Eccleston, Tennant or Smith: Impossible Choice?
Guest contributor James Wynne compares the three Doctors of revived Doctor Who.
First things first, this is not a ranking of the three Doctors we have had since 2005. It is just an analysis of each that explains why any one of them could be your favourite. I think it’s great that we’ve had three actors all play the role so well that it’s almost impossible to choose between them. Having said that, I will say who my personal favourite is and I hope you guys do the same in the comments, enjoy.
Christopher Eccleston – The 9th Doctor (2005)
Chris was my first Doctor and I was extremely sad to see him go. Of all three, he is probably the least loved among fans and I think that’s less to do with how he played the part, and more to do with how long he was actually there. One series with 13 episodes wasn’t really long enough for him to cement his take on the role. When I look back on David Tennant and Matt Smith’s first series, I realise how they improved later on. The first year is usually about being slightly cautious with the role and gaining popularity so in the season(s) that follow, you can really be brave and take the character where you want to. Chris never got that chance, but the fact he still left a lasting impression is testament to just how well he performed.
I’ve seen a lot of criticism aimed at him for various aspects of his Doctor. Firstly, I think it’s unfair to judge him against any of the previous incarnations as he was born from completely unique circumstances. The Time War had caused him to wipe out his entire race; he was a child of war and as a result never quite as jolly or forgiving as any Doctor that had come before. His false smiles were not bad acting, but his character trying to hide just how tortured he was. The scene that emphasises this more than any other is in his first episode, Rose. As he is leaving Rose’s flat block with the mannequin arm, he waves with it while beaming. But once he turns away, his face becomes instantly grim. I also loved how he bowed out with so much dignity, with a big smile as he tells Rose; “You were fantastic, absolutely fantastic and you know what? So was I.”
David Tennant – The 10th Doctor (2005-2010)
Definitely the most popular Doctor of the modern era, but why is that? When I first saw him at the end of The Parting of the Ways, I took an instant dislike. It didn’t take too long for him to win me over though. I think the main reason he accomplished such popularity so quickly is because he’s easily the most charismatic Doctor. His personality was just one that drew people to him. After seeing the 9th Doctor so angry and badly affected by his past actions, we suddenly had a Doctor that was much more hyper and happy. The 10th Doctor was still affected and had his sadder moments, but to a much lesser degree. His smiles were genuine and he was as excited about the universe as a kid at Christmas. It also helps that he starred in some of the best episodes of new Who including The Girl in the Fireplace, Blink, Silence in the Library and Midnight to name a few.
I do have problems with Tennant’s Doctor though, and that is mainly his relationship with Rose. I much preferred the “matey” bond she had with Chris to the romantic one with David. I think that’s a fault with Russell T Davies writing though; I believe he was more obsessed with the Doctor and Rose love story than many of his viewers.
The high point of Ten’s time had to be the The Waters of Mars. It really showed what the Doctor was capable of when there is no one around to stop him and just why his “song was ending”. I didn’t like the way he left though. It felt drawn-out and undignified and I feel he should have left as he arrived, with a big ol’ smile.
Matt Smith – The 11th Doctor (2010-Present)
When I first saw Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor, I absolutely hated him. After his first scene, I was convinced he would be terrible. He didn’t win me over straight away either; it took a long time. I think that was just because of how vastly different his Doctor was to the previous two. It definitely took some adjusting to. Instead of carrying on the tortured soul aspect from before, he completely wiped the slate clean and started fresh. A brave thing to do considering he was taking over from, arguably, the most popular Doctor of all time.
But it’s worked. Matt has since made the role his own and unlike the previous two incarnations, he comes across as 100% alien, 100% of the time. His Doctor definitely leans more towards the classic ones, most notably Patrick Troughton. His dress sense is terrible (as it should be) and he seems to get the age of the Doctor across better than anyone before. Which is ironic considering he is the youngest actor ever to portray him!
I also much prefer the connections 11 has with his companions. It’s like a weird, happy family traveling through time. Yet you still get the impression from him that despite this, he still feels alone. He just gets so many aspects of the Doctor’s character across so well, that I can’t help but love him. He is definitely my favourite and long may his era last.