All together now: “He’s got a deaaaaaaaaad birrrrrrrd! On his head!”
Ahem. Let us skip past the elephant in the room of why the supreme being of all darkness in the universe wears a hat with a stuffed raven, and instead ask why the Black Guardian is a pretty bad-ass recuring bad-guy. In actual fact, I would say that 99% of why he made such a grim and threatening spectre was due to the excellent portral of the character by Valentine Dyall. He had exactly the voice you would want for a powerful force of darkness, evil and chaos – a voice that will not only leave you behind the sofa, but trembling in fear that he’s someone still behind you.
And this isn’t bad given that he only appears in the final ten minutes of The Armageddon Factor for his introduction, but the testimony to his character is that he undoubtedly makes his presence felt. So much so that when he makes his reappearance in Mawdryn Undead your skin crawls any time the music changes into a menacing key and his Guardianess makes an unholy apprearance. So much of this is due to excellent acting and that voice.
I emphasise this, because actually the rest of the Guardian is a bit of a let-down. I think he was much better realised in The Armageddon Factor when the producers cunningly dressed Dyall in white, and then inverted the negatives to produce the ‘Black’ Guardian – it is a deeply disturbing effect, and therefore very effective! The resultant drab attire he is given for Season 20 just doesn’t cut it somehow, nor the protestations that he cannot be seen to be acting in determining to dispose of the Doctor.
The Daleks get a bit of a bad rep for being all shout and no substance. The Black Guardian could equally be accused of being all scare and no senseless. Which is why it would be great to bring him (and his equally etheral friend the White Guardian) back in a future series of Doctor Who. Christopher Lee would be an obvious choice but for his advancing years – but then he if he would be up for it, oh what a Black Guardian he would make …