The Eighth Doctor
The Eighth Doctor was an effortlessly charming, romantic figure. He was unguarded about his background and equally candid about what the future held for people he came into contact with. It seems ironic that so much about this open Doctor remains a closed book.
When the Seventh Doctor was shot on the streets of San Francisco he didn’t immediately regenerate. He was whisked away to a city hospital where – despite his pleas – he was operated on by Doctor Grace Holloway. After a dramatic op, in which his alien physiology confused and complicated the procedure, she thought her attempts to save his life had failed. But later that night in a cold, creepy morgue the Doctor began to change…
I can’t make your dream come true forever, but I can make it come true today.The Eighth Doctor
It would prove another tricky regeneration. ‘I was dead too long, this time,’ he told Grace. ‘The anaesthetic almost destroyed the regenerative process.’ Perhaps because of this complication, the new Doctor initially suffered from amnesia. He could remember things about Leonardo di Vinci and reminisced about Puccini, but he couldn’t recall who he was. Most strikingly, he somehow knew extraordinary facts about people around him. As he was happy to share this knowledge it led to several poignant moments. ‘…it was a childish dream that made you a doctor. You dreamt you could hold back death,’ he reminded Grace, before adding, ‘Don’t be sad... You’ll do great things.’
The Eighth Doctor soon regained his memory and unlike previous Doctors seemed at ease when discussing his childhood, bewitching his companion with stories of a youth spent on Gallifrey with his father. Indeed, he came across as being incredibly open about who he was and his entire background, chatting about everything from his two hearts to home planet. He was also a more romantic figure than previous Doctors and kissed Grace as fireworks exploded on New Year’s Eve.
Yet just like the Third Doctor he could be a man of action – zipping across the highways of California on a motorbike and using a fire hose to drop down the outside of a building! He also demonstrated a gift for sleight of hand, dexterously stealing a policeman’s gun at one point and later removing the ID pass from a man he was chatting to, without him noticing!
Most of the Eighth Doctor’s adventures remain a mystery to us. We saw him battle the Master and save the world in 1999 before bidding farewell to Grace. She questioned how she could find him again and he replied ‘I’m easy to find! I’m the guy with two hearts, remember?’ Moments later, he was gone…