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.