With the new series of Doctor Who starting this weekend now seems a good time to reminisce about the Timelord as he was in the 1980’s. For many Tom Baker is often the most remembered incarnation of the Doctor, but given that he hung up his scarf and bag of jelly babies in 1981 after playing the character for seven years, I shall start with the fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, who incidentally also sang the theme tune to Button Moon with wife at the time Sandra Dickinson, fact fans!
Peter Davison’s was the youngest actor to play the role (he was only 29 when he started). The fifth Doctor had a bit of a shaky start, similar in fact to current Doctor David Tennant who was also not in tip top form for most of his debut story. The regeneration process didn’t quite work properly, and for the first few stories Davison’s Doctor was shaky on his feet, at one point needing to rest in a special coffin like box to aid his recuperation.
He swapped the long scarf for the garb of an Edwardian cricketer, with long cream coloured over coat, orange and yellow stripy trousers and a creamy coloured V-neck jumper. He did retain the distinctive embroidered question marks from Tom Baker on his shirt collar however.
The fifth Doctor was also a departure in that the character was far more serious with less of the frivolity and flippancy of Pertwee and Baker. He had also become much much more likely to listen to the advice of his companions rather than charging gung ho into the situation. So much so, that this was considered a good running joke for the Children In Need special aired in 2007, which I’m quite annoyed that I missed. In it the fifth and tenth Doctor’s get to meet each other, with Tennant’s Doctor apparently belittling Davison’s at any opportunity.
This Doctor also tended to have more than just one companion, with the pictured trio of Adric, Tegan and Nyssa being his initial companions. Adric was a mathematics champion who was killed trying to save the Earth in the episode Earthshock, a first for a companion which affected the Doctor’s character deeply. Tegan was an Australian flight attendant, who left because she could no longer stand all the death and destruction that still followed the Doctor around. Nyssa was the daughter of an aristocrat from the planet Traken. Her father’s body ended up being taken over by the evil Timelord The Master, who could no longer regenerate. She was the first of Davison’s companions, being the last of Tom Baker’s.
I’ll finish with my favourite Davison Doctor Who anecdote. I was once watching the story “The Caves of Androzani” with a big Doctor Who fan friend of mine. Whilst watching the Doctor belittling the black and white masked villain of the piece, we suddenly realised he was doing so with his flies wide open!