When we are introduced to the Ninth Doctor, he is once again seen as a man of mystery. The last time we saw him he was going against The Master, but we don’t know anything about the Time War between the Daleks and Time Lords. It is also unknown exactly when his regeneration between the Eighth and Ninth Doctor occured. Recently, there has been some speculation as to whether there was another Doctor in between eight and nine that was doing stuff that subsequent Doctors were too appalled to discuss. A key aspect of the Ninth Doctor’s character is that he has experienced a lot and lost very much and as a result he carries a heavy burden on his shoulders. He starts off dazzled and defeated by war, and its not until he meets his compantion Rose Tyler that he begins to come out of his shell.
The ninth Doctor is no longer the lovable gadabout space traveler with a lavish fashion sense, he’s a veteran of war. The multicolor shirts, sparkling eyes and frock coats have all been replaced with a scuffed leather coat and a hard stare, with a ton of nervous energy. He is no longer on the run from the stifling self-regard of Gallifrey’s high society, he is just on the run, because he has nowhere else to go. So with a backstory like this, it was a masterstroke to cast Christopher Eccleston as the first Doctor in the reboot of the series.
Had the Doctor been the charming yet eccentric egghead from the home counties, the harsh reality of his time at war would have much more difficult to bring across to audiences. The Ninth Doctor has the least gentlemanly manner of all of his incarnations, because he’s been a soldier in a horrible conflict and was forced to end it by destroying everyone that was involved.
“It might be theatrical shorthand, but by giving the Doctor an accent rooted in the industrial heartland of the British Isles, Russell T Davies takes him out of officer class and puts him amid the rank and file of serving Time Lords, as if the Time War was so extreme it made even this eternally foppish flibbertigibbet look at himself in the mirror with such venom he had to become a hard-bitten working man just to get by.” (Source: BBC) Rose points this out when she asks, “if you are an alien, how come you sound like you’re from the north?” to which Nine replies “lots of planets have a north,” with a slightly beaten tone, as if called out.
This all comes out during the confrontation in the story, “Dalek,” a scene in which fear, anger, horror and glee are expressed, only to be replaced with sense of loathing for himself, the Daleks and hatred.
We have not seen this side of the Doctor until now. And at certain times he does not seem entirely sure about himself either. There are moments during this exchange when you can almost see him thinking “is this what I do now? That doesn’t seem right.”
Luckily, as usual, the Doctor finds a new companion that slowly helps to resets his spirit and level his mind. It’s nonsense to consider Nine without Rose, who shows him how to regain his sense of blance and warmth. In return, she gets to play with time (she get to meet her dead dad as well as reunite him with her mum), and destroy an entire race of Daleks. Their relationship is very symbiotic. So it’s fitting that this is the Ninth Doctor’s final act.
He takes his view of the universe (in the form of the time vortex) out of Rose’s mind, and somehow finally heals the embittered part of him. In a character arc for the ninth Doctor, all he has left to do now is let himself die, so that he can be regenerate into a significantly less traumatised and more posh Tenth Doctor.
A fantastic outcome all round.
And if you want more on the Ninth Doctor, Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited – The Ninth Doctor is on BBC AMERICA on Sunday September 29 at 8/7c.