Doctor Who – The Fifth Doctor

Played by: Peter Davison

When: 1982 – 1984

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.



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Mary Tamm (1950-2012)

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.


Doctor Who – The Third Doctor

Played by: Jon Pertwee

When: 1970-1974

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!!

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Doctor Who – The Second Doctor

Played by: Patrick Troughton

When: 1966-1969

Significant contributions to the Whoniverse: Clearly the most significant element introduced with the Second Doctor is the fact that the Doctor can change his appearance after death.   Though only referred to as renewal here, this was the first occasion in which a different man morphed where the previous Doctor had been, and though having a completely new personality, he bore all the memories of his previous incarnation(s).   Being a younger man, this is also the first time where another staple of the series became apparent.   Running.   Lots of running.   Also, we are introduced in this period to Colonel Lethbridge Stewart (Nicholas Courtney), whom by the end of the Second Doctor’s run is promoted to Brigadier and put in charge of the United Nations Intelligence Task force, or UNIT.   UNIT becomes very prominent for later incarnations of the Doctor.   Last but not least, the Second Doctor was the first doctor to wield a sonic screwdriver!

Reflections by Film Nerd.

There is no question that, beyond the other ambiguities that occur with taking over a role from a much older actor, Troughton’s portrayal of the Doctor was completely distinct from what Hartnell’s had been.   While still taking the role of an eccentric character, Troughton’s portrayal had a new energy, and was in may way’s more clownish without being disrespectful to the character.   He did some absolutely brilliant work.   It was his decision to give his Doctor a recognisable prop, that being his recorder.   Not every plot took advantage of this particular eccentricity, but Troughton successfully worked it in when possible.

Troughton did some brilliant work on the series.   Being younger, the series had much more energy, with the title character able to be involved in more of the action sequences…. even if he did more often run away from danger than get into the thick of battle with it.   The great pity is that a large portion of Troughton’s episodes are missing, once again these episodes being victim to the BBC’s junking policy I referred to in my review of the First Doctor.   Great effort has been made to reconstruct these episodes with surviving still images and audio tracks, but as a fan I would love to see these episodes fully restored.   Troughton’s Doctor was a great comic presence, and also a character of great likeability.   He left the series on his own terms, only leaving the series for fear of getting type-cast.   This move was indeed so significant for the time, that leaving a series for this reason has unofficially become known as the “Troughton Rule”.

The Companions

Ben and Polly (Michael Craze and Anneke Wills)

Ben and Polly originally travelled with the First Doctor, and I give a more detailed character synopsis for each of them there.   They continue their travels with the Second Doctor for a number of adventures, until they find themselves back in London on the day that they had originally left.   Perhaps Ben can make it to his ship on timer after all, given it was due to set sail right before he left….



Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines)

Jamie was certainly one of the most stalwart companions of the early series.   He joined the TARDIS when left behind by his 18th century Scottish clan as he defended their retreat.   Polly coaxed him to join them on the TARDIS.   There he remained right up until the end of the Second Doctor’s adventures.   Like male companions before him, he was hot-headed, being of a fighting disposition, and though his heritage made the more advanced technologies he came across a bit of a mystery too him, he was not so far out of date as to not be of use.   He proved a fierce and loyal friend, only leaving the TARDIS at the will of the Time Lords, his memory of his travels being wiped in the process.   As a viewer, I was sorry to see his time as a companion come to an end.

Victoria Waterfield (Deborah Watling)

This was in a way the reintroduction of the timid “female in distress” style of companion in the tradition of Susan and Vicki.   Victoria was kidnapped in a ploy of the Daleks to coerce her father’s time experiments.   Her father dies in the course of this serial, and given Victoria has no-one, she begins her travels with the Doctor.   Though being of the “screamer” ilk, she was still a very gentle, warm, and likeable character.   However, it did seem at times that the writing did not give her enough moments to shine.   Her character exited being tired of her travels, much to Jamie’s vocal dismay, leading the Doctor to lament on how the departure of a valued companion affects him also.

