The Doctors
(Timeline: 2005 to Present)

“You know, Doctor, I can't tell if you're a genius or just incredibly arrogant."
"Well, on a good day, I'm both.”
- Orient Express Conductor and The Twelfth Doctor

The Ninth Doctor
Played by Chris Eccleston
2005 (Season 1)


    Christopher Eccleston had the unenviable task of being the face of the "New" Doctor Who series in 2005. While the show had many things going for it, including humor, thrills, action and a beautiful new companion, had Eccleston's take on The Doctor not been appealing to long time fans and new viewers, the show might have lasted only one season. But Christopher was not only successful, he was "fantastic".

     Eccleston's "Nine" was a different kind of Doctor from the old days. Gone were the Beatle haircuts and groovy colorful duds of the seventies and eighties. No rock star hair like The Doctor in the 1996 movie, no Tom Baker scarves, no silly hats or celery worn on the lapel. Instead, this Doctor was a man with a plain leather jacket that, according to soon-to-be ally Jack Harkness, made him look like a U-Boat captain. He also had  and a bushel full of repressed guilt and goofy faces, and a Northern accent (ROSE: "If you are an alien, how comes you sound like you're from the North?" / DOCTOR: "Lots of planets have a North!"). Aided by a wonderful cast consisting of Billie Piper as young shop girl Rose Tyler, Camille Coduri as her mum Jackie, and Noel Clarke as Mickey, Rose's boyfriend, Eccleston made it feel like The Doctor had never been away.

     Unfortunately, Eccleston only stayed the one season. After only thirteen episodes, it felt like he was only getting started, yet he was done. As such, as good as Eccleston was, he had the fewest iconic moments of all the new Doctors, the kind of things that stick with viewers such as David Tennant's long-delayed emergence from the TARDIS ("Miss me?") in "The Christmas Invasion" or Matt Smith's feast of fish fingers and custard in "The Eleventh Hour". The Eccleston season was a lot of fun, but only had one true classic episode, the two-parter "The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances". If Eccleston did have one iconic moment, it would have to be his ecstatic "Everybody lives, Rose! Just this once - everybody lives!" near the end of "The Doctor Dances". Also memorable were his final words to Rose in the last episode before regenerating into his next body: "You were fantastic, absolutely fantastic. And you know what? So was I!" And he was.

     As to why he left the series, he explained in several different interviews over the years without revealing many details. His most basic response was "Myself and three individuals at the very top of the pyramid clashed, so off I went. But they’re not here to say their side of it, so I’m not going to go into detail.” He also expressed later that he loved playing the part.

     Sadly, as of this writing, although BBC America runs episodes of the Modern Doctor Who series (often out of sequence and missing key episodes), they do not have the Eccleston episodes. Your best bet is to track down Season One on disc. 13 Episodes, fairly cheap, well worth the investment.

     Selected Films: Jude (1996 - with David Tennant); Gone in 60 Seconds (2000); The Others (2001); 28 Days Later (2002); G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra (2009); Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Television: Second Coming (2003 - created by Russell T Davies); Lennon Naked (2010 TV Movie - he played John Lennon with Naoko Mori of Torchwood playing Yoko Ono)

"Excuse me. Would you mind not farting while I'm trying to save the world?"

Pictured above: Billie Piper as Rose Tyler with The Doctor.

Video: The "New" Doctor Who series trailer from 2005.

The Tenth Doctor
Played by David Tennant
2006 to 2009, 2013 (Seasons 2, 3, 4, Specials, and 50th Anniversary Special)


     While Christopher Eccleston played a huge part in making the the new Doctor Who series popular, David Tennant kicked it into high gear. While there are fans who do not like his hyperactive Doctor, many more believe that he was equal to or better than even the great Tom Baker. During Tennant's tenure, his Doctor had three separate traveling companions: shop girl Rose Tyler, Physician-in-Training Martha Jones, and temp office worker Donna Noble, each of whom brought a different dynamic to the Doctor - Companion relationship, thanks to smart scripts and the superb performances of Billie Piper, Freema Agyemen and Catherine Tate respectively. Through it all, Tennant was brilliantly manic and hilariously funny, while also keeping much of Christopher Eccleston's dark moodiness.

