A Musing on the Personality Traits of the 11th Doctor

By Ian McArdell

I was nine years of age when The Five Doctors aired. With my first memory of DW being K9 on Brighton Beach at the start of ‘The Leisure Hive, my only real exposure to the first three Doctors on TV had come from the “Five Faces” repeat season that came in the gap between Logopolis and Castrovalva. I was, of course, and avid Target books reader and knew them pretty well but perhaps hadn’t grasped the finer points of Time Travel theory…

When I saw the past Doctors pop up in The Five Doctors, I could see that they were older than when they appeared in the programme (well, excepting Richard Hurndall who had never appeared before (though he seemed pretty ancient and Tom who was in the Shada clip)… and I envisaged a sort of Time Lord retirement/purgatory/afterlife post-regeneration state - perhaps the Matrix… it made a sort of sense to me… The 1st Doctor had gone to his rose garden, the 2nd to visit his old friend the Brig but was, “not breaking the rules but bending them” as he shouldn’t really be there. The 3rd was tearing around the English country lanes in Bessie and the 4th was punting on the cam with the love of his life, Romana II.

Not so long after, at the end of Season 21 when The Colin Baker became the 6th Doctor, all this came floating back to my mind. He was arrogant, moderately un-likeable and belittled the fools around him. Also, he wasn’t above a bit of violence… it made me rather think of the 1st Doctor. I wondered if perhaps that personality wandering around in the rose garden hadn’t somehow been reintegrated back as a result of them all meeting.

A couple of years past and Sylvester became the 7th Doctor. He was described as Troughton-esque from the outset with the clowning and the running and the game playing. This got me thinking again… if Six is like One and then Seven is like Two… Sadly, the series went off the air and I understood time travel a lot better so I put foolish theories aside… by the time 1996 came around I’d forgotten all about it….

With the Time Crash special and now a new Doctor imminent, I’ve decided to extend my childhood theory and see if it works further…

So let’s look at Three and Eight? There’s so little of the 8th Doctor on TV that it’s difficult to tell… but McGann’s Doctor certainly seemed to embody qualities of the 3rd (and perhaps also the 4th Doctor). There was certain flamboyance to him and he may have gone on to be a bit of a ladies man… (he was the first to be seen having a bit of a smooch) and that’s the impression that Pertwee always gave. Plus he seemed to take to that motorbike very well - whether he was a grand gadget maker and a student of alien martial arts we sadly never got to know.

How about Four and Nine? Eccleston’s Doctor seemed to be well routed in the Tom Baker style… the alien quality to his manner, his sheer exuberance for life and manic disposition was all pure Tom wasn’t it?

With the Time Crash special Ten told Five himself how alike they were… old man in a young man’s body, brainy specs so he gets taken seriously, Dashing about and playing cricket and his voice going all squeaky when he shouts.

So… I theorise there are five basic Doctor types…

  • 1st & 6th: Arrogant, Moody, not above a bit of skulduggery
  • 2nd & 7h: Impish, clowny but also a master manipulator
  • 3rd & 8th: Action Man and a bit of a ladies man
  • 4th & 9th: Manic expressions, depressive periods & alien attitudes
  • 5th & 10th: Youthful, energetic, a human hero

And what does this give us for 11th? Whilst it’s true that the core of the Doctor, his moral indignation and charismatic soul remain pretty constant… could it be that we’re in for another arrogant, moody type? I wonder if the incoming production team have the balls to replace the much loved 10th with an anti-hero who we need time to warm to? Or will Steven Moffatt remember the failed attempt to do this with Colin Baker and steer well clear.

Matt Smith is the youngest actor cast, but we’ve just had a young Doctor so they’ll have to be more to it than sheer youthful exuberance. Whatever they do, they always cast against type so what ever the 11th Doctor turns out to be it will be a surprise… and perhaps unlike anything we’ve seen before…