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.
Seventh Doctor At a Glance:
The Seventh Doctor, portrayed by Sylvester McCoy, appeared in the regular series, 1987 to 1989, but held the title until 1996.
The Seventh Doctor had a relatively short, but varied series reign. He started out as a light, whimsical spoon-playing character, good with pratfalls and snappy chatter, but he soon developed into a dark, mysterious and a bit manipulative being, that begin ongoing concerns about the true nature of The Doctor.
He started out with Sixth Doctor companion Mel, who was soon replaced by teen explosives expert, Ace. The Seventh Doctor, had the unfortunate distinction of being the last of the classic era Time Lords, as the BBC cancelled Doctor Who in 1989, after a 25-year run. The Seventh Doctor continued to have adventures for around 10 more years, thanks to a series of Doctor Who novels, and he returned to television in 1996 to regenerate in into his Eighth incarnation at the beginning of the made-for-television movie.
Like his personality, the Seventh Doctor’s look was all about the layers, with a white shirt and plaid pants, question-marked patterned sweater vest (jumper), conventional necktie, safari-style jacket, Panama hat with a paisley hatband (that matched his scarf, necktie and pocket handkerchief), fob watch and the recognizable black umbrella with a red question mark handle.
Even though this Doctor, as well as many of his incarnations, seemed on the verge of madness, The Seventh Doctor never found anything wrong with being a little off-center.
“Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way,” he said.
The Prop: Question Mark Umbrella and Sweater
There are two distinctively “Doctor” elements to the Seventh Doctor’s outfit: question mark sweater vest and coordinating umbrella. The umbrella, in particular, was an important item. He used it to hang onto cliff edges, was able to convert it to a seat and, according to one comic book adaptation, had a secret compartment containing Gallifreyan restorative. The Eighth Doctor, however, gave this item away to his companion, Bernice Summerfield, soon after regenerating.
Luckily, both of these items have commercial, officially licensed versions available through sites like BBCShop, Think Geek and Entertainment Earth. The umbrella runs for about $60 to $70, and the umbrella around $35.
For those not wanting to spend the money on these items, cosplayers have used on a plain black umbrella to make the Seventh Doctor’s umbrella prop, and have used everything from wood, to polymer clay or resin for the handle. Tardisbuilders.com has a good tutorial.
Knitting and crochet sites like Who Knits have or link to easy patterns (some free) to create your own sweater, plus there is a nice knit-looking Seventh Doctor-inspired cloth pattern from Spoonflower, starting at $17.50 a yard.
Everything else — shirt, coat, tie, trousers and hat — can be put together from everyday clothes item, although the same three outlets of Think Geek, Entertainment Earth, and BBC Shop all carry an officially licensed Seventh Doctor paisley silk scarf for around $52. With all commercial items, they do have a tendency to go out of stock.
Any burgundy or red paisley scarf, or even a plaid scarf, will also work, and can be found on sites like Amazon and through various clothes retailers, for anywhere from $10 to more than $100.
There may have been a long break between the Seventh Doctor’s final series appearance and the next Doctor’s one-time reign, but The Doctor always knew how to bide…and manipulate…his time, as he said in the episode “Dragonfire”:
“Yes, that’s right, you’re going. You’ve been gone for ages. You’re already gone. You’re still here. You’ve just arrived. I haven’t even met you yet,” he said. “It all depends on who you are and how you look at it. Strange business, time.”
— Lisa Kay Tate
Series originally ran July 2015 in Minion Feeding 101.