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The Sixth Doctor: Five Favourites

K-Ci Williams picks out five favourites from Colin Baker’s era.

It appears that this series has been on hiatus, doesn’t it? It certainly seems that way to me! Writing this little pocket-universe of articles next to the more regular, normal universes of articles has been a great privilege so far to the point where it’s essentially helped me to survive my first ‘huge’ wilderness era since becoming a contributor on Doctor Who TV (Series 6 was more bearable with the aid of a split so it wasn’t a ‘huge’ wilderness gap). Now we turn to an era of Doctor Who that I truly enjoyed; comparatively shorter than that of previous and succeeding Doctors, the amazing and sometimes cranky Sixth Doctor celebrates his birthday today. In celebration of the great Colin Baker, here are my Five Favourites of my era.

Please note that I have not seen the whole of The Trial of a Time Lord, and so I would not want to include it half-watched. I understand that some regard it as individual stories, but it is still one cohesive story really. Share in the comments any of those stories that you think deserved a place in the Five Favourites. Anyway, remember, despite maybe not fitting that whizzing, technicolor dreamcoat, he’ll always be the Doctor!

Vengeance on Varos

colin-baker-Vengeance-On-VarosThe opening scene had me engaged in the whole story: particularly the idea of torture for entertainment. Doctor Who certainly was a dark show back then. It sets the scene successfully, even exciting the analytical parts of my brain. The stage was well and truly set for what would become one of the most enjoyable stories for me from the Sixth Doctor era. Sil, as a villain was awfully creepy. His tongue flapping laugh suited him, and his villainous plans were admirable. The intercutting between Varos: the pair in their ‘house’, the governor’s domain, and then the Doctor and Peri in the TARDIS made the structure a well-crafted aspect of the story, gluing together the segments with ease. We also are given a wide scope of insight into the inner workings of the society on Varos, which was intriguing and needed for the advancement of plot. This is how Doctor Who should be; an exploration of different societies (something that we are unlikely to receive in one forty-five minute episode). The individual plot strands were woven together masterfully well, such as the TARDIS’ need for an element only available on Varos, and the current mining negotiations of this element. Everything just, works!

Revelation of the Daleks

revelation-of-the-daleks-dvd-artThis is yet another great story from Colin Baker. Upon first viewing, I was a little puzzled with the idea of a monument of the Doctor falling on him. And from there it confused me more. Note that I only saw this once and it was about two years ago (when I started really getting into the classic stories). Apart from that, what I can remember is a very sinister plot involving the Daleks and Davros himself. Colin is wonderful here: he shows different sides to the Doctor, both caring and sophisticated, but also willing to hold a gun. As Antti Björklund put it in his recent article, the Doctor’s behaviour may be a result of his delirious regeneration. Peri also seems very different from previous stories with Peter Davison. More grown up in a way, more able to hold her own. Again, both Baker and Bryant are wonderful throughout the story. The appearance of an internal Dalek war as a group turns on Davros is another turn for their development. Not only is Davros seemingly more comedic in this story, but his creepiness factor shoots up when the extent of his work is revealed: more Daleks means more deaths of humans to make the transition. Overall, it’s a good story, with interesting segments all glued together by Colin Baker himself.

Attack of the Cybermen

attack-of-the-cybermen-bakerThe mere structure of this story is something I would opt for in the current run of Doctor Who. With the opening similar to Vengeance on Varos, in terms of captivating my interest it was a great few minutes. Out of the whole fifty year history of Doctor Who, this type of story is what I would idealise as a great episode. Everything’s there: there’s a very odd Doctor who is, let’s face it, disrespectful to Peri; a cleverly performed, and caring companion shown in Peri as she worries about the Doctor, very interesting supporting characters and a main plot line that intersects with the Doctor’s story after a few minutes of establishment. I’ve seen this story only once (in part; the disc was scratched partly so skipped the ending), and while I have yet to conclude the story, I am confident in placing it in the list for Five Favourites because of the admirable and very engaging structure, characters and wicked acting from Baker and Bryant. Like most of the era of Colin Baker (which upon re-watching some has become one of my favourites of the show), the episode works, in my opinion, to a high degree. I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to near-end, and recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it!

