Seventh Doctor

Seventh Doctor


caption=Sylvester McCoy is the Doctor
portrayed=Sylvester McCoy
start="Time and the Rani"
finish="Survival" (regular) "Doctor Who" (guest star)
series_list=Seasons 24 to 26
companions= on television:
Mel Bush
in spin-offs:
Benny Summerfield
Roz Forrester
Chris Cwej
Hex Schofield
Catherine Broome
preceding_doc= Sixth Doctor
preceding_actor= Colin Baker
succeeding_doc=Eighth Doctor
succeeding_actor= Paul McGann
preceding=Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker)
succeeding=Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann)

The Seventh Doctor is a fictional character, the seventh incarnation of the Doctor seen on screen in the long-running BBC television science-fiction series "Doctor Who". He was portrayed by the actor Sylvester McCoy.


In his first season, the Seventh Doctor started out as a comical character, mixing his metaphors ("Time and tide melt the snowman," for example), playing the spoons, and making pratfalls, but soon started to develop a darker nature and raised the profound question of who the Doctor actually is. The Seventh Doctor era is noted for the cancellation of "Doctor Who" after 26 years. It is also noted for the Virgin New Adventures, a range of original novels published from 1992 to 1997, taking the series on beyond the television serials.

In 1990, readers of "Doctor Who Magazine" voted McCoy's Doctor "Best Doctor", over perennial favourite Tom Baker.

The Seventh Doctor's final appearance on television was in the 1996 "Doctor Who" television movie, where he regenerated into the Eighth Doctor, played by Paul McGann. A sketch of him is later seen in John Smith's "A Journal of Impossible Things" in the new series 2007 episode "Human Nature".


When the TARDIS was attacked by the Rani, the Sixth Doctor was injured and forced to regenerate. After a brief period of post-regenerative confusion and amnesia (chemically induced by the Rani), the Seventh Doctor thwarted the Rani's plans, and rejoined his companion Mel for whimsical adventures in an odd tower block and a Welsh holiday camp in the 1950s.

On the planet Svartos, Mel decided to leave the Doctor's company for that of intergalactic rogue Sabalom Glitz. Also at this time, the Doctor was joined by time-stranded teenager Ace. Although he did not mention it at the time, the Doctor soon recognised that an old enemy from a past adventure, the ancient entity known as Fenric, was responsible for the Time Storm which transported Ace from 1980s Perivale to Svartos in the distant future. Growing more secretive and driven from this point on, the Doctor took Ace under his wing and began teaching her about the universe, all the while keeping an eye out for Fenric's plot. The Doctor began taking a more scheming and proactive approach to defeating evil, using the Gallifreyan stellar manipulator named the Hand of Omega as part of an elaborate trap for the Daleks which resulted in the destruction of their home planet, Skaro. Soon afterwards, the Doctor used a similar tactic and another Time Lord relic to destroy a Cyberman fleet. He engineered the fall of the oppressive government of a future human colony in a single night and encountered the Gods of Ragnarok at a circus on the planet Segonax, whom he had apparently fought throughout time. Later, he was reunited with his old friend, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart while battling the forces of an alternate dimension on Earth.

The Seventh Doctor's manipulations were not reserved for his enemies. With the goal of helping Ace confront her past, he took her to a Victorian house in her home town of Perivale in 1883 which she had burned down in 1983. Eventually, the Doctor confronted and defeated Fenric at a British naval base during World War II, revealing Fenric's part in Ace's history. The Doctor continued to act as Ace's mentor, returning her to Perivale; however, she chose to continue travelling with him. The circumstances of her parting from the Doctor were not shown on television.

Near the end of his incarnation, the Seventh Doctor was given the responsibility of transporting the remains of his former enemy the Master from Skaro to Gallifrey. This proved to be a huge mistake: despite having a limited physical form, the Master was able to take control of the Doctor's TARDIS and cause it to land in 1999 San Francisco, where the Doctor was shot in the middle of a gang shoot-out. He was taken to a hospital, where surgeons removed the bullets but mistook the Doctor's double heartbeat for fibrillation; their attempt to save his life instead caused the Doctor to "die". Perhaps due to the anesthesia, the Doctor did not regenerate immediately after death (unlike all previous occasions); he finally did so several hours later, while lying in the hospital's morgue.

