The Sylvester McCoy era was when the show started to improve. Doctor Who suffered heavy blows through the 80’s and it wasn’t until McCoy stepped into the role did the show taking a much darker approach. Again the special effects and some of the sets were done on the cheap but the stories on the other-hand were far more exciting and enjoyable. The Seventh Doctor era gave us Daleks, Cybermen, Ghosts, an alien creature known as Fenric, the fight for Excalibur and the return of Brigadier Alistair Gordon Leftbridge-Stewart.
It was this era that would go on to inspire Russell T Davies on his attempt to revive the show in 2005. McCoy’s Doctor had two onscreen companions, Melanie Brown (Bonnie Langford) and Dorothy Gale “Ace” McShane (Sophie Aldred). The role of Ace was that of a teenage girl from Perivale, London who got caught up in a time-storm and was thrown thousands of years into the future to an Ice-world called Svartos (Dragonfire).
The journey that Ace and the Doctor shared was of Ace’s journey growing up into womanhood. The Doctor would often manipulate her into doing the grown up thing and in a way he was more like a father figure towards the character. Ace was introduced in the fourth and final serial for Season 24, which featured the departure of Melanie Brown.
McCoy took over as the title character in 1987 and remained as the Doctor until the show was yet again put into hiatus in 1989. However in cannon terms he was still the Doctor. Over the years McCoy and Aldred would make appearances as the Doctor and Ace in other TV programs.
It was during McCoy’s era was the single Doctorin’ the TARDIS by the Time Lords made its way into the charts. The song itself is an amalgamation of the Doctor Who theme tune along with Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll (Part Two)" with sections from "Blockbuster!" by Sweet and "Let's Get Together Tonite" by Steve Walsh. The single was panned by critics but somehow made it to number one. The song was mad and cheesy, your stereotypical 1980’s single. The song also featured snippets of dialogue from a Dalek and Davros taken from the serial: Genesis of the Daleks.
They even returned to the Doctor Who universe for the 30th Anniversary; Doctor Who: Dimensions in Time (1993). The Children in Need, Anniversary Special experimented with the use of 3D glasses, the idea failed, miserably! Dimensions in Time featured all the Doctors of that time trapped in Albert Square, with guest appearances from the cast of Eastenders. The two-part special also featured the return of the Rani as portrayed by the late Kate O’Mara.
This would be the penultimate adventure for the Seventh Doctor as two years later he returned for the TV Movie, which was Paul McGann’s debut as the benevolent Time Lord. Sylvester McCoy to this day is technically the longest running Doctor in the show’s history, the actor beat Tom Baker’s record by one year.
It was between 1989 and 96 is what we called the Wilderness years. Over those years there was next to nothing of anything Doctor Who related, the only way we could have our fix was collecting the Doctor Who Magazines from our local newsagents or buying the latest VHS from W.H. Smith’s. There was nothing, it was as though the show itself had well and truly left. Then the T.V. Movie blast its way onto our screens with the catchphrase “The Doctor’s back, and it’s about time!” It did feel like after a long break that the show had it was back for good. That was however if you tuned into BBC Radio Four, and rewatched the reruns on BBC Two and UKTV Gold.