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WHO’S WHO: How did Sylvester McCoy become Doctor Who?


Former-Doctor Who, Sylvester McCoy played the iconic role between 1987-1989 and then again, for a special in 1996 but how did the actor land the iconic role?

All eyes were on Years & Years’ Olly Alexander over the weekend, as the singer turned actor is rumoured to replace Jodie Whittaker as TV’s beloved Time Lord.

But today, we’re doing a bit of time travelling ourselves and stepping back in time to the late 1980s when Scottish actor, Sylvester McCoy inhabited the role of ‘The Doctor’.

Official Source IMDB says:

McCoy was starring at the National Theatre in "The Pied Piper", a play written especially for him, when he learned that the BBC was looking for a new lead actor to replace Colin Baker, who had been unceremoniously dumped from Doctor Who on the orders of Michael Grade. McCoy won the role as the Seventh Doctor despite reservations from Grade and Head of Drama Jonathan Powell, who were by this time monitoring producer John Nathan-Turner's decision-making very closely. McCoy's first season took the slightly pantomimic style of Baker's final season, Trial of a Time Lord, even further and received a very dubious reception from the press and fans. Nathan-Turner put McCoy in a pullover covered in question marks, which McCoy later admitted he didn't like.

By the time of McCoy's second season, the new script editor, Andrew Cartmel, was trying to make the series darker and more complex. In the third season, his costume was changed from a fawn jacket and paisley scarf to a dark brown jacket and an altogether more muted and subdued image, but the pullover remained. Despite forming a close bond with co-star Sophie Aldred and the general standard of the stories rising again towards the end, the series was obviously starved of funds and ratings were fairly poor throughout the McCoy era, with the series being trounced by ITV's Coronation Street. The BBC's opinion of Doctor Who was that it was an embarrassment. In 1989, the new series head, Peter Creegan, pulled the plug…

That is, until the series returned again full-time on the BBC in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston inhabiting the role. Since then, the show has gone on to huge success.

Catch Series 1-12 of the new series of Doctor Who on BBC iPlayer

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