In 1987 Sylvester McCoy (real name Percy James Patrick Kent-Smith) took over from Colin Baker as the seventh incarnation of Timelord Doctor Who. Sylvester first came to the public eye as part of the comedy act “The Ken Campbell Roadshow”, where he played the part of a stuntman called Sylveste McCoy (note the lack of an R in the first name), putting nails up his nose and ferrets down his trousers, among other things (perhaps playing the spoons – this was a favourite mannerism of his Doctor). A reviewer of the show believed that Sylveste McCoy was the actors real name, which prompt Percy to adopt it as his stage name. Later, when he realised that Sylveste McCoy contained 13 letters, and believing this to be unlucky, the R was added to become Sylvester.
Sylvester’s career took him through childrens TV, via Vision On (with Tony Hart), Tiswas and Jigsaw with Janet Ellis before landing the role of Doctor Who. Given the show was finally axed by the BBC in 1989 he was officially the Timelord for only two years, however he is credited as having the role until 1996, since he appeared in another of the Doctor’s Children In Need charity specials in 1993 (called Dimension in Time) and also reprised the role in the much anticipated US pilot/film in 1996, resuming some continuity for the Doctor and handing over the reigns to Paul McGann.
McCoy’s Doctor started off very clown like, presumably written in this way given Sylvester’s past experience on childrens TV. Fans complained about this and the lightweight storylines he was being given (at one point, in the story The Happiness Patrol going up against the villain The Kandy Man, basically Bertie Basset from the sweets Liquorice Allsorts) which prompted the writers to make his character much darker in tone. This was so well received that in a 1990 survey by Doctor Who Magazine, he was voted best Doctor ahead of Tom Baker! No mean feat!
The seventh Doctor’s longest companion was Ace, played by Sophie Aldred, another childrens TV favourite at the time. Ace was a hot headed teenager from West London who the Doctor met serving milkshakes on an ice covered planet in the story Dragonfire. Apparently Ace ended up there after creating a time-storm in her bedroom whilst carrying out a chemistry experiment! It was her interest in chemistry that came in useful on many occasions, as she was able to create a potent explosive, which she was always ready to suggest as a solution to any problems they came up against, normally, but not always, annoying the Doctor in the process.