Friday 24 December 2010

Seventh 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 Seventh Doctor Costume Transition
For Sylvester’s costume transition scene he goes through a number of outfit changes.

In a throw-back to Tom Baker’s transition, The Doctor first tries a couple of totally unsuitable costumes: firstly a Nepoleonic uniform (see below, left); then a university cloak and mortar board hat (see below, right).

We are then treated to a fan-pleasing recap of four Doctor’s costumes: firstly Tom Baker’s season 18 plum great-coat and fedora, though with an incorrect scarf (see right).

Then something special from the archives: Jon Pertwee’s original rust red velvet smoking jacket as seen in The Curse of PeladonThe Time MonsterThe Three Doctors and briefly in Planet of the Spiders (see left).

He then tries Peter Davison’s season 21 outfit.

Of interest here is that he is wear a panama hat (probably just from his finalised costume, but with th brim turned down) with the paisley hanky that will form part of his own costume (see right).

Finally, he emerges wearing the big fur coat worn by Patrick Troughton in The Five Doctors. This later popped up again during Colin Baker’s costume transition scene.
Check out the Sixth Doctor Costume Transition to see how it appeared during that scene
This is then shed to make the ‘big reveal’ for the Seventh Doctor’s final costume.

Notice that the red braces are worn over the top of the question-mark pullover. This is the only story where they are worn like this.

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

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


  1. Great article and some super screen pics! I actually own that purple striped scarf (plus an off-cut of it) as seen on-screen during his costume changes.
    Sadly, it's my only bit of actual real costume/prop history I own from the series but I'm proud I own it none the less.

    Adam - North Wales.

  2. That's funny.

    Does it seem a little short?
    It's just that I own the rest of it!!