Greetings from beyond the veil, and beyond time, this err..time around.
It was sixteen years ago today that Prince Sirki did what The Master, The Daleks, The Cybermen & The Autons couldn’t do – he defeated the Third Doctor, the Timelord from Gallifrey. That was the day that Jon Pertwee passed away at the age of 76.
Pertwee began his four years as the Doctor (1970-1974), at the end of Patrick Troughton’s tenure in the TARDIS. Because of budgetary limitations, the Doctor’s adventures were generally more earth-bound for the first two seasons, becoming the ‘science advisor’ to UNIT (UNified Intelligence Taskforce), the militsry force that is charged with protecting Earth from alien invasions and attacks. The reason he was Earth-bound, was because the Timelords removed the space/time travel capabilities of his TARDIS, as punishment for traveling without permission. They restored it after The Doctor ( teamed with his past two incarnations) defeated the renegade Timelord, Omega.
It was during the Pertwee Era, that fans were introduced to the evil genius who would become the Doctor’s ‘Moriarty’ for all of his future incarnations – The Master.
Though seen regularly in England, The Pertwee Era of Doctor Who didn’t air in most markets in the US until the 80s, after the airing of the 20th anniversary episode, THE FIVE DOCTORS, which introduced Pertwee to most American fans (myself included).
I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. Pertwee, and even more so to dine with him one evening. We talked about a number of things, aside from Doctor Who. We talked about his character Worzel Gummedge, a living Scarecrow, doing voices for the SUPER TED cartoon (he played Spotty-Man) and A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM. In the London production, Pertwee had played Marcus Lycus, the ‘procurer of female flesh’. He told me how funny it was that the role had such a sense of irony to it. Phil Silvers, playing Lycus in the film, had been offered the lead role of Pseudolus for Broadway, but turned it down, and it was taken by Zero Mostel. Pertwee had been in contention to play Lycus in the film, but Silvers, long regretting his decision, made himself available to play Lycus in the film. However, he has a scene with Lycus, as Crassus. That night, he gave me two of my most prized possessions – autographed copies of his autobiography, MOON BOOTS AND DINNER SUITS and his single, WHO IS THE DOCTOR.
When I saw THE FIVE DOCTORS, I was immediately taken with Jon Pertwee’s portrayal. I had thought that he could easily be my favorite. When they began airing his episodes here, my prediction came true. To this day, Jon Pertwee is STILL my favorite Doctor.