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The Troughton Years.

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Uploaded on Apr 24, 2008

In 1966, Doctor Who producer Innes Lloyd decided to replace William Hartnell in the series' lead role. The continued survival of the show depended on audiences accepting another actor in the role, especially given the bold decision that the replacement would not be a Hartnell lookalike or soundalike. Lloyd later stated that Hartnell had approved of the choice, saying, "There's only one man in England who can take over, and that's Patrick Troughton" (Howe, Stammers and Walker, 68). Lloyd chose Troughton because of his extensive and versatile experience as a character actor. After he was cast, Troughton considered various ways to approach the role, to differentiate his portrayal from Hartnell's amiable-yet-tetchy patriarch. Troughton's early thoughts about how he might play the Doctor included a "tough sea captain" and a piratical figure in blackface and a turban. Doctor Who creator Sydney Newman suggested that the Doctor could be a "cosmic hobo" in the mold of Charlie Chaplin, and this was the interpretation eventually chosen (Howe, Stammers and Walker, 68--69).

During his time on the series, Troughton tended to shun publicity and rarely gave interviews. He told one interviewer, "I think acting is magic. If I tell you all about myself it will spoil it" (Howe, Stammers and Walker, 72). Years later, he told another interviewer that his greatest concern was that too much publicity would limit his opportunities as a character actor after he left the role (KTEH interview).

Troughton was popular with both the production team and his co-stars. Producer Lloyd credited Troughton with a "leading actor's temperament. He was a father figure to the whole company and hence could embrace it and sweep it along with him." Troughton also gained a reputation on set as a practical joker (Howe, Stammers and Walker, 68, 74).

Regrettably, many of the early episodes in which Troughton appeared were wiped by the BBC (a full list of Doctor Who episodes missing from the BBC Archives is available here). Troughton found Doctor Who's schedule (at this time, 40 to 44 episodes per season) gruelling, and decided to leave the series in 1969, after three years in the role. This decision was also motivated in part by fear of typecasting (Howe, Stammers and Walker, 75; KTEH interview).

Troughton returned to Doctor Who three times after he originally left the programme, becoming the only former "Doctor" actor to have reprised the role that many times after his original run. The first time was in The Three Doctors, a 1973 serial celebrating the programme's 10th anniversary. Ten years later, Troughton overcame some reluctance to reprise his role and agreed to appear in the 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors at the request of series producer John Nathan-Turner. He also agreed to attend Doctor Who conventions around the world with Nathan-Turner. Troughton enjoyed the return to the programme so much that he readily agreed to appear one more time as the Second Doctor with Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor in The Two Doctors (1985). Reportedly, he also advised a later Doctor actor, Peter Davison, to limit his time in the role to three seasons to avoid being typecast

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