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The Doctor is not a man who spends a lot of time worrying about food. Or at least, he’s not a man who spends a lot of time worrying about meals. Meals are the sort of thing you eat all sitting around a table, being sociable. It’s nice, but not really the Doctor’s sort of thing. He’s more of a snatched fish supper sitting around a fire on a patch of wasteland sort of fellow.
As befits an excitable child with the grand age of a far older man (and the body of less-older-but-still-older-depending-on-which-Doctor-we’re-talking-about man) the culinary delights that really seem to float his spaceship are the sort that would generally appeal to humans at either extremes of life.
Here are some of the most notable examples:
One of the earliest food moments in Doctor Who occurs in “The Daleks,” when the First Doctor uses a “food replicator” in the TARDIS to create a “bacon-and-eggs” bar. Sounds, er, delicious!
In “The Aztecs,” he goes on to enjoy a cup of cocoa with Cameca, which seems fitting for his elderly statesman persona. However, when he is offered coffee or brandy in “The War Machines,” he declines either, choosing to drink water instead.
The Second Doctoris a bit more adventurous, choosing to eat plankton in “The Underwater Menace,” and claim to really enjoy it. Apart from the odd round of sandwiches here and there, he reacts badly to coffee in pill form (“The Wheel In Space”), and he has clearly started carrying a bag of sweets in his pocket, just in case.
And what sweets are they? Well, we’ll come back to that later.
In “The Mind of Evil,” the Third Doctor, during a period of enforced captivity, explains to Jo Grant that he was once incarcerated with Sir Walter Raleigh, and had to endure tales of this wondrous new vegetable called a potato.
But the Third is far less of a childlike presence than the Second, and so when the chance comes to snaffle a bottle of wine in “The Day of the Daleks,” he not only seizes it, he gives Jo a rundown of its appealing qualities. She, unimpressed, wanders off to make tea. And then later, in “The Time Warrior,” he picks a fight with Sarah Jane Smith by suggesting she would be of most use making coffee. All very grown-up stuff, only slightly undercut by the amount of spoonfuls of sugar he piles into his tea in “Invasion of the Dinosaurs.”
The Fourth Doctor arrives with a bang in “Robot,” and right away he’s off handing out jelly babies—just like Two used to—as if there’s a universal shortage.
But any accusations of having a purely sweet tooth are undercut by his decision, when in Scotland battling Zygons, to take his porridge in the traditional way; with salt, rather than sugar. There again, being a mercurial sort, he does proudly declare a love for fruit cake in “Image of the Fendahl.”
But if the Fourth is all about sweets, the Fifth is an altogether healthier type of man, Sporty and clean-living, he’s the Doctor that challenged a Cyberman about the joy of eating “a well-prepared meal” in “Earthshock.”
He even wears a celery stick on his lapel:
His successor is of a far less wholesome bent. We don’t know his views on celery, but he definitely like carrot juice, especially if forced to take it as part of a diet and exercise regime devised by the effervescent Mel (“Terror of the Vervoids”)
Seven is partial to a sit down with a nice cup of tea, but appears to have given up on sweetener, possibly after fighting an actual Kandy Man:
Although, if the Doctor Who movie is to be believed, he does still make time for the occasional jelly baby. He just has it with the tea.
Which brings us to the Ninth Doctor: banana fan.
The Tenth Doctor: pear hater.
And the Eleventh Doctor: Jammy Dodger aficionado…
…fond of scones in the Lake District, and wine and fruit, in a picnic…
…and, of course, a devotee of fish custard:
So there you have it. Should you be expecting the Doctor for dinner, make sure your wine is good, your main course is tiny, and the desert trolley is packed with the kind of stuff you’d find at a 6-year-old’s birthday party.
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See more posts by Fraser McAlpine
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