not just being contrarian. I think Tom Baker's was the worst. Tom Baker is a great charismatic person - but he is Tom Baker. He played Tom Baker not the Doctor..."

      As I recall it, Tom Baker was pretty much unknown [at least to us kids] before playing Dr. Who. So it may be fairer to say that his stereotyping/typecasting has happened subsequent to that. As he was so larger-than-life as Dr. Who, everyone employing him since then is probably asking him to play <whatever part> in a similar fashion.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: stereotyping/typecasting has happened subsequent to that


        For many years Baker was quite bitter about the whole thing. He couldn't get cast as anything BUT another Dr. Who type character. It is why they pulled footage from old shoots to trap him in some sort of anomaly in The Five Doctors. He refused to come in to shoot new scenes lest he become even more trapped in the role.

  25. Dalek Dave

    Worst Timelord?

    Well of course if one were to answer the question posed, the worst Timelord would have to be Paul Jericho - "No, Not the Mind Probe" (and he was lucky it was his mind they wanted to probe.

    Of course the Timelord who came to warn JP that the Master was on Earth at the beginning of Terror of the Autons was a bit rubbish too.

    I am not sure if Andred counts, is a guard captain of the Chancellery Guard a Timelord or just a Gallifreyan?

    I suspect that the question probably should be enquiring as to who is your least favourite DOCTOR, in which case I would have to insist it was the Very Junior Mr Popplewick.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just has to be Pertwee

    Played the part like a complete clown. Didn't like his Doctor then and still don't.

    Just hope the new series manages to get away from thr recent overburden of very obvious man-in-a-rubber-suit aliens

    1. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: Just has to be Pertwee

      Yeah I gather there just blokes in skin tight spandex with reflective skeletal balls with which to fix CGI Monsters with now.

  27. Chris King Silver badge

    Other Time Lords are also available...

    I'm surprised we've got this far in the discussion without a mention of the Minister of Chance.

    The title character is loosely based on a character from the BBC's early "webcast" series "Death Comes to Time", but played by Julian Wadham instead of Stephen Fry.

    If you're fed up with bad scripts in Who, give this a go. Imagine a Time Lord with no TARDIS, no sonic screwdriver and a companion who keeps screaming "TOSSER !!" at him - sort of like the old-school Doctors who had to *think* their way out of trouble without having convenient plot devices to save their skins.

    This was crowd-funded, but the first series is now available for free on iTunes:

    (There was an official MP3 version up on SoundCloud, but I can't seem to find it now)

    A second series is in development, and they're looking for funding for a film version.

  28. CmdrX3

    I thought Doctor Who was going to come back again but I fear we we in for another series of "The Adventures of Clara and Her Time Travelling Companion".

    My favourites by the way are Baker, Ecclestone and Tennant.

    1. Chadzo

      Pertwee grows on you, and no one palyed the Master like Roger Delgado.

      1. Cthonus

        Roger Delgado was a fantastic villain - charming, erudite and thoroughly untrustworthy.

        The latest reincarnations have been less menancing and more 'care-in-the-communty' psychotic. I like to think some people are just very very bad without having to give them a mental illness to justify their lack of compassion. Delgado glowered. Simm girned.

  29. Ed Courtenay

    The Real McCoy

    Poor old Seven had no chance - on telly at least. Saddled with Bonnie Langford's Mel Bush for starters after Six had a lucky escape from her carrot juice regimes and then moving on to Sophie Aldred's Ace (don't get me wrong, I like Sophie Aldred, but Ace was just awful), and coupled with some of the worst stories ever associated with the Timelord (Delta and the Bannermen, The Happiness Patrol, Silver Nemesis, Dragonfire... I could go on...), Seven's tenure seemed like a calculated attempt to kill the show off for ever.

    Needless to say, I despised Seven.

    That said, some of the Big Finish audio plays featuring Seven have been superb - the Klein trilogy from 2010 (A Thousand Tiny Wings, Survival of the Fittest and The Architects of History) being a great example. I've found myself looking forward to Seven's stories more and more - even Ace has turned into a decent character (especially when played off against Philip Oliver's Hex).

    I still can't stomach Bonnie Langford though.

    1. TheProf

      Re: The Real McCoy

      Some of the best stories ever?

