As fans of the Doctor lap up another Christmas special, the Courier's resident Doctor Who expert, Craig Lightowler, charts the Time Lord's story from the very beginning in this three-part feature.
Still retaining all the intelligence and knowledge of his previous selves, Peter Davison (1981-84), a tall, fair-haired young man, portrayed a much more vulnerable side to the Doctor's nature.
Gallant, brave, with a taste for an Edwardian cricketing outfit, this incarnation starkly contrasted what had gone before. He had a breathlessness and a feckless charm. Losing his sonic screwdriver meant he relied on his ingenuity more. He frequently clashed with the Master during this life.
When on the planet Androzani Minor, he and his recently joined companion Peri became exposed to a lethal dose of raw spectrox, a highly sought after fungus which when manufactured offered increased lifespan. Gun running, political intrigue and an unstable planet all stood in the way of the Doctor acquiring the antidote for he and his companion. His courage and determination overcame these obstacles. Alas he only obtained enough antidote for Peri, and sacrificed his fifth persona in this selfless act.
So the sixth incarnation arose, announcing to his young friend that this was "change, my dear,...and it seems not a moment too soon!"
A fuller figure, blond curly hair, a particularly outlandish outfit and an arrogant air made the sixth Doctor (Colin Baker, 1984-86) a far less likable figure, initial instability almost causing his near strangulation of Peri.
His way with words and literary quotes were often used in conjunction with seemingly heartless reactions to any given situation around him. His aloof manner did mellow with time however, his now argumentative and difficult relationship with his companion growing back into the friendship she'd known with his fifth self.
During this life, he encountered another renegade Time Lord, the Rani. She too attended the Time Lord Academy, but as with the Master, decided to use her knowledge in a greedy way.
After so long, this Doctor was put to trial again by the High Council of Time Lords. As evidence both for and against the Doctor, adventures during his current incarnation, shown as extracts via the Matrix. The prosecution case was led by the Valyard, a mysterious figure hell bent on damning the Doctor to a death sentence. The Doctor's attempt to use adventures in his defence exposed irregularities in the evidence, which had been deliberately corrupted by the Time Lords. They were using the Doctor as a scapegoat for their own misdeeds.
The trial was a sham and a cover up operation.
The Valeyard admitted his identity as a distillation of the dark side of the Doctor's nature, somewhere between his twelfth and thirteenth incarnations, out to take control over his remaining lives.
With the help of Mel (a companion from the Doctor's imminent future), who, along with an ally of the Doctor's called Glitz had been brought to the space station where the trial was being held by none other than the Master, who exposes the whole trial as a sham. The Doctor defeated his future self in the Matrix. His charges in the trial were dropped, his freedom to travel given back to him.
When the TARDIS was caught in a trap the ship landed with a jolt. As the Rani stepped aboard the TARDIS, using her henchmen the Tetraps (bat like creatures evolved in human form) to manoeuvre the Doctor to her laboratory, he regenerated again. After much confusion and the administration of an amnesiac drug, the Doctor (Sylvester McCoy, 1987-96) and Mel managed to thwart the Rani's plans to use the galaxies' greatest minds, including the Doctor's) as one giant super brain, to fire a substance similar to strange matter at an asteroid actually made of strange matter, causing the planet Lakertya to die in the process.
With a golfing themed attire that featured a question mark pattern pullover and two tone brogues, panama hat and question mark shaped handle umbrella, this latest Doctor had an impish face, a Scottish brogue quirky character. He often betrayed a slapstick approach to life, being very approachable and friendly. As time went on he became slightly darker, broodier. He could manipulate situations with ease and seemed to carry the burdens of the universe on his shoulders. He took a tearaway teenager called Ace under his wing, taking her round the universe and making her confront her worst childhood fears.
After walking off into the sunset, and a long absence from our screens, the Doctor was next seen travelling alone. His clothing retaining the silhouette of his previous costume and having taken a more Victorian travelling man appearance. He was summoned to take the remains of his enemy, the Master, who was exterminated by Daleks, back to Gallifrey. It was during his journey that the Master, taking the from of a ghostly snake, caused the TARDIS to emergency land on Earth, 30th December 1999, in San Fransicsco. As the Doctor landed the TARDIS and exited his ship, he was caught by a hail of bullets, intended for a young man called Chang Lee.
Taking the Doctor to hospital, he fled with the Doctor's possessions, while the heart surgeon called in to save the Doctor, Dr.Grace Holloway, wrangled with the Time Lord's double hearts, causing him to die on the operating table.
The Master stole the body of a paramedic and made plans to use the power supply to the TARDIS as a way of stealing the Doctor's body. Meanwhile in the hospital morgue, the Doctor's body regenerated. In nothing but a shroud, the Doctor (Paul McGann 1996-2005) wandered around the hospital, with no recollection of who or what he was.
Chancing on some costumes for the New Year's Eve party, he chose a long grey frock coat, waistcoat, high wing collar and cravat, his long brown hair framing a handsome face. Finding the surgeon who 'killed' him, he convinced her of the somewhat bizarre truth that he was indeed the man she'd operated on and that he was a Time Lord, albeit half human on his mother's side.
The Master persuaded Chang Lee to help him trap the Doctor, using the key Chang Lee took from the Doctor to gain access to the TARDIS. The Master deceitfully fed him lies and promised him gold dust.
The Master successfully managed to open the Eye of Harmony, the direct link that the TARDIS had with Gallifrey's power source. This caused the Earth a serious threat, which if not closed would destroy the planet at the stroke of midnight, 31st December 1999. The Doctor and Grace needed a Beryllium atomic clock, one of which was being unveiled in San Francisco that night.
The Master trapped the Doctor in a device built to transfer the mind and was almost successful in taking over his rival's body, having also hypnotised Grace into helping. But events soon turn around and the Master was sucked into the Eye of Harmony and the Doctor succeeded in closing the Eye, reversing time far back enough to before events took place.
Grace and Chang Lee miraculously returned to life, and the Doctor said his goodbyes. Such was his friendship with Grace, the episode culminated in a long kiss under the fireworks.
Another prolonged absence from our screens resulted in our joining the life of a 19-year-old called Rose Tyler. Rose had an ordinary life, a shared flat with her mum Jackie and a boyfriend called Mickey. Her life was turned upside down when she encountered a man, in battered leather jacket, black jeans, v neck top, with cropped hair, world weary look and thick northern accent, wielding a bomb at the department store she worked at, after she had been menaced by shop window dummies.
The Doctor, now in his ninth life (Christopher Eccelston, 2005) was on course to prevent the Autons from taking over the Earth. His no-nonsense approach to the situation made for a rocky start for him and Rose. A deep friendship between her and the Time Lord was forged however, and she agreed to travel with him, taking all the universe had to offer in her stride.
We discovered that the Time Lords were wiped out in the great Time War that raged with the Daleks. The Doctor had become the last of his kind, possibly explaining his toughened outlook on life.
The Doctor and Rose learnt from one another, bouncing off each other, he educating her and she bringing out his humanity.
In London, 1941, during the Blitz, where Homeless children were being terrorised by an unearthly child, the pair encountered a former Time Agent, Captain Jack Harkness, a rogue who used alien technology to con people. Befriending Rose and winning over the Doctor.
When they encountered a huge fleet of Daleks and the awesome Dalek Emperor, Rose was sent to Earth by the Doctor in order for him to unleash a deadly force to wipe the Daleks out. But Rose managed to tap into the Heart of the TARDIS, absorbing the full power of the time vortex and using that to destroy all the Daleks.
When this was done, Rose began to weaken, so the Doctor, through a kiss, diverted the energy to his own body, and paid the price with his current life....
And so we come full circle. The tenth Doctor, and his own unique style and manner, a cheeky smile, cheery disposition, but with a forceful anger when needed, becoming more popular with time. Having just parted company with Martha, a student Doctor from London he took travelling with him.
The next series sees him reunite with the runaway bride herself, Donna (Catherine Tate) before they are joined by Martha and ultimately, Rose makes a return too...
But for now, we have the Doctor crashing into the bough of the Titanic...a huge spacecraft with a multitude of guests, a feisty young waitress called Astrid (Kylie Minogue no less) and some explosive problems for the Doctor.
Part 1: Christmas specials and the Hartnell years
Part 2: Patrick Troughton to Tom Baker