3 of the Best vs 3 of the Worst Actors who have played The Doctor

3 of the Best vs 3 of the Worst is exactly what it sounds like – 3 of the best examples of either an actor, film series, genre, etc. versus 3 of the worst. It’s also an opportunity for you to have your say on my choices and whether you would have placed something ahead of my best or my worst. This week…. Actors who have played The Doctor.

While the casting of The Doctor is still fresh in everyone’s mind, I wanted to take a look back at the previous actors. I don’t think there are any truly awful actors or versions of The Doctor and I love the way in which each incarnation brings something fresh, new but ultimately familiar. There are versions of The Doctor I don’t like though, ways he is played that don’t fit with what I believe The Doctor should be. So to explain further…

3 of the Best

3 – Christopher Eccleston

I feel like I’m cheating choosing one of the “new Doctors” as the best and it feels even worst because of who has taken the number one spot but I don’t think many have done a better job of playing the Doctor than Christopher Eccleston. For me, The Doctor has to be superior, alien (pardon the pun) to those around him and not very… cuddly. Eccleston had the charm, the amazement, wonder and glee that The Doctor should have but could also turn on the anger, desperation and fury when it called for it. This is what I want from the Doctor, not someone messing around all the time but someone who knows how much better he is and uses that to save countless worlds.

2 – Colin Baker

My most controversial choice but for a long time my favourite Doctor. Again, he isn’t a cuddly, silly Doctor but one who is much more stern, unforgiving but with a wicked, delightful side too. You can’t imagine him getting too close and friendly with any of his companions but he did care for those he travelled with. Many people thought he was too stern and dark to be The Doctor but there is much more of Colin Baker in Eccleston and Tennant than Tom Baker.

1 – David Tennant

Feels like cheating choosing Tennant as number one but he made that role his own. A role that was once synonymous with Tom Baker is now more recognisable as Tennant. It’s not a coincidence or by chance of availability that the Tenth Doctor is the incarnation announced to appear alongside Matt Smith in the fiftieth. He had the passion, charm, humour but also that darker side that I enjoy from The Doctor. He got too close to Billie Piper’s Rose for my liking but it seemed much more acceptable with her than any other Doctor/companion relationships would. I’m genuinely excited to see Tennant’s return.

3 of the Worst

3 – William Hartnell

I enjoy episodes and adventures from every Doctor. I think all actors brought their own unique talents to the role and have great attributes that have stuck with the character. Hartnell will always be the First Doctor and the one that began the adventure but he isn’t actually THE Doctor. The character was too new, too serious and unknown. He is strikingly different from not just the more recent Doctors but the versions as early as Tom Baker. Maybe that was more Baker’s fault that Hartnell’s but I always get the feeling that this Doctor doesn’t fit with the others.

2 – Peter Davison

It’s not that the Fifth Doctor’s adventures were bad or that I don’t enjoy those episodes, in fact there is a lot of the Davison’s era I do enjoy, like the Mara tale and obviously the Death of Adric. I just don’t like Davison as the Doctor. He is too clean and proper. He feels too serious and slightly dull. There isn’t enough silly and crazy from the character itself, even though with a broccoli on his cricket uniform, there was enough crazy happening around him.

1 – Tom Baker

I don’t get it. I don’t understand why this is people’s number 1 choice as The Doctor. Before Tennant, if you wanted to represent The Doctor, you chose Baker. A big part of it is the length of time he played the role but that was never enough to convince me. He is too silly! He plays around too much and doesn’t really take things seriously. He is the beginning of the “cuddly” Doctor, the bigger, friendlier character and that’s the side of the Time Lord I hate. Its controversial but Baker’s stories and adventures are often the ones I enjoy the least.

Overall, very difficult list. I don’t necessarily like siding with just the “recent” Doctors but they have re-defined and re-created the show brilliantly. My choices have always been controversial, I do love Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor and would also love to see more Paul Mcgann too (fingers crossed for the Fiftieth). Let me know if you agree (or more likely) disagree completely.

More of this Doctor please Moffat

19 thoughts on “3 of the Best vs 3 of the Worst Actors who have played The Doctor

    1. Not the best but I think one of the best. I have enough Doctor Who knowledge to hold my own and have a valid opinion. Baker is my kind of Doctor, darker, more stand-offish and not as “silly” as some of the other Doctors.

      Who would your choices be?

