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Ten Forward: The Best And Worst Dressed Doctors

How does Matt Smith’s bow tie and rolled up trousers compare to past incarnations

The British papers had a great coup Monday when they published the first pictures of Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor in BBC’s “Doctor Who” series.

Smith’s usage of the “science teacher” outfit has received mixed reviews by fans so far, leaning toward the negative. But that’s not the only crazy costume worn by actors portraying the Time Lord over the years.

Let’s take a look at what worked … and what didn’t.


1. Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) — The outfit is actually considered iconic with the role of The Doctor thanks to Tom Baker who played the two-hearted guardian for seven years.

Even “The Simpsons” figured that out. Just put a British accent on a guy wearing a corduroy trench coat with the multi-colored, oversized scarf, and it’s the greatest outfit of all time.

In fact, David Tennant’s costume is eerily similar, and in the first Christmas special of the modern series, almost actually picked up a scarf when picking out his new outfit to complete his costume but decided against it.

Good thing, too, because there’s only one Tom Baker.

2. Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) –Sometimes dressing simple is the best way to go.

That’s how Christopher Eccleston reintroduced The Doctor to a new generation of fans when the series returned in 2005 after a very long hiatus. The leather jacket over the simple T-shirt worked in almost all situations, whether it be in the past, present or future.

It also was much more comfortable for a much more physical Doctor, something not really emulated in his later incarnations. It might also be one of the most “normal” outfits The Doctor has ever worn.

3. Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) — Lacking the simplicity of Eccleston’s costume, David Tennant worked to get back to the more classic, classy look of The Doctor with his full-length suit that was once stylish maybe 25 years ago, but made to look chic again.

With the long suit jacket, tightly tied tie, matching vest and casual shoes, Tennant was able to move quickly — which he had to do a lot thanks to the Daleks, the Cybermen and The Master — but still could blend into many formal environments that he had to end up in.

The nice thing about the suit is that it definitely was different from most other outfits found on television, but it didn’t have to look clownish or cartoonish. The costume should define The Doctor, but at the same time, it certainly shouldn’t be distracting.

4. Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) — The long curly hair, the outfit that screams 17th century French Revolution.

This was The New Doctor. The interesting Doctor. The mysterious Doctor.

It was what BBC reached out to the Fox network to try and revive in 1996 with a Doctor that seemed to have an impeccable memory and could tell the fate of people just by looking at them.

Landing anywhere else, McGann’s Time Lord would’ve been sorely out of place. But in San Francisco? It was pretty much like any other Tuesday there.

Sadly, the audiences didn’t turn out for the first revival attempt, and we only got one adventure with scholarly-looking Doctor.

5. First Doctor (William Hartnell) — Once again, simple and straightforward, and that’s what audiences got when they were first shown “Doctor Who” in 1963.

No one quite knew what to make of this show, or this strange old man who lived in a police call box. But you knew that he was stately, intelligent and someone you could trust — just because of the way he dressed.

Dressing for success is a mantra taught by employment coaches all over the world, and Hartnell definitely was doing just that.


1. Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) — Yes, I know. We haven’t even seen this guy do a single episode yet. But still, what is there to like with this crazy costume?

Bow tie. The ugliest suit jacket ever. Rolled up brown pants, and work boots? He won’t have to worry about the Daleks setting to kill him. Instead, Smith should be more concerned about laughing him out of the Tardis.

Of course, the hair probably isn’t helping his case either. But this outfit better be explained away by the fact that The Doctor is tired of his companions falling in love with him. Otherwise, Steven Moffat will need to fire his costume people and start over again.

Preferably without a regeneration.

2. Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker) — Some might claim that it was the stories that started to sink “Doctor Who” in the 1980s, but I’m still convinced it was the worst costume of all time, until Matt Smith’s Doctor was revealed.

A mish-mash of colors, as if someone ran out of material and decided to just use floor scraps from Cirque du Soleil.

And to top it off, Baker included an umbrella.

Now I have to admit, I didn’t see a lot of the Sixth Doctor, but I bet good money that it didn’t rain a lot. But if tears were raindrops from fans having to watch this crazy outfit week to week, then Britain would have to call up Noah to help them with the flooding.

I can see now a lot of people who bought color televisions despite the luxury tax on it running back to the store to get their black and whites back just to get through these years of “Doctor Who.”

3. Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) — Even in the 1970s, I bet corpses would not want to be buried in this hideous outfit that Jon Pertwee made us suffer through.

Pertwee was The Doctor that pretty much helped popularize color, but his outfit didn’t help. All he had to do was step in front of a wall of baby poo and not even the Yeti would be able to find him.

Doesn’t mean that Pertwee’s Doctor didn’t inspire much. Just take a look at the costumes rock ballad singer Meat Loaf wore in the 1980s.

4. Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) — I know this will be an unpopular choice, but the cricket outfit complete with the garnish of celery? Just doesn’t do it for me.

I know Tennant’s Doctor loved the outfit, at least according to a charity mini-episode a couple years back, but we can’t always agree with Tennant, no matter how he ranks on our overall favorite Doctor list.

But for me, nothing screams cheesy 1980s ideas as the costume worn by Peter Davison. It looks silly now, and it’s hard to imagine that it didn’t look just unoriginal then.

5. Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) — It’s not that Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor was dressed badly as it was that he was dressed, well, boring.

I see what the final Doctor before the first cancellation donned, and it make me scared of someday ending up in a funeral home for some reason.

The clothing obviously fit the demeanor of The Doctor here. Laid back, toned down. Worried if he might start drooling in a catnap he suddenly took while playing canasta.

Maybe BBC was gearing for the geriatric demographic, or maybe the aim was for late-night insomniacs. I don’t know. But it gives me far more insight on why the network finally said enough was enough.

What do you think? Drop me a line at

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Could they be a Rut-ro! Shaggy
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