The Blue Coat

Character Options, the dudes who make Doctor Who action figures, announced that they will be releasing a special, limited edition version of the Sixth Doctor action figure in a blue coat.

[A blue coat!!!]A blue coat!

I cannot express how unbelievably awesome this is.

I’ll try.

Back in the 80s, when Colin Baker was tapped to be the Sixth Doctor, the producer at the time, John Nathan-Turner, was starting to lose his mind. He decided to (a) make Colin Baker’s Doctor a total dick, in contrast to Peter Davison’s nice Doctor and (b) make him dress up in an obnoxious multi-coloured coat that would make Andrew Lloyd Weber wince. Colin Baker’s Doctor is not warmly regarded by very many fans of the original series, and his run was marred by bad writing, unfortunate schedule changes, a hostile BBC management and an eighteen month hiatus where the series’ future was in serious question.

Doctor Who carried on after the show was canceled in 1989 (several years after Colin left). A group of guys* who were doing fan-produced audio plays in the 80s started producing licensed Doctor Who plays with the original surviving actors and releasing them on CD around 2000.

Colin Baker, in reprising the Sixth Doctor, wanted to reinvent aspects of his character that he thought were a mistake. His Doctor became more nuanced and less argumentative. He was teamed up with an elderly history professor named Evelyn Smythe, who was less tolerant of his cocky bluster than either Peri or Mel. The pair worked surprisingly well.

Another thing Colin Baker said he’d always wanted to change if he got the chance was his outfit. He said he would’ve preferred basic black himself.

[Real Time] A few years before the the new series came online, BBC Interactive wanted to get some original content for the “Cult” Doctor Who site. They commissioned Big Finish (the audio play guys) to do a play for them, Real Time, and they provided visuals in the form of still images by Lee Sullivan. One of the challenges in doing those images was the Sixth Doctor’s coat. It’s a pain to colour, and in order to save some effort, they wanted to re-use art by flipping images, which you can’t do with a multi-coloured, asymmetric coat. And since no-one beside John Nathan-Turner ever liked Colin’s on-screen outfit, they changed it, for a toned-down blue version of a similar design. The blue coat idea had been used previously on book covers, but this was the first time we got to see it in action, as it were.

The blue coat was referenced in later Big Finish audio adventures, and it’s become their official costume for the stories that take place after Trial of a Time Lord.

And now there’s going to be a toy to make it even more official. And I’m thrilled.