|The Sixth Doctor|
|Portrayed by||Colin Baker|
|Tenure||16 March 1984–6 December 1986|
|First appearance||The Caves of Androzani|
|Last appearance||The Trial of a Time Lord: The Ultimate Foe
|Number of series||2|
|Preceded by||Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison)|
|Succeeded by||Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy)|
|Series||Season 21 (1984)
Season 22 (1985)
Season 23 (1986)
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (August 2010)|
The Sixth Doctor is an incarnation of the Doctor, the protagonist of the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who. He was portrayed by Colin Baker. Although his televisual time on the series was comparatively brief and turbulent, Baker has continued as the Sixth Doctor in Big Finish's range of original Doctor Who audio adventures. Within the series' narrative, the Doctor is a centuries-old Time Lord alien from the planet Gallifrey who travels in time and space in his TARDIS, frequently with companions. When the Doctor is critically injured, he can regenerate his body; in doing so, his physical appearance and personality change. Baker portrays the sixth such incarnation, a flamboyant man in brightly coloured, mismatched clothes whose brash and overbearing personality set him apart from all his previous incarnations.
The Sixth Doctor appeared in three seasons. His appearance in the first of these was at the end of the final episode of The Caves of Androzani which featured the regeneration from the Fifth Doctor and thereafter in the following serial The Twin Dilemma, the end of that season. The Sixth Doctor's era was marked by the decision of the BBC controller Michael Grade to put the series on an 18-month "hiatus" between seasons 22 and 23, with only one new Doctor Who story, Slipback, made on radio during the hiatus, broadcast as 6 parts (at 10 minutes each) on BBC Radio 4 from 25 July to 8 August 1985, as part of a children's magazine show called Pirate Radio Four. Colin Baker had been signed up for four years, as the previous actor Peter Davison had left after only three years.
Prior to its postponement, season 23 was well advanced with episodes already drafted and in at least one case distributed to cast and production. Alongside "The Nightmare Fair", The Ultimate Evil", "Mission to Magnus", "Yellow Fever and How to Cure It", the remaining stories were still under development in a 25 minute episode format after the season was postponed. These were all dropped with the reconception of the season in mid 1985 in favour of a 14 episode story arc called The Trial of a Time Lord. The Sixth Doctor also appeared in the special Dimensions in Time. There are also novels and audio plays featuring the Sixth Doctor, and the character has been visually referenced several times in the revived 2000s production of the show.
The Sixth Doctor's regeneration was initially unstable, and he nearly strangled Peri before he came to his senses. Realising what he had nearly done, he initially considered going into a hermitlike existence on the planet Titan 3, only to be caught up in events on the planet Jocanda, after which he resumed his travels (The Twin Dilemma). He encountered many old foes including the Master, Daleks, Cybermen and Sontarans, and even shared an adventure with his own second incarnation. He also faced a renegade female Time Lord scientist, the Rani, who was conducting experiments on humans using the Luddite Riots as a cover.
Later, the Doctor and Peri landed on the devastated planet Ravolox, which they discovered was actually Earth, moved across space with devastating consequences. Before they could discover the reason for this disaster, the TARDIS landed on Thoros Beta. What actually happened here is still unclear, but initial accounts suggest that Peri was killed after being cruelly used as a test subject in brain transplant experiments and the Doctor was pulled out of time to a Time Lord space station where he was put on trial for the second time by his own race, the Time Lords. In reality the trial was a cover-up organised by the High Council. A race from Andromeda had stolen Time Lord secrets and hidden on Earth, so in order to protect themselves the Time Lords had moved Earth through space, burning the surface in a massive fireball and leaving it as Ravolox. The prosecutor at that trial, the Valeyard, turned out to be a possible future, an evil incarnation of the Doctor himself who was out to steal his remaining lives. He had also edited the Matrix recordings of the Doctor's travels; in reality Peri had survived events on Thoros Beta. The events of the trial tangled the Doctor's timeline slightly, as he left in the company of Mel, whom he technically had not yet met. (Originally this was the then-producer's idea that in the following season this would be explained).
Events following the trial are not covered in the television series, but are covered in various spin-off media, though their canonicity is unclear. The Virgin Missing Adventures novel Time of Your Life states that the Doctor went into a self-imposed exile to avoid becoming the Valeyard. He was lured back into travelling, ironically by the Time Lords, and recruited Grant Markham as a companion. Although now travelling again, he still attempted to avoid meeting Mel and recruited other companions such as history lecturer Evelyn Smythe and Charley Pollard. He eventually does encounter Mel by accident during the events of the BBC Books novel Business Unusual and accepts his fate once she stows away in the TARDIS.
When the TARDIS was attacked by his old enemy the Rani, the Sixth Doctor was somehow injured and regenerated into the Seventh Doctor; the exact cause of the regeneration, however, has never been revealed on-screen.[nb 1] When writers Pip and Jane Baker's novel of the story tried to explain the regeneration many were not happy with the outcome. There have subsequently been various explanations for the regeneration. The Virgin New Adventures series suggests that the Seventh Doctor somehow killed the Sixth, because he could not become the masterplanner and manipulator that his next incarnation became, due to his fear of becoming the Valeyard. The BBC Books novel Spiral Scratch offers an alternative explanation that the Sixth Doctor died as a result of his chronal energy being drained in a confrontation with a powerful pan-dimensional entity before being snared by the Rani's beam.
The Sixth Doctor was an unpredictable and somewhat petulant egoist, whose garish, multicoloured attire reflected his volatile personality. He was both portentous and eloquent, even for the Doctor - of whom he saw himself as the finest incarnation yet – and his unpredictability was made even wilder by his mood swings, manic behaviour, bombastic outbursts and glib, unflappable wit. His personality also displayed occasionally fatalistic overtones.
The Sixth Doctor was almost supremely confident in his abilities and did not suffer fools gladly; he sometimes seemed to endure Peri's presence far more than he actually appreciated it, and his superiority complex applied to almost everyone he encountered. His intellect could support his ego; for instance, the Sixth Doctor was the only one who was able to repair and operate the Chameleon Circuit within the TARDIS, allowing it to change shape to suit its surroundings rather than looking constantly like a police box (although the appropriateness of the TARDIS's appearance to its environment was more-or-less nil) in Attack of the Cybermen. However, not only did his melodramatic arrogance and caustic wit eventually subside, it actually hid the fact that this incarnation retained the Doctor's strong moral sense and empathy, as seen in Revelation of the Daleks, in which he showed great compassion for a dying mutant; and The Trial of a Time Lord, where he displayed outrage at his own people for their part in a plot and cover-up which resulted in the death of most of the Earth's population. Underneath his blustering exterior, he was more determined than ever in his universal battles against evil, possessed of a tenacity and a thirst to do what was right that was far more visible than ever before. Despite his often unstable demeanour, he was always ready to act when necessary, and very little – even his companions – could hope to stand in his way.
His condescension towards the universe around him also extended to his companions, especially Peri. While his use of violence against his foes and his abrasive relationship with Peri were both often criticised by fans, the violence was largely in self-defence, and his relationship with Peri had mellowed significantly when the programme returned from hiatus for Season 23's The Trial of a Time Lord.
He was well known for his love of cats, and always wore one of a number of cat-shaped pins or brooches on the lapel of his patchwork coat, itself said to be the height of fashion on a distant planet.
The events surrounding the production of Doctor Who in the mid-1980s caused the Sixth Doctor's tenure to be cut short, and for a long time Colin Baker bore the brunt of the blame as the "unlikeable" Doctor.
During the Sixth Doctor's tenure in the Big Finish Productions audio plays, voiced by Baker, he appeared to be a somewhat calmer, wittier and altogether happier character (attributed in-story to the influence of companion Evelyn Smythe). In a 2001 poll in Doctor Who Magazine, Baker was voted the "greatest Doctor" of the audio plays. Baker has said that he was not given enough time in the 1980s to 'unpeel the layers' of his character.
Colin Baker wished to dress his Doctor in black, specifically black velvet, to reflect his character's darker personality. Producer John Nathan-Turner, however, opted for a deliberately tasteless costume with garish, clashing colours (later described by Colin Baker as "an explosion in a rainbow factory"). He also retained the question marks embroidered onto his collar, which Nathan-Turner had added to Tom Baker's costume in 1980 and had retained through Peter Davison's tenure. Baker added a cat badge to the ensemble.
The costume itself, however, mainly features the red frock coat, with green patchwork, and yellow and pink lapels. The Doctor always wore his white shirt with question marks on the collar. There were many variants on the waistcoat and cravat - the most recognized and earliest is the knitted brown waistcoat with a turquoise polka-dot cravat. The waistcoat was later changed to a red check one, and in the following story the cravat became red and polka-dot. An unseen incarnation of the Doctor would wear a yellow starfield cravat and purple, green and blue waistcoat. His trousers were yellow and striped, and his preferred footwear was a pair of green/black ankle boots with orange spats. He would always wear a cat badge, but there were many badges throughout his tenure, many based on Baker's own. However the most remembered is the plain white cat badge, based on no cat but generic.
In recent years, a blue variation of the costume has become a popular alternative. This outfit was used in the webcast Real Time, as the clashing colours of the original design were tricky to animate. It also has been used on the cover of some of the numerous audio drama stories from Big Finish Productions. Ironically, one of the few requirements set down by the designer of the costume Baker wore in his televised stories was that it not feature any blue at all, as this would interfere with some of the series' special effects. (However, the cravat used from The Twin Dilemma to Revelation of the Daleks was turquoise and the waistcoat in Terror of the Vervoids featured blue).
