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Caught by Dr Who

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2001-08-09 Daily Mail.jpg


How former Time Lord Peter Davison captured thief who stole video footage of his newborn son

AS Dr Who, he spent much of his time being chased across the universe by those dastardly Daleks.

But when a down-to-earth villain struck at actor Peter Davison, the tables were turned and he set off in hot pursuit.

The 50-year-old star was determined to catch the thief because he had grabbed a camcorder containing video footage of his newborn son filmed just hours earlier.

And, after a dramatic mile-long chase through the streets of London, he cornered the fugitive who was armed with a hammer and overpowered him, making a citizen's arrest by sitting on him until police arrived.

'I was incensed that anyone would try to ruin such a wonderful day,' Davison said yesterday.

'The baby had been born at 5am and I'd been at the hospital all day, so by 7pm I was pretty tired and that guy picked the wrong moment.'

He was walking into his flat in Belsize Park, North London, after parking his new £25,000 Chrysler PT Cruiser outside when the thief smashed the car window and grabbed the camcorder - which Davison had left on the back seat.

It contained footage of his girlfriend, actress Elizabeth Morton, and their son Joel taken just minutes after the child's birth at the Royal Free Hospital in North West London. Neighbours quickly gave Davison a description of the thief, and he spotted him about 300 yards away. 'He was too far off for me to catch him, so I came back and jumped in the car.'

The villain ran off, but was eventually cornered at a dead end in Belsize Mews - where the actor jumped out of his car and challenged him.

'I said, "Did you smash my car window?" and he said, "I've got a knife". He went as if to pull it out of his jacket - luckily, there was nothing there. But he tried to punch me and made a strange noise like he was cutting me. He was flailing around with what I thought was a knife for quite a bit. But I looked down and couldn't see any blood, so I wrestled him to the floor - I managed to grab his arms and force him to the ground. 'He didn't stop struggling and was very strong - he was a stocky guy - but somehow I got him face down and sat on him.

'He was shouting, "I'll give it back if you let me go". But I sat on him until the police arrived - I must have been sitting on him for about 15 minutes. I didn't really think of the danger, all I could think was, "I'm not letting you go while there's breath in my body".' Belsize Mews resident Colin Lai, 28, who saw the drama, said: 'This guy was struggling on the floor as Davison pinned him down.

'Everyone came out to see what was going on - it's not every day you see Dr Who wrestling in your street.

'Two other guys from the street had to help him pin down the guy, who was swearing and screaming. I guess he picked the wrong person's car to break into.

'Davison looked OK considering he'd run so far - the thief looked more tired than him.'

For the actor, it was life imitating art. Three weeks ago, he was filming a forthcoming television drama, The Last Detective.

'I was playing a policeman who chases thieves with stolen goods round the streets of Willesden, so it was all rather familiar,' he said. 'During filming, I had to run around for hours chasing a guy who was much younger and fitter than me, so I suppose I am a bit fitter than usual.

'The real police seemed rather impressed that I had managed to catch the thief, but he had tried to steal an irreplaceable film of my son taken moments after he was born. 'I was so angry about him trying to spoil the day.'

Davison, also known to millions for his role as vet Tristan Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small, said the drama left him exhausted. 'I don't feel like a hero - I just feel satisfied that I managed to chase and catch him,' he added.

'It really would have spoiled our memories of Joel being born if I hadn't - I would have been really cross.

'He took a chance breaking a car window in a busy street in daylight, but I suppose nine times out of ten they get away with it.' Joel is Davison's third child. Two years ago, Miss Morton gave birth to a son, Louis, and the actor has a 16-year-old daughter by his former wife, actress Sandra Dickinson.

The thief, who had the same type of hammer issued to police for breaking into cars after crashes, was arrested. Last night, police said a 15-year-old has been charged and will appear in court on August 22.

Caption: Smart act: Davison as the Doctor

Caption: With Elizabeth Morton: She has just had their second child

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  • APA 6th ed.: Cohen, Nadia (2001-08-09). Caught by Dr Who. Daily Mail p. 9.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Cohen, Nadia. "Caught by Dr Who." Daily Mail [add city] 2001-08-09, 9. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Cohen, Nadia. "Caught by Dr Who." Daily Mail, edition, sec., 2001-08-09
  • Turabian: Cohen, Nadia. "Caught by Dr Who." Daily Mail, 2001-08-09, section, 9 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Caught by Dr Who | url= | work=Daily Mail | pages=9 | date=2001-08-09 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=6 December 2023 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Caught by Dr Who | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=6 December 2023}}</ref>