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There has to be a point where the silliness ends, and in the case of Doctor Who, this occurred after the series was cancelled and after the TV movie, during the quiet years of the early 2000s.
In a lot of ways, the problems started when the reality of keeping the show going had overtaken the reality within the show, and all of the idiosyncrasies that had made the Doctor such a charming character at first were in danger of overwhelming the plot.
By which I mean, when looking back at the Doctor Who TV movie the fact that the Eighth Doctor manages to find a suitably Doctor-y outfit, and kisses his companion is remembered with far greater clarity than anything that happens with the Master. Luckily, a rethink was on the cards, and the proof of its success lies in the demeanour and costume of the Ninth Doctor, as played by Christopher Eccleston. (Order his episode “The End of the World” on Facebook Video-on-Demand.)
When we meet the Ninth Doctor he has just delivered the final blow to end the Time War, a war in which Gallifrey and all the Time Lords have been wiped from existence by the daleks, who have then been wiped from existence by the Doctor. He carries himself like a former U-Boat captain who has seen too much, and with good reason. All frippery and whimsy has been excised from his character and for the first time, the frock coats have been put back in the TARDIS dressing up box.
The Ninth Doctor dresses like he is wearing a uniform, not a costume.
1: Hair – a close crop. Either a No.4 on the clippers or a recent No.4 which has grown out a bit. A perfect utilitarian haircut.
2: Shirt – we’re back to deep colours again. A burgundy V-necked T-shirt seems to be a favorite, but anything in that colour palate — navy blue, British racing green — would also work.
3: Tie – The Ninth Doctor does not even think that ties are cool, let alone bow ties.
4: Jacket – the key to the Ninth Doctor’s costume is the jacket. It’s a medium-length leather coat, with big lapels: a coat which has clearly seen a lot of action, it has stories to tell. It is also hugely hard-wearing, and is therefore a very useful garment for a soldier. Compare this jacket to anything worn by the previous three Doctors and you can see the full and brutal effect of war on his whimsical psyche.
5: Pants – hard-wearing black uniform pants. The kind of pants you’d see on a British policeman (without the piping on the outside seam). Again, they are worn to be fit for purpose.
6: Boots – spats in the bin, trainers to the gym, the Ninth Doctor wears strong leather boots so that his feet will not be damaged if he has to kick a Cyberman in the nuts. The Ninth Doctor is the first for whom this could even be raised as a possibility.
As for accessories, there’s a key on a length of string, but it’s a perfectly ordinary key, nothing cosmic or strange, and there’s a sonic screwdriver which looks like a very thin blue torch with dreams of becoming a lightsabre when it grows up. That’s it. No jelly babies, no question marks and definitely no frock coats.
The Ninth Doctor means business, and if you wish to dress like him, you had better mean business too.
See also: How to dress like the Tenth Doctor.
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Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.
He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.
Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic