Jon Pertwee

3rd1970 marked the beginning of a new era for Doctor Who. Gone was the outer space adventure; gone was the slapstick; and gone was the monochrome simplicity of the Sixties. From the moment the seventh season began, it was clear this was the dawn of a new age: a panoramic shot of space that ended upon the Earth. It was a symbol that the series was moving… and move it did. Jon Pertwee had assumed the role, the series had gone color, and it would never be the same again.

Whereas William Hartnell had created the role as a feisty explorer, and Patrick Troughton succeeded him as a more energetic intergalactic hobo, Pertwee stepped into the role as a professor, a bon vivant, the otherworldly version of James Bond. For five seasons, he played the role as a mentor — beginning an exile sentenced upon him by the Time Lords by allying himself with the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT) and its military advisor Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney), both introduced during the Troughton era. Joining with the Brigadier were Sergeant John Benton (John Levene) and Captain Mike Yates (Richard Franklin); the three would aid the Doctor in his battles against the alien forces of evil. And of course, the companions… eminent scientist Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Caroline John), agent-in-training Josephine “Jo” Grant (Katy Manning) and intrepid Metropolitan Magazine reporter Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen).

And of course, there was one other addition. Any good hero must have his villain, like Moriarty to Sherlock Holmes. He came in the form of the Master (Roger Delgado), a Time Lord bent upon evil, who would tangle with the Doctor and UNIT on many an occasion. Together with the Doctor, his companion and the UNIT men, they would comprise the largest regular cast in the show’s history, centered mostly upon Pertwee’s eighth, ninth and tenth seasons. (Plans for further revelations about the Master, and his relationship to the Doctor, would be waylaid for some time upon the tragic death of Delgado in a car accident in Turkey in 1973).

The exile would be lifted by the Doctor’s people in “The Three Doctors” (and later, in “The Time Warrior,” their homeworld would be mentioned for the first time: Gallifrey), but the Doctor continued his aid to UNIT and his adoptive planet for far longer. The vicious Daleks would return, and the show would introduce many new popular alien species: the Autons; the Silurians and their cousins, the Sea Devils; the Sontarans; the Ogrons; and the Draconians. Pertwee would reign as a popular Doctor, leaving the show in the care of his successor Tom Baker in 1974, yet returning several times for the 20th anniversary story “The Five Doctors,” reprising his role in the stage play “The Ultimate Adventure,” joining the Children in Need adventure “Dimensions in Time” and recording two BBC Radio dramas, “The Paradise of Death” and “The Ghosts of N-Space.” Fans were shocked when Pertwee sadly passed away while on holiday in New York in May 1996.

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