      Remembrance of the Daleks


      The Curse of Fenric


      All a matter of taste admittedly. Viewed in a sympathetic way, Survival was the template for NuWho.

  30. cosymart

    John - Wurzell Gummage - Pertwee

    Played the whole thing as himself, couldn't act his way out of a paper bag.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: John - Wurzell Gummage - Pertwee

      Jon please not John

  31. Richard Wharram

    Defence of Colin Baker

    I really liked where he tried to take the character. Sure he was still quirky (and was made to wear a fucking stupid suit by the Beeb) but he was also a bit ruthless when needed and other-worldly. In some ways the only Dr to try to hark back to Hartnell (vaguely.)

    Unfortunately this was, in-the-main, the nadir of the beeb's effort towards Dr Who. There were a few good serials but most were fucking terrible :) Not really Colin's fault though.

    Same with Sylvester but personally I wasn't as interested in the new direction of the character. Mostly clowny but with a subtle darkness underneath. Mmm, interesting but subtlety can get missed on a kids show.

    Anyway, I voted for Eccleston. Just didn't strike me as Dr Who. Might have voted for Smith but I've slept through so many of his eps I don't really know.

  32. Stephen W Harris

    Colin Baker, by a mile.

    I'm gonna go against many people and say the McCoy was a really good Doctor. He's definitely in the top half. Yes there were some crappy stories (especially in his first season), but there were some good ones as well (I really liked Silver Nemesis, Battlefield, Remembrance, Fenric, Survival).

    Colin Baker, though... ugh.

    From the old series:

    Hartnell: grumpy old man

    Troughton: bit of a clown, flighty, panics

    Pertwee: action man, "snazzy" dresser, kindly gentleman

    Tom Baker (my favourite): joker, tried to be mysterious

    Davison: weak, always a step behind

    Colin Baker: arrogant arsehole, worst Doctor evuh

    McCoy: brough some sense of fun back, had some good and _awful_ scripts

    McGann... I try to forget that film.

    Modern Who...

    Eccleston: a good way to reboot. Chipper, not too serious, dynamic

    Tennant: started off a little too wild and short-attention-span but settled down. In the end I think I liked him more than Eccleston.

    Smith: started far too young and was far too weak; too many echoes of Tennant. But grew into the role.

    Capaldi: grumpy old arsehole. Not liking him, so far.

    Now I'm hoping this upcoming series will be better. I think there's potential, but so far he's the worst of the new Doctors and possibly the second worst Doctor thus far.

    1. Paul Shirley

      Re: Colin Baker, by a mile.

      Capaldi: grumpy old arsehole in a zimmer frame.

      Maybe the writers will work out how to script around a near pensioner actor, last season felt so slow and static. Clara is the only thing holding it together right now, much like the semi clad eye-candy did in the Davison and Baker days. Which is very sad :(

  33. Stevie Silver badge


    Peter Cushing was the worst doctor. Like all the other "terrible Doctors", mostly because of the scripts he had to work with.

    But somehow he didn't make your poll.

  34. Efros

    I'm definitely in the minority

    I couldn't stand Jon Pertwee, the foppish clothes, the ridiculous car, and worst of all being stuck on Earth, 70s UK FFS I was living it I didn't need to see it on TV as a SF drama. Colin Baker was next worse and Tom Baker by far and away the best, with Troughton coming in second. Not keen on Capaldi, but I think a lot of that is to do with the irritating assistant. Next Doctor, Sanjeev Kohli as his Still Game character.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm definitely in the minority

      Not saying this to change your mind, you didn't like it, fair enough.

      From a behind-the-scene's viewpoint, the first Jon Pertwee series saved Doctor Who at the time. Ratings had been falling and costs of alien world sets and costumes were high. For similar reasons to Ecclestone series making a success of it coming back. The "grounding" with contemporary earth made it cheaper to produce and gave the audience something to relate to.

  35. ZootCadillac

    I wanted to vote for "every one since John Pertwee" as I am a gentleman of a certain age. I don't even know what this modern toss they turn out today is supposed to be.

  36. Allan George Dyer Silver badge


    How can John McAfee be in the poll for next Doctor, let alone actually (currently - hoping for an outbreak of sanity here, guys) in the lead!? One of the core character traits of the Doctor is his never using a gun, whereas John, by all accounts, considers them the solution to all problems.

    Now, John McAfee as the Master... yes, he's got that air of fun and hedonism that sucks you in until the ultimate plan is revealed is unredeemable evil, plus the capricious, random acts of violence.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Incompatibility!

      "One of the core character traits of the Doctor is his never using a gun"

      oh, the Doctor uses them from time to time

      Talons of Weng Chiang - against giant rat

      Horror of Fang Rock - improvised from a rocket launcher

      Invasion of Time - demat gun


      Resurrection of the Daleks

      Attack of the Cybermen

      1. lorisarvendu

        Re: Incompatibility!

        No to mention Pertwee, who guns down Ogrons with relish in "Day of the Daleks".

  37. DiViDeD Silver badge

    Just my tuppenny spanner, but

    In my experience, every new doctor who has been the worst ever, at least for the first series. The writers are still doing scripts for his predecessor, and the audience is still thinking 'Oh, he's not as good as x, is he?'

    I think the exception was Eccleston. We'd been waiting so long, we'd have been happyif he was played by a one legged kezbian midget with a cleft palate.

  38. Yugguy


    Being a northerner I liked that he wasnt default posh bloke. And he can certainly act. Just wish he didnt have his head up his arse about it.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Eccleston

      I can understand ecclestons point of view though. He desperately wants his carreer not to be just associated with his one year stint on a BBC sci-fi show. He want's to be recognized as a good actor. not just as a good Doctor Who. And given the carreers of many of the previous doctors he DOES run the risk of forever being associated with just that one role.

      On top of that he didn't exactly leave on the best of terms with the production team from what I understand.

  39. Ian Emery Silver badge

    A MAJOR flaw in the poll

    Whenever you talk about who will be the next Who, you HAVE to mention Joanna Lumley!!!

    BTW, it would have been interesting to see how many votes Peter Cushing got; are you biased against big screen Who??

    1. Esme

      Re: A MAJOR flaw in the poll

      Agreed. When they made such a huge fuss about who would play the next doctor, I was thinking to myself 'crikey, maybe it's going to be a woman, Joanna Lumley could play a superb Dr Who'. Then, after all that fuss, it was another bloke again. Sigh... Oh, well, at least he's a good actor, and then.. sigh - utter shite for scripts, I stopped watching after three episodes. Nothing against Mr Capaldi, just the dire scripts and some apalling SFX (the amazing shrinking/growing before your eyes dinosaur was partiularly bad. In this day and age, no excuse for not scaling it consistently to its surroundings)

      IMO, it's the quality of the script followed by quality of the production that has tended to make or break individual Who episodes. The actors they've had have all been at least competent, but there's only so much you can do with a bad script or poor production.

  40. imanidiot Silver badge

    No enough reference material

    I haven't watched all the old doctor material (watched series 10 through 20 of old Who at some point) so I can't really comment on the old series. When it comes to the new series I find Capaldi so far to be a bit sub par. Too much attention goes to Clara and too little to the Doctor, which means he comes off as just a grumpy twat instead of a grumpy Doctor.

    Ever since I saw the first few episodes with him I get the feeling there COULD be more to it. I just hope the writing team have the same sort of idea I'm having. It would explain the whole dynamic and his grumpyness. That he is depressed. He's getting himself in danger and leaving it to Clara to save them because he's having self destructive tendencies. He picked her because he doesn't actually want things to end and she's capable of protecting him, but this means all this burden falls on her shoulders and becomes the grumpy git we see now. Incapable of taking action. I can imagine an episode with him trapped in a galactic insane asylum of some sort talking to a psychologist after much running about and avoiding the issue. "Yes, I'm angry. I'm angry at you, angry at Clara, angry at the Timelords, angry at the Tardis for getting me lost all the time, angry at the Daleks, angry I trapped my people outside of time, angry about failing so many people, angry of letting so many die, angry that I wasn't the Doctor all those times I should have been". Or Clara telling him: "I can't keep you out of trouble any more. I just can't do it. You need help"

  41. x 7 Silver badge

    best serious candidate for the next Doctor would be Richard Armitage

  42. Apprentice Human

    Errr, have people forgot the abysmal movie with Peter Cushing. A great, great actor but an abysmal movie!

