Significant contributions to the Whoniverse: It was during Davison’s time as The Doctor that the Doctor Who franchise hit its twentieth year. As such, it was in that specific year that he led the biggest gathering of Doctors to date. Unfortunately it was not genuinely a complete gathering, as Hartnell had passed away, and Baker did not wish to be a part of the adventure. Regardless, it was a great special that also featured both the Daleks and The Master.
Speaking of The Master, this brings me to the next most significant contributions in the Fifth Doctor era. Anthony Ainley became The Master at the end of Baker’s reign, but he truly became a recurring character again with Davison. Despite many times being defeated and supposedly finished, he just kept coming back, setting up the character again for his memorable appearances in the modern series of Who.
Perhaps most significant though, and something the Fifth Doctor is best known for, is the fact that he did not use a sonic screwdriver. In an early Davison episode, the screwdriver was destroyed by an enemy to prevent the Doctor’s escape. No effort was made to replace it, a conscious decision made by the writers to prevent giving the Doctor an easy option out of his various scrapes. This was so unique for The Doctor at the time, that in some respects, it eclipsed the fact the he was wearing a celery stick in his lapel.
It is with heavy heart that I have read that Mary Tamm, who was the first person to play companion Romana in Doctor Who, has passed at the age of 62 after an 18 month battle with cancer.
The character of Romana was introduced during the reign of Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor, in the show’s 16th season. She left at the end of this season, but as her character was a Time Lord, she regenerated into Romana’s second self, played by Lalla Ward.
Her loss is sad news, especially in a period of 18 months which has also seen the loss of other Doctor Who legends, Nicholas Courtney and Elisabeth Sladen. She leaves behind a husband, daughter and grandson. Our thoughts are with them.
Significant contributions to the Whoniverse: Firstly, and most clearly, the advent of the Third Doctor was also the advent for colour in Doctor Who. Hence, this post as well will be more colourful than my First Doctor and Second Doctor summaries. In addition, this Doctor remains on Earth for the majority of his tenure, as a result of the ruling of the Time Lords. This does not stop him continually trying to fix his TARDIS though, while helping UNIT on a fairly regular basis. The Third Doctor does get a regular nemesis, in the form of The Master, another Time Lord that will remain a thorn in his side right up until modern times. Roger Delgado played the character during the Pertwee era. New recurring aliens were also introduced, including the Silurians, the Sontarans, and the Autons. For the first time, a Doctor also had a phrase that for perpetuity is recognised as being unique to this regeneration; “Reverse the polarity”. Pertwee was still playing the Doctor on the shows tenth anniversary. Hence, he had the honour of being the lead Doctor in the series on the first occasion when his predecessors all appeared on-screen with him. Sadly, this was to be William Hartnell’s last ever appearance on the show. Finally, the term regeneration is uttered for the first time, and it only took us the third regeneration to get there!!
I have just read the very sad news that Elisabeth Sladen, who was most famous with audiences for playing Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures, passed away yesterday morning, reports indicating that this was following a battle with cancer.
I don’t think that many would argue that Sarah Jane was easily one of the most popular companions to ever feature in Doctor Who. She started in the role in 1973 alongside Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor, and continued on after he left the role to star alongside Tom Baker’s regenerated Fourth Doctor. After leaving the role, she was to return for the pilot of spin-off series K9 and Company, a series that was not picked up. She again returned to the role in the 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors, starring in this case as the Third Doctor’s companion.
The story of her popularity to Whovians does not end there though. With the reboot of the series in 2005, she appeared again alongside David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. This led to Sarah Jane’s own spin-off series, The Sarah Jane Adventures, which to date has enjoyed four seasons. Subsequently, Tennant has guest starred on this series, Sarah Jane appeared in the season finale two parter for Doctor Who’s fourth season in the renewed series, and Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor has also guested in SJA. SJA also enjoyed guest appearances from recently passed Nicholas Courtney and the still with us Katy Manning.
Elisabeth Sladen therefore is perhaps just as significant to the Who universe as any actor that have bourne the title of the Doctor. It is ironic in my revisiting the old series, the I only have her final regular appearance episode left to view, that being “The Hand of Fear”. I shall watch it with a greater sense of sadness now.