And now for something completely different ...

No, not Monty Python. 

Doctor Who.

Taking a rest from national and local politics, I would be interested to hear what the readers of this blog think of a totally different topic - who has been the best "Doctor Who" to date?

There is an interesting piece on Digital Spy here via Microsoft News. They themselves previously argued for Patrick Troughton (that really dates them - the episode where he took over from William Hartnell is one of my oldest memories as a small child! - although he undoubtedly was very good.) They have also organised a poll which was overwhelmingly won by David Tennant.

They have now done some interesting number crunching using the IMDB fan ratings of all the full-length episodes. 

This obviously puts two doctors at a disadvantage 

  • Paul McGann, the 8th doctor, only appeared in one full length film at the time of the Millennium and although his performance was actually quite good - he showed in the mini-episode "The night of the doctor" that he actually had a lot of potential in the role which was never fulfilled - that has put him at the bottom of the pile. 
  • The "War Doctor", John Hurt, doesn't feature at all as he never had an episode to himself as the doctor but only appeared twice during the run of the 11th doctor.

I'm not going to spoil interest in the article by giving the full results here. I will say that the list does obviously bears some resemblance in it's overall form to the what I and many other fans of the series think. I would rate seven of the fourteen doctors as between very good and superb, and those seven, who would be the top half of my personal list, do indeed correspond to the top seven in the Digital Spy rankings based on IMDB scores, though not necessarily in the same order.

It logically follows that the other six doctors in the Digital Spy assessment, who would therefore had to be the bottom part of my ranking of the thirteen doctors assessed, do correspond to that part of the Digital Spy list - though several of them are only there because somebody has to be in the bottom part of any list, not because either I or other fans actually think they were bad. 

Personally I would rate three of those "Doctor Who" characters as good, one as fair and only two as terrible. There are a lot of seasons and episodes from those six doctors which were rated well above seven out of ten by fans - and the people who post reviews no IMDB are not known for being easy to please so scores like that are pretty respectable.

I did think, however, that there was one serious issue with the list - it does appear that rather too many people are assessing the present holder of the keys to the TARDIS on her gender rather than the quality of her acting.

As far as I'm concerned casting should be done on the basis of how good people are at acting and whether it comes from the "right" or the "left" - if you can work out which is which these days - casting people on the basis of the colour of their skin, their sexuality, or anything irrelevant to their acting ability is a bad idea. Most parts you do have to cast someone of a specific gender,. but as Doctor Who is supposed to be an alien who changes every other aspect of identity on regeneration, there is absolutely no reason why that person logically has to be male or female for any given incarnation.

If Jody Whittaker had been rated above, say David Tennant or Tom Baker, my response would have been - "You're having a laugh, mate!" - anyone who made such an argument is voting on gender rather than acting ability.

But by the same argument, so is anyone who ranks her below Colin Baker or Sylvester McCoy, whose terms as Doctor Who were complete turkeys which literally killed the show in the 1990s.

Digital Spy themselves wrote

"We wouldn't dream of accusing angry fan-boys of targeting the IMDb ratings as a way of venting their disdain for a female Doctor or "PC" storylines, but if that had happened, well, it would explain why a series that's done so consistently well in the ratings and proven enormously popular with viewers appears so low in this ranking."

My personal favourite doctor remains Jon Pertwee - which probably dates me too.

My respect for David Tennant - as fortunately I have always been able to differentiate my enjoyment of an actor's performances with whether or not I agree with his or her political opinions - even survived the time when I was standing in an election and the local Labour party put a newspaper through my door and those of all my neighbours with a personal endorsement from Tennant encouraging people to vote for my opponent. 

However, I have greatly enjoyed the best episodes from nearly all the inhabitants of the TARDIS from Hartnell to Whitaker. I thought that "Spyfall" was right up there with the best shows on any season of Doctor Who.

I would be fascinated to learn who the readers of my blog think was the best Doctor Who to date and what they thought of the Digital Spy / IMDB rankings. Please leave a comment if you have anything to contribute to a debate on the subject. Usual seasonal rules of courtesy apply!


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