    1. x 7 Silver badge

      there were TWO Cushing movies

    2. Phuq Witt

      Cushing Numbers

      The two Cushing movies were dire. But I think [once again] a lot of the blame lies with the side-kicks. Bernard Cribbins and Roy Castle both played it for laughs, complete with irritating Chaplin-esque 'pratt-falls' which, even as a kid, completely ruined the movies for me.

      It's all very well being able to laugh at the silliness and/or campness of series like Dr. Who and Star Trek from the lofty heights of subsequent adulthood. But it's important that the actors at the time play their parts as if they believe in them.

      1. Yugguy

        Re: Cushing Numbers

        As a kid I loved the Cushing films, especially the Dalek one where they climb up the fake cliff looking tired.

  43. Bill M

    Jeremy Corbyn would make a great Doctor Who.

  44. Richard Lloyd

    McCoy, but mainly because the stories were awful

    I hated the McCoy era with a passion, but it was the terrible scripts (the Bertie Bassett one in particular) that mostly contributed towards that. Remember that there was a 16-year gap (ignoring the McGann failed one-off) to the next Who TV series...that's the legacy that the horrible McCoy era left behind.

    Since the 2005 reboot, I've found Dr. Who to be wildly inconsistent - 1 or 2 good stories per series and an awful lot of sub-standard stories padding each series. It's certainly not a "must see" any more.

  45. Michael Habel Silver badge

    I voted for Tennant, he should have left the show 'bout the same time as blondy. Yes he was likeable, perhaps too much so. I expect to be sh--caned to death by all the fangirls out there. 'Cause I just dumped on Mr. Dreamy

    Apropos the McCoy haters... It seems to me that Capaldi seems to be suffering much the same problems... i.e. crappy scripts, or at best mondaine ones. I suspect this is do to Nu-Whos 45 Minute Format though. But he's already a better Doctor in that he seems to be the anti fangirl Doctor.

    1. x 7 Silver badge

      "sh--caned to death"

      I've heard the american expression "shit-canned" before, but shit-caned? Thats a new perversion. Sounds like school-play BDSM with a messy twist. Where does one go to experience it?

  46. Alien8n Silver badge


    Quite a few comments regarding the costumes. I seem to remember though that they weren't forced to wear the costumes, they were basically given access to the BBC costume department and told to choose what they believed their Dr Who should wear. After that there were a few "quirks" added, such as the recurring theme of the question mark. Certainly all the recent incarnations chose their own costumes, with Peter Capaldi working very closely with the costume department to design his look.

  47. Zot

    It's the writers and the budget that affect Dr Who. The fact that Smith only had a few episodes was pretty terrible. The show will be cancelled when it becomes even more pantomime and cheap.

    And someone please stop Moffat from writing any more!!

    1. Alien8n Silver badge

      For the budget they certainly have the best special FX team going. Dr Who's special effects are done by Millennium FX, owned by a guy I went to school with. They aren't your usual "hire a bunch of theatrical make-up artists on the cheap", their credits include the special FX on Saving Private Ryan and From Hell as well as others. Which also ironically puts me only 2 degrees of Kevin Bacon away from anyone working on Doctor Who in the last few years :)

      Have to agree about Moffat's writing though, not a patch on his earlier stuff. We need more Neil Gaiman stories...

      1. graeme leggett

        "We need more Neil Gaiman stories..."

        Nightmare in Silver was one of the lower rated (by AI) episodes of that season.

        1. Alien8n Silver badge

          The quality of his writing overall though has been pretty good. But then again Moffat's earlier stuff was also good, his later stuff has been appalling. Saying that the same can be said for most of Moffat's work, the first couple of series of Sherlock were excellent, and then series 3 was a mess. Is it just me or does series 3's Moriarty come across a bit too much like the Master? Then again you could half expect Sherlock to pull out a sonic screwdriver in series 3...

      2. Jagged

        Based on the ones he's written so far, I disagree.

  48. Mark York 3 Silver badge

    Megabyte Modem

    I had to go with Colin (sorry) rather than Sly & mainly due to "The Trial...."(the last part especially).

    Production values, scripting, Bonnie fucking Langford & all applied to either of them, but the one thing I can't really forgive is the phrase Megabyte Modem.

