Who am I? The alien wanderer… the clown with a ruthless streak… the melancholy Time Lord trying to avoid returning home? Throw in a bag of jelly babies, a robot dog, some very attractive companions…

If it wasn’t for Davison, I’m pretty sure that I would not have been illustrating or designing Doctor Who merchandise. Indeed in all honesty I probably would not have as much affection for the show as I do.

Although I remember Tom Baker vividly (Destiny of the Daleks is one of my very first recollections of Doctor Who), unlike many I was never upset when one day I tuned in to see the curly-haired traveller fall off a radio telescope to his death.

However what followed completely changed my view on the show, developing from passive interest into addiction.

In 1980, newly installed Producer John Nathan-Turner was widely criticised by many for some of the major changes he introduced to the show, including the removal of K9 and the Sonic Screwdriver.

Then he cast Peter Davison as Doctor number five.

Known primarily for his role as Tristan Farnon in ‘All Creatures Great & Small’, Peter Davison was seen as a bit of a gamble by JN-T for such a hugely popular role.

Many felt Tom Baker was an irreplaceable Doctor. I can’t imagine how daunting it must have been, as well as a challenge for Davison, to take over from such a cult figure – as popular a Doctor today as he was back in the seventies!

Born Peter Moffatt in April 1951, after a spell working in a tax office in Twickenham Davison landed his first TV roles, which included appearances in ‘The Tomorrow People’ and as the popular Tristan Farnon in ‘All Creatures Great and Small’. It was in this late seventies show, that he caught the attention of JN-T, who immediately earmarked him as the next Doctor. It took several attempts to lure him to the role, mainly because of Davison’s own doubts about his suitability, but it was announced finally in November 1980.

Davison’s Doctor presented a more human hero, gone was the air of alienism, replaced with a more general concern for all life. Some may argue he was oversensitive, but Davison played the role more akin to Troughton’s Doctor with a very English attitude, quite similar to Pertwee. Of course the Fifth Doctor would later die from poisoning, a similar fate to that of his bouffant-bonced predecessor.

Season 19 was a fairly stable introduction for Davison’s Doctor, helped in large by the previous season’s behind-the-scenes changes. The season boasted stories such as Black Orchid a classic whodunnit, serving up a terrific fare utilising the BBC’s excellent period wardrobe, Earthshock a twisty space shocker introducing a modernised version of one of his oldest foes and Kinda a Buddhist themed and quite complex tale about the mind.

Not only did the show begin to deviate away slightly from the core children’s audience (with complex storylines and characters in Kinda and Castrovalva) the show also moved to a midweek slot, further proof that the show was trying to hit some middle ground among children and adults.

JN-T also brought the Doctor’s character back to his thinking roots which allowed Davison more slack in his portrayal of the Doctor. Out went the sonic screwdriver in The Visitation, destroyed by the Terileptils; it gave the Doctor a chance to flex his problem-solving muscles again after years of get out clauses, K-9 being the other prominent clause.

This move also allowed vulnerability to become a facet of the Doctor’s character. The Doctor would find himself suddenly under pressure to do the best thing he could, often with dire consequences; this is shown to full effect in Earthshock, with the Cybermen using emotional blackmail against the Time Lord threatening him with Tegan’s life at one point, and of course the loss of Adric, aboard the doomed freighter.

Such moves rippled through the Doctor Who community, not used to expecting such dark adventures. This reinforces what I have always believed: Doctor Who is best when he’s vulnerable and not everything goes to plan. Consider the brilliance that is Robert Holmes’s The Caves of Androzani.

From realising the worst of his and Peri’s condition to hijacking a shuttle craft to find the raw Spectrox nest, the Doctor has no chance. He knows this, but will do anything he can in his power to leave Peri as a survivor, even if this regeneration kills him. It almost does.

Unfortunately we were only given a short reign for Davison’s Doctor. Following advice from Patrick Troughton to stay just three years, Davison made his mind up in 1983 that he should bow out of the show, a decision taken on the back of a frustrating season 20. By the time of the superior Season 21 , Davison considered reversing his decision.