Season 22 attracted some criticism for its violent content. Coincidentally, torture for entertainment was explored as a theme in the story Vengeance on Varos. After the 18-month hiatus, Season 23 featured a reduction of episodes produced, and the 14-part serial The Trial of a Time Lord was felt by some fans to reflect the fact that the series itself was "on trial" all this time.
- "A Fix with Sontarans", a segment of the children's television programme Jim'll Fix It.
- VideoGaiden
- In Top Gear (Season 2, Episode 8), the Sixth Doctor's TARDIS appears on the test track, distracting a Cyberman trying to set a lap time in a Honda Civic. The Doctor sets a lap time of 1:43.
- In John Hodgman's More Information Than You Require, a picture of the Sixth Doctor is referred to as the "Sixth Martin Van Buren".
- Target Books Missing Episodes
- The Nightmare Fair by Graham Williams
- The Ultimate Evil by Wally K. Daly
- Mission to Magnus by Philip Martin
- State of Change by Christopher Bulis
- Time of Your Life by Steve Lyons
- Millennial Rites by Craig Hinton
- Killing Ground by Steve Lyons
- Burning Heart by Dave Stone
- Business Unusual by Gary Russell
- Mission: Impractical by David A. McIntee
- Players by Terrance Dicks (Also features a flashback to the Second Doctor)
- Grave Matter by Justin Richards
- The Quantum Archangel by Craig Hinton (Also features a brief appearance by an alternate version of the Third Doctor)
- The Shadow in the Glass by Justin Richards and Stephen Cole
- Instruments of Darkness by Gary Russell
- Palace of the Red Sun by Christopher Bulis
- Blue Box by Kate Orman
- Synthespians™ by Craig Hinton
- Spiral Scratch by Gary Russell (Ends in the Sixth Doctor's regeneration)
- Make Your Own Adventure
- Short stories
Penguin Fiftieth Anniversary eBook novellas
- Something Borrowed by Richelle Mead
The Sixth Doctor was featured in a number of acclaimed comic strips drawn by John Ridgway. These featured visuals and storylines of a whimsical fantasy nature, similar to Alice in Wonderland. The Sixth Doctor was somewhat calmer and more restrained than on television. All of these comic strips appeared in Doctor Who magazine in the 1980s. Colin Baker himself wrote a comic book special called The Age of Chaos in which the Sixth Doctor and Frobisher visit an older version of Peri.
Doctor Who Magazine
- The Shape-Shifter
- Polly the Glot
- Once upon a Time Lord
- Kane's Story / Abel's Story / Warriors' Story / Frobisher's Story
- Exodus / Revelation / Genesis
- Nature of the Beast
- Time Bomb
- Salad Daze
- Profit of Doom
- The Gift
- World Shapers
- Emperor of the Daleks
- Up Above the Gods
Classic Comic Special
- The Age of Chaos
- The Forgotten
- Prisoners of Time
Short Trips audios
- The Wings of a Butterfly
- The Doctor's Coat
- Seven to One
- Murmurs of Earth
- To Cut a Blade of Grass
- According to the BBC Books Past Doctor Adventures novel Spiral Scratch by Gary Russell, the Sixth Doctor was already dying and/or on the verge of regenerating before the Rani captured the TARDIS. The unofficial novel Time's Champion by Craig Hinton and Chris McKeon gives a different account of the events leading up to the Sixth Doctor's regeneration. Time's Champion, which was published for charity, posits that the events of Spiral Scratch are in fact an overwritten timeline creation of the Sixth Doctor in his first act as Time's Champion, in order to save Mel from the clutches of the Time Lord God, Death. The Sixth Doctor, through the TARDIS' telepathic circuits, forces his own regeneration and leads his Ship towards Lakertya, setting up the events of Time and the Rani. The Sixth Doctor's final words become "You want me to become a god?"
- The Handbook: Sixth Doctor
- The Handbook: The Sixth Doctor p p207-208
- A Brief History Of Time (Travel): The Twin Dilemma
- The Trial Of A Time Lord (Segment One) at Doctor Who: A Brief History Of Time (Travel)
- Howe, D, Stammers M, Walker, S The Handbook: The Sixth Doctor (1993) Doctor Who Books (Vigin Publishing) ISBN 0-426-20400-X
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Sixth Doctor|
- Sixth Doctor on TARDIS Data Core, an external wiki
- The Sixth Doctor on the BBC's Doctor Who website
- Sixth Doctor Gallery
- Sixth Doctor's first season theme music QuickTime file
- Trial of a Time Lord theme music QuickTime file
- Sixth Doctor first title sequence
- Sixth Doctor second title sequence
|Companions of the Sixth Doctor|
|Season||← Season 21||Season 22||Season 23|
|Companion||← Peri||Mel →|