    PS Why wasn't The Valeyard in the list....

  49. pewpie

    Missing two valid options from the vote.

    1 - None of the above.

    2 - All of the above.

    I opt for the latter.

  50. TheresaJayne

    Colin Baker was the worst,

    Sylvester McCoy was in my opinion one of the best, the character was perfect, the Script writers were pants.

    I loved the interplay of Doctor Versus Ace that personal interchange made that incarnation.

    On another note What about the Other Doctor? Peter Cushing also played the doctor in Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.

  51. TheresaJayne

    As for the best doctor, Since Tom Baker the Best has been David Tennant. Without a doubt.

    Soooo yummy as well.

  52. Kiwi Silver badge

    Grew up with Mr Baker..

    Tom Baker that is. He was my favourite. With K9 and Sara(?), made a good team for a boy who had yet to be introduced to some of the really good Sci Fi that came later (eg Babylon 5) or the utter shite (eg DS9). In fact my most enduring memory (bar one involving David Tennant and an item that looks like something I built for another production company a year or two before that particular episode was filmed - BBC cannot give me an episode either way) is K9 and Sarah leaving..

    The guy who followed (played a vet in another series I believe) wasn't too bad either. And I caught some of the earlier ones as well.. Thankfully (I think) I missed McCoy, having summer and outdoors and all sorts of fun we won't get into here... Some of the "special effects" from earlier ones were special in the sense of "severely retarded" - I still remember seeing the poles used to move giant maggots and later the ground they moved on bouncing as someone ran over it (2nd doctor), and the early cybermen who were more comedy than threat (but I did have one weird friend who was absolutely terrified of them (at 10!) and tearfully threatened to tell his mother we were watching horror movies!) But the comedic value of these helped make the episodes watchable.

    Very close 2nd fav would be David Tennant and Rose. Lucky that they got rid of that other guy (Eccleston or something like that), he nearly killed if for me. But where he failed, Matt Smith all but succeeded. Although maybe he improved some towards the end, caught a couple of his latter eps and they were watchable.

    However, Capaldi is the one who has probably ended it for me completely. Well, him and RTD (aka

    "Ruined The Doctor"). I actually tried a couple of episodes recently.. "Trying" isn't really the word though. Bye Doc, thanks for all the fish fingers...

  53. MJI Silver badge

    My thoughts

    Baggage does not help.

    So not keen on Tristan Farnon, slightly annoying childrens presenter and the professional northerner.

    Tom Baker at first unsure as he replaced the first one I remembered, ended up being one of the best.

    But baggage goes both ways with Wurzel Gummage.

    Current Doctor is too well known from previous work.

    To be honest SM was let down by poor funds and some silly scripts. CE on the other hand let down the fans with his lack of interest.

  54. steamrunner

    It's funny how time, the times, memory, the march of progress (TV production) and perceived wisdom affect things like this. (And personally, I find this article rather baiting and even somewhat rather (indirectly) offensive to some very (very!) fine actors, when really it's always about the whole show.

    There is no 'worst' Doctor, at least not actor- or acting-wise — and probably not any-other-wise either. They are all, to a degree, a product of their times, budgets and productions. Each of the persons that played him were accomplished, quality actors. Each of them has moments that shine, and even out-shine many of the more normal moments of all the others. All of them — yes, every single one — has duff moments too, be it bad stories, dodgy acting (usually by others, not always), forgetting lines, wobbly sets, egos, an indifferent BBC or a struggling production team. I've finally come to love all of him, each of him for what he's worth. Yes, there is naffness (the mid 80s brightness control? early 70s CGI and ham acting? Chumblies? Quarks? The Myrka? Peter Kay? Large chunks of Tennant 'hero' action? Cop-out endings to numerous RTD and Moffat episodes? Pick your era!) but revisit some of those old adventures and you can't help but fall in love with tihs daft programme all over again, every time.

    [Mentioning no names, but I'd like to give a special nod to Big Finish for their audio work, and making so much more of the 80s Doctors, particularly Six, and Paul McGann's Eight — it's fabulous stuff! Eight in particular has become a bit of a favourite (oops! ;-). If you haven't checked the audios out, you should...].