     Season Two featured the ongoing love story growing between The Doctor and Rose, a tale destined to end sadly. Season Three centered on The Doctor and the love-struck Martha Jones saving the world several times. After the excellent Christmas episode "Voyage of the Damned" co-starring pop singer Kylie Minogue, Season Four, with The Doctor and Donna Noble, eventually grew into a celebration of Tennant's run as the Doctor, with companions Rose and Martha returning, as well as time-traveler Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Slayden) and other various cast members of the spinoff series Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, all helping to fight the good fight with The Doctor. (Yes, that was one looong timey-wimey sentence!)

    After Season Four, Tennant performed in a quartet of specials sans the usual companions. The first was one of the best: "The Next Doctor", a fun romp in the past featuring David Morrissey (later to be The Governor in "The Walking Dead") in which The Doctor essentially became a companion to a man who believed he was The Doctor. This was followed by the "Planet of the Dead" which featured actress Michelle Ryan as an almost companion (and judging from her performance in this special she would have made a great one), "The Waters of Mars", an excellent, creepy episode set on a space station, and the often fun but ultimately disappointing two-part "The End of Time", in which The Doctor finally runs out of luck and is forced to regenerate.

     In 2017, Tennant summed up what it was like to be The Doctor in an interview on The Andrew Marr Show:  “It’s part of the national conversation. It’s part of our cultural furniture. That’s a huge honour to be in the middle of, but it’s quite a responsibility… It changes your life… It’s an undertaking.”

Selected Films: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005); The Decoy Bride (2011)

Selected Television: Broadchurch (2011 - 17);The Escape Artist (2013); Gracepoint (2014 - American remake of Broadchurch Series 1); Jessica Jones (2015 - Netflix Web Series).

In 2016, Tennant replaced the late Alan Young as the voice of Scrooge McDuck.

"Sometimes, I think a Time Lord lives too long."

Pictured above: (1) Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones with The Doctor and (2) Catherine Tate as Donna Noble with The Doctor.

The Eleventh Doctor
Played by Matt Smith
2010 to 2013 (Seasons 5, 6 and 7)


     If Christopher Eccleston had the daunting task of being the first "new" Doctor since 1996, Matt Smith had the equally daunting task of being the Doctor who replaced David Tennant. Adding to the pressure, Smith would not be helped out by any companions and/or friendly characters from the first four seasons - no Martha, Donna or Captain Jack returning to aid the Doctor in his adventures. For the first time since "Rose", both the Doctor and his companion(s) were brand new to viewers. It was like "New Who Version 2.0".

     Smith's version of The Doctor was goofy, funny, lovable, awkward, self-admittedly OCD, and great fun to watch. He believed bow ties were cool and could never pass a fez without trying it out on his head. He invented nicknames for his companions - Amy was "The Girl Who Waited", later companion Clara Oswald was "Soufflé Girl" and "The Impossible Girl". The Eleventh Doctor's mind worked so fast that his theories on matters often came halfway out of his mouth before they completely reversed themselves and vanished into thin air. He always seemed to want to do ten things at once, and the one thing that really irritated him was sitting around doing nothing. He was the most otherworldly doctor so far in the new series, one who didn't quite get social norms and customs. New show runner Steven Moffat called him "an elegant shambles."

     Matt Smith was not David Tennant, but he followed Tennant brilliantly and became an extremely popular Doctor.

     The Matt Smith years were filled with new show runner Steven Moffat's typically "timey wimey" storylines threaded throughout nearly every episode. Where Russell T Davies would move his stories from A to B to C, Moffat often started his stories on F, jumped back to B, went forward to Q, back to C, and so on. There is no doubt that Moffat is a talented writer, and his best stuff can blow you away. However, he can also be as annoying as hell when all you want is a decent story and he's attempting to show you how clever he is, something that sometimes marred his Sherlock series too. Through it all, however, Matt Smith shined in his role as The Eleventh Doctor, as did Karen Gillan as Amy Pond and Arthur Darvill as Rory Williams as his two main companions. By his final episodes, he was traveling with new companion Clara Oswald, played by Jenna Coleman. And even if everybody knew it was coming, his regeneration into Peter Capaldi was still a semi-shocker.

Pictured above: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, with The Doctor.

