By Darren Franich
July 16, 2012 at 04:10 PM EDT
  • TV Show

The first episode of Doctor Who aired on the BBC in November 1963. Almost fifty years later, the time-hopping sci-fi series has become a British institution. It’s nowhere near as popular in America, but the show’s following in the U.S. has become a kind of standard-bearer for hyper-invested fandom — witness the brilliant Community parody, Inspector Spacetime.

Buzz has been steadily building on the current incarnation of the show, produced by burgeoning cult hero Steven Moffat and starring Matt Smith as the Doctor. Of course, we all know that Smith is only the latest in a long line of Doctors: The alien Time Lord regenerates whenever he’s fatally injured, which means that the show has the rare ability to consistently survive the departure of its lead actor. Smith is the eleventh actor to play the Doctor. Could he be the best? Who is your favorite Doctor?

The character has been played by eleven different performers, who each put their own distinctive stamp on the Time Lord. Original Doctor William Hartnell was fussy and professorial; his successor, Patrick Troughton, was a shabbily-dressed adventurer. Tom Baker arguably had the most defining run with the character in the ’70s: He still holds the record for playing the Doctor longer than anyone, and he layered his performance with notes of outsider melancholy. (His Doctor certainly has the most distinctive look, with a neverending series of scarves.) The whole Doctor Who franchise lay fallow for most of the ’90s — save for a misbegotten TV movie starring Paul McGann — but executive producer Russell T. Davies staged a full-scale Who revival in mid-00s, first with Christopher Eccleston and then with David Tennant.

But which Doctor was your favorite, Who fans? Do you prefer the modern stoicism of an Eccleston? Or the dandy retro-arrogance of Third Doctor Jon Pertwee? Are there any fans of short-lived ’80s Doctors Peter Davison and Colin Baker out there? Or someone who really, really wants to defend Paul McGann? Vote in our poll below! (And just to be clear, we’re not counting Peter Cushing, who played a very different version of the character in a couple of ’60s movies, including Daleks — Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D., which might be the worst title for anything ever.)

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich

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