Of course, all polls are subjective, and will have, by their very nature, a bottom placing. But, as Colin opines, is it necessary to publish the poll in its entirety? It is, after all, bound to be disheartening for those placed at the bottom. Some time back, I analysed the results of the 2014 poll on this blog. I disagreed with much of the poll results, but published them, in full, as per their appearance in the magazine. With hindsight, a part of me wishes I hadn't, although, in fairness (to me!), I was an allying the poll, as published.
The more I think about it, the more I agree with Colin Baker. Publishing the bottom placings of a Doctor, a story, or a season, seems rather disingenuous, and rather cruel. After all, our opinions differ wildly, and what, for some, may be a "low ranked statistic" may well be someone's personal favourite. That lowly placed Doctor, that "lousy" episode; they may be a firm favourite for some. Indeed, some may have been the first introduction to Doctor Who for some people.
This, of course, doesn't preclude us from having favourites, nor does it prevent us from offering an opinion any aspect of the show. Which leads me neatly into the second half of the post...
In Defence of the Doctor
Whilst, I think, most fans would concur, none of Colin Baker's stories reach the lofty height of masterpieces like Genesis of the Daleks, the same cannot be said of his portrayal of the Doctor. By definition, each regeneration is different, with their own quirks, foibles and personality traits. And this is, for me, where Colin Baker stands out. From the very outset, his Doctor is loud, brash, bombastic and certainly makes his presence felt. In many ways, he is, perhaps, among the most alien of Doctors. He burst onto our screens, not with a fainting whimper, but with a violent burst of energy, leading to some of the darkest scenes the classic series had ever seen. Never before had a Doctor attempted to kill his own companion!
Each of Colin Baker's television episodes has merit. They have Colin Baker! That, alone, makes each and every one worth watching. Whilst most polls would place stories like 'The Twin Dilemma' or 'Timelash' at the lower end of the scale, for me, I throughly enjoy both. I find Colin Baker's Doctor compelling, energetic, sincere and credible. His presence elevates every story. Every moment spent with the Sixth Doctor is like a moment spent with an old friend, who we have watched grow and mature.
Unceremoniously dumped by the BBC, Colin Baker could have, quite easily, stuck two fingers up to Doctor Who, and I doubt anyone would have blamed him. And yet, he has become, perhaps, the most ardent supporter of the show, and a great ambassador for fans everywhere. He is, by far, the mist accessible of all the Doctors. Some of you will, perhaps, have had the pleasure of receiving a tweet from him. I have, and I have to confess to a rather giddy thrill that The Doctor tweeted me!
Of course, the real triumph of the Sixth Doctor lies in his audio adventures, courtesy of Big Finish. My introduction to Big Finish audios came in the form of a birthday present; a CD of 'The One Doctor'. It whetted my appetite, and 201 stories and numerous spin-offs later, I still eagerly await each new release. And that enthusiasm is never greater than when a Sixth Doctor story is imminent.
I have something of a reputation for singing the praises of Big Finish. I do not dish out praise lightly, but the reputation is well earned. Whilst it is, I think, fair to say, none of Colin's on screen adventures are quite in the same league as some of those from the early 1970's, his audio adventures are more than a match. Stories such as 'Jubilee', 'Davros', 'The Reaping' or 'The Spectre of Lanyon Moor', to name but four, are, I believe absolutely worthy of "classic" status. Leaving aside the numerous merits of each story, the real strength here, again lies in Colin Baker.
With each story, Baker turns in a more nuanced performance, and we are treated to real character development for the Sixth Doctor. His brashness softens, his relationship with his companions grows stronger, and his charm and wit become evermore present. At the end of each story, you are left in no doubt that you have just spent a couple of, very enjoyable, entertaining, hours with The Doctor.
I somehow suspect, whilst polls are being voted upon, many of those voting have never taken the time to listen to audio adventures. It would certainly explain why "Nu-Who" Doctors are consistently placed near, or at the top of those polls. There is a whole universe of Doctor Who which many have not yet explored. Perhaps, if they did, those polls may look very different.
Ultimately, though, who gives a damn about polls anyway? They are a snapshot of a selective number of people, and do not fully do justice to any of the placings, high OR low. For someone out there, 'Timelash' is their introduction to the world of Doctor Who. For someone, it is a favourite sorry, and no amount of polling will change that.
As for me, well.. I adore the Sixth Doctor. I love his energy, enthusiasm and uniqueness. And the same is true of Colin Baker, for who. I have an enormous amount of respect. His Doctor is loud, brash and volatile. Colin, by contrast, is dignified, tactful, erudite, and passionate. There is much to love about both the character and the actor. After all, he is The Doctor. Whether you like it, or not!