The Mark of the Rani

the raniThe Rani has always intrigued me as a character; only making a couple of appearances throughout Who’s history, but having a profound impact both times. Transforming into the battered old woman for part of the story interested me, keeping me engaged, and more importantly, curious about her intentions. Skipping to the end when she is with the Master and there’s currently a small dinosaur attending the party too, it’s just too good (some might say bad writing, I say over the top, Doctor Who goodness). The Master is deliciously good in this story, although when isn’t he? When the two baddies join forces full of half truths and deception, the character development is suitable, with the Rani showing just who’s in charge. The Master deals with the Doctor, getting his hands dirty, while the Rani experiments. The plot premise is also interesting: a new Time Lord; a female Time Lady. Her science has brought her to Earth to analyse samples and use miners in her cause for her unearthly experiments. And, stepping aside from the birthday boy for a moment, a majority of the reason why I enjoyed the story so much was because Kate O’Mara was a wonder of an actress; the perfect Rani, full of aspiration yet dark hollows of evil, even bringing to light a more deeper concept to the show as well: is human experimentation and harm morally correct if it means the research and findings could be synthesised to help others? Truly, a great story in my opinion.

The Two Doctors

two-doctors-troughton-bakerA great, celebratory story that I loved from start to finish. Purely for the interactions between Doctors, I enjoy all Multi Doctor events (The Two, Three, and Five Doctors – with headline event The Day of the Doctor being the most recent). Patrick Troughton was as equally charming as he was zany, complemented by Colin Baker’s eccentric portrayal of the Doctor throughout. Again, for someone who only significantly watched Classic Who two years ago, this is one of my favourites. Plot and structure may not be as strong as others, but we are presented with an epic tale of two Doctors, who truly owned their era with crazy authority.

So that’s it! Another birthday down, a handful to go. Colin Baker truly was another type of Doctor. Still appreciated by many and will be for years to come. I still get chills when I see certain pieces of his era. It’s so unfortunate that there was an imposter in his regeneration scene, but we can only be happy that the show still carried on and that he still remains faithful to the show and its fans, as do we him. He also started the trend of Doctors sharing similar names: Colin and Tom Baker; Peter Davison and Peter Capaldi. It is a tremendous day for one of our Time Lords. Happy Birthday Colin Baker!

Make sure you share your own ideas on the Five Favourites below in the comments.

Step back in time...

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57 comments
Polyphase
Polyphase

Great choices, Particularly The Two Doctors. Bob Holmes stories are hard to beat and I think it's about time we saw an Androgum again :)

alwaysrunning
alwaysrunning

Those are all great stories for Six! The Mark of the Rani and The Two Doctors were actually the first serials I watched with Six which probably influenced how I felt about The Twin Dilemma - which I hear is the least favorite episode with him? To be honest there isn't actually an serial I completely dislike with him (though I have not seen the Trial of the Time Lord yet so who knows). Six is awesome even if he is mean and yes I like Peri!

WhoPotterVian
WhoPotterVian

I found The Two Doctors a little disappointing  but I still enjoyed it. It's a great story but there just isn't enough multi-Doctor interaction. If it had as many multi-Doctor moments as Day of the Doctor, it would have been a lot more entertaining.

KristiStoneman
KristiStoneman

These are my favorite Sixth Doctor stories, too!

PERTWEE FOREVER
PERTWEE FOREVER

yeah definately vengeance on varos thats a real classic

Liana21
Liana21

Watched The Twin Dilemma, good luck he didn't regenerated like that close to Leela or Donna, they would've regenerated him again, by a beating.

At least has a couple of funny moments, but the story is weird, weird, and I though that Tegan's acid trip on Deva Loka was weird.

Mercy Reborn2
Mercy Reborn2

a great article it is nice to see so many articles on Colin maybe I should watch these episodes myself

Alpha centurai
Alpha centurai

Colin Baker always did a brilliant job, no matter how poor some of the scripts were ( although most of them are brilliant)

Liana21
Liana21

I just have three favourites because I just have seen three serial for Six, I'm going now to see if The Twin Dilemma is so bad as everyone says.

