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Revisiting Jon Pertwee’s era of ‘Doctor Who’

It’s a joy to see Hartnell and Troughton again

The Three Doctors

People are fickle. Once you warm to a new Doctor, the previous one is as forgotten as a wet bank holiday weekend a few weeks later. I felt palpable excitement when Patrick Troughton returned to the TARDIS for ‘The Three Doctors’. Only three years after he left the role, Troughton looks barely any older, which helps to suspend the disbelief that the Second Doctor has returned. Although it was always a joy to have him back, the natural ageing process ensures his appearances in the 1980s require something of a suspension of disbelief that you’re watching the same character. The story, by the Boys from Bristol, Bob Baker and Dave Martin, is a touch hokey, and the special effects and monsters are woeful. We’re also treated to Stephen Thorne shouting his way through Omega’s lines with the same vocal commitment he had provided for Azal in ‘The Daemons’ two years earlier. And sadly William Hartnell was too ill to do anything other than make a sedentary cameo appearance on a monitor screen. If only there had been just one scene with the first three Doctors standing side by side… But… at least the story was made. And at least it established the rather wonderful convention that previous incarnations could return… It also helped to forge a long-lasting friendship and gentle rivalry between Pat Troughton and Jon Pertwee that became the stuff of Who legend.

Greg Jameson
Greg Jameson
Book editor, with an interest in cult TV.

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