• Doctor Who has trended towards younger actors as the Time Lord, suggesting the current Doctor Who era lacks the “wise old man” persona of the early Time Lords.
  • Sylvester McCoy, who played the Seventh Doctor, regrets the shift towards younger actors and believes that having an older Doctor would provide a hero figure for young people.
  • While the modern-age Doctors have been younger, the series will bring back David Tennant for the 60th anniversary specials, which may bring back some of the sagacity that McCoy longs for.



Doctor Who alum Sylvester McCoy explains his only negative feeling towards the show’s revival era. McCoy played the Seventh Doctor in the series, originally performing across three Doctor Who seasons from 1987 to 1989. He made a brief return to the series for the season 13 finale, “The Power of the Doctor,” but will not be returning to the show for Doctor Who season 14.

Speaking with SFX Magazine, McCoy reveals his thoughts on the current Doctor Who era. According to the actor, “the negative thing” about the Doctor Who revival is the pivot towards younger actors in the role of the Time Lord. McCoy reminisced on the days wherein the Doctor “was a wise old man.” Check out his full quote below:

“It’s changed because it got younger and in a way it became even more successful because of that. But I regret it in a way, because what I loved about the early Doctors was we had a superhero who was not Superman, or Mr America, he wasn’t muscular. He used his brain, not his brawn, but he was a wise old man.

“In the old Anglo-Saxon society that we live in, we do not respect the old, like Latin societies do, Indian society. You go to Asia, they respect the old. Having an old Doctor meant that young people would get a hero, an old man hero. That’s the negative thing as far as I’m concerned. But that’s only a very personal thing.

“Has it changed? No, it hasn’t really changed. It keeps changing and not changing, like a Gordian Knot of visuals and creatives. Writers are all affected by what they saw when they were young.

“Because I noticed that certain things coming out in the Christopher Eccleston [era] were echoes of what we’d done, the baby and loads of other things. And then Matt Smith’s fez, I did that first – and danced with the mop. I was on set and I just improvised and they kept it.”

Despite Younger Doctors, Doctor Who Is Still Trying To Appeal To The Older Crowd

Donna Noble and the Fourteenth Doctor in Doctor Who's 60th-Anniversary

McCoy’s analysis of the Time Lord’s evolving ages is mostly accurate. Of the first seven Doctor Who leads, only one, Fifth Doctor Peter Davidson, began the role when they were under the age of 40. In contrast, four out of the six most recent Doctors have started their Time Lord tenures before the age of 40. Additionally, Fifteenth Doctor Ncuti Gatwa will be 31 years old when he makes his Doctor Who debut later this year.

Doctor Number


Age At The Start Of Tenure

Eighth Doctor

Paul McGann


Tenth Doctor

David Tennant


Eleventh Doctor

Matt Smith


Thirteenth Doctor

Jodie Whittaker


Though the modern-age Doctors do skew younger, this trend will shift a bit as Tennant returns to the series for the Doctor Who 60th anniversary specials. At 52, Tennant will be the third-oldest person to play a new Time Lord, beaten out only by First Doctor William Hartnell (55), and Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi (56). Though Tennant began as a younger man in the series, perhaps the actor can bring back some of the sagacity that McCoy so longs for in Doctor Who.

In addition to bringing back Tennant, Doctor Who has also welcomed back several people from the original series, including McCoy himself. Going into the Doctor Who 60th anniversary specials and season 14, this trend will include the reprisal of Bonnie Langford’s Melanie Bush, who originally played in the 1980s rendition of the series. Therefore, Doctor Who may still have young Doctors overall, but based on recent casting, the show has clearly not forgotten the appeal of its older cast members.

Source: SFX Magazine

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