The Eleven Faces of Doctor Who

The Five Faces of Doctor Who was a series of repeats organised by John Nathan-Turner, broadcast in November 1981. He chose five of the adventures from the first four Doctors. The stories he chose were:

An Unearthly Child (William Hartnell’s first story from 1963)
The Krotons (Patrick Troughton, 1968)
Carnival of Monsters (Jon Pertwee, 1973)
The Three Doctors (Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell, 1972)
Logopolis (Tom Baker’s final story – included because as of that time it was the only one to feature a glimpse of the new Doctor Peter Davison, 1981)

Since we are celebrating the grand 50th anniversary of Doctor Who this year my friend Philip and I decided to while away a long car journey last week by debating our Eleven Faces of Doctor Who in the hope that Steven Moffat decides to resurrect this innovative way to run repeats. These are my choices and alongside my own personal choice, I’ve also documented what I think the BBC will probably run with.

FIRST DOCTOR (William Hartnell) The BBC would have to run with An Unearthly Child because it’s where it all started. Personally I’d love to see The Time Meddler, it’s a very alien tale and great fun.

SECOND DOCTOR (Patrick Troughton) It will be hard for the BBC to resist The Tomb of the  Cybermen, it is a fantastic tale and Troughton at his best but for me it’s The Seeds of Death. It was the first video I ever purchased and a great opportunity to show the Ice Warriors.

THIRD DOCTOR (Jon Pertwee) In this anniversary year the BBC will incorrectly choose The Three Doctors as it was broadcast for the 10th anniversary in 1973 but viewers would appreciate The Daemons more which contains all of the successful hallmarks of the Pertwee era and Roger Delgado’s Master at his macabre best.

FOURTH DOCTOR (Tom Baker) In my opinion Genesis of the Daleks is a mediocre story with a stand-out scene but this won’t stop the BBC from showing it. Why not show City of Death instead? It contains a wonderful Baker performance and was scripted by a team that included Douglas Adams.

FIFTH DOCTOR (Peter Davison) If the BBC overdo the celebration theme we’ll get The Five Doctors which served at the 20th anniversary story and not really a Davison story. I’d suggest Earthshock for it’s shock value and glass-jawed Cybermen.

SIXTH DOCTOR (Colin Baker) The link is a little more tenuous but if they show Three and Five Doctors then I defy the BBC not to show The Two Doctors, a triumphant return for Troughton in a story wanting for plot. Showing Vengeance on Varos would show new Doctor Who audiences just how dark the show could be and in Sil a terrifying villain.

SEVENTH DOCTOR (Sylvester McCoy) Silver Nemesis was the 25th anniversary story and continuing the theme the BBC will act as expected; it’s a story that has had a fair amount of criticism but one I am still fond of. However I’d choose Remembrance of the Daleks, a smashing echo from 1963 with a strong cast and plot.

EIGHTH DOCTOR (Paul McGann) TV movie. That is all. But if you allow me to go outside the box then I’d recommend the recent Big Finish release Dark Eyes which takes McGann and gives him new direction and depth.

NINTH DOCTOR (Christopher Eccleston) The BBC will opt for the place it all started again with Rose but we all know it really started again with Dalek which stands alone as one of the best Doctor Who stories of all time.

TENTH DOCTOR (David Tennant) I think we’d all like to see Elisabeth Sladen again in School Reunion which was as emotionally draining as it was wonderful but in storytelling terms it doesn’t hold a torch to Blink. Sadly Blink doesn’t include a whole lot of Doctor which would make it a poor choice for Tennant fans.

ELEVENTH DOCTOR (Matt Smith) The Doctor’s Wife is steeped in Doctor Who history and expounds on the myth of the Doctor’s longest serving companion, it was well received and the BBC wouldn’t go far wrong it picking this one. I love Vincent and the Doctor, simply, it’s perfect Doctor Who.

No doubt you are reading this and vehemently disagreeing with my choices so I’d urge you to leave your own choices in the comments section. I look forward to reading them.


Ernest Borgnine

Ernest Borgnine has died. In this world of Hollywood lightweights Borgnine was Godzilla.

He passed away, aged 95, and was still acting up until 2009 (in ER). You will have seen some of his films: The Vikings, Escape From New York, Poseidon Adventure, Dirty Dozen, The Wild Bunch, Flight of the Phoenix, Ice Station Zebra and that big Oscar win in 1955 for Marty. Just a small selection from a huge resume.

I discovered him in an entirely different way. I loved Helicopters! Borgnine played ace pilot Dominic Santini in 55 episodes of US TV series Airwolf. Running from 1984 until 1986 it went head to head with my other favourite helicopter drama Blue Thunder. To be honest I always preferred the Blue Thunder machine to Airwolf but my favourite character out of both shows was Dom.

I met Borgnine just a few years ago in Birmingham. He filled the room with laughter and hi-jinx. He was happy to talk about all of his roles and the affection in his face when we spoke about Airwolf lives with me today, especially today.

The measure of a true actor is their entire body of work. Ernest Borgnine moved effortlessly between genre and medium with the grace of Astaire and with unparalleled humility. A true legend, of course, but to me, aged 10, he was the best damn chopper pilot ever.