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Who's that actor? (1986)

1986-10-29 Liverpool Echo.jpg


New series starts for veteran star

The face is familiar, but TV fan Patrick's still an 'unknown'

TO MANY of those who are old enough to have followed Dr Who through all his six incarnations, Patrick Troughton, second in line (1966-70) will always be the top time traveller, the most mysterious, magical and quirky of them all.

Today. Mr Troughton is appearing as a more down-to-planet-Earth oldster called Perce, grandfather to Nicholas Lyndhurst in the new sitcom The Two of Us, which starts this Friday.

He looks back to the Dr Who period as an interlude that came halfway through a career crammed with a succession of characters.

His television days to back to 1948, when he appeared in a production of the Marlowe play, Edward II. BBC Television was finding its feet after the wartime interruption of the service. So was Patrick.

Like so many of his contemporaries, he had barely started his career when the war swept him into the armed services -- in his case the Navy. He entered as a sailor on destroyers and wound up as a Commander at the time of the Allied invasion of France.

Life, he says, was very informal in the Alexandra Palace postwar days. Transmissions were to the London area only. Actors, playing live, trod carefully to avoid trailing cables — they were known to disappear abruptly from shot.

"I was able to walk round the studios, dropping into producers' offices, asking for work. I remember saying to George More O'Ferral, "Can I play Hamlet?". He said no, it was already cast, but you can play on Horatio.

For the next 16 years, Patrick and television grew up together. He loved this new medium — still does — and quite lost his taste for the theatre. "Television was where the parts were. It's so much more interesting to play a lot of characters in a short time than to do the same one night after night on the stage.

He certainly can't complain of lack of variety. He's Appeared in the whole range of drama, from classics to thrillers. He's run the gamut of the profession and the social classes. been seen on the right and wrong side of the law. Sometimes he's rescued damsels in distress, sometimes they've had to be rescued from him.

"I accepted everything that came my way" he says. "I had to, my commitments were heavy. I've been married three times and have six children" (David and Michael Troughton, the sons of his first marriage, are following very successfully in his footsteps).

Because he's made that way, Patrick put all he knew into every part, however trivial. That's made him one of the most respected and best known actors within the profession, though his name was relatively unknown outside it — a state of affairs which he encouraged by avoiding publicity. In fact, one reference book lists him as "a tight-lipped British actor".

All this was to change when Dr Who came into his life. He was filming in Ireland when the call came from the BBC, asking him to take over from William Hartnell who had created the part.

"I wasn't at all keen, because I suspect that Billy Hartnell was leaving the programme because the scripts were getting thin.

"But every time I said no thank you, the phone rang and they came up with more money. In the end I thought well, I can't do much harm, just six programmes."

He was to stay with the programme for the next three-and-a-half years ... more than he had thought possible.

He admits that it was restful to play just one part. "And I was working with such nice people. Specially Frazer Hines, who played my boy assistant Jamie. We got along splendidly.

He says the same of Nicolas Lyndhurst, who is playing his grandson in The Two of Us — "I think he's one of the most brilliant young actors I've come across for years".

Then there was the prestige of being the star of such an internationally famous programme — "even a place reserved in the BBC car park — if they'd told me about that at the start, they needn't have bothered about the money."

A bonus was the discovery that he was no mean public speaker.

"I got invitations — and still do, because every Who series is being screened as one state or another — to address convention in America. The first time, I was panic-stricken at the very thought of having to speak for an hour. But once I was on my legs my mind cleared and I was surprised when the hour was up -- I ...

Caption: Patrick Troughton -- back on television

Caption: Frazer Hines -- a boy star on Doctor Who

Spelling correction: Nicholas Lyndhurst

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  • APA 6th ed.: Maisel, Miriam (1986-10-29). Who's that actor?. Liverpool Echo p. 20.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Maisel, Miriam. "Who's that actor?." Liverpool Echo [add city] 1986-10-29, 20. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Maisel, Miriam. "Who's that actor?." Liverpool Echo, edition, sec., 1986-10-29
  • Turabian: Maisel, Miriam. "Who's that actor?." Liverpool Echo, 1986-10-29, section, 20 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Who's that actor? | url= | work=Liverpool Echo | pages=20 | date=1986-10-29 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=17 December 2018 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Who's that actor? | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=17 December 2018}}</ref>