Played by: Sylvester McCoy
When: 1987 – 1996
Significant contributions to the Whoniverse: Unfortunately, the most significant thing that stands out for Sylvester McCoy’s tenure as the Doctor is that he was the last Doctor in the classic run of Doctor Who. This is quite unfair, as McCoy was fantastic in the role, and personally I would love to have seen him play the role a bit longer into the period that the Doctor was absent from our screens.
McCoy’s Doctor met with all the classic villains… The Master (still played by Anthony Ainley), the Cybermen, and the Daleks. He also reunited with the Brigadier, on the final occasion he appeared in a regular episode of the series. In addition to this, there is a very amusing story-line that reveals the Doctor was indeed Merlin from Arthurian legend. In hindsight, this is extremely amusing given the same actor has taken on the role of another prominent wizard, Radagast the Brown from The Hobbit.
Of course, with the series ending in 1989, it meant the show was not running for the 30th anniversary in 1993. A special of sorts did occur though, featuring McCoy, Pertwee, both Bakers and Davison. It was a charity special for Children in Need, called Dimensions in Time, intersecting the Doctor with another popular BBC series EastEnders. Many former companions also appeared, and The Rani also made a return. McCoy was to return one more time after this, to regenerate into Paul McGann in the 1996 telemovie. As a result, though the record of most episodes still goes to Tom Baker, McCoy technically is the one man to play the Doctor for the longest period of time.
Reflections by Film Nerd: The Seventh Doctor’s story continued a path of some darker storylines for the Time Lord, especially after Sophie Aldred’s Ace was introduced to the series and her history was investigated. His first season though was pretty light and fluffy, including a story that to me seemed very reminiscent of an episode from the original series of Star Trek. At this early stage also, while McCoy is still finding the character, there is an over abundance of puns that are amusing, but too much after a while.
After McCoy’s first Dalek story, however, things really take off. The story quality of every serial improves, and the stories allow the Doctor to exhibit great warmth and compassion. I think of the Seventh Doctor as a kooky but lovable uncle, always getting himself into trouble, but heart always in the right place, and always succeeding to get things to work out in the end. I am very glad he had a sizable part in the Doctor Who movie in 1996, as fans got a chance to say goodbye to this great performer in the role.
Melanie Bush (Bonnie Langford)
Mel continued her role from her time with the Sixth Doctor to spend a season travelling with the Seventh. As such, we finally got to get to know her. She is a very innocent, well-bred young lady whom proved her intelligence on more than one occasion. For my part though, she was a little too goody two-shoes, and lacked a sense of being genuine as a result. To me, it always felt like a performance and not a character. She left in the first serial to feature new companion Ace. She was to continue travelling with Sebastian Glitz, another character whom appeared in Sixth Doctor serial Trial of a Time Lord.
Ace (Sophie Aldred)
Ace was in may respects the antithesis of Mel. She was a young wild child who had spent many an occasion on the wrong side of the law. Her family history is sketchy at best, in particular her relationship with her mother. We first meet her on an alien planet to which she was mysteriously transported, later to be discovered to be the result of the Doctor’s actions. She is incredibly intelligent, with an aptitude for explosives. Beginning her adventures with the Doctor at the age of 16, she is also quite young and at times fool-hardy. She and McCoy’s Doctor however have a great chemistry, and they fittingly walked off into the distance together in the final episode of classic Who. She does not return for the 1996 television movie, so the reason why she stopped travelling with the Doctor is never explained, at least not in a televised format.
The Seventh Regeneration [SPOILERS]
This regeneration occurred during the 1996 television movie. The Seventh Doctor was charged with returning the remains of The Master back home. Being The Master, remains did not remain remains. The Doctor makes an emergency landing in the middle of a gun fight between a gang and a young delinquent. He is shot exiting the TARDIS, and dies in surgery given that 20th century medicine gets a little confused with the idea that this being has two hearts. The regeneration occurs in the hospital’s morgue, with a whole lot of inexplicable electricity firing around the place a la the birth of Frankenstein’s monster.
Don’t forget that you can meet Sylvester McCoy, as well as Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Paul McGann, at the Lords of Time convention on April 7th. Tickets can be bought from the Culture Shock Events website.
Feel free to check out our previous Doctor Who Summaries!!