Revelation of the Daleks: Quote good story, the first part is funny, with a lot of things passing on one side and The Doctor and Peri just walking for the field.

The Two Doctors:I love to see the mocking around between Doctors when they encounter each other. But the vest is one of the most awful things I've seen in my life.

Timelash: Specially the first scene of The Doctor and Herbert, when he thinks that The Doctor is an evil spirit, it's a very funny moment.

MrRazza, the Newly Qualified Omega Identifier
MrRazza, the Newly Qualified Omega Identifier

I spoke yesterday of my appreciation for Colin Baker and his Doctor, and that has not changed. I think he's a brilliant Doctor, but then that is pretty much my general stance anyway. Similarly, however, his era continues to receive MrRazza's frown of disapproval and awkward look in the opposite direction

Let's be honest, the single greatest constraint on his era is his companions. Peri is bland and useless with an appallingly done accent, and then there's M... Um, I mean M... Er, the other one. Of course they can't carry all the blame (Bonnie Langford can probably give it a damn good try though) the writing is generally substandard, with Timelash considered my least favourite of the ones I've seen (I haven't gone within a five mile radius of the Twin Dilemma), but while sketchy and slow in places I genuinely enjoy the likes of Vengeance on Varos, so it's important not to be too damning. His era will never be astoundingly popular, and it probably doesn't deserve to be, but Mr Baker himself does receive MrRazza's Thumbs-Up of Approval, as well as MrRazza's Mildly Reassuring 'You did well, when all things are considered'.



JFrance
JFrance

On this list I have only seen Attack of the Cybermen and The Two Doctors and I enjoyed them both.  

The Finn
The Finn

"In all my travelling throughout the universe, I have battled against evil, against power-mad conspirators. I should have stayed here. The oldest civilisation: decadent, degenerate, and rotten to the core. Power-mad conspirators, Daleks, Sontarans, Cybermen - they're still in the nursery compared to us. Ten million years of absolute power. That's what it takes to be really corrupt." That line alone is why The Ultimate Foe should've been on the list.



JolomontheCube
JolomontheCube

Revelation of the Daleks is my fave. It mixes horror and black comedy which I LOOOOOOOVE

Adric the Genius
Adric the Genius

"You... killed Peri."  This line from Trial of a Timelord easily shows Baker's skill with the role.

hazwho
hazwho

As I am only a child, I have only seen 1 Colin Baker episode, Venegance on Varos, I am thrilled to see that episode on the list. Brilliant.






MeglosProductions
MeglosProductions

Why does no one ever mention Mindwarp. That's easily Colin's strongest story.

G_Unitt
G_Unitt

I love the Sixth Doctor. I think it's a massive shame that Colin got treated the way he did, I can imagine him having a brilliant character arc. In fact, RTD pretty much went for the arc that Colin Baker would've had, I think that his companions would have slowly made him a better person.

I think Revelation Of The Daleks is one of my favourite Classic Who stories, I love it. And you know what? I even like the 6th Doctor's coat. I really like the contrast when the environment around him is dark and twisted (and he's being dark and twisted), and he's just waltzing around clad in a technicolour dream coat. Such a cool image.

I want that damn coat.

YaelMoise
YaelMoise

btw... I've been meaning to ask this for quite some time, and I suppose it this as good a time as any: 

Is it just me, or does Peri mouth the word "asshole" after the Doctor makes fun of her in part 2 of The Two Doctors?

Iris Wildthyme
Iris Wildthyme

Not to be a broken record, but I'd like to extend five audio favourites for the Sixth Doctor, because (in my opinion) that is where he really gets to shine. Those would be The Marian Conspiracy, Doctor Who and the Pirates, Davros, Jubilee, and The Wormery. They are, in order, a fantastic historical, a hilarious tragedy (and my favourite Doctor Who story... ever), a gripping character piece, the darker cousin of Dalek, and a hilarious piece with great atmosphere that pits Colin Baker against the cosmic bag lady herself, Iris Wildthyme. All must-buys, in my opinion.




