Played by: Colin Baker
When: 1984 – 1986
Significant contributions to the Whoniverse: The second Baker to take on the role of the Doctor bears little similarity to previous incarnations other than his surname. He was more brash and certainly more egotistical, and had the worst fashion sense of any to date. I can understand his portrayal being divisive at the time, yet by modern standards an attempt to shake things up a bit and being less predictable certainly had some merit.
A recurring character was introduced in a Sixth Doctor story in the form of a Time Lady, known as The Rani. To my recollection, this is the first non-companion Time Lady we have met in the series outside of the realms of Gallifrey. She forms the role of recurring villain who is out for herself, as ill at ease working with the Master just as she is ill at ease working with the Doctor. Her story will prove to intersect quite significantly with the Doctor’s at a later date.
As already alluded to, i think one of the most memorable elements of the sixth Doctor is his outfit, which was as brash and loud as the man was himself. This was not a Doctor accustomed to stealth. Fitting with this nature is the storyline that I feel dominate’s this Doctor’s tenure; Trial of a Time Lord. The Doctor’s actions past and present come under direct scrutiny by the Time Lords, with the Doctor’s exuberance proving potentially disastrous. It is interesting to note that prior to this story, there had been a number of season-long storylines. However, these stories had been loosely connected serials with an end of season pay-off. Trial of a Time Lord was a full season story bearing only one title, though subsequently story titles have been added. It was a bold move which also led to another first… the Doctor meeting a future incarnation.
Reflections by Film Nerd
I was not immediately fond of Colin Baker when I started watching his episodes. He made quite a shocking counter-point to Davison, and was nothing if not unexpected. With time though, he grew into the role, the performance became more balanced, and his eccentricities became endearing.
By the time his final story, Trial of a Time Lord came around, I feel he was well established in the role, and the story just works perfectly. He shared an easy relationship with Bryant’s Peri, whom had been with him ever since his regeneration. They made a great pair, and though the Trial storyline remained of high quality after her departure, it did feel like something was missing without her. Regardless, all events lead to a fantastic end to the Trial, when the Doctor throws the corruption of the Time Lords back at them. This is an idea which was picked up on again in the Tennant period. It may not once have been popular, but perhaps if the Sixth Doctor had his chance with a more modern audience, he may have been around for a tad longer….
Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant)
Peri, the American played by a Brit, stuck with the Doctor through all his early eccentricities post-regeneration, even when some would wonder why. She was the straight-man, while clearly not being a man, her attire, or rather lack thereof, often proving she was young and feminine. Bryant does a great job in the role, and creates a very likeable character, who proves her popularity is for more than curves when her costumes became more modest as time passed. The Doctor parts her company being dragged away by the Time Lords, for a time believing she was dead. Thankfully, this is subterfuge, and she has actually survived her last adventure and become a queen.
Melanie Bush (Bonnie Langford)
How Mel started travelling with the Doctor is never really covered. She first appears as a glimpse into the Doctor’s future, and next we see of her she has started her regular travels with the Doctor. She appears late in the piece, so not much can be said about her just from her appearance with Baker, but we do know she is a health nut with the memory of an elephant!!
The Sixth Regeneration [SPOILERS]
This regeneration is in that unique category of not both Doctors being present for it being filmed. Baker had been fired from the show, and had decided not to return to film the regeneration sequence. So first we see of the new Doctor is him unconscious in the TARDIS console room after the vessel had been fired upon by The Rani. It is Sylvester McCoy in the Sixth Doctor costume wearing a blond wig and regeneration light covering his face until it disappears leaving McCoy lying there prone ready to take the reins.
Feel free to check out our previous Doctor Who Summaries!!