     When Matt Smith announced he would be leaving the show in 2013, he had nothing but nice things to say about the viewers: "The fans of Doctor Who around the world are unlike any other; they dress up, shout louder, know more about the history of the show (and speculate more about the future of the show) in a way that I’ve never seen before... Thank you so very much for supporting my incarnation of the Time Lord..."

Selected Films (not much to choose from!): Terminator Genisys (2015); Patient Zero (in production).

TV: The Sally Lockhart Mysteries (2006 - 2007 - Matt Smith had his first television role in the first episode of this two-episode Billie Piper-led series; The Crown (2016 - Present). While Smith played young Prince Phillip in this Netflix drama, his former co-star and "companion" Jenna Coleman played young Queen Victoria in the BBC series Victoria.

"I'm being extremely clever up here and there's no one to stand around looking impressed! What's the point in having you all?"

Pictured above: Matt Smith and Billie Piper in episode one of "The Sally Lockhart Mysteries"

The Twelfth Doctor
Played by Peter Capaldi
2014 to 2017 (Season 8, 9 and 10)

"Shut up!"

     Clara Oswald witnessed what must have been the quickest and most shocking regeneration yet. In one split second, the youngest looking doctor Doctor of the new series, the Doctor she "fancied", became the oldest looking one. The Twelfth Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, was almost the exact opposite of Matt Smith's. The Eleventh Doctor had nothing but hope for humanity; The Twelfth barely tolerated humans. Eleven showed endless affection for his companions; Twelve looked at the beautiful Clara and saw nothing but a round head and untrustworthy eyes, and cringed whenever she attempted to hug him. Eleven enjoyed talking to humans he didn't even know; Twelve deleted people from his brain as soon as they were no longer useful to him.

     Although Steven Moffat was still running the show and contributing scripts, the first two Capaldi years had more pure stand-alone stories, or simple two-parters, and fewer wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey tales. Jenna Coleman's Clara fit in with The Twelfth Doctor better than with The Eleventh, as, instead of The Doctor trying to figure her out (see our "Companions" page for more explanation on the mystery that was Clara "Oswin" Oswald), it was she who attempted to get to the heart (or two hearts) of The Doctor and help him integrate more with humanity.

    When Clara's time with The Doctor was up, he spent 24 years with his wife River Song, returning to Earth after her death. After some undetermined time, he settled down as a professor at St. Luke's University, where he met Bill Potts, a cafeteria worker at the school who nevertheless attended his lectures. Impressed with her curiosity and positive attitude, he took Bill under his wing and let her travel with him in the TARDIS.   

     Humor has always been one of the show's strongest points, and Capaldi's Doctor was more serious than the previous three Doctors of the new series. Yet, he could be very funny. Capaldi's version of The Doctor - cranky, easily annoyed, dismissive, sarcastic - had inherent humor in it that often played out when you least expect it. (The Woody Allen-ish "on a good day, I'm both" line listed at the top of this page is a Twelfth Doctor classic). Still, If your favorite Doctor was the lovably goofy Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi's Doctor could take some time to warm up to.

     Peter Capaldi, who grew up loving the original series, thought he had achieved his life long dream of being on Doctor Who when he was cast in the fourth season episode "The Fires of Pompeii", never dreaming that only a few years later, he would be The Doctor". Still, after three seasons, Capaldi decided to leave the show, his Doctor now scheduled to regenerate in the 2017 Christmas special. "I feel sad," he said in an interview with BBC Radio. "I love Doctor Who, it's a fantastic program to work on. It's been a huge pleasure to work with a family. I can't praise the people I've worked with more highly, but I've always been somebody that did a lot of different things. But I've never done one job for three years. This is the first time I've done this, and I feel it's sort of time for me to move on to different challenges."

Selected Films: Lair of the White Worm, Dangerous Liaisons (both 1988); In The Loop (2009 - film spinoff of the TV series The Thick of It, also starring Capaldi); World War Z (2013)

Selected Television: John and Yoko: A Love Story (1985 - played George Harrison); The Thick of It (2005 - 2012); Torchwood: Children of Earth (2009).

"So who's in charge now?  I need to know who to ignore."

Pictured above: (1) Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald with The Doctor and (2) Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts with The Doctor.

