7th Doctor

Exclusive preview: Sylvester McCoy's quirky Seventh Doctor and Ace are back in Titan's new Doctor Who title

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Apr 29, 2019, 6:02 AM EDT (Updated)

While most Whovians will immediately choose David Tennant, Matt Smith, or Christopher Eccleston as their all-time best Time Lord, some will remember the eccentric antics of the Seventh Doctor, perfectly played with admirable zest and zaniness by Scottish actor Sylvester McCoy from 1987 to 1989.

As one of the Doctors most likely to be forgotten in the 55-year lore of Doctor Who history, McCoy -- and his trademark panama hat, garish plaid pants, loud paisley necktie, and iconic question mark umbrella -- has a loyal fanbase that loved his oddball style and dark humor. And he has the distinction of being the final Doctor from the original series before it was dropped by the BBC network because of declining viewer numbers.

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This week, in a collaboration with BBC Studios and Titan Comics, the cult-favorite galaxy hopper is back for an all-new, three-part miniseries written by the original Seventh Doctor script editor and showrunner Andrew Cartmel, and executive-produced by acclaimed author Ben Aaronovitch (Rivers of London). Art duties are beautifully delivered by Christopher Jones (The Third Doctor) and colorist Marco Lesko (Robotech, The Ninth Doctor).

Inside Titan's latest Doctor Who odyssey, titled "Operation Volcano," future astronauts are under attack by a mysterious alien intelligence aboard a sinister spaceship in Earth's orbit. Back in 1967, a strange extraterrestrial landing in the Australian Outback sends the Seventh Doctor and Ace into a whirlwind adventure where the fate of the planet is at stake.

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Landing today, June 6, this debut double issue will be released with four collectible variant covers: three lively art covers by Alice X. Zhang, Simon Myers, and Christopher Jones, and a nostalgic photo cover by Will Brooks. Titan's Doctor Who: The Seventh Doctor #1 also includes a fun backup strip written by Twelfth Doctor writer Richard Dinnick, with art by Jessica Martin (Doctor Who: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy).

SYFY WIRE spoke with Cartmel on resurrecting the captivating Seventh Doctor for a new generation, the inseparable team of Sylvester McCoy's Doctor and Ace, Chris Jones' splendid artwork, and where he's taking readers on this new Who adventure.

After the chat, check out our exclusive 10-page preview in the full gallery below, then tell us if this terrific TARDIS voyage is a worthy addition to Titan's extensive Doctor Who library.

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What can Whovians expect with this sci-fi mystery starring the 7th Doctor and Ace?

Andrew Cartmel: The return of some splendid characters created by Ben Aaronovitch for his classic script, Remembrance of the Daleks. In essence, Operation Volcano is like a hybrid of two great 1960s icons — the Quatermass TV series and films and the James Bond movies, which ties in neatly with the Remembrance connection because, as you may recall, Professor Rachel Jensen actually worked with Bernard Quatermass in the British Rocket Group. (One of the nice touches Ben included in his original TV script.)

How did it feel returning to your Doctor 30 years after serving as the show's script editor?

I’d never really lost touch with the character in the intervening decades. Besides having written a memoir about my time on the show (entitled Script Doctor) I also continued to write novels about the character (including Atom Bomb Blues) and an assortment of audio adventures for Big Finish (my favourite being Animal). So all these very much served to keep the Seventh Doctor and Ace alive in my imagination in the intervening decades. But to answer your question more directly — it felt great! And it was terrific fun.

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Why do you think this is the perfect time to resurrect that quirky, panama hat-wearing timelord?

The Doctor Who comics have been given a new lease of life by landing with a new and innovative publisher, Titan. And Titan have begun to explore the rich backstory of the character with adventures featuring vintage Doctors such as the very successful Third Doctor mini series Heralds of Destruction, so memorably written by Paul Cornell and so beautifully drawn by Chris Jones (who is also drawing my story, I’m delighted to say). It seemed like a natural time to revive the Seventh Doctor and Ace and explore some of the unfinished business from our era on the show.

Sylvester McCoy gave the 7th doctor a distinctively different spin. Which elements of his classic '80s performances helped inspire your story?

I like to think that the Sylvester Doctor’s quirky humour, formidable competence and essential mystery are all on display in Operation Volcano. But you have to realise that I think of the Doctor and Ace as a double act, an inseparable team... so it loses something to speak of the Doctor in isolation. What I really hope to have achieved is to recapture the chemistry of this fantastic duo — who care about each other, respect each other and yet tease each other mercilessly as they head into darkness and danger — and always have each other’s back. It was important to capture this feeling in the comics.

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What were some of the challenges and rewards of formulating this Doctor Who mini-series?

I guess the biggest challenge was to do justice to a large and colourful cast of characters — as well as quite a complex plot — in just 88 pages. The greatest reward was seeing my words turned into the utterly gorgeous artwork of Christopher Jones. I can’t praise Chris highly enough. That and working with John Freeman again — John was my editor back on the original Seventh Doctor comics I wrote 25 years ago! Great to have the top team back together.