The season 10 finale of “Doctor Who” airs tonight. It’s not quite the end of the road for Peter Capaldi, who will appear in the Christmas special at the end of the year before departing the role. But since this is his penultimate adventure as the adventuring, millennia-old Time Lord, we’d like to know what you think of his tenure. Is he the best Doctor in the 54-year history of “Doctor Who”? Vote in our poll below.
The Doctor was introduced by actor William Hartnell when the series premiered in 1963. To keep the show going, the Doctor periodically undergoes a “regeneration” when gravely injured, thus allowing new actors to assume the role. Capaldi is officially the 12th Doctor, but he’s the 13th actor to play the role — in the 50th anniversary special in 2013 another past Doctor was revealed known as the War Doctor (the late John Hurt).
“Doctor Who” ran continuously from 1963 to 1989, going through seven Doctors. Hartnell left in 1966 and was followed by Patrick Troughton (1966-1969) and Jon Pertwee (1970-1974). Then Tom Baker came on as the Fourth Doctor in 1974 and to date remains the longest-running actor to board the TARDIS (seven years, from 1974-1981); in many Whovian circles he’s considered the best in the show’s history.
Baker was followed by Peter Davison (1981-1984), Colin Baker (1984-1986) and Sylvester McCoy (1987-1989). The show was cancelled after McCoy’s tenure as the Seventh Doctor, and the story didn’t resume until 1996, when Paul McGann assumed the role in a TV movie intended to revive the series. However, the series didn’t continue after that, though McGann continued to play the role in subsequent radio dramas.
That was it until the current modern era of “Doctor Who” came in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston, who spent only one season as the Doctor before David Tennant took the reins as the 10th Doctor. Tennant spent more than four years in the role (2005-2010), and his popularity rivals Tom Baker’s. Those were tough shoes to fill, but Matt Smith developed a devoted fan base of his own when he became the 11th Doctor in 2010, making bow ties and fezzes cool. Smith was 27 years old when he assumed the role, which made him the youngest actor ever to play the Doctor.
Smith was still on the show when it celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013, which was when we met Hurt as the War Doctor, who we learn was a forgotten form the Doctor took between McGann in the 1996 film and Eccleston in the 2005 revival. Smith left soon after the anniversary, signing off in the 2013 Christmas special. He passed the baton to Capaldi, who was 55 years old and thus the oldest Doctor since Hartnell, who was also 55 when the show premiered in 1963.
There is much speculation already about who might take over as the Doctor once Capaldi leaves the role this Christmas — including the question of whether the Doctor may be played by a woman or person of color for the first time in history. But that’s a debate for another day. Looking back over 54 years of “Doctor Who,” who is your favorite? Vote below.
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