Friday 24 December 2010

Sixth Doctor costume transition

This week I’ve been taking a little look at an area of The Doctor’s costume that sometimes gets overlooked: The Costume Transition Scene!
I’m taking about that moment in the first episode of a new Doctor where the old skin is finally shaken off and a re-designed costume helps define the start of a new era in Doctor Who history.

When William Hartnell became Patrick Troughton, it wasn’t just his face that changed – his costume miraculously regenerated at the same time.

Later, when Jon Pertwee took over, his new clothes were more realistically introduced by having The Doctor lift them from the changing room of the hospital where he is taken at the start of Spearhead From Space.

But it was Tom Baker’s transition scene that was the first to make some play on the anticipation of what The Doctor would be wearing.

Looking through the list of regenerations, I have realised there seems to be two dominant scenarios for these scenes:

The Hospital Changing Room scenario
The Third Doctor steals the clothes of a hospital consultant before stealing his car as well; after the Eighth Doctor emerges from the morgue, he takes the clothes of a surgeon, who is going to a fancy dress party; the latest regeneration sees the Eleventh Doctor lifting a the parts of his costume from the hospital locker room as he strides through.

The TARDIS Dressing-up Room scenario
Although we don’t see the dressing-up room, the Fourth Doctor keep popping out of the TARDIS dressed in unsuitable costumes; the Fifth Doctor finds his new clothes in the TARDIS, almost as if he was supposed to; the Sixth Doctor is the first to be seen in the dressing-up room to choose his new clothes; followed by the Seventh Doctor who goes through a similar selection; finally the Tenth Doctor makes his choice from a re-imagined dressing-up room, courtesy of The Mill’s special effects gurus!

The Sixth Doctor Costume Transition
The costumes on the racks are an ecclectic mix of stock items probably from the Angels or BBC Cosutme Department roped in for the day, but hidden in there are a number of pieces of previous Doctor’s clothes.

Patrick Troughton is represented by the fur coat he wore in The Five Doctors, and if you look closely, you’ll also see his trousers from the same story hanging by their braces on the wall at the back (see right).
(These were worn again in The Two Doctors)

Elsewhere, there are a couple of bits of Jon Pertwee’s costume, again from The Five Doctors.

On the rack is Jon’s tartan Inverness Cape (see below, left); and later Colin Baker tries on the Smoking Jacket (see below, right).

It wasn’t too long before The Doctor was back for another rumage for clothes, in the form of Sylvester McCoy.
Check out the Seventh Doctor Costume transition to see what surfaced that time

Lastly, here are some photos I have found taken during the filming of this scene.

You can see some more detail of the background costumes, though no extra Who-related ones sadly.

You can read my reviews of the other
Costume Transition scenes below:


  1. I think that if we had the few seconds of video, we'd see that there's (just) slightly more to Patrick's costume change. It could just be a matter of throwing the first doctor's cape to the ground. But he gets the coat somewhere, as he doesn't have it initially. He digs through a chest for a few seconds. I assume he is looking for the mirror, but does he also get his coat here?

    Another minor detail: He discards the first doctor's ring, and Polly picks it up.

    Just nit-picking. But that's what we do, right?

  2. I know this isn't about the costume, but did you spot the mistake in the Christmas Invasion when the Doctor walks up to the mirror when he's trying on his new brown suit. You can see the TARDIS doors and handrails to the left of the mirror!

  3. @fourknocks - would you like to repost your comment under the Tenth Doctor Costume Transition entry?

  4. You can also see Tegan's fur coat from "The Five Doctors" (seen in the background as he's flicking through the rack), and what looks to be the Fourth Doctor's season 12 jacket (on the rack). I'm not sure if there are any other costume continuity gems hidden in this scene?

  5. Looking at the photos of Colin having the two coats on, the 5th Dr jacket has no mud on the right hand lapel so must be publicity shots unless he did a quick wash. Great site.


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