In "Time and the Rani" the Seventh Doctor gives his age soon after his regeneration as "exactly" 953 years, indicating that some two centuries of subjective time has passed since his fourth incarnation was revealed to be 759 in "The Ribos Operation", and approximately half-a-century since "Revelation of the Daleks" in which the Sixth Doctor stated he was 900 years old. The later revival of the series, however, has contradicted the age given by the Seventh Doctor (and the Sixth) by establishing the Ninth Doctor as 900 years old, with the Tenth Doctor stating his exact age as 903 in "Voyage of the Damned".


The Seventh Doctor displayed perhaps the most profound change in attitude of any of the Time Lord's personae, beginning as perhaps the most outwardly amiable and bumbling (to the extent of putting himself in danger but not at the cost of his overall great intelligence and benevolent intentions) and progressing into a driven, dark gamemaster whose plans to defeat his adversaries, both old and new, would play out across space and time. He generally displayed an affable, curious, knowledgeable, easygoing, excitable and charming air with a tendency to be wistful. However, as he began to choose his battles and keep a tighter grip on his secrets - from his plans to his very identity - he also presented more serious, contemplative, secretive, wistful and manipulative sides with undercurrents of mischief and authority, constantly giving the impression that there was more to him than met the eye.

As something of a showman, the Doctor would sometimes act like a buffoon, usually preferring to manipulate events from behind the scenes; much like his second incarnation, he was prepared to play the fool in order to trick his foes into underestimating him, inevitably leading to their defeat at his hands. He was an adept physical performer and once deployed a repertoire of magic tricks, illusions and escape artistry to this effect as part of his plans. Although his more obvious whimsical tendencies disappeared over time (particularly his spoons-playing), he maintained a fondness for idiosyncratic speeches that occasionally referred to literature, ordinary places and even food and drink amidst the weightier concerns on his mind. He was empathetic to his friends (and even his enemies, such as Helen A) and somewhat melancholic at times (such as during Mel's departure and before his decision to eradicate the Daleks) but now placed greater burdens upon himself in the name of protecting the universe. This may have led him to surround his true intentions in mystery and the use of sleight of hand as befit his fondness for performance, in effect, subverting his more lighthearted qualities to complement and enhance his heroic and darker ones.

Given the Seventh Doctor's appearance and stature, he was surprisingly capable of both directly and indirectly taking control of situations involving strangers, using his greater intelligence to assess and direct events. Concerned with the bigger picture, he would sometimes overlook the finer details and his planning, both pre-prepared and improvised, would sometimes have fatal results and consequences. When he acted to end threats, it was usually a ruthless, destructive and final maneuver. He was also not above hiding the truth from his friends and allies and using them in order to complete his schemes and gambits.

His tendency to reveal only select information to his companion Ace — as well as anyone else around them — was utilised both in her education and in their adventures, as if he were the only one who should know all the answers and others should come to their own conclusions. At two points he even abused Ace's trust in him, once to develop her as a person and again to keep her alive (on both occasions, freeing her from the evil influences that had haunted her during her life), while on one of these adventures, he showed great difficulty in admitting his foreknowledge of the situation's severity to her when she finally confronted him. In spite of his immense fondness for her, and her for him, he often frustrated her with his secretive nature as his alien behaviour, the great importance of his objectives (especially his focus on obliterating enemies from his past) and his strong desire to both educate and protect her would lead him to keep even her in the dark and would even subordinate her feelings towards him in order to succeed in their battles. Fortunately, their close, almost familial bond was likely what helped Ace in moving past the feelings of betrayal she sometimes felt towards the Doctor, particularly as he genuinely had her best interests at heart. In fact, while he appeared to be an unassuming figure, fond of performing magic tricks and displaying notable showmanship, the Seventh Doctor was actually quite powerful and calculating, for he would use his friends and foes alike as pawns in his elaborate chess game against "evil". As Ace herself put it, he was "well devious."