Creepy_Ghoul
Creepy_Ghoul

I met Colin in Antwerp at the end of april (there was a sci-fi, horror and fantasy convention held in Antwerp) and it was a really great moment. I loved his comment on my 5th Doctor costume ("That one looks familiar.") and his panel was also great. (telling how he shot Davison, making fun of Tennant fangirls and Matt "the 100-22 years old" Smith, a small joke about Michael Grade and of course some talking about the Five(ish) Doctor Reboot) It was just a unique moment to be in the room with one of the actors who has played everyone's (of the Whovians' that is) favorite Time Lord. 



thomasjaffray
thomasjaffray

Replace Rani with Mindwarp and I'm with you.

TheDreamer
TheDreamer

Nice article. I only discovered him last February, but the Sixth Doctor has become my 2nd favourite Doctor. :)

I am re-watching Attack of the Cybermen as we speak because I really didn't enjoy it the first time I watched it, and it is growing on me. I'm more used to the Cybermen acting a bit "human" now, though it still looked funny to see the one Cyberman bleed... if the green liquid gushing out of him when he got shot was blood, that is, lol. I didn't think Cybermen could get shot like that... Maybe there is a good, plausible explanation for it, but it feels wrong that Cybermen could be so easily defeated by plain old 1980s revolver bullets. My mind just can't compute that lol. I mean, their own weapons, yeah okay, but primitive handguns... nope, just looks wrong to me lol. It's like their armour is just cloth lol. But definitely enjoying the episode better this time around. Next I am planning on re-watching Revelation of the Daleks which I didn't enjoy the first time around either. Please don't shoot me, I'm sure it'll grow on me too, lol. ^^;

My own top 5 for the Sixth Doctor:

1. Terror of the Vervoids - I enjoyed the episode a lot. It has a good plot, well paced, with plenty of mystery and I think I have found monsters that actually make me shiver, lol. Not that they really scare me, but I think it's the way they were filmed and not shown for quite some time... it made it creepy. The mystery kept me tense and not knowing what escaped from the pods in the hydroponic chamber really did a lot towards keeping my brain worried about what might happen at any moment, lol. I hadn't been that tense since "Midnight", which is the ONLY episode to ever creep me out until now, lol. I mean, I'm nowhere near as creeped out as I get when watching Midnight, but it's still the only other episode to give me that edge, lol. It's up there with the best. I'm thinking whoever wrote or produced this one must know how to create a good mystery... Either that or they got lucky, no clue, lol.... but it worked here for sure. Really enjoyed the whole season, but this one episode was the best to me.

2. Mark of the Rani - Good pace, interesting plot, acting was good too... Not quite sure why throwing the Tardis all the way to the bottom of the mine pit was supposed to be such a big deal, though. Still... Peri did get annoying with her sighing and moaning and whiny complaining - again, lol. And... Wriggly worms... Yuck!!! Lol. :P But at least I found that the Rani was much better in this episode than in the other one.

3. The rest of Trial of a Timelord (The Mysterious Planet, Mindwarp and The Ultimate Foe) comes next but I'll count it all as one as they all rank about the same in my mind. Sil was annoying as ever in Timewarp, lol. The mystery of the Doctor's memories and such was well played out. And as far as Ultimate Foe, well...  they did do timey wimey stuff back in the old days! Sort of anyway, lol. Now, did Mel from the future stay with the Doctor after the trial? Did the Doctor remember what he saw of his future in the Matrix? If not, it might get kinda awkward once they leave and he finds this woman he doesn't know in his Tardis, lol. If so, will that affect the stuff he saw that hasn't happened yet and that he already knows the outcome of? And will Mel remember? And how will that foreknowledge work out? I wish they had gone into that a bit, at the end.  Not that it matters, but you know... Seems a bit short compared to the other episodes (only 2 parts), so maybe it could have been the subject of a 3rd part? The Master was better than he had been in a while too... I mean, more poised, like the old one.

