Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Life in the dog house!

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Twin labradors Bill and Ben know all about the good life. In their two-bedroomed flat Patrick Troughton and his wife Shelagh share one room, the dogs share the other. Doggy china ornaments stand on the shelves, their own collection of footballs on the low bed.

Troughton used to be a cat person, he says, but has gradually been converted to dogs. As the two labradors come in from their walk, impressively obedient, he takes them out on to the tiny veranda for their usual snack a banana each and maybe a handful of grapes. 'Fussy? They'll eat anything,' he tells you.

Bill and Ben's exercise routine takes in about 10 miles a day.

It's 10 years since Troughton moved to this flat overlooking parkland near Hampton Court in London. For 12 years he's been painting the 'masterpieces' which cover the walls. Four 'Turners', a handful of 'Impressionists', two of the better-known 'Constables'...

Patrick Troughton is a copier - if his motives were mercenary and he used canvas instead of hardboard, forger would be the nasty name for it - of great skill. Incredible skill, when you consider he has never had a painting lesson in his life and he only started, he claims, because someone gave him a box of oil paints as a birthday present. Oddly enough, he poses with an easel in The Two of Us (Friday, ITV).

'The Two of Us,' he says, 'is the first time since 1938, when I began acting, that I have ever played myself' The series is about a young couple thinking of marriage, and Troughton is the grandfather to whom the boy, Nicholas Lyndhurst, comes for advice.

Troughton plays a slightly cranky old man, one who goes in for fads and bursts of enthusiasm. Not a dead ringer for Troughton himself, you'd have thought - though he's reached the stage of totting up his grandchildren on his fingers - but still a blessed relief after all those years of character parts. Most famously, the recorder-playing, tartan-trousered second Doctor Who.

The early years of his career were broken by World War Two. Troughton was on a drama scholarship in America when the war started, but he hitched a lift home on a neutral Belgian ship.

The ship was mined off Portland Bay, but he managed to get on board a lifeboat, and wound up back in Britain and back on the stage. Not for long, though. He joined the Royal Navy, and had attained the rank of Commander by the time he was demobbed in 1945.

Troughton then served his time in the theatre, working with, among others, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh.

But when television really got going, around 1948, Troughton was one of the first actors to become a regular. Directors were only too glad to cast an actor who already knew the ropes - and he wasn't fussy about what he did. 'A cough and a spit one week, Edmund in King Lear the next.'

Then the TV series began: Robin Hood, Kidnapped, a string of Dickens' adaptations. His favourite role is still Quilp in The Old Curiosity Shop. It's photographs of Quilp which figure most frequently in the rogues' gallery of old stills he keeps on the walls - the lavatory walls!

'They just kept on casting me,' says Troughton. Right up until the early Seventies when a three-day working week was introduced to conserve energy supplies during the power workers dispute, and Troughton found himself out of work for the first time.

Then along came two welcome American films, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977) and The Omen (1976). After those, things speeded up again. He seems to have been in every big TV series from Coronation Street to The Six Wives of Henry VIII. And in the past couple of years, he's been busier than ever.

First in the filming order was a forthcoming ITV adventure series for a family audience, The Knights of God. It is set in the year 2020, and England is suffering the aftermath of a civil war. The country is governed by a military dictatorship - the Knights of God - and Troughton plays the leader of the underground resistance.

After some work for the 'other channel', it was on to another ITV series, a drama called Yesterday's Dreams due to be shown early next year. Troughton plays a Peak District farmer whose son renews his relationship with his ex-wife.

This was followed by an episode of Inspector Morse, a new thriller series starring John Thaw, also scheduled to be shown on ITV early next year. And somehow Troughton managed to fit in The Two of Us. He enjoyed that, but does nurse a slight grudge for the four hours they spent greying his hair, for he's still naturally dark at 66.

He is 'gloriously free' this autumn - except for a painting he has promised to his daughter Jane, married and living in Utah, USA. His other daugher, Joanna, is an artist and illustrator. Two of his sons, David and Michael, have inherited his acting talent. Thrice-married Troughton has two other sons and two step-children besides. Golf occupies some of his time; so does sailing. 'I used to race dinghies. I've got a jolly-boat on the Thames now.'

He has one more commitment this autumn: the Doctor Who convention which has become an annual Thanksgiving Week event in Chicago. As many Doctors as are free usually attend, and battles between Troughton and Jon Pertwee have become the norm. The audience give them water pistols; they come on with umbrellas. Last time, they signed autographs for seven hours.

Caption: Doggone it! Twin labradors Bill and Ben have got life with Patrick Troughton licked. Below: Troughton finds the loo a convenient place for his 'rogues' gallery' of stills from his many TV series. He appears in 'The Two of Us' on Friday, ITV.

Caption: The evil Quilp Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop' is Troughton's favourite role. He is pictured with Sheila Shand-Gibbs as Mrs Quilp and (far right) in his most famous role, Doctor Who.

Caption: Putting himself in the picture: Patrick Troughton has mastered the art of copying famous paintings.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Gristwood, Sarah (1986-11-22). Life in the dog house!. TV Times p. 43.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Gristwood, Sarah. "Life in the dog house!." TV Times [add city] 1986-11-22, 43. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Gristwood, Sarah. "Life in the dog house!." TV Times, edition, sec., 1986-11-22
  • Turabian: Gristwood, Sarah. "Life in the dog house!." TV Times, 1986-11-22, section, 43 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Life in the dog house! | url=! | work=TV Times | pages=43 | date=1986-11-22 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=19 April 2021 }}</ref>
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