In direct contrast to his third incarnation, this Doctor was absolutely opposed to violence of any sort (as demonstrated in stories such as "Battlefield", where he stops a battle merely by ordering the warriors to desist) and he was totally against the use of firearms (to the extent of 'talking down' a soldier ordered to execute him in "The Happiness Patrol" by emphasising the easiness of the kill versus the enormity of ending a life), although he also proved capable of rendering a man unconscious with a touch. In keeping with his established habits, he would use gadgetry of his own invention when the situation called for it, but never as his final gambit. Instead, he almost always managed to talk his enemies into submission, often into suicide – perhaps most memorably in "Remembrance of the Daleks", where he taunts the seemingly last Dalek in existence until it self-destructs, or in "Ghost Light", where he defeats the malevolent Light by ramming home the folly of trying to prevent evolution (he employs variations of this 'talk to death' tactic in "Dragonfire", "Silver Nemesis" and "The Curse of Fenric", although primarily to manipulate opponents to guarantee the outcome in his favour). Perhaps this Doctor's most definitive stand against violence and savagery was taken when he faced down his arch-foe the Master in "Survival" whilst resisting the animalistic influence of an alien world, telling his enemy, "If we fight like animals, we die like animals." He displayed a talent for hypnosis on various occasions that appeared to be much stronger than in past incarnations. It is indeed fitting that this, at times the darkest Doctor of all, should not directly use physical force to implement his actions, even though he seemed to have the universe's weight on his shoulders more often than any other Doctor.

These trends continued in the Virgin New Adventures novel series, where the Doctor would be prepared to destroy planets in the name of the greater good, and his companions were not always sure whether they could trust him. However, the mysterious Seventh Doctor eventually became slightly less dark and manipulative towards the end of his incarnation and seemed to finally regain some of the relaxed attitude he once possessed at his beginning.

Appearance and personality quirks

The Doctor's outfit in this incarnation was calmer than his previous attire ("Thank goodness in this regeneration I've regained my impeccable sense of haute couture"), but as idiosyncratic as any other. It consisted of a long off-white jacket with a red paisley scarf worn under its lapels and a matching handkerchief in one of the pockets, a lapel chain, a shirt, a red paisley tie, a yellow and green tank top adorned with red question marks, sand-coloured plaid trousers, white/brown two tone brogue shoes, a Panama hat with an upturned brim (a possible reference to the similar accessory he wore as the Fifth Doctor) and an umbrella with a red question mark-shaped handle. As with the three other Doctors costumed during the John Nathan-Turner era, the abovementioned question marks on the Doctor's tank top and his umbrella handle continued the red question marked clothing motif that was introduced in the Fourth Doctor's final season and ended before the Seventh Doctor's regeneration.

Although a seemingly casual outfit that reflected the Seventh Doctor's initially easy and whimsical manner, it took on a new light when he became more scheming and prepared in his missions — to reflect the emergence of his personality's more mysterious and darker aspects, his jacket, hatband, handkerchief, scarf and tie became more muted and darker in colour, now in shades of burgundy and brown (most obviously the jacket). In the New Adventures novels, images of the Doctor on the covers usually omitted the pullover. On a DVD featurette ("Light In Dark Places") for "Ghost Light", Sylvester McCoy expresses some disdain for the garment, feeling it detracts somewhat from the mood of the story, when drawing attention to the stylistic choice of performing in most of the serial without his hat and umbrella. The changes in colours make the Seventh the only Doctor under Nathan-Turner's tenure to greatly alter his costume; the changes to the outfits worn by his three previous selves during this production period tended to be more subtle and less noteworthy. The Seventh's own attire was repeatedly revised during his first season, wearing a red/black tartan scarf and red braces initially, along with briefly using a different umbrella handle at first.

In the TV Movie the Doctor's costume changed again, with a return to a lighter jacket, now coloured sand. Gone were the question mark pullover, scarves, tie and question mark umbrella, replaced by a red waistcoat and a black tie. However, the Doctor retained his Panama hat.

The Doctor enjoyed using his hat, umbrella and the TARDIS key, amongst other items, as physical props, usually as showy affectations or to command attention, while the umbrella could also be used to disarm and trip foes. Like his second, fourth and sixth selves, the Seventh carried any number of random items in his pockets, including technological devices and books. In a break from his past however, he spoke with a mild Scottish accent rather than in his past selves' Received Pronunciation speaking patterns and also rolled his "r"s. His pet hates included burnt toast, bus stations, unrequited love, tyranny and cruelty.

