Remember the hoopla over Matt Smith’s age when he was cast as the Doctor? Well, it was similarly shocking when twenty-nine-year-old Peter Davison was announced as Tom Baker’s replacement in the early 1980’s. To replace the wildly popular Fourth Doctor was terrible enough for fans everywhere, but the fact that he was the youngest actor ever to play the Time Lord was tough to accept as well (he remained the youngest actor ever to take on the role of the Doctor until Matt Smith, then twenty-six, started in 2010). Despite the misgivings (and those who said they would never watch again after Tom Baker left–sound familiar?), the Fifth Doctor won his own set of fans. He acted younger in this incarnation, more open and vulnerable, but he could still be imposing when the situation required it…and intergalactic foes quickly learned that the Doctor’s youthful appearance was deceiving.
I’ll be honest, though–it took me a little longer to warm up to Number Five than to some of the others. Parts of his performance in “Four to Doomsday” (my first Fifth Doctor story) felt forced and stilted in places, but I watched a few more of his stories and decided that he was a good Doctor in his own right. He was different from the others, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing–after all, change and differences are all integral to Doctor Who.