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Worst episode ever the Peter Kay one.

      Best run of three in reboot, the two in the school fiollowed by Blink

  55. MJI Silver badge


    The fall of Moffat.

    From the best writing I have seen of DW, now the stories are contrived and messy.

    Best stories of the reboot will always be the relaunch Moffats in 1 2 3.

    Best Blink, then Girl in the Fireplace, followed by Empty Child/Doctor Dances.

    Since he has become show runner the stories have lost their magic.

    Someone please help him get that magic back.

    1. Jagged

      Re: Scripts

      Girl in the fireplace was great. My favourite is Being Human (think thats the title), was written for McCoy originally of course.

      1. Ed Courtenay

        Re: Scripts

        @Jagged: You're thinking of the Tennant two parter "Human Nature" / "The Family of Blood" that was adapted from Paul Cornell's novel "Human Nature"

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    old format

    I'd like to see a return to the old format of Dr Who ie episodes spread over 4 parts (mostly) rather than the current 1 episode per story which running time wise I suppose is 2 or 3 old format episodes long. One of the things that made Dr Who was the suspense aspect and that wanting to see next weeks to find out what is going to happen. Maybe times have changed and viewing habits have changed so this wouldn't work but I'd like to see it given a go.

    worst hmmmmmm Baker or McCoy and I don't think McGann really counts either (watched the film the other day it was pretty toilet) Matt Smith also got pretty annoying come the end.

  57. Simon Rockman

    Bear in mind

    One of the best episodes was "Blink" which pretty much didn't have the doctor in it.

    I really like Eccleston because he too the really difficult task of rejuvenating the programme the BBC had neglected and making it work. It's a shame he didn't stick around.

    Quite a lot of the "best" doctor comments reflect the age demographic of Reg readers.

    The programme needs to reflect on getting rid of K-9 because he made it too easy to get out of tricky situations and then doing exactly the same thing with the sonic screwdriver.


  58. Jay 2

    My fave was Tom Baker (funnily enough watched The Android Invasion and The Brain of Morbius over the weekend) as he was the incumbant Who during my youth. So he is the benchmark for me. I didn't mind Peter Davidson but admittedly I didn't see much of Colin Baker (who I voted for) and Sylvester McCoy.

    Going backwards I wasn't a great fan of Jon Pertwee because he was stuck on Earth (booring) and because I was constantly reminded of Worzel Gummage! I haven't seen too much of William Hartnell or Patrick Troughton.

    Of the reboots, I don't have too many complains about the Doctors themselves (not sure about Matt Smith though), but it's the companions and how they're written in that generally have spoiled it for me. I refused to watch the series when Catherine Tate was in it. For me there's too much touchy-feely/will-they-won't-they stuff going on, and as other commentards have pointed out, this is meant to be about Dr Who, not about the domestic lives of his companions. Also if you have a craft that can pretty much go anywhere in time and space, why does the TARDIS seem to keep going back to South London?

    I probably will watch the new series, but I can't say I'm overly excited about it. I just wish we could go back to companions being just that, and not some sort of love interest.

    1. Jagged

      I thought Catherine Tate was going to be terrible (I blame Peter Kay for putting me off the idea of comedians in Who) but she turned out to be a great actress and had some really good moments. She completely won me over.

      ps: and she was never there as a "will they won't they" love interest.

  59. Jagged

    There are No Bad Doctors

    Only bad stories.

    Unfortunately Colin Baker suffered the worst (stories and treatment) imo.

    McCoy simultaneously had some of the worst and best stories. Curse of Fenric was great. Lets just not mention anything with Bonnie Langford ... please ;)

  60. TeacherMARK

    It was crap before Jon Pertwee and it was crap after Tom baker.

    But worst of all were the stupid teenagers Eccleston and the small Scottish one that came after him. All they did was run around corridors and shout like girls. Pure shite!

  61. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    We aren't allowed to say...

    ,,, Peter Cushing then?

  62. BoldMan

    The worst "Doctor" wasn't in front of the camera at all, he was the Producer from 1979 until 1989 - John Nathan-Turner. He had absolutely no clue how to produce the program and destroyed it with stupid casting, abysmal costumes, laughable "special" effects and terrible scripts.

