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The Sixth Doctor Who


The sixth Doctor Who was Colin Baker. He portrayed a very complex character, brash and blustering, colourful and arrogant. This was made apparent even down to his pantomime style costume. Underneath it all he was the same Doctor as before, but somehow it never came out very often. A general decline in the quality of the scripts meant that the Doctor's morality was never made very apparent, and coupled with increased levels of violence in the show as a whole, you'd be forgiven for thinking you were watching something else entirely. All this coincided with the programme increasingly relying on its own history to feed its stories - so the scripts became heavily continuity-laden, resurrecting old monsters for the sake of it, and losing any freshness and general wide appeal that the show might once have possessed. At its worst, it seemed like bad fan fiction - though there were some passable stories, mostly those that didn't try to be gritty, hard-nosed and realistic. None of this was the actor's fault, of course - and reportedly Baker would have liked to soften the character over time. (He's since gone on to great success playing a modified version of the sixth Doctor in audio plays.) It didn't help that a decision was made during Colin Baker's time to move the show back from a Spring to an Autumn schedule, resulting in an seventeen month gap between seasons. This didn't allow the public to get to know Baker's character. In the second season, his personality had mellowed somewhat, and the show was somewhat improved stylistically - but ratings were now in decline. The BBC obviously weren't happy with the way the programme was going. Who was responsible for the loss of direction? Undoubtedly the production team was growing tired - the same producer, John Nathan-Turner, had been in charge since Tom Baker's last year, the longest time any one person had held the post. In fact, it's said that he had been hoping to leave for some time, but had been kept in the post by the BBC refusing to give him any other project to move onto. You might almost believe that the BBC didn't want any fresh blood to bring new impetus to Doctor Who, in case it brought the programme new popularity. But that would make it sound like there was a top-level conspiracy inside the BBC to scupper Doctor Who, and I'm not that paranoid. Nevertheless, in an incredible move, rather than firing the producer (who was responsible for the creative direction of the show after all), the BBC rather unceremoniously dismissed Colin Baker from the lead part. Considering what happened next, it might well have been best if the BBC could just have cancelled the series outright.

Best and worst TV stories

Adventures of the sixth Doctor Who