The year is 1987 and Doctor Who is back! Well sort of. All new titles, all new theme music and a brand new timeslot. Yes the timeslot, a little word about that. The BBC at this time hated Doctor Who and were looking for an excuse to dispatch it into the void once and for all. The best way to do this? Move it to a Monday night position directly scheduled against Coronation Street. Our beloved program didn't stand a chance!
So, what of the new man himself? Step forward Sylvester McCoy (born Percy James Kent-Smith) primarily known for his work with Ken Campbell and predominantly comedy. He seemed a strange choice as The Doctor. Perhaps he would bring a more quirky side to the Timelord and would play against the more serious Baker before him.
Lets be honest, the first story wasn't great, Time and the Rani. This and Paradise Towers had been written with Colin in mind and I feel that there are elements of the story that show that. Time and the Rani features the return of the titular Rani (played by Kate O'Mara) Its not the performances that are especially bad (apart from Mel but then she was fairly bad in everything) its the story. It was never intended as a post regeneration story and isn't a strong introduction to a new actor playing The Doctor. Personally, I have found it more watchable as time goes on but that is mainly due to enjoying Sylvester's performance and laughing at Mel... a lot!
So what about McCoy? (resisting the urge to crack the "real McCoy" pun) his first season was very clown like and, for me, overly humorous. I would guess this is probably about the time that viewers switched off and those that did formed the opinion that "he was rubbish as The Doctor". Whilst I sympathise with this opinion they missed a treat!
McCoy's second season was dark and showed The Doctor manipulating people and circumstances in a way that we had never seen before. This was how McCoy had wanted to play The Doctor from the start. For me, the best example of this is the whole character of Ace. Seemingly picked up from Iceworld after "accidentally" creating a time storm in her bedroom. This is later explained as part of the plan of Fenric (The Curse of Fenric) and The Doctor has been playing Ace like a Gallifreyan harp. He also tricks her, seemingly out of morbid curiosity, into confronting her fears of Chase House in Perivale (Ghostlight)
This is an incarnation of The Doctor you don't want to mess with! He wiped out the Daleks and Skaro, again, an event which many believe triggered The Great Time War. Whilst capable of infinite compassion and humour, yes the manic clown is still there, he doesn't turn away from dispatching his enemies. Opting to outwit and trick, it is Davros himself that launches the Hand of Omega. I still get a shiver when Davros shouts accusingly "you tricked me" The Doctors reply? "No Davros, you tricked yourself.
|Skaro does the big firework|
However forces were at work and Doctor Who was soon to leave our screens for sixteen years. Viewing figures weren't good and the decision was made that Survival would be the programs last show. McCoy had given his all and made an unforgettable contribution to Doctor Who yet it wasn't enough. To highlight how suddenly this decision was made a final amendment to the end of Survival had to be made. It is this that I end on: