Published on November 15th, 2013 | by Andrew Reynolds

Colin Baker: Classic Doctors Are “Excess Baggage” (Except, Presumably, McGann)

Well here we were all ready to talk about the controversy over comments made by Colin Baker over the exclusion of the past Doctors from the 50th anniversary celebrations. However, we now know that simply isn’t true…well for one former Doctor at least.

Speaking to Attractions Magazine the Sixth Doctor commented that the classic Doctors have been nothing but ‘surplus baggage’ and ‘deemed unworthy of inclusion’ in The Day of the Doctor.

Baker said:

I’m not in it. I can say that Peter isn’t because I’ve seen him recently. And I can tell you that Sylvester isn’t, and neither is Paul. None of us have been deemed worthy of inclusion in a programme that celebrates 50 years of a British television programme, of which I was in it for three.

We are surplus baggage.

So does the Doctor lie?

Is the Eighth Doctor’s return just a small taste of what is in store in the coming days? Were these comments simply Colin adding a little Sixth Doctor-esque dramatic flourish to his part in towing the line?

Was he upset about being ignored for the main episode – after all, his comments don’t rule out ancillary appearances like the Eighth Doctor’s.

As Doctor Who Archive comments:

Colin, Peter, Sylvester and Paul (the true fab four!) however have filmed some description of material as revealed by Sean Pertwee last month. It’s still not known what the material entails or whether it will be broadcast in some form over the 50th anniversary period.

Or, and this seems unlikely, have the other Doctors, who narratively speaking, don’t seem to be as relevant to the wider events of the Time War, been left out of the celebrations entirely?

It would seem slightly churlish to bemoan the lack of involvement in the episode itself as simply as a matter of being ‘surplus’ to the actual plot – with the wider implication being that the two men differ greatly in their opinion of whether or not you can tell a compelling, dramatic multi-Doctor story.

It isn’t something that Moffat has ever denied – his familiar response to questions about returning characters over his reign can be summed up in one single word; ‘story’ and it strikes me he isn’t a man who’ll sacrifice that need to spin a compelling yarn for the sake of celebration.

In fact, he said so himself in the the official BBC Media Pack for The Day of the Doctor:

I adored ‘The Three Doctors’, it was brilliant, an accidental piece of magic. I also loved ‘The Five Doctors’. I did think that was the one where possibly the desire to celebrate overwhelmed the desire to tell a story. But I can’t really begrudge it that!

So who is at fault? Is there any fault at all? Are multi-Doctor stories and engaging narratives mutually exclusive entities? And what do you think is really going on with Colin’s apparent dislike of the manner in which the classic Doctors have been treated?

(Via Doctor Who Archive | Thanks to Paul)


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About the Author


Everyone has a favourite Doctor and mine - just for his honesty, his fairness and his ability to not notice the Master's awful, awful disguises/anagrams (Sir Gilles Estram!?!) - has to be the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison. The stories didn’t serve him as well as his acting served those stories.

8 Responses to Colin Baker: Classic Doctors Are “Excess Baggage” (Except, Presumably, McGann)

  1. avatar lee moone says:

    I don’t want multi Drs in episode as I want the story to motor on. For me the McGann mini-sode is the perfect nod to the past Drs and the best way to exclude him in a prequel. I’ve not been a huge fan of Moffet time on Who, but he really has served us well with Night of The Dr. Now I’ve seen that teaser I’m really looking forward to the 50th and beyond!

    • avatar David F says:

      Well said. The episode shouldn’t be about bringing back actors so much as bringing back characters. And the Doctor’s already in the episode, so he doesn’t necessarily need to be brought back.

      Bringing old versions back could easily seem self-indulgent. I’m really happy McGann got his moment, and if Moffat has found an effective way to incorporate the others I’ll be happy too. But they wouldn’t look or act like they used to anyway, so there’s no desperate need to squeeze them in for the sake of it.

      There’s some mileage in seeing the Doctor interact with an old version of himself, but you only need one old face for that purpose.

      I’m far, far more interested in the return of companions, enemies, locations and plot points. Or even just a great rollicking new story.

      (That said, I’m starting to suspect more Doctors might turn up after all. Though I’d trade them all for an Ian Chesterton.)

  2. avatar Christine says:

    The Doctor lies, but in this case a bit churlishly. Something has been filmed (as stated above), nobody knows what except that it’s not in the Special itself. Well, I’ll be looking forward to the special, but also to these bits and pieces (which of course I don’t know when they will come up!). They can’t be as surprising as yesterday’s minisode though!

  3. avatar dr jon says:

    Well i look at it this way, paul McGann said he was gutted about not being in the 50th and what he said is true to some exstent.He was in a minisode and not the 50th,so a white lie in fact. So who is to say the other past doctors are not going to turn up in the next week or so leading up to the 50th.Peter davison said he had a script with his name on it,so who is to say he’s not in a minisode of his own or any of the other doctors in fact. Im still holding out that they turn up on children in need.The doctor lie’s even if only a white lie.

  4. avatar Jeff G says:

    It would be really funny if Baker, Davison, Baker, McCoy, and McGann are all made up as Zygons and was kept a secret! Although Colin would need a bigger suit.

  5. avatar TimeChaser says:

    At this point with so many Doctors to bring back, I don’t think its necessary. The Night of the Doctor was a (super duper) nice surprise and gave us a bit of closure on Eight, but if you have a ton of Doctors running around you can potentially bog down the core story.

    If you want a nice multi-Doctors anniversary story, go listen to The Light at the End from Big Finish.

  6. avatar authorman94 says:

    I’m kind of torn on this. On one hand, I’d be thrilled to see Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy again, but it should be a short moment and probably a big plot important one (maybe the villain’s about to destroy the world and in comes the past Doctors to stop their plan or something like that). I really don’t want another “Dimensions In Time”-esque mess which tries to cram in far too much, and to be perfectly honest, I’d rather about three or four classic companions back instead of the old Doctors since their age isn’t really an issue and could be used a bookend (perhaps William Russell, Louise Jameson, Lalla Ward and Sophie Aldred). As said, just my opinion and you’re all welcome to disagree, just for me, it has to be plot important and not just cramming them in there for the sake of it.

  7. avatar BOJAY says:

    I don’t see the former Classic Doctors as “excess baggage”. This is obviously not the case, as Big Finish’s excellent “The Light At The End” so wonderfully proves. Some of the comments above are spot on. The format of a 2 hour audio drama is much more accommodating to the extended narrative of that many Doctors and characters. A story with that scope involves them all credibly. It also, being audio, solves the dilemma of a group of actors (McGann excluded) who have aged out of the role as they last portrayed it. This isn’t about human beings, or characters that age in a similar fashion, hence, they can be revisited later. Each of these Doctors “died” and regenerated into a new body. The “Time Differential” device of “Time Crash” aside, Steven Moffat, or any writer, would have been hard pressed to create a believable, credible way around why they would appear to have aged. Yes, it’s fantasy, but there needs to be enough credibility present for an audience to suspend its disbelief and engage with the narrative, with the story. With the 50th Anniversary “Day Of The Doctor”, Moffat had plenty of other fish to fry. Thankfully, with Big Finish contributing, we got to have our cake and eat it too. I personally cannot understand Baker and McCoy, with the apparent ire at not being involved. Colin even noted that his own physical appearance has changed since he last appeared as the Doctor. Did they want to participate in something that would have been taken no more seriously than “Dimensions In Time”?

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