Story style

In Season 24, the Seventh Doctor era began with a light-hearted approach, with stories like "Delta and the Bannermen" clearly aimed at a younger audience. However, in the final two seasons with Andrew Cartmel as script editor, the stories soon explored the true nature of the Doctor, hinting at dark secrets in his past. In "Silver Nemesis", Lady Peinforte hints she knows the Doctor's secret of being more than just a Time Lord (deleted scenes in "Remembrance of the Daleks" and "Survival" also refer to this). "Remembrance" has the Doctor talk using "we" when referring to early Gallifreyan time travel experiments. Ace also became the focus of a dedicated character arc that was seeded from her introduction onwards and prominently played out during Season 26.

With the cancellation of the series, these developments were never fully played out in the television series, but some of them were revealed in the New Adventures.

Marc Platt's novel "Lungbarrow" is usually considered to be the conclusion of the "Cartmel Masterplan". In that novel, the Doctor is revealed to be the reincarnation of "the Other", a shadowy figure and contemporary of Rassilon and Omega from Ancient Gallifrey. "Lungbarrow" was originally intended for Season 26, but producer John Nathan-Turner felt that it revealed too much of the Doctor's origins. It was reworked to become "Ghost Light" instead.

Other appearances


The Seventh Doctor and Ace appeared twice on television between the time "Doctor Who" was cancelled and the 1996 television movie. The first was in 1990, in a special episode of the BBC2 educational programme "Search Out Science". In this episode, the Doctor acted as a quiz show host, asking questions about astronomy; Ace, K-9 and "Cedric, from the planet Glurk" were the contestants. The Seventh Doctor then appeared in the 1993 charity special "Dimensions in Time". Neither of these appearances are generally considered canonical. A picture of the Seventh Doctor appears briefly in the Tenth Doctor story "Human Nature", in John Smith's "A Journal Of Impossible Things".

See List of non-televised Seventh Doctor stories.

ee also

* History of Doctor Who - the 1980s

External links

* [ The Seventh Doctor] at [ "The TARDIS Index File" website]
* [ The Seventh Doctor on the BBC's "Doctor Who" website]
* [ Seventh Doctor Gallery]
* [ Seventh Doctor theme music Quicktime file]
* [ Seventh Doctor title sequence]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • List of non-televised Seventh Doctor stories — In addition to the televised episodes of Doctor Who starring Sylvester McCoy, the Seventh Doctor has appeared in a number of spin off media.Audio dramas* The Sirens of Time * The Fearmonger * The Genocide Machine * The Fires of Vulcan * The… …   Wikipedia

  • Doctor Who (1996 film) — Doctor Who (film) redirects here. For the Dalek movies with Peter Cushing, see Dr. Who (Dalek films). 156 – Doctor Who Doctor Who television movie The Doctor and the Master in their climactic ba …   Wikipedia

  • Doctor Who Magazine — Doctor Who Weekly issue 1, cover dated 17 October 1979 Editor Tom Spilsbury Categories Science fiction television Frequency Every four weeks …   Wikipedia

  • Doctor Who spin-offs — refers to material created outside of, but related to, the long running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. Both during the main run of the series from 1963 to 1989 and after its cancellation, numerous novels, comic strips,… …   Wikipedia

  • Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death — Doctor Who charity spoof Rowan Atkinson as the Doctor and Julia Sawalha as Emma …   Wikipedia

  • Doctor Who: Destiny of the Doctors — Doctor Who: doctor Destiny Developer(s) Studio Fish Publisher(s) BBC Multimedia …   Wikipedia

  • Doctor Who (season 26) — Doctor Who season 26 Doctor Who logo as used in this season Country of origin United Kingdom …   Wikipedia

  • Doctor Who: The Adventure Games — Developer(s) Sumo Digital (Mac OS) Codemasters (Sega, Atari, Megaxus) …   Wikipedia

  • Doctor Who and the Daleks in the Seven Keys to Doomsday — Promotional poster for Doctor Who and the Daleks in the Seven Keys to Doomsday Written by Terrance Dicks …   Wikipedia

  • Doctor Who (season 25) — Doctor Who season 25 Doctor Who logo as used in this season Country of origin United Kingdom …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.