Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Fifth Doctor

I'm a big fan of Doctor Who, so I thought I'd start a series of vector drawings of the eleven (!) different Doctors (so far).

Peter Davison played the Fifth Doctor from 1981 to 1984. He was the youngest actor to portray the Doctor at the time, a record which stood until Matt Smith (the Eleventh Doctor, and current holder of the youngest record) came along.

I really enjoyed Davison's performance, placing him just slightly behind Tom Baker as my second favorite of the old series.

The Fifth Doctor was more serious and moody than the previous incarnation. He was even prone to occasional outbursts at his companions.

Unlike the Third and Fourth Doctors who both had extensive wardrobes, the Fifth Doctor wore the same cricket player’s outfit for his entire run.

So what's up with the celery stalk, you're probably asking yourself? In the episode The Caves of Androzani, the Doctor claimed he wore the celery because it would turn purple in the presence of certain gases to which he was allergic. He also claimed it was "an excellent restorative where he comes from." How Time Lords became familiar with the medicinal properties of Earth celery is left to our imaginations.

In the 2007 mini episode Time Crash, the Fifth Doctor and the Tenth Doctor briefly cross paths. Doctor #10 pokes fun at #5s celery stalk, saying, "Brave choice celery, but fair play to you. Not a lot of men can carry off a decorative vegetable."

The Fifth Doctor’s Tardis got a little crowded inside, as at one point he had three companions traveling with him. There was Tegan, an Australian airline stewardess, Adric, a teenage boy genius from another dimension, and Nyssa, daughter of an alien nobleman. I have to admit I had a crush on Nyssa back in the 1980s.

The Master, the Doctor’s evil Time Lord nemesis, returned during Davison’s run. The Master is an evil Time Lord, bent on conquering the universe (naturally) and destroying the Doctor. He hadn't been seen since the Jon Pertwee (Doctor #3) era, when the actor who portrayed him, Roger Delgado, was killed in a car accident. Anthony Ainely portrayed the regenerated Master.

It was great to have the Master back at first, but the writers began using him way too much, until he was in virtually every episode. There'd be some alien villain menacing the Doctor, and invariably he'd turn out to be the Master wearing a mask. After a while he began suffering from overexposure. He's a character who works best in small doses.

The Fifth Doctor teamed up with four of his previous incarnations in the episode The Five Doctors. Well, sort of. Tom Baker (#4) declined to participate, and only appeared in stock footage. William Hartnell (#1) had died a few years prior, and so the First Doctor was played by Richard Hurndall. Still, it was fun to see all the various Doctors and their companions interact.

I wonder: Since some of the Doctors are no longer with us, and the rest have greatly aged since their first appearances, would anyone be interested in an "Eleven Doctors" episode with the older Doctors played by new actors?

Doctor #5 was the first one we saw who occasionally wore reading glasses, although again in the Time Crash episode, Doctor #10 states that Doctor #5 didn't really need them, but instead wore them to look "clever."

The Fifth Doctor continued the tradition of incorporating a question mark into his attire, something I always found cringe-worthy. Doctor Who is the name of the show, not the character's name. He's always been known simply as "The Doctor." Wearing a question mark as a nod to the show's title always seemed a little too cutesy to me, and every time I saw it it would yank me right out of the story.

The question marks continued all the way to the Seventh Doctor (who carried an umbrella with a question mark-shaped handle). Fortunately the creators of the revived series have seen the light, and Doctors Eight through Eleven have thankfully been question mark free.

Doctor #5 is a vector drawing, drawn all in InDesign. The likeness and costume ended up being easy this time, but the colors were a real challenge. The Fifth Doctor's outfit is all whites and off-whites, so I had to cheat some of the colors a bit just to get things to show up.

Please forgive the ugly watermark on the illustration. I swore I would never add one to my art, because I know that 99.99% of my readers would never even think of stealing it. But earlier this year I had a run-in with an art thief who was not only stealing my work, but selling it as her own! Hence the watermarks. This is why we can't have nice things.

Stay tuned for Doctors #6 through #11! I'm really not looking forward to #6, with that awful, complicated costume of his.
Here's a digital sketch I did of the Fifth Doctor.


  1. Bob, I hope you're coming to the Gallifrey One convention in L.A. weekend-after-next ... All four of the actors in the photograph above will be there! (Sarah Sutton for you, Janet Fielding for me!)

  2. Apparently the question mark thing was some John Nathan Turner was obsessed with getting over as a branding mechanism. I agree that it was a bit tacky and didn't make sense outside of the title of the show. I read somewhere that Tom Baker complained about it lots when they started putting question marks on his shirt lapels too.
    Nice pics by the way.


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