I don’t know why this came to mind today, but I’m wondering. The first Doctor, William Hartnell, was not a young man. The character was a grandfather who dragged his own granddaughter and her teachers on these wild adventures. He was quite the trusted authority, and his advanced age was part and parcel of why he was respected. It was the sixties. It’s what was done.
The second and third Doctors, Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee, were not young men either. They were there as guardians for their naive and younger companions, and again, trusted as authority figures based on their age and assumed wisdom. The same can likely be said of Tom Baker (4th) and Sylvester McCoy (7th).
Other actors that portrayed the Doctor were quite young, almost approaching the age of their co-stars. Peter Davison (5th) did his shows in the 1980s and from what I’ve seen of him, he comes across as very childish and snippy, actually. It looks like Colin Baker (6th) was likely in his 30s somewhere (haven’t seen any of those eps though).
Christopher Eccleston (9) turned 46 this year, and David Tennant (10th and my Doctor, as his run is when I really fell in love with the show) was born in 1971. How old is Matt Smith? Matt Smith is a baby compared to these guys, coming into the world in 1982. He’s the first Doctor younger than me.
I’d never claim the young can’t be wise, of course. It’s quite the stereotype to assume kids (sorry; old fart mode: disabled!) don’t have any brains worth using, or things to say worth hearing. I also hate the phrase “paradigm shift” but has there been one? Are younger actors getting selected because people are changing the way they think of authority, or is it all getting driven by looks over talent?
Again, I can’t say a young actor won’t be talented. Everybody has to start somewhere and no actor should have to start when he or she is four in order to be considered “experienced” enough for later roles. People can be discovered at any age and become, if not great, at least good enough to pass muster for most audiences.
I shouldn’t even pick on Mr. Smith; I’ve seen none of his Doctor Who episodes. I have no idea what he’s like.
Does more of it have to do with wanting to appeal to younger audiences? Get some old bugger (as anyone over 30 will seem to an 8 year old) in role like that, will kids really get behind it and admire the main character? Certainly not as someone they can identify with. But again, looking at the history of the show, it seems clear to me that the audience was supposed to identify with the naive companion more and they’d jointly look to the Doctor as the one who was to be trusted with having the necessary knowledge and experience to solve whatever dilemma cropped up. Trust authority! Listen to your Elders!
Now we have a Doctor actor who’s merely 5 years older than his co-star. They’re far more equal now, age wise, than even David Tennant and Billie Piper (born 1982) were.
Does any of it have to do with a creepy old man vibe? “A Companion eh? Hurh, hurh, hurh…” I’m just throwing it out there. You decide what to do with it. Ponder, comment. You know – that thing nobody seems to bother doing here… Spammy bots contribute more…