“You think it’ll last forever: people and cars and concrete. But it won’t. One day it’s all gone. Even the sky… My planet’s gone. It’s dead. It burned, like the Earth. It’s just rocks and dust. Before its time.”
The Doctor, The End Of The World
I Just Want To Tell You, You Were Fantastic
Yeh so this is a bit awkward really isn’t it. I’ve already written about the 10th and 11th Doctors on this site but I skipped over poor old Christopher Eccleston and there was a reason for that, there isn’t really a whole lot of him to write about.
Yes Doctor Who returned to our screens in 2005 after a 16 year hiatus from our television screens (the movie was just a one-off after all) and it landed with a bang but something was amiss, there was now drama in our sci-fi porridge and not everyone liked it that way.
It is revealed in the series that there had been a great war (the Time War) between the Daleks and the Time Lords and our beloved Doctor had ended it, The Doctor had killed all of his own people and his home planet just to save the universe and it had left him a bit broken.
The leather jacket, blowing up a shopping centre in London as his first appearance and a general sense of sadness hangs in the air throughout the first series. The Doctor had been changed by the Time War and what he had done but throughout this series we are shown that he can be brought back, we can get the silly old Doctor back and we did in the form of David Tennant. That regeneration was so much more than just a changing of a face.
But that act of genocide would hang around The Doctors neck and occasionally rear its ugly head for years to come, even becoming personified by the Meta-Crisis Doctor years later in David Tennant’s run.
Like I said some people weren’t to fond of this change declaring that Doctor Who had been ruined forever but I disagree. Adding drama and a sense of “realness” to Doctor Who is what has saved the show, by making it more appealing to a wider audience Russel T Davies ensured that The Doctor wouldn’t be going anywhere soon (12 years and counting at time of writing).
But alas, the 9th Doctor we got wouldn’t stick around for to long, lasting just one series but we owe a whole lot to Christopher Eccleston and Russel T Davies for bringing back one of the most beloved British TV shows in the world.
It is due to this (and pestering from my partner) that I have decided to cave in and do another one of my Top 10 style lists only this time with a slight twist. Since there isn’t a whole lot to work with, this time the list shall just be my Top 5 favourite moments from the 9th Doctor.
So here we go again, below is a list of my favourite moments from yet another incarnation of the renegade Time Lord from Gallifrey. As always my list may differ from yours and that’s ok, but if you feel it isn’t why not pop down to the comments and tell my just how wrong I am?
5. That’s Who I Am – Rose (2005)
When Rose aired in 2005 it had a lot of work to do, it had to please the old fans and it had to introduce a whole new generation of Whovians to what Doctor Who was and who The Doctor is. From plastic people to explosions to lots of running down corridors (get used to that) and a phone box that can travel anywhere in time and space it is understandable why a new crowd would ask “just what is Doctor Who?”
This little speech from The Doctor to Rose explains it all perfectly, The Doctor may look and talk like us but he is so much more. Lots of planets may indeed have a north, but I don’t think most northerners can feel the spin of the earth (not without a considerable amount of alcohol anyway).
4. Everybody Lives – The Doctor Dances (2005)
One of the reasons I love this episode and this scene in particular is the utter joy The Doctor experiences towards the end of the episode (the clip above) because for once “everybody lives”.
As I’ve already talked about The Doctor (as far as he knows) has just committed double genocide in order to save the universe, that kinda thing will probably get you down. Throughout 9’s run we see that The Doctor is a bit more willing to take drastic action (as it was the drastic action that gave him this body) but he is still The Doctor, he still wants people to live and for good to triumph and for the first time in a long time, he got his wish.
3. It Means No – Bad Wolf (2005)
Christopher Eccleston’s only finale (sadly) as The Doctor sees him facing off against his oldest and greatest enemy, the Daleks. An entire fleet of Daleks have subjugated the Earth and all The Doctor has is his Tardis, a sonic screwdriver and one thing on his mind. Stop the Daleks and save Rose Tyler. When faced with unbeatable odds and with no obvious way to beat his foe The Doctor has one thing to say when asked to surrender, “No”.
And if you want to know how much the Daleks fear The Doctor, just watch this clip.
Despite the Daleks being trash cans with a plunger attached, you can see that they hate The Doctor with a burning passion and that they are terrified of the “Oncoming Storm” when he’s angry.
2. Coward or Killer? – The Parting of the Ways (2005)
The Doctor has made the decision to make a bomb that will send a signal killing every living creature in the local area, killing all the Daleks and all the humans on Earth caught in the crossfire. This Doctor is not that much older than when (he thinks) he had committed double genocide and it looks like he is going to do it again for the good of the universe.
But when surrounded by Daleks and his life is on the line he is given one last decision, is he “Coward or Killer”. Will he kill the humans along with the Daleks or let his greatest foe go and refuse to be that man again (remember that to The Doctor, the double genocide is real).
When faced with his death The Doctor accepts it with a serene grace, and a bit to on the nose crucifix pose. He is The Doctor, and killing isn’t his way.
1. The Last Dalek – Dalek (2005)
This is a weird list cos now I have to go back to when The Doctor wasn’t aware of the Dalek fleet in the finale and when he thought the Daleks were all but extinct. It is also the first time in one of these lists that I didn’t include The Doctor dying, I think that something more about me than Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor… Anyway.
The Doctor comes face to face with the last Dalek in the universe, its weapons don’t work, it’s battered to hell and it’s all alone in the universe and The Doctor… taunts it, bullies it, takes the piss out of it and brags about ending billions of lives. This is not The Doctor we knew in the past, this Doctor has survived the greatest war in history and he is changed for it, he is angry and out for revenge. There is a moment in that clip where you see The Doctor remembering the war and almost feeling a connection with The Dalek, until the Dalek says “we are the same” and then The Doctor even resorts to torture! Torture! The Doctor! What the actual fuck.
Soon after this the Dalek is revitalised and goes on a killing spree throughout the base, when The Doctor is confronted by the Dalek again we get this scene.
The Dalek points out that The Doctor “would make a good Dalek” after telling the Dalek to kill itself and rid the universe of its “filth”. It is this point that 9 starts to question what he has become, he’s a mass murder, a torturer, he has been reduced to the level of his greatest enemy and now he finally realises that this can’t go on.
Throughout the rest of the series we see The Doctor get back to his softer self with the help of Rose Tyler. A point that is reinforced when “Handy” (a clone of The Doctor) tries to commit genocide again and The Doctor (the real one) points out to Rose that that is him before her, angry and out for revenge.
I’ve said before that I like the moments where The Doctor is called out on his hypocrisy, he has saved more lives than anyone in the universe. But has also killed more than anyone else also and it’s moments like these that keep him on level ground and reminds him of what he is.
And You Know What? So Was I
Christopher Eccleston should be a hero to Whovians everywhere, yes his Doctor isn’t that fondly remembered by some because the next two were so bubbly and fun. But he is the reason that Doctor Who stuck around, he brought The Doctor back and is the reason we’re now approaching series 12 of New Who. He might not be everyone’s cup of tea but to me, he was Fantastic.
Since it’s practically tradition now, here is The Doctor dying… You’re welcome.