  1. Huh?! Tom Baker as the worst Doctor?! Come on! Tom Baker has really nailed being the Doctor and has been doing it for seven seasons. Sure he has his humourous moments, BUT AT TIMES, Baker’s Doctor was also darker, and more serious as well when things get really serious. It’s more likely William Hartnell’s fault because during filming Doctor Who on air, Hartnell would sometimes often forget his lines and somehow when this was filmed, the fluff’s can be heard in classic Doctor Who William Hartnell tenture, however, Hartnell pulled it off very well, except for the lines that he keeps forgetting which doesn’t mean he’s the good Doctor. And you’re saying Tom Baker’s terrible? Well, apparently, Tom played the Doctor very well. So did Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee.

    1. It isn’t for me. I know for many he is the epitome of the Doctor but over now 12 people, his kind of Doctor doesn’t resonate. It is controversial but I think he exemplifies everything I hate about The Doctor, from the goofiness to the cuddly and funny Time Lord.

      Hartnell may have messed up lines but he started the series and created the blueprint that the rest have followed, even up to Peter Capaldi.

      1. You were right that William Hartnell started Doctor Who back then in 1963 and yes, apparently he helped to create the character of the Doctor as well who later became a loveable character when the First Doctor mellowed down. However the original Doctor Who producer, Verity Lambert stayed in Doctor Who until 1965 and had another producer take over Doctor Who. And when the new producer came, he didn’t get along with Hartnell very well and then a few more producers had produced more Doctor Who episodes/stories until in 1966, William Hartnell’s health had deteriorated and was becoming very difficult to work, so they got an idea as you know when the Doctor’s body is wearing thin, the Doctor dies and regenerates from an old man to a younger man. Ok. Maybe I was bit harsh on Hartnell’s acting. Sorry. I shouldn’t have criticised his acting as I forgot that Hartnell wasn’t really well when he played the First Doctor. My apologies.

  2. Ben – you’re list shows you really don’t know anything about Doctor who in the vein of those who pick Roger Moore or Daniel Craig as their favorite bond. I’m not gonna argue it here because I suspect your choice of Baker as worse and (Colin) Baker as among the best is just an attempt to get a rise out true fans and promote your page…

    1. Like any of my 3 of the Best, 3 of the worst posts, this is down to opinion and one that I express and explain clearly. I do not like the way that Tom Baker played Doctor Who and feel he made the role too “silly” when I prefer a more serious, darker Doctor.

      To say that having this opinion means I don’t know anything about Doctor Who is wrong. It means I don’t agree with you. That is all. I’ve watched Doctor Who all my life and consider myself a fan, with a knowledge better than most, but a fan that has what is definitely considered a rare opinion but no less a valid one.

      As is the opinion of those that believe Daniel Craig or Roger Moore is the best Bond. Just because it isn’t your opinion doesn’t make it wrong and it demonstrates an ignorance on your part to believe so.

      As for the final accusation, my lists are to bring people to the site but for friendly, well-constructed debate rather than a dismissive comment that doesn’t really demonstrate any view or opinion of your own.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      1. You know Ben, I’m inclined to agree with the person who spoke about Doctor Who. You obviously don’t know anything about Doctor Who at all. You said that Colin Baker was your Doctor, however I think we need to agree to disagree. Colin Baker’s Doctor was too cranky, too aggressive however when Colin Baker’s Doctor was too aggressive, after 2 years for playing the 6th Doctor, the BBC removed him from Doctor Who and replaced him with Sylvester McCoy. However if it hadn’t been for Tom Baker’s portrayal of the 4th Doctor and how he changed Doctor Who forever by becoming a favorite Doctor, alongside the previous favorite Time Lord, Jon Pertwee speaking of which was kind of like James Bond with a frilly jacket before Tom became famous, Doctor Who would’ve been cancelled forever and they wouldn’t bring it back on air! And as for Patrick Troughton who played the 2nd Doctor between Hartnell and Pertwee, he too played the Doctor very well when he replaced William Hartnell. Eccleston has pulled it of too when Doctor Who went back on air as did Tennant and Smith. The Best, Ultimate and current Doctor we have now is Peter Capaldi, and he follows the same traits as Tom Baker and Chris Eccleston. So maybe you need to revisit the classic Doctor Who, over and over again from the First to the Fourth Doctors, even those from the Fifth to the Seventh, to the Eighth (telemovie), until you get your head in exactly the same place as to people who grew up watching the Classic Who, and the Revived Series as well. Kind regards.

      2. Unfortunately you start with the same ignorant and unnecessary statement that others do – “you don’t know anything about Doctor Who.”

        Opinion does not equal knowledge and disagreeing with you or the general consensus doesn’t mean ignorance. Tom Baker’s portrayal may have kept Doctor Who on-screen and Colin Baker’s may not have been popular but the article is based on what I think makes a good Doctor, not what made The Doctor popular. I don’t like the buffoonery that became a staple of Tom Baker’s Doctor and the more aggressive tone is what I do prefer in a Doctor, the same aggression that those you have mentioned balance so well, evident in the performances of Eccleston, Tennant and your “Best/Ultimate Doctor” Capaldi.

        I also don’t see the reason to revisit the classic era in an attempt to “get my head in exactly the same place” as anyone else who watched it and grew up with it (as did I) because my opinion is my own and one I have justified quite clearly.

        Love the debate but not the ignorant comment that begins it.

    1. Ok. I admit there are some of the things that I didn’t like about Tom Baker’s Doctor, or about the outfit that he wore. I believe in my opinion, Tom Baker’s long scarf looked kind of very silly, offbeat if you put it that way. Ok, so you are entitled to one’s opinion, so let’s put it another way. Maybe that was harsh the way I said ‘get in the same head as everybody else’, however I was merely trying to give you an advice to revisit the classic Who series, because I rewatched the Classic Who series 15 to 20 times more. However Tom Baker always has and always will be my Doctor, just as Tennant and Capaldi is my Doctor. You don’t have to take my advice if you don’t want to, but I’m only trying to make suggestions. I’ll tell you who I really don’t like. I don’t like Matt Smith’s Doctor. His Doctor is way too silly, way more buffoonry than Baker’s Doctor, however he did take the Doctor very seriously towards the end of his tenture before Capaldi. My Doctor, Tom Baker did have a more serious and darker aside from his ‘buffoonary’ side, even he didn’t play around too much while his other side was way more serious, more darker is from what you described from Ecclestion, Tennant and Colin Baker from the beginning(e.g. The Ark In Space and Pyramids Of Mars). But it’s up you. If you don’t want to revisit the Classic Who series. Go right ahead. If you’re entitled to your opinion about Tom Baker’s Doctor, then what’s the harm? There’s no right or wrong about your opinion to Tom Baker’s Doctor. I have my opinions, you have your opinions. Let’s both agree to disagree. It’s as simple as that.

      1. Agreeing to disagree is fine. There are elements of your reply I do agree with. Smith’s bizarre first season as The Doctor is one of the weakest. He flip-flops between crazed and angry to silly and goofy and it just comes down to poor writing and mismanagement.

  3. Thus is just dumb.
    Tom Baker IS the Doctor and there’s no way Tennant is even in his league.
    You say the Dr has to be alien and not cuddly. Well Tennant did not act alien and was too cuddly. He got more girls watching , but that’s all he contributed. Eccleston and Smith are much more alien than him, and better actors.
    And your comments on Hartnell are plain ignorant. You’re obviously doing it to get a rise.

    1. That’s your opinion and it’s fair for you to disagree. I think Tennant was much better at being distant, certainly than Matt Smith who brought the whole “hugging” element and “Time Travelling prankster” back to The Doctor.
      I’m also not sure what about my comments on Hartnell you found ignorant? I don’t think he is The Doctor the way we see him today, particularly in the early years when he purposefully placed his companions in danger.
      As for Tom Baker, he may The Doctor to you but he isn’t for me. You may think it is because I’m trying to “get a rise” but if that is the case I’d suggest you’d read my other post on that opinion as well.
      https://viewsfromthesofa.com/2016/07/17/some-thoughts-on-opinions-and-comments/

  4. David Tennant introduced wibbly wobbly timey wimey and allons y to the Doctor Who lote he was quite silly and buffoony during his tenure.

    1. Well, that is actually true that David Tennant actually introduced his wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey stuff but at the same time, like some of the serious Doctors in my opinion, the 10th Doctor was actually a bit darker, more serious Doctor apart from Tom Baker and Peter Capaldi who in my opinion were darker and serious Doctors. As I sat through watching the revived series at the same time comparing to the Classic Doctor Who era, it seems to me that what the revived series had made was absolutely correct after the Classic Doctor Who era.

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