The Ninth Doctor Who - A Character Analysis

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Actor Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth 'Doctor Who'.

Doctor Who began in 1963 and was originally shown till 1989. Though the BBC never officially cancelled Doctor Who it disappeared from our TV screens until 2005. With the return of Doctor Who to the T.V screen after such a long period of absence it would have to be something pretty special, and it was! The show itself had a radical new look and a new doctor to match. The Ninth Doctor is perhaps one of the most interesting incarnations of Doctor Who. Very much updated from his predecessors he was a very different Doctor to any that had been seen previously, but somehow managed to remain similar. This incarnation of the Doctor was more casual and unassuming than the previous ones lacking the upper class Englishness that they all seemed to possess. He was also a far darker Doctor than usual With the Time War 1 looming in his past, the last of his kind. But before the Ninth Doctor’s personality is analysed lets take a look at the man behind the Doctor.

The Man Behind The Mask

Christopher Eccleston(born 1964 in Salford) is the one of the shortest serving official Doctor's in the show's history. His departure from the role was announced just four days after the broadcast of his first episode. He starred from the 26 March, 2005 episode 'Rose' to the 16 June, 2005 episode 'The Parting of the Ways', in which he was replaced by the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant). Christopher Eccleston is most famous for his roles in 'Cracker' (1993/1994), 'Our Friends In the North' (1996) and 'The Second Coming'(2003).

The Ninth Doctor – Who’s afraid of The Big Bad Wolf?

Eccleston’s Doctor was the sole survivor of a mighty catastrophe, a buoyant personality hiding a dark vein of a grief and guilt
- Starburst Special 71.

The first thing you probably noticed about the Ninth Doctor is how normal and human he looked. He may have been an alien but you certainly wouldn’t think it. The way he talked, the way he acted and even what he wore all seemed so human. This is the first indication that he is quite different from his previous Incarnations. Gone is the Victorian upper class Englishness of his predecessors to be replaced by something very much here and now. A lot can be taken from a first impression and the Ninth Doctor was no exception. At first glance he was happy-go-lucky, everything was 'fantastic', danger, aliens, he took it all in his stride, with a self-confidence that almost verged on arrogance. The Ninth Doctor we met in 'Rose' was in love with life.

Yet all was not what it seemed.

It was an intrinsic part of his personality, this sweetness and light routine. This ability to find enjoyment and humour in the darkest situations. But why the ‘happy-go-lucky act’ (And it was an act)? It is hard to rationalise. There are many theories. He was doing it for his own sake because he wanted to forget his past, everything that he’s done. He was using humour as a defensive mechanism to hide what he's really thinking and feeling. The truth becomes all too clear in an episode entitled 'Dalek'.

Case Study - Dalek

'Dalek' is an important episode in the series in the terms of the Ninth Doctor's Personality. The Doctor and Rose find themselves in a museum, where one of the exhibits is the ‘last’ Dalek! Up until this point the Doctor had believed them all destroyed.

The Ninth Doctor’s response to the Dalek is fascinating.
It showed the darker side to the Doctor’s character. His hatred of it was so intense, and he was also deeply afraid of it, more openly than the previous Doctors were. For once we were actually seeing the true Doctor, the one without the Façade, there was just something about it that showed the Ninth Doctor’s true personality. From that point on the 'happy-go-lucky' mask had started to slip, and the extent of the Ninth Doctor’s emotional damage was shown. It was then so obvious that he had no faith in himself.

This is illustrated perfectly in the Doctor’s response to the Dalek’s words –

You would make a good Dalek

Clearly the Dalek was just trying to unnerve him, and it worked! But why? Surely he must have known that he was the good guy, and was nothing like a Dalek. There was guilt and uncertainty there, most likely caused by the time war. His inability to save Gallifrey2, and his family, had left him damaged. In addition the Dalek appeared to hit on a sore point and that deep down the Ninth Doctor was worried that one day he would become just like the Daleks: cold and ruthless, without mercy or compassion. So he pretended to be confident, in control, when in reality he had no belief in his own morality.

This is a Doctor whose influence can bring people to make tough decisions; he'll help them as much as he can, but he's more about encouraging others to find the best in themselves. We can see this in the episode called 'World War Three' in which a humble back-bench Member of Parliament (Harriet Jones, MP for Flydale North) is inspired to take charge of Britain's defences and become the person that the Doctor realises will later become the country's Prime Minister.

The Doctor's guilt over the time war had made him doubt himself.

