Played by an actor more familiar to the general public for sticking nails up his nose, Sylvester McCoy was brought to the attention of producer John Nathan-Turner whilst McCoy was playing the Pied Piper.
For those of you that have the DVD of Time of the Rani you can clearly see why JNT wanted McCoy for the role, as he gives a fantastic performance in his audition for the role against former companion Janet Fielding who played a Thatcherite dictator. McCoy has the same gravitas that we wouldn’t see on screen until his later seasons.
I think it is a shame that McCoy came into the role when the show was struggling. JNT was who-ed out. The BBC wanted to axe the program and his early stories were either written for Colin Baker or an unknown Doctor. Like Jon Pertwee, who was also known as a comedian, he wanted to play the part straight. But the early scripts were written before the character of the Seventh Doctor was established or defined. So we see plenty of mixed metaphors, pratfalling and spoon playing,
As the script editor gained more control over the series he put his “master plan” into action to add more mystery into the character, which had been lost over the past decade.
Remembrance of the Daleks, McCoy has said, was the first story that he felt at ease with the character. Here we see a Doctor manipulating events, far more than ever before. We seem to have been dropped in the middle of the story, rather than the Doctor arriving by accident. This was something explored further in the Virgin New Adventures.