Newbie: which doctor should I start watching with?


Apr 6, 2011
I've had this series recommended me to several people, and it seems like something I'd like, but from what I gather the tone of the different doctors varies a lot almost to the point that you're watching a different show (overstatement maybe, but the leading personality obviously changes a lot with each transformation).

If I can get my hands on any season, which would be the best quality overall (or Golden Age of the series if you will) to start with? (As with any cult show I guess there's going to be, erm...passionate disagreement;)).
Jon Pertwee (where I started) or Tom Baker.

I'd avoid Sylvester McCoy, but if he's your first, you probably wouldn't notice how cr*p he is.
I started watching the show in the Tom Baker era, then backtracked to the beginning. I quite enjoy Matt Smith, who is currently playing the Doctor; he may just be my favorite so far. Given that Smith is the most recent, and given that the writing and the current episodes are most apt to resonate with what's going on in the world today, you might want to start with his episodes, then backtrack.
I suggest Tom Baker or Matt Smith. I think the Matt Smith episodes might have the edge because the production values are better. Although there was something endearing about the clunky old sets.
Because Doctor Who is so long running, for many people it has always been there (even when it was not on TV).

For many people we did not start at the beginning, we started watching it as we grew up, and for us that is the ideal starting point. I can remember sitting of the sofa with my dad watching Tom Baker - (there are a few vague memories of Jon Pertwee), but for me Tom Baker is always going to be the best simply because that's when I became aware of it. (I still appreciate all the other Doctors good or bad)

But I think watching Doctor Who sometimes works, not when you watch it looking for a best place to start, but when you come in at the point it is now.

Watching the current Doctor and becoming aware of the history of the show as you watch, and slowly start looking into that history and picking up those epeisodes and stories that helped make it great!
I started with Tom Baker... although since I was born in 1983, I was watching repeats! For me he will always be my favourite, whether because he was the best, or simply because he was the first Doctor I watched... who knows!

However, I don't think it really matters which one you start with. Once you do start, however, you will find your favourites and least favourites. But, the best thing about Doctor Who is, that with so many incarnations there really IS something there for everyone!!!

If you do start with one and find you're not particulary impressed, I do urge you to carry on with the other series' as I am sure - given that you already state "it seems like something I'd like" - that you will find it enjoyable :D
The show was originally intended as a childrens adventure show. This is quite obvious in the production values of the Hartnell and Troughton seasons.

I personally would start with Spearhead from Space, the first adventure of the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee. Then Tom Baker.

You can go back and check out the older seasons at a later time. Btw, at lot of the early black and white episodes were thrown out by the BBC years ago---so many episodes are completely missing! So actually there are only a few Hartnell (first Doctor) and Troughton (Second Doctor) episodes to enjoy.
I'd start with the most recent series you can get hold of. I don't see a problem with spoilers if that is a concern. As Teresa said the production values are higher, the stories are faster paced, and any cultural references and any science is current.

Having said that, it is well worth going back to early classic episodes, many of which do stand the test of time and have excellent stories. It is also worth seeing An Unearthly Child to see where it all began. As with anything, some episodes are better than others.

If you have much more time then go back to Rose for the start of new Who, or to Robot for Tom Baker, or to Spearhead from Space as Mary suggested.
If it helps, I started with Eccleston (the 9th Doctor) and that was a good starting point for me.

I would say start with the modern-era Who (Eccleston, Tennant and now Smith) and go back to earlier versions if you feel the need.
This is probably not going to be any help whatsoever, but... whichever one is easiest to access.

I began with Tom Baker, myself, and most people I know who are fans of the program also began there; but each person seems to have their own favorite Doctor. Personally, I've liked each, for different reasons (including Sylvester McCoy, who took a bit of getting used to... but then, so did Patrick Troughton originally), and I think there have been good and bad stories with each.

I've recently been rewatching (or, in the case of episodes where the original video is missing, listening to) the series from the beginning -- have just finished the end of the second Hartnell season -- and for all my own pleasure in these, I'm not sure they'd be for everyone, at least among modern viewers. These might be ones to check into later on, once you've had a bit more exposure to the program. But you might look at one or two, and see; who knows? They might be right down your alley; and Hartnell was quite marvelous in the role.... (My own personal favorite, in case you're wondering, is Troughton.)
At the time Sylvester seemed pretty poor - mainly because many of his stories looked suprficially childish. But watch them again , and you will see that they are quite menancing. Sylvester himself quite clearly put all of his jeart and sole into the role , far moreso than any of the other Doctors and I feel he is unduly criticised by those who haven't re-watched his time as the Doctor.

He didn't have the best stories though , they were mainly for the Tom Baker era. Pertwee had some good ones , but a lot were based on Earth and the special effects used were very budget.

Tbh a good starting point would be 'The Three Doctors' and 'The Five Doctors' series - that way you get to see most of the originals (although not much of Tom!) and they are great shows to boot; the way that the Doctors interact with each other is at times hilarious.
I agree with J.D. -- I haven't seen all of them yet, but I like every one I've seen, for different reasons. I am new to the Doctor starting with the first (well, actually the second, as I keep missing the first) of Matt Smith, and I'm now methodically working my way through the newer seasons. I don't see what so many people have against Eccleston -- I think he's quite good in his own way. I've seen enough of Tennant to know that I like him nearly as much as Matt Smith, but as the t-shirt I don't have yet but can't live without says, "You never forget your first Doctor." :D So wherever you start, that's a good place.
Yes, I also quite liked Eccleston. I think he was a very good choice to restart the series, especially with that aspect of the haunted veteran of such an horrific war. His actions toward the Dalek were unexpected (for me) but made perfect sense; and gave the character a strong dose of realism. I wasn't at all crazy about what they did with the Autons in the first story there, but otherwise I generally liked his time as the Doctor.

(And let's face it: Each of the Doctors has had moments of being a thoroughgoing nasty sort. Hartnell certainly had his share of those; Troughton much less, but when they did crop up, they were all the more effective for that, in my opinion. And on down the line....)
I would start with the first movies, way way back with the first Dr.

PB... are you meaning the actual movies (films), with Peter Cushing playing the Doctor, or are you referring to the first stories in the actual television series? The series came first; the movies were, essentially, recastings of two of the stories from the first two seasons with Hartnell, with Cushing playing a much more benign Doctor....

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