4. The Two Doctors - Pretty good, though some of the acting left a bit to be desired... but a decent episode, with some nice interactions between the Doctors (I love multi Doctor stories!) It was my first Sixth Doctor story and, after hearing and reading pple criticise him all the time, I wasn't sure what to expect... But I enjoyed him more than I thought I would. He was a bit full of himself, yeah, but I liked it, lol... and his humour too. It was nice seeing the Second Doctor again, too. I liked the beginning and when he was reunited with the Sixth Doctor the most. As well as when he and the Androgum went to the restaurant.

5. Vengeance on Varos - Slow start........... all everyone did for the first half hour was talk, if I remember correctly. I mean... half an hour to set up the story? I'll be needing to watch it again, now that I'm more used to he old "style." The parts in the Tardis were good, but too much talk and not enough action... it made for a slow first part, in my opinion. The second part was really good though, and I really enjoyed it, so it raised my rating quite a bit.

YaelMoise
YaelMoise

There's a moment in The Two Doctors which, for me, is a gem - When Dastari leaves the two Doctors and Peri chained up in the cellar. 

The Second Doctor stops protesting and yelling, suddenly gets matter-of-fact, and says to the Sixth Doctor "You're almost as clever as I am". 

They then exchange about two three sentences before 2 starts acting again for Peri, but there's a moment of artlessness between the two Doctor in that brief exchange that I just treasure. 

It's not like the bickering between the 2nd and the 3rd Doctor when they meet, or the master-student relationship either of them has with 1st. It's a genuine kinship, a moment when you're brought face to face in a subtle way with the fact that it is the same person.


The only thing I can compare it is to when War says he doesn't talk to anyone about what happened in the war, and 10 points out that he's still not talking to anyone about it, because one else is there. Or, maybe the moment in The Three Doctors when 2nd reveals to an untrusting 3rd that he's only acting a buffoon to see how easily he could provoke Omega.


It's not a moment when two characters called the Doctor, each with their own incomparable inimitable personalities, interact with each other. It's a moment when the Doctor really IS talking to himself. 

And, it might just be me, but I love it. 


In addition to that, there's also 6's first interactions with Jamie. The kindness and melancholy there - Sides of 6 which were supposed to emerge later, according to the "character arc", but which we get a distinct glimpse of here. It's just so nice to see. Jamie's been back before (Zoe and the bubble-wrap dress...), but this return is really my favorite. 

In many ways it's a flawed... but still underrated episode, I feel, and I really do love it.





Planet of the Deaf
Planet of the Deaf

I haven't seen many of Colin's episodes, but watching Attack of the Cybermen recently, I didn't mind his version of the Doctor. Yes he was a bit rude towards Peri, but not excessively. And it did feature Blue Peter's Sarah Greene as well :-)

Antee991166
Antee991166

I love all of these stories, but the excessive violence from the Doctor still lets them down for me, but I can still enjoy them nonetheless.

The 4th Doctor
The 4th Doctor

i like Colin as a Doctor but his only stories i enjoyed were VOV and TTOAT and i for one didnt enjoy the 2 doctors

gunslinger19
gunslinger19

i dont actually mind the costume that much, it isnt anything special but it seems sufficiently doctorish and i dont really notice it in his episodes.

The Mind Probe
The Mind Probe

Shame not to see 'Terror of the Vervoids' or 'The Ultimate Foe' on there - I think The Trial of a Time Lord gets a hard time because of its format, even though not all the stories are bad.

MeglosProductions
MeglosProductions

Great article but I disagree with your list completely. I thought all of these stories were pretty poor, with the exception of Attack..........which was still mediocre. Mindwarp and Terror Of The Vervoids are the best ones, for me.

Moxx
Moxx

I love how the Best Of Season Twenty-Two is basically just everything that isn't Timelash.

Moxx
Moxx

Brilliant article, K-Ci! Nice to see you back!

The Sixth Doctor is the only Classic Doctor I've seen everything of - though the stories aren't the best in quality, there is no doubt that they're interesting and engaging. Three cheers for Colin!

PK-S
PK-S

Oh, K-Ci, I love this series of articles. You have to keep doing them, they're great! And all of these choices I agree with! 



