Recently, The Daily Express reported that Tom Baker was planning to reprise his role as The Doctor for the show’s 50th anniversary. [Via The Mary Sue] The Daily Express article’s only source is a “show insider,” though, and Tom Baker’s quote doesn’t actually address whether he’ll return, so the excitement appears to be over nothing.
But that did get us thinking: How many of the Doctors would return if asked? We did some sleuthing to see where they stand. Let’s see who we might see!
The Fourth Doctor – Tom Baker
Does he still physically resemble the role?: No. Although certainly no one expects him to. His iconic voice remains intact, however, so there’s still quite a bit one could do with the Fourth Doctor. After all, if Tupac can be a hologram in real life, the Fourth Doctor can be a hologram on screen.
Does he want to return?: Baker has famously been back and forth on his opinions about his time on the show. But as of June 5th of this year, he gave Neela Debnath of The Independent a concrete yes.
“Well, if they ask me nicely or I could see what they wanted me to do I would consider it because I think the fans have been so good to me, they expect me at least to make an appearance so of course I would consider that.”
Baker goes on to elaborate that he would favor a return if there was a role for him to play and it wasn’t just the show parading him around the set. Sounds good to us! It’s hard to imagine anyone getting to write for the Fourth Doctor again and having too little to say.
Verdict: Probably yes.
The Fifth Doctor – Peter Davison
Does he still physically resemble the role?: For the most part! His return in the 8-minute short “Time Crash” danced around his aging in one line and he was so entertaining in the short that we accepted him as The Doctor in an instant.
Does he want to return?: He already did! Although that doesn’t answer whether he’d do it one more time. Luckily, Digital Spy asked him in 2009 whether he’d be up for another return with Moffat behind the reins:
“If he ever came up with an idea which would involve me returning I would certainly do it, but I can’t see it happening and I’m certainly not waiting on tenterhooks for it.”
Considering how game Davison has proven in regards to the Fifth Doctor’s audio and onscreen adventures, this statement makes him seem like a shoe-in.
The Sixth Doctor – Colin Baker
Does he still physically resemble the role?: Not at all. And he’d be the first to point it out, as he did in this recent interview with Cambridge News:
“…every time someone asks me that question I hold up a photograph of myself when I played the part, compared to what I look like now, and say, ‘OK, how do you deal with that?”
Colin Baker has aged out of the look as much as Tom Baker has. But his voice is still that of the Sixth Doctor’s, as evidenced by the mountain of audio episodes he’s done.
Does he want to return?: Depends on the day. In the afore-linked interview from The Independent, the question of return is broached and Baker becomes immediately irate, repeating a stark “No.”
A month later, Baker revealed he was just saying that to be contrary and that the joke didn’t really go over too well. He follows up with a bit more honesty:
“…in theory, I’m neither for nor against it. There would be two big questions I would ask: The first is, is my Doctor going to get a fair crack of the whip in the story, and not be eclipsed by anybody else? Because you want parity. And the other one is, what vast fortune are you offering me? I’d be quite brutal about myself and say, if they offered me a million quid, I’d go on and say one line for them. If they offered me a tenner, I wouldn’t.”
A million quid is probably another bit of tongue-in-cheek from Baker, but it does underscore his seemingly genuine sentiment that the Sixth Doctor’s return would have to be perfect. The fact that Baker would fight for a lion’s share of attention during a reunion is probably enough to give the show pause in regards to their thoughts regarding including him.
Verdict: Probably not.
The Seventh Doctor – Sylvester McCoy
Does he still physically resemble the role?: Somewhat. Like Peter Davison, McCoy’s appearance could be sufficiently fudged so that the essence of the Seventh Doctor shines through.
Does he want to return?: When finding out during The Independent interview that Tom Baker would consider returning, McCoy was the first to add in that he would as well.
The Eighth Doctor – Paul McGann
Does he still physically resemble the role?: Very much so. And since we’ve never seen the Eighth Doctor’s death (although it was hinted in the new series that he was the Doctor who ended the Time War) McGann could age all he likes and still technically be the Doctor.
Does he want to return?: Maybe. During a gathering of the Fourth through Eighth Doctors in June of 2012 he was mum on the question of a return. He also hedged around the question during a separate interview with Neela Debnath of The Independent on June 30th.
But McGann has been very active on the fan circuit and his audio adventure career as the Eighth Doctor is quite substantial. He also states in the June 30th interview that he simply hasn’t been asked:
“I know [the anniversary is] imminent but no, there’s been no invites to or sounding out taking place but maybe it will happen, we don’t know.”
He goes on to state that he’s actually never been asked to reprise his role onscreen, despite his willingness to continually engage in building the Doctor Who mythos. McGann certainly sounds like he would be willing to seriously consider joining in the festivities.
The Ninth Doctor – Christopher Eccleston
Does he still physically resemble the role?: It’s only been a few years. It’d be weird if he didn’t.
Does he want to return?: In an April 30th, 2011 interview with Graham Norton on BBC Radio 2, Eccleston was asked point blank whether he would return for a 50th anniversary. His answer?
“No, I never bathe in the same river twice.”
Eccleston is nevertheless graceful about his time on the show, refusing to reveal why he left and refusing to disparage anyone involved with the show. In the same BBC Radio inteview he was also quite praise-heavy of Steven Moffat’s writing skills. However, he is steadfast about not wanting to retread the role, a work ethic that he brings to his career as a whole.
Verdict: Probably not. Moffat writing him a killer story is probably the only way Eccleston would even consider it, and doing that while giving the other Doctors equal treatment is a tall order. The tallest, really.
The Tenth Doctor – David Tennant
Does he still physically resemble the role?: Definitely. And even if he did hit the wall in terms of sudden aging, they could always say it’s the now-human Pete’s World Doctor we’re seeing.
Does he want to return?: This quote from his press junket for Fright Night in the summer of 2011 really sums it up:
“People keep telling me that they’ve read online that I’m coming back but believe me, if that happens I’ll be the first to tell everyone, I’ll be shouting about it very loudly.”
To be honest, it’s harder to imagine a circumstance where Tennant wouldn’t return to the show. His enthusiasm is so ever-present that it would probably bring his father-in-law, the Fifth Doctor, along for the ride through sheer momentum.
And there we have it. With Matt Smith along, a 50th anniversary Doctor Who perhaps titled “The Six Doctors” seems very feasible indeed. (Funnily enough, that would make the Fifth Doctor the only incarnation to have met the majority of his known incarnations.) Now what kind of story could be grand enough, could be thrilling enough, could be satisfying enough to warrant such a reunion?
Stubby the Rocket is the mascot of Tor.com and wishes people would stop asking when it’s going to regenerate into Stubby the Rocket-A.