The Ninth Doctor felt he needed to hide all of this, to bottle it all up. The reasoning behind this is that he didn't have to face up to it. If he totally denied that anything was wrong then he wouldn't have to think about it and dwell on whatever it was that he did. The saddest thing in all of this is that it doesn’t seem he had anyone that he could trust, anyone that he could talk too. He wouldn’t go to Rose (see next subtopic) for reassurance because he was worried that she wouldn’t accept him as he was, damage and all. That’s why he wouldn’t talk about his past, because he didn’t know how she would react and he was worried that he would lose her. Rose was very important in helping the Doctor come to grips with his demons. She really was a lifeline for him, she was a way for him too cope with his past and move on.

The Doctor and Rose

Rose Tyler was the Ninth Doctor’s time travelling companion. She is an ordinary nineteen year old girl from 2005. Nothing special, that is until the Doctor turned upto save her life, seconds before he blew up the store she worked in!. Rose is not unique in this respect; every doctor has had a companion. Generally the companion's role in the story was to get in the way and end up being saved by the Doctor. This is not the case for Rose. She is as capable as the Doctor at times and even ends up saving him. She is not afraid to confront danger or think for herself. That’s why the Ninth Doctor loved her, and there's no doubt that he did, though she didn’t realise it for some time. They needed each other, he needed her because he was lonely and she got to experience an entirely different world. Throughout the series they helped each other develop and grow. Rose became more self assured and intelligent, with a wider view of the universe. The Doctor gained a friend and learnt to become more open about his feelings. Rose also changes the Doctor's view of humanity. At the start of the series he was reluctant to get involved with any humans on a personal level (although he seemed willing to open up to Jabe, a tree person from the Forest of Cheem and a perfect stranger, simply because she already understood his pain over the War), but Rose showed him that not all human's are as stupid and selfish as he had once thought. Through bravery, persistence and a willingness to learn, Rose reminded the Doctor why humans are his favourite species, and proved to him that Rose herself is particularly special to him. Rose and the Doctor had a mutually beneficial partnership. Saying that, they didn’t always get along. Overall Rose and the Doctor had a mutually beneficial partnership.

In 'Dalek', we meet Adam, a character who was described in the documents for this series as 'The Companion who couldn't. In the folowing episode, 'The Loing Game', we see how, left to his own devices in an alien environment, Adam makes critical mistakes that a time traveller simply cannot make. As a consequence the Doctor ditches him at the first opportunity. This shows us that he has a particularly low patience for the selfish or careless - and that he regards Rose as his ideal companion. So it's with frustration and disappointment that he regards Rose when, in 'Father's Day', she trciks him into going back in time to prevent the death of her father. it's the kind of self-serving action that he's hoped Rose would never make.

The Parting Of the Ways

At the beginning of the series, the Doctor was still recovering from sacrificing his own people in order to ensure the destruction of the Daleks. By the series' end, the Daleks have returned in force as the survival of one single Dalek has led to the slow production of half a million of the metallic monsters which have amassed for an attack on the Doctor's favourite planet, Earth. The Doctor could repeat his previous solution and destroy the Daleks, but only by wiping out every living thing on Earth, soemthing he cannot allow Rose to witness. He tricks her into returning back to her own time, but Rose finds a way to return to his side - along with a trick of her own that sees the Earth safe and the Daleks destroyed. Unfortunately, her solution puts her own life at risk as the power of the Time Vortex begins to destroy her.

Throughout his brief life, this Ninth Doctor has inspired others to reach their true potential. It's significant therefore that Rose's bravery forces the Doctor to risk his own life to save her. Taking the energies from her body into his own (via a passionate, heartfelt kiss), the Doctor saves his best friend to fight another day. However, for the Ninth Doctor, this act marks the end of the road.

Typically, he masks his fears from Rose, explaining what he's done in simple, light-hearted terms. The significance of his chatter escapes Rose at first until she realises her firend is dying. The Doctor manages to fight back the effects of his 'change' long enough to deliver his final epitaph: 'You were fantastic... and y'know what? So was I.'

The Ninth Doctor's life ends with an explosion, just as it began. And for a whole new generation of viewers, he is the Doctor.

Extra Information.

To find out more about The Ninth Doctor, and Doctor Who in general consult the links in the refrenced site bar.

1 This was a war between the Doctor's people (The Time Lords) and the Daleks. Little is known about it at this stage.2 The Doctor's home planet

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