Rorschach's_Journal_of_Impossible_Things
Rorschach's_Journal_of_Impossible_Things

I will admit I haven't seen many Sixth Doctor stories, but Attack of the Cybermen was a brilliant story in my opinion. It stands alongside Earthshock (my favourite Cyber story) and Tomb of the Cybermen as the best writing the Cybermen have had. It's a shame Colin didn't have more seasons, as he really was great, even if I haven't seen all of his stories.

YaelMoise
YaelMoise

@Liana21 I actually like 6th's costume... but yeah, that vest is too much for me, too.

Iris Wildthyme
Iris Wildthyme

@MrRazza Trust me, the companions do much better once they're off the screen. If you want your mind to be changed about the Sixth Doctor's companions, get Peri and the Piscon Paradox for Peri and The Fires of Vulcan or The One Doctor for Mel. Note that The Fires of Vulcan is a Seventh Doctor story, but it's a great dramatic showcasing for Mel; The One Doctor is out-and-out comedy, and it's perfection. And most people credit Peri and the Piscon Paradox as not only Peri's best story, but also one of the best Big Finish stories ever (and it was written by Nicola Bryant's boyfriend!).



mczolly
mczolly

Agree! There were some really promising stories prepared for the next season... Thank god Big Finish adapted them!

11th's Sonic
11th's Sonic

You're right, saw that on Horror channel. My dear, is that ladylike? :)

Xaven
Xaven

According to the Big Finish audios and the Doctor Who novels, the Doctor returned Mel to his future self, and then went on his way.

Temporal_Tomato
Temporal_Tomato

I didn't know that last fact, I'm indeed currently listening to Peri and the Piscon Paradox, and certainly enjoying it.


TheDreamer
TheDreamer

Play. Thanks. I've just begun delving into Big Finish. I didn't hear that one. I have The Sirens of Time, The Dark Flame, Neverland, Zagreus , Patient Zero and 11's 50th anniversary story. Planning on getting more when I have money again though. I love them. :)

Xaven
Xaven

Yeah, and you know what makes this more annoying? If it had been anyone else who shot that Cyberman, no one would complain. But when it's the Doctor doing the shooting, it's apparently an outrage, and therefore, the Sixth Doctor is the worst Doctor.

I would ask those people to look at the other Doctors. One had no issues with using violence. Three would often use violence and he, along with Four, Five, and Ten have been in sword fights. Five also considered executing Davros. Seven manipulated Davros into blowing up Skaro. I don't need to speak of the actions of War and Nine.

The only Doctors I'm unsure about are Two, Eight, and Eleven. If they did anything violent, remind me what it was. But, my point still stands. No one can label Six as the worst Doctor, due to his use of violence.

Ah, s***, I now know how he got labeled as the worst Doctor. It was the Word Lord who did it. Curse you, Nobody No-One!

TheElusiveWhovian
TheElusiveWhovian

And when the Cybermen crush Lytton's hands until there is a pool of blood. Hell yeah!

TheDreamer
TheDreamer

Grrr.. Stupid auto correct... I typed "Okay" and it changed it to "play " lol. Pffff....

AlexanderofAlzarius
AlexanderofAlzarius

The Second Doctor could also be quite ruthless, witness his treatment of the Ice Warriors in The Seeds of Death (not to be confused with The Seeds of Doom in th Fourth Doctor era) whom he tricks a whole fleet of into the Sun to name just one occasion.

Oodkind
Oodkind

@Xaven Eleven blew up a whole fleet of cybermen in A Good Man Goes to War for no apparent reason. I'll have to say I was put off a bit by that.

YaelMoise
YaelMoise

@AlexanderofAlzarius I forgot about the Cyber-legion. 

Oh, well...

Now we just need an audio adventure specialist to let us know if Eight was or wasn't the only true pacifist in the bunch.

Xaven
Xaven

That just leaves the Eighth Doctor. Since he has only appeared twice on screen, any examples for him will have to come from a novel or an audio drama.

AlexanderofAlzarius
AlexanderofAlzarius

Yes, his actions to the Twelfth Cyber-legion wee rather ruthless and unprovoked.

Xaven
Xaven

It was to make the Cybermen cooperate. Thanks for reminding me of this incident. I just need one for the Second and Eighth Doctors.