Zoe Heriot (Wendy Padbury)

Whereas Victoria was timid, emotional, and from a less advanced civilisation, Zoe was her polar opposite.   She is from the 21st century, and has a very intelligent, analytical mind, that often has her referred to sometimes as more of a computer than a human being.   She proves on more than one occasion though that such comparisons to artificial intelligence are unfair, and she is very capable of great compassion and heart.   She clearly enjoys her adventures with the Doctor and, just like Jamie, leaving the TARDIS is not her choice.   They are both ejected back to their own times by the TIme Lords, their memories wiped, given that they do not take kindly to the Doctor’s tendency to interfere everywhere that he goes.




The Second Regeneration [SPOILERS]

As it turns out, when the Doctor started his journey in the TARDIS, the Doctor had been a very bad boy indeed.   He disagreed with the Time Lord’s edicts of observation, not intervention.   He felt that they had such a great capacity to help others that was not being utilised.   The TARDIS which he travels in was actually stolen, and he has been fleeing his fellow Time Lords ever since.   In the course of the Second Doctor’s adventures however, he realises the only solution to the current problem was to call to the Time Lords.   This brings him back under their radar.   He is put on trial for his actions, and the verdict is that he change his appearance (they at first give him a choice, but he finds something wrong with every face, so they choose for him), and they strand him on the planet he seems to favour, Earth.   He still has a TARDIS, but it is locked so that it cannot move in time and space.   This is now referred to as a forced regeneration, though once again, the specific term regeneration was not used.   Interestingly, we do not see Patrick Troughton become Jon Pertwee.   Troughton fades from frame at the end of his last episode, Pertwee stumbles out of the TARDIS (for the first time in colour) at the beginning of the next.

Concluding remarks

The great shame of the Troughton years is simply how much of it is no longer available in little more than reconstructions.    Otherwise, he brought so much to the series.   He made the Doctor more of a man of action, something that remained consistent from that point on.   He completely changed the personality of the Doctor, something that also became a staple for future incarnations.   It was something that gave the actors room to breathe and put their own interpretation on the character when they were awarded with the coveted role.   Most of all, Troughton brought an element of fun into the character.   He was still cantankerous… that much was faithful to Hartnell, but he saw more of the humour in the events of his extraordinary life.

Elisabeth Sladen (1948-2011)

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.

Nicholas Courtney (1929-2011)


Image taken from



I had heard rumours throughout the web today that Nicholas Courtney passed away yesterday at the age of 81.   However, it was only in the last 10  minutes that I have discovered concrete reports of this;


The preceding links could provide all the details you could wish of this man, but I hear detail why I feel this is an event significant of note on this blog.   In the last year, after having enjoyed the 2005 series of Doctor Who, I had the urge to play catch up and watch all the classic series.   This is no easy task, with there being 26 seasons of the classic series, the first 6 of which contained over 40 episodes each.   This journey has now taken me from season 1 and William Hartnell’s first Doctor, now leaving me on Season 12 with Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor.

Nicholas Courtney played Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, at first a Colonel whose path Crosses that of Patrick Troughton’s second Doctor, and whom we meet again shortly before the regeneration to Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor, now promoted to Brigadier and commanding the newly formed unit, or United Nations Intelligence Task force.    From this time he often works closely with the Doctor, whom he finds useful despite the fact their ideologies often clash.   He is sometimes painted as a villain, but overall, he is a man motivated by his duty.   No matter what his flaws may be, he honestly believes his actions are the best for the safety of the human race.

In the seasons I have seen him in, he is a brilliant character, both well written and well-played.   I believe that as I discover the classic series, I will observe te character grow right through to the final season, making him perhaps the most stalwart actor of the entire franchise, clearly with the greatest longevity of any of them, including Doctors and companions.   He has made no appearances in the recent series, but did cameo in an episode of the Sarah Jane Adventures.   It is a real shame that we shall not see him alongside the Doctor one last time.