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Why each actor left the role of Doctor Who

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Despite the family-friendly image of hit sci-fi series Doctor Who, it has been surprisingly tumultuous behind the scenes – leading to the exits of the following actors who have travelled in the TARDIS.

William Hartnell

The First Doctor has admitted that he didn’t want to hang up his sonic screwdriver when he did, Den of Geek! reports. However, his struggles with arteriosclerosis were a factor in pushing him out of the role in 1966.

Patrick Troughton

Many of the Doctors have had a three-year tenure in the role – and Troughton very much laid down this template. He has commented that he feared becoming typecast as the Doctor.

Jon Pertwee

According to Pertwee himself, lingering pain in his back and the gradual breaking up of the Doctor Who team – including Katy Manning, who played his companion – both contributed to his exit.

Tom Baker

Despite staying in the role for seven years, he annually handed in his “notice”, Tom has revealed. He was finally let go to make way for the show’s “shiny makeover” for the ’80s, says Digital Spy.

Peter Davison

A big fan of Troughton’s Doctor, Davison decided to stick to that predecessor’s three-year rule. He has also revealed: “It was very demanding, so I was too tired to feel sad when it was all finally over.”

Colin Baker

One of the most acrimonious splits occurred when, after Baker’s much-delayed second season, the BBC didn’t renew his contract. In 1987, he told The Sun: “I have been treated shabbily.”

Sylvester McCoy

Though McCoy and his on-screen companion Ace – played by Sophie Aldred – stoked up optimism in the Who camp, the show went on hiatus. McCoy did return as the Doctor in 1996, but only to hand over the reins to his successor…

Paul McGann

The star of the Doctor Who TV movie released in 1996, McGann nonetheless didn’t get a series afterwards. A new series arrived in 2005, but showrunner Russell T Davies decided against bringing back McGann, according to the Eighth Doctor himself.

Christopher Eccleston

Despite being a spearhead of the revived show in 2005, Eccleston left after only one season. In March, he told the Radio Times that his “three immediate superiors” had “lost trust” in him.

David Tennant

To quote from the Scottish actor himself: “It would be very easy to cling on to the TARDIS console forever and I fear that if I don’t take a deep breath and make the decision to move on now, then I simply never will.”

Matt Smith

According to the star of The Crown, “it just felt like the right time to move on” in 2013.

Peter Capaldi

The Twelfth Doctor cited several reasons for his departure, among them “I want to always be giving it my best and I don’t think if I stayed on I’d be able to do that.”

As the world eagerly anticipates the first series starring Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor, you can turn to The Who Shop and stock up on memorabilia about past Doctors.

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