It's Colin Baker's birthday today.
I thought I might take the opportunity to say a little bit about why I like Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor. Poor Colin gets a hard time. His Doctor is constantly near the bottom of favourite Doctor polls, much to Colin's own annoyance. His era is often seen as a low point in Doctor Who.
However, Colin Baker is the reason this blog exists. Colin Baker is the reason I'm a Doctor Who fan. I'd been watching Doctor Who since Season 15 but as Peter Davison's era crept towards its end I was 12/13 and other things were beginning to get my attention. I still watched Doctor Who but I was falling out of love with it a bit, which wasn't Peter Davison's fault. It was just life.
Also I didn't really know any other Doctor Who fans. We moved from Cornwall to Buckinghamshire around this time and I started a new school. There I met Rick, who it turned out was also a Doctor Who fan. It was Rick that told me there was a new Doctor coming and it was Rick that introduced me to fandom.
So, when the Colin Baker era started it was make or break really. If this wasn't good I suspect I would have faded away from Doctor Who. But I loved Colin Baker from the off. I didn't feel then some of the concerns I was to feel when I revisited the era later on. The Doctor's less likeable side was fine by me. I didn't even dislike the costume. It should be noted that I was probably still in that phase when all Doctor Who is good. It would take me a couple more years of reading DWB etc to discover that you weren't supposed to like Doctor Who if you were a Doctor Who fan. You were supposed to complain about it and compare it dismissively to previous eras when everything was great. I also learned from DWB etc that you could be really, really angry about Doctor Who not living up to you expectations. But thankfully fandom isn't like that any more. (Cough.)
Colin Baker was a great Doctor Who. He was and is a great ambassador for Doctor Who. He talks intelligently about the part and the series. He's also incredibly welcoming to fans, despite everything he's had to endure in terms of polls. I've met him several times. I've met him at official signings. I met him twice after seeing Doctor Who: The Ultimate Adventure stage plays where he was happy to sign autographs and chat, which was a bit of a contrast to Jon Pertwee. And then there was the time I met him in High Wycombe W H Smith's whilst buying a copy of DWM. I wanted to get his autograph but I didn't have a pen. The lady on the till wouldn't let me have a pen, but when I mentioned this to Colin he just said, "I'll get you a pen" and did. One signed copy of DWM later. My friend Rick also had a similar encounter with Colin in High Wycombe W H Smith's, although Rick had a pen.
The Colin Baker era is short, although you can enjoy much more of Colin Baker's Doctor on Big Finish. Indeed, I recommend that if you've not listened to any Big Finish before a good place to start would be The Spectre of Lanyon Moor which gives us the chance to see the Sixth Doctor meet the Brigadier. And if you've never watched a Sixth Doctor story then give Vengeance on Varos a go. It's a good taste of what he's capable of and it feels surprisingly relevant in 2022.
I still enjoy the Colin Baker era, although I struggle a bit with Mindwarp. But the cast seemed to have struggled with it too so that's my excuse. Even Timelash has its joyful moments.
I have often complained about the Sixth Doctor's costume, but over time I have grown to like it. It is the Sixth Doctor and whilst I've seen lovely alternative designs there's something missing from Colin's Doctor when he's not in his garish finery.
So, I just wanted to take a few moments to thank Colin Baker for being the Sixth Doctor. Yes, I know his acting career is broader than that but this is a Doctor Who blog so I'm concentrating on that. And thank him - blame him? - for turning me into the sort of person that writes 300,000-ish words of Doctor Who in a blog almost no one reads.
Happy Birthday Colin.
PS I'm currently crowd funding a Doctor Who book. You can find more about it here