Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

More than just a nice guy

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Screenings of the feature length Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode are at cinemas on November 24.

Peter Davison became a little disillusioned playing Doctor Who back in the 1980s, but he tells Alistair Hughes that he's now very happy to usher in the 50th anniversary celebrations next week.

November 23, next week, marks a half century since the eerie Doctor Who theme music was first heard – on tiny black and white television sets all over Britain in 1963. (A year later, New Zealand was the first country outside Britain to broadcast it.)

One of the original viewers actually grew up to take on the title role in 1980: Fifth Doctor Who Peter Davison. "I was the first Doctor to actually grow up watching the series," he recalls.

"To a certain extent, I was a fan of the Doctor and I was well tuned in to what it was all about."

Davison, then 29, first had a couple of obstacles to face which his predecessors in the famous role hadn't.

One was that he was exclusively identified with his portrayal of vet Tristram Farnham in the hugely popular All Creatures Great and Small television series. And many, including Davison himself, felt he was just too young to play Doctor Who.

"I remember thinking when they offered it to me: Really, me? It seemed to me I was more companion age [those that accompanied the time traveller] than Doctor age, but I did enjoy making the programme. But it did hang over me, while I was making it and for a good time afterwards, that I wasn't old enough."

Of course, these days, having a more youthful Time Lord isn't unusual at all, so how does Davison feel about the recent, young Doctors?

"Well, in a couple of words: Much better. It put things in a much better perspective in my head and I feel more like I've started a trend."

Always a busy actor, Davison's relationship with Doctor Who has gone through different phases through the years. Reportedly his reasons for leaving included fear of typecasting and dissatisfaction with the scripting of some of his stories.

However, he is now the only original series Doctor to have ever appeared in the new programme (he appeared with his son-in-law and 10th Doctor David Tennant in a special charity-raising short episode in 2007) and has now devoted most of this year to promoting the programme's 50th anniversary.

"I'm involved in things around the anniversary show which the fans will enjoy and I'm sworn to secrecy on. But for me it's not all about the special – we've got to 50 years, so there's all sorts of celebrations going on, all sorts of programmes coming out, some stranger than others."

Davison also took part in the special live programme announcing Scottish actor Peter Capaldi's casting as the 12th Doctor, back in August. Does he have any advice for the new boy?

"Probably the question most new Doctors ask is how will it affect my life? And if he were to ask me I would say: You have to embrace it because you can't get away from it. It has such a high profile now that the instinct is to just sort of run away and hide when you're meant to be appearing somewhere. But in my experience the fans, although they're devoted and there in their droves, they're not intrusive, they're quite respectful."

Apart from the afore-mentioned All Creatures Great and Small, the young Davison also starred in two comedy series while making Doctor Who – Sink or Swim and Holding the Fort – and made numerous promotional appearances. A huge workload, surely?

"In those days, it was just a high to be working on those things.

"My break from Doctor Who was going off and doing a comedy series. I loved the fact that I was working every hour of the day."

Davison is now perhaps best known for his less-than-pleasant role in At Home with the Braithwaites, a surprising turn from the the earlier roles which the affable young Davison immersed himself in: "I loved At Home with the Braithwaites, because it was a departure really. I have to say, if you can be dogged by nice parts, that would be my career. And so I remember they said we'd really love you to do this because it's something different for you, and I thought, you're absolutely right. And that in turn led to a different thought about me, that I could be more than just a nice guy."

Davison remains very nice about our country, however, which he has visited several times and hopes to return soon.

"I loved New Zealand, it's almost like it's architecturally designed!

"You just drive around a corner and think you just couldn't have placed these rocks and these mountains better. Extraordinary."

For the immediate future, the Doctor Who anniversary celebrations are reaching their peak. How does he feel being such an integral part of a 50-year phenomenon?

"It's almost unbelievable. It occurred to me earlier this year, in an odd way, when they put us Doctors on stamps. I always thought you had to be dead to be put on stamps.

"I think we're off to Buckingham Palace as well; it's quite hard to take in that you're actually part of this great thing."

Who two: Peter Davison, left, poses with fellow Doctor Who David Tennant, now his son-in-law. Davison reprised his role alongside Tennant for a special charity-raising short episode in 2007.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Hughes, Alistair (2013-11-15). More than just a nice guy. The Southland Times p. 9.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Hughes, Alistair. "More than just a nice guy." The Southland Times [add city] 2013-11-15, 9. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Hughes, Alistair. "More than just a nice guy." The Southland Times, edition, sec., 2013-11-15
  • Turabian: Hughes, Alistair. "More than just a nice guy." The Southland Times, 2013-11-15, section, 9 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=More than just a nice guy | url= | work=The Southland Times | pages=9 | date=2013-11-15 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=23 May 2024 }}</ref>
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