    The only good things to come out of those years were Peri (almost) in a bikini and Nyssa in tight trousers!

  63. Joefish

    Surprised by the votes against Sylvester McCoy

    Coming after the downright spiteful character portrayed by Colin Baker, I though he was much better. He brought a depth to the character, playing the frivolous comic with a dark undercurrent.

    And I can happily watch all the old series, except for Patrick Troughton. Obviously he had a tough job at the time, being judged against someone who'd become synonomous with the role, but now looking back and comparing him with what's come since, I don't think he was that great.

    But far, far worse than any of them was Paul McGann in that awful movie. Peter Cushing, though his movies messed with the origin, I thought was pretty good.

  64. NightFox

    Someone please remind me why we count Paul McGann, but not Peter Cushing?

    1. nichomach

      Because his incarnation was incorporated into the continuity, but Cushing's performance was always a standalone?

    2. x 7 Silver badge

      "Someone please remind me why we count Paul McGann, but not Peter Cushing?"

      thats been answered twice in this thread already

  65. nichomach

    Had to vote for...

    ...Colin Baker as the worst, but that's largely story/script-related. McCoy had some good moments, but I concur with the general view regarding Scrappy Doo...sorry...Ace. Awful idea for a character.

  66. Al Brown

    Tom Baker was second worst for me

    Colin was the worst on screen, but Tom Baker was the second worst for me by a long chalk. He never seemed to solve anything himself, and either blundered into a solution, or was saved by his dog or his assistant, both of which were generally smarter than him.

    I found Peter Davidson a breath of fresh air, who actually thought through solutions to some problems and in an early episode the sonic screwdriver was shot and 'killed' because it was used too much as a 'get out of jail free' card.

  67. Refractor

    reverse the polarity of the neutron flow

    Worst = Russell T Davis era: David Tenant’s constant gurning; urban centric stories full of yoofs running round dustbins; boring boring 'Rose' story lines; Catherine Tate as a companion. Matt Smith's stories continued in a simialr but slightly less grating vein; however even the current series is all big budget effects and 'emotive; story lines...

    Why do the current cybermen look so camp ?

    I re-watch old Who and listen to Big finish … the new series though, for all it’s big budget: watch once but there is nothing to draw me to a second viewing.

    Big Finish do Who how it should be done. Colin Baker and Paul McGann I think particularly shine.

    Best TV Doctor…. John Pertwee.

    bah humbug ... grumble grumble...

    1. Cthonus

      Re: reverse the polarity of the neutron flow

      In the old days the scripts took the place of the special effects. These days it almosts seems like the special effects are included to take your mind off just how flimsy some of the plots actually are.

      It's a shame Moffat et al seem enamoured more of making it into a spectacle than a serious series. Plot howlers are ignored; continuity is just a knowing wink to the original series to make the die-hard fan squee for a few seconds.

      I remember Ray Cusick's response to the rebooted Daleks asking why this advanced race, time-travel capable and almost impossible to destroy, should still be using bolts and rivets on their casing.

      (Yeah, ok - don't remind me of Troughton's Cybermen having lace-up boots...)

    2. Naselus

      Re: reverse the polarity of the neutron flow

      "Worst = Russell T Davis era:"

      Have an upvote. I honestly think Tenant might have done a good job had the scripts not been tumbling into mediocrity so rapidly; Davis drove Eccleston away and left Tenant mostly running about like a severe ADHD puppy, while trying to push people's mums into EVERYTHING. No-one wants to hear about Rose's mum. No-one cares about any of the companion's families, actually. And we don't want farting aliens or horny paving slabs.

      I don't think RTD ever really understood the appeal of old Who. Steve Moffat hasn't been great, but the series has at least avoided being outright puerile on his watch. And generally speaking, the episodes Moffat writes himself are higher quality than those written by staff writers; precisely the inverse was true of T Davis.

  68. Cthonus

    Misisng options

    By the way - no one's mentioned the Valeyard.

    As a bona fide reincarnation of the Doc surely he should be included in the poll too?

