...the early Doctors had approximately the same posh accent, but since (and including) Tennant, there has been a wider range.
|Posted: 26 April 2018 at 7:03pm | IP Logged | 5
That posh "South London" accent was considered the standard for the BBC, mainly because the majority of actors originated from the theatre. A good number of these actors cut their teeth in radio and were also stage-trained. McCoy was probably the biggest deviation from that standard for DOCTOR WHO though Tom Baker does let his inner Liverpudlian leak through from time to time. There's also some underlying class-associated issues with the 'proper' accents depicted on the Government-run (but public-funded through tax) BBC.
It's funny then that when DOCTOR WHO returned to TV they felt they had to pay lip service to the Doctor having a Northern accent!
..why would the Doctor's accent change with each incarnation?
A good question and an in-show continuity explanation I've cottoned on to stems from the broad hints the show has given for how the TARDIS language translation function operates. The whole point of the translation function is to help Time Lord observers blend in with other humanoid cultures and not be noticed. Regional accents would play into that as well otherwise the observers would still stick out like sore thumbs (imagine a Canadian Newfie trying to order steak in Southern California). There's one instance in the original show where this became an in-story issue. In "Masque of Mandrogora" Sarah Jane suddenly realizes that she had been speaking 'fluent Italian' (presumably with an accent correct to the region and period). Normally the language translation is seamless and invisible to the speaker and listener -- explained as a 'Time Lord gift' in that story and later elaborated on in the revived series as a telepathic process that requires the Doctor (or another Time Lord) as a middleman. In "Mandrogora" the Doctor realizes that Sarah was under some form of mind control because the 'gift' wasn't working correctly for her.
So why do the early Doctors have similar accents? Same reason as for why the TARDIS is stuck in the shape of a police box -- it's not functioning 100% (and never has). It's worth pointing out in the second episode of the first serial the Doctor notes the TARDIS is now stuck in the police box shape, indicating that it was correctly blending into *early 1960's London* when it was parked there in the opening episode. Well, if one part of the system designed to 'blend in' isn't working right chances are other parts of it aren't working as well. So the Doctors accent (as experienced through the translation system) is 'stuck' in a 1960's London accent in a similar way to the police box.
Longtime viewers of the show will notice that the police box exterior does change in subtle ways over time -- the most recent Christmas special (Capaldi's finale) makes this much more noticeable when the current Doctor's TARDIS is seen near the first Doctor's. So too then, the accent does change over time, from regeneration to regeneration.
Real world tie-in: The first time the TARDIS police box prop got a complete overhaul was during the early Tom Baker era -- right around the time the accent started changing.
So, where do I type in my address for my offical JBF faux-no-prize? :-)