Highlights include Frontios, Resurrection of the Daleks and of course The Caves of Androzani. Frontios offered Davison the chance to play the character as he saw him, against the odds, thrust into a tough situation, and this all round well written story really shines and is possibly one of the most underrated gems of the shows tenure.

So with the show moving into a new decade, with a new producer and with new ideas, it was nothing short of a masterstroke casting the talented Davison. It was always emphasised, even by Peter Davison, that the Doctor should not be a Luke Skywalker figure, but that’s exactly what he was in my eyes at the age of 6.

The old, forlorn and weary Doctor had suddenly become a youthful, heroic Doctor which to me meant a little more action and parity with Buck Rogers, Starbuck, and Luke Skywalker. A mention must also go to the costume designers who came up with the most impressive identity (to date, in my opinion) for Peter Davison. The mix of cricketing jumper, pinstripe trousers and Edwardian frock coat gave the Doctor a refreshing look away from the previous incarnations of frilly shirts, dark coats and dark coloured scarves, announcing Doctor Who to a bright new era.

Importantly for the new Doctor this era saw a change in character. We had a Doctor just as intelligent as previous incarnations but very vulnerable too, a Doctor who made mistakes, who didn’t always think before rushing into danger and of the dire consequences of his actions. We had a show that also had added violence, and a show, still with wit, but with a serious underlying morality and a show that carried Doctor Who forward in a fantastic modern way.

When Doctor number five drew his last energies feeding Peri the Spectrox antidote and began the change for Doctor number six a small part of my appreciation for the show died; I knew I had seen and grown up with my favourite.

My feelings remain the same today, all these years later.

Originally posted 2005-02-11 00:00:00.

“‘Tis nature’s law to change”, as John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester wisely said. Writing in the seventeenth century he wasn’t talking about Doctor Who but change is, of course, the one constant in the programme. Eventually, everyone who works on the show will move on: actors, writers, technicians, showrunners…

Whilst there’s no sign of Steven Moffat moving on just yet, what with Series 9 due to hit the screen in a couple of months and the recent news that he’d signed up for a further series, the day will inevitably come when he decides it’s time to do something else. We’ve discussed possible replacements in some depth here at Kasterborous in our ‘Man Who Would Be King’ series but today it’s all about you. What would you do if, unlikely as it may sound, the BBC chose to put you in charge of your favourite show?

Previous changes of leadership in the Doctor Who production team have led to significant new directions being pursued in the tone and style of the programme. Think of Jon Pertwee’s debut in Spearhead From Space, which, along with colour filming being used for the first time, established the show’s new, earth-bound setting and slicker feel reminiscent of the classic ITC shows of the previous decade, once Barry Letts’ and Terrance Dicks’ influence was felt.

Philip Hinchcliffe took over as producer with a clear plan to take the Doctor away from UNIT and back into space. The stories he and script editor Robert Holmes oversaw, influenced in many cases by literary and cinematic classics, have endured as some of the very best in the programme’s long life.

Later still John Nathan-Turner’s era burst into life with a new title sequence, a new colour palette for the Doctor’s costume and an emphasis on more serious story-telling, ditching the comic whimsy of the Williams/Adams period.

Moffat himself has spoken of the need for such a long-running programme to constantly re-invent itself and has overseen not one but two significant changes of tone and style. Matt Smith’s debut in The Eleventh Hour heralded what some have described as a ‘fairy tale’ feel for the next few years, with the mysteries of the girl who waited and later the impossible girl (not to mention River Song) serving as enduring arcs which would span multiple seasons.

Just when he felt things were getting a little too cosy he went and shook things up again, delivering a new acerbic incarnation of the Doctor who would no more eat fish fingers and custard than he’d wear question marks on his jumper. This most recent change is still being played out, with hints in the build-up to Series 9 that the grumpiness will be toned down, allowing the Doctor to rediscover his sense of fun.

So what do you think? How would Doctor Who be different if it was your name on the credits? New writers? New monsters? Old monsters? More multi-episode stories? Series-spanning arcs? Bring back the Ergon? Give us your views below! Be as bold as you like – but remember, this is about you and the future, not any perceived mistakes of the past…

Originally posted 2015-07-03 11:03:42.