Find That Prop: Sixth Doctor’s Cat Brooches

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For the next couple of weeks, I’m going to take an easy, laid-back trip through Time and Space during with some quick peeks at one or two costume props for each of The Doctor’s incarnations from Doctor Who.

Screen-Shot-2015-07-07-at-5.03.58-PMSixth Doctor At a Glance:

The Sixth Doctor, portrayed by Colin Baker, was a high-energy, hot-tempered, egotistical and arrogant, Doctor who took up the mid-1980s (1984 to 1986). The Sixth Doctor was the first to meet the female Time Lord, The Rani, and an amalgam of The Doctor’s darkest traits, the Valeyard. The Sixth Doctor’s regeneration at the end of his life was never seen, but there are rumors as to what happened. Some even said the Seventh Doctor somehow “killed off” his Sixth incarnation, because he was at risk of himself Screen-Shot-2015-07-07-at-5.04.08-PM-300x245becoming a Valeyard.

This Doctor only had two main companions, Peri Brown, who started her time with the Fifth Doctor, and the red-headed computer programmer Melanie “Mel” Bush, who is the only companion in the Classic era to have “met” The Doctor before he met her.

Even after his television reign, Baker continued to portray the Sixth Doctor on radio and audio dramas, and on special such as the Hugo-nominated and cameo-filled mockumentary “Five(ish) Doctors Reboot” done in celebration of  50th Anniversary Day of the Doctor special, written by Fifth Doctor, Peter Davidson.

Like this Doctor’s personality, his costume was also explosive — only in extreme color. He wore patchwork coat with reds, greens, pink, yellow, blues, plaids and checkered-patterns, the white collared shirt with red question marks on the collar, a trend started at the end of the Fourth Doctor’s reign that carried through to the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctor’s incarnations, yellow trousers with black pin stripes, bright colored waistcoat sometimes with shaped buttons and bright colored watch chains,  bright cravat tie, and greenish books with orange spats, and, of course, kitty cat pins on the lapel.  The cat pins were a focal point, as he would rub or touch them for luck before an adventure, and even used one to take a blood sample helping to prove the innocence of a companion. He also often carried a rainbow-hued umbrella.

Screen-Shot-2015-07-07-at-5.05.06-PM-273x300This costume itself was enough to make one’s head spin, even through time and space, and Baker himself, who originally wanted a black suit to fit a darker personality, wasn’t too thrilled with the technicolor look. Some critics have even called it things like the “rainbow vomit”  suit, but others celebrate it’s boldness. There have even been a popular series of pins seen on tumblr and Pinterest sites or all the new series Doctors donning the Sixth Doctor’s color scheme.

Some later audio stories and other imaged have featured a more toned-down blue version of the Sixth Doctor’s outfit, probably something Baker would have enjoyed better.

Baker himself has continued to be one of the biggest representatives for the Classic Who era, and is a regular at conventions, and more than willing to joke about himself. He represented The Doctors in a “Race for the Universe” on Top Gear, against a Dalek, Cyberman, Darth Vader, Flash Gordon’s Ming The Merciless and a Klingon.

The Sixth Doctor, however, wasn’t so jovial. He even was often disappointed in his inferior incarnations, as he mentioned soon after his regeneration in the episode, The Twin Dilemma:

“My last incarnation…oh, I was never happy with that one. It had a sort of feckless ‘charm’ which simply wasn’t me.”

The Prop: Those Darn Cat BroochesScreen-Shot-2015-07-07-at-5.05.41-PM-284x300

If the Fourth and Fifth Doctor were any indication, mid-number Doctors loved wearing things on their lapel, and the Sixth Doctor was no exception. According to one Doctor Who cosplay blog, the Sixth Doctor sported at least seven different cat broaches;  a china tortoise shell cat, an arched-back Halloween-style black cat (probably the most recognizable), a little fluffy white cat, a cartoon cat pin, which turned out to be Marie from Disney’s Aristocats, two cats based on Baker’s own real-life pets, Eric and Weeble, and an orange tabby cat. He accumulated several cat pins from fans, all of which he said he wore at least once. This included wearing a different pin each performance when he reprised his role in 1989 for the stage musical Doctor Who: The Ultimate Adventure.

If you aren’t trying to be to nitpicky, cat pins a brooches are everywhere…just like stray cats. Customize your Sixth Doctor costume with a favorite cat of your choice. A good place to start is the Meow Store, with several styles of pins, including some that might come very close to those worn by the Sixth Doctor. There are also a couple of multi-colored cats that seem to be taking on their own Sixth Doctor style. One Etsy artist even made cute felt versions of the black cat and white cat.

His “Marie” pin was similar to many of the commercial cloisonné Disney pins still available. The exact design, however, might not be, but there may still be some Marie pins out there on eBay or collector sites.

Screen-Shot-2015-07-07-at-5.04.57-PMThe Sixth Doctor always wore these pins on his left, pink lapel, but those weren’t his only cat tributes. On the inside of right, yellow, lapel, he added a cat silhouette for every adventure he completed.

I’ve created a printable template based on three of the Sixth’s Doctor’s familiar cats, as well as his silhouette template. Print these out on cardstock, laminate them attach them to a pin back. Add some accents, if you want (little rhinestone eyes for the black cat or sparkle paint for the “china” cat’s eyes.

Despite the craziness of all the items put together that really made the Sixth Doctor’s look over-the-top, some of his accessories are everyday items, easy to find. The rainbow umbrella has been around as long as people have been hitting the beach, and can be found for around $20 at many retail and online stores from Target  to Amazon. There’s even the famous party umbrella hat often less than $5 at some party supply stores.

His scarf ties, primarily his blue or red scarf with white polka dots, is such a basic pattern, it can be found in scarves, cravats and even ribbons. There are also variations of this yellow scarf with stars that would work for cosplay purposes. That coat, however, isn’t one that can just be purchased off the rack. Luckily, there are entire groups dedicated to helping each other get their Sixth Doctor look going, including one Sixth Doctor Cosplay group on Facebook.

Poor Sixth Doctor. He’ll always be the crazy cat lady of The Doctor’s incarnations. However, before criticizing the Sixth Doctor, remember even Baker himself had a different idea of how he might looked. He even said in an interview later on the costume he described for himself was close what they eventually did for the Ninth Doctor. That’s something to think about.

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2 responses »

  1. I always thought the juxtaposition of the cat pin and 6’s Darker Doctor was interesting; too bad, as you correctly pointed out, his character wasn’t fleshed out more in the way Baker had envisioned.

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