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Misisng options

      They said "Time Lord". So that allows the Master (all of them), both Romanas, Catherine Tate, Maurice Denham, Omega, Rassilon, Borusa, and Drax from "The Armageddon Factor", who was at school with the Doc and anyway I think that's a Star Trek episode. And The Meddling Monk, who in the person of Graeme Garden intervened catastrophically on twenty-second century Earth -and- infiltrated a mediaeval monastery using the alias of "Thelonios". It doesn't get much worse than that. Even the Reverend Magister wasn't as bad.

      This feature is a rip off anyway of Doctor Who Magazine, which offended Colin Baker by running a favourite-story-ever poll in which the Maurice Denham one came last, so he didn't speak to the magazine for years. He doesn't like favourites and coming last applied to creative work. Eventually he did give an interview this year, because Big Finish asked him to, to promote some of their audio "missing adventures". Now, or at last report, he's miffed - this time on Twitter - because the magazine quite stupidly ran the updated favourite-story poll again in the same issue.

      So - vote for Colin Baker, and turn most Doctor Who fans against The Register as well. That's what I'm gong to do, and it's what they deserve.

      But you can vote for Colin Baker as the Time Lord security officer who executed Peter Davison as the Doctor in "Arc of Infinity". That was a perfectly good performance as well, but that isn't the point, is it?

  69. Tom 13

    Has to be McGann

    Anybody who can't last past a pilot for an established show with a huge audience is the worst.

    When it comes to the guys who've played the role on the BBC, I actually like all of them. I probably cut McCoy a bit more slack than most people do, but it seems obvious to me that the BBC was actively trying to kill the show when he was the Doc. The Happiness patrol is the episode where this is most on display. The most awful thing about that episode is the soundtrack, and that's all down to the technical team, not the actor or the script writers. It is so awful that without a script synopsis I'd have no idea what the episode was about.

    As for the current Doc, I'm withholding my verdict. Yes, the scripts have been lousy, and I'm starting to dislike the show. But that's not Capaldi and I'm not even sure it's the script writers although they shoulder some of the blame. I think that all comes down to the Director. Or maybe the Bebe is once again trying to kill the show.

  70. Tom 13

    OK, I've played the game El REg set for us,

    but the truth was spoken by the Brigadier:

    "Splendid fellows, all of you."

  71. Call me Trav

    Let's do a Poll-a-Day this week!

    Hi Everyone, Long time Lurker, First Time Poster....

    I have never been into Dr. Who, but I greatly appreciate those who were/are. I read almost every comment (140 at the time) I have a serious suggestion:

    El Reg: Please read through these comments and create a new poll each day using some of the suggestions in the comments (i.e. Many people thought Sly was the worst, but only because of the scripts/BBC political issues, lighting, the dog, etc...) Create some fun polls and let's celebrate the love we have for the stories, the characters, and the fond memories they bring us that remind us of a simpler time.

    God Bless You All! If it weren't for discussions like this we'd all be sitting around talking about which deodorant we use. Nobody wants that...

  72. returnmyjedi

    David Tennant. All he did was shout "I am the Doctor!" and wave his screwdriver about.

  73. Zot

    Bonny Langford screams through all the corny trash...

    ..Watch out for the purple eye-sock!!!

  74. TRT Silver badge

    Best stories... Best Doctors...

    Three standout episode which, for me, wrap up the whole of Who.

    Genesis of the Daleks because: Daleks, Davros, Time Lords, morality, treachery, megalomania, science as both saviour and destroyer. No TARDIS, though.

    Blink because: best use of time travel, puzzle solving, genuinely creepy monster, the threat of everyday.

    Midnight because: claustrophobia, the element of the unknown never answered, the Doctor being powerless, the darkest and brightest examples of human behaviour in the space of 30 seconds.

    And two of those are Sand-shoes. So, I guess he must be a pretty good Doctor.

    Doctors from good to bad (or most to least favourite):

    Tom Baker

    Jon Pertwee

    Patrick Troughton

    Peter Capaldi

    Paul McGann

    John Hurt

    Bill Hartnell

    Peter Davison

    Christopher Eccleston

    David Tennent

    Sylvester McCoy

    Matt Smith

    Colin Baker

  75. TeacherMARK

    In order...

    Only Doctors worth a mention are...

    1 - Tom Baker

    2 - Jon Pertwee

    3 - Matt Smith

    The rest were all rubbish.

    So, the article would have been much shorter if it had been 'Who is the best doctor.'!

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