FLYING FISH-FINGER FACTOIDS: A few years before taking over the role of Doctor Who from Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi appeared in the zombie film World War Z. His character, a World Health Organization Doctor, wasn't given a name in the film.  He was credited as "WHO Doctor".

     As stated above, Peter Capaldi played the Roman Lobus Caecilius in the fourth season episode "The Fires of Pompeii" (see our Amy Pond/Rory Williams notes in the Companions section for more interesting trivia on this particular episode). Before becoming the Twelfth Doctor, however, Capaldi played mid-level government man John Frobisher (pictured left) in the 2009 five-part Torchwood serial Children of Earth. While the Doctor Who episode "The Girl Who Died" answered the question "Why did The Twelfth Doctor have the same face as Lobus?", we still wonder why Frobisher and The Doctor also look so much alike. My only real scientific guess is... they were both played by Peter Capaldi.

The Thirteenth Doctor
To be played by Jodie Whittaker
"Twice Upon a Time" (Christmas Special 2017)
and Season 11


She’s working class, she’s northern, what can go wrong?” - Working Class/Northern Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston, approving of the new Doctor.

     In a move that was a surprise to many fans and an inevitability to others, Jodie Whittaker, most known for her work in the ITV series Broadchurch, was chosen as the new, and first female, Doctor. As the 11th Season will not begin until sometime in 2018, there is not a whole lot to say about Whittaker at the moment aside from "Welcome aboard, Doctor! - we wish you well!"

     But it's my site so I'll say stuff anyway.

     Such a major change in the show ("The Doctor is a woman!") has already had the fan base erupting in major discussion, much of it level-headed and polite debate, some of it useless squabbling and name-calling. Having watched all ten seasons so far, I have no problem with The Doctor regenerating into a female. I found the tenth season disappointing (no really bad episodes, but, even counting the good two-part finale, no really amazing episodes either) so it is probably a good time to mix up the formula. As for The Doctor regenerating as a woman, yes, it may be a bit shocking, but only a little more shocking than Matt Smith's lovable Doctor regenerating into Peter Capaldi's grumpy Doctor. I also wonder if the support for or backlash against having The Doctor be a woman is related to how long fans have been watching Doctor Who.  That is - are the long-time fans of Classic Who whose first Doctor might have been William Hartnell, Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker more apt to be against a female Doctor than the fans who tuned into New Who and whose first Doctor may have been Chris Eccleston or David Tennant or perhaps even Peter Capaldi? No idea, but it is an interesting hypothesis.

"Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind."
 - The Twelfth Doctor's advice to his immediate future self.

     Anywho (see what I did there?), Whittaker made her first official appearance as The Doctor in the 2017 Christmas special "Twice Upon A Time", in which her predecessor, Peter Capaldi, made his farewell. After that, it is currently unclear when the new season will begin. It will be the third time in the new series that a completely different team takes over - "New Who Version 3.0" - all new Doctor, all new companion(s), all new show runner.

     As quoted in the Daily Mail not long after the announcement, Whittaker said she expects to hear from former Doctors. "I know Matt Smith, Chris Eccleston and obviously David Tennant. Oh! And let's throw in David Bradley! Four Doctors! So I'm hoping I get some calls of advice."

     When Whittaker finishes her first season as The Doctor sometime next year, this section will obviously be updated.

Selected Films: Attack the Block (2011)

Selected Television: Broadchurch, Series 1 - 3 (2011-17)

My Ranking Of All The Doctors So Far
(In Progress as I go through the original series)

1. David Tennant
2. Matt Smith
3. Tom Baker (pending)
4. Jon Pertwee
5. Peter Capaldi
6. Sylvester McCoy
7. Christopher Eccleston
8. Paul McGann
9. William Hartnell
10. Patrick Troughton
11. The War Doctor

Currently watching Tom Baker's seasons. Cannot fully rank Peter Davison or Colin Baker until I see all of their available episodes. As for ranking Jodie Whittaker... won't happen until I at least see her first full season.

Next: The Modern Companions and Fellow Time Travelers

Go Back: The Classic Companions (1963-1989)

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The Secret Vortex

"Reason tells me you cannot be real."
"Oh... you never want to listen to reason."
- Madame de Pompadour and The Tenth Doctor