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Musical trip back for Doctor Who

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Peter Davison will revisit an old role hosting the Time Lord spectacular, writes Ron Banks

Peter Davison is feeling a little perturbed. The previous night's performance of David Hare's play The Vertical Hour was cancelled because of the illness of the leading lady and on this night he will go on stage with an actress who will read the role because she is totally unrehearsed.

I've not even met her yet and it's a very big role, Davison says as we sit down in the foyer of London's Finsbury Park Theatre to discuss an entirely different project his forthcoming tour of Australia as part of a musical spectacular about Doctor Who. He played The Doctor on television three decades ago.

But for the moment he is consumed by his Finsbury Park role in the play about the Middle East conflict, the second in a proposed trilogy that Hare started with Stuff Happens.

Davison worries whether the production should really go on with a stand-in leading lady and advises me not to see the play because he does not think it will be very good. (I've already had my tickets refunded for the night before.)

It's easy to understand the reluctance because, as the London critics observed, Hare's characters do nothing but argue the merits and demerits of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. One critic called it a landslide of loquacity.

The operators of such small suburban theatres as Finsbury Park run on small budgets, however, and can't afford the losses of cancelling performances. It means Davison will just have to grit his teeth and perform alongside the reading lady.

These days Davison is a freelance actor who takes on interesting projects such as the Hare play, as well as performing in musicals (Chicago, Legally Blonde, Spamalot), television roles and the occasional project associated with Doctor Who.

Australian audiences of a certain age may remember his years in the early 80s as the fifth Doctor and there are many who will recall his role as Tristan, the younger vet in All Creatures Great and Small.

He also played the husband in At Home with the Braithwaites, a comedy about a middle-class family that won the lottery.

Other television credits include Dangerous Davis in The Last Detective, a vet who takes a job on a small island in Distant Shores and a crown prosecutor in the UK version of Law and Order.

But it is the Doctor Who connection that brings Davison to Australia for the second time in a year this time with Perth in the schedule. He will host the Doctor Who spectacular, featuring music from the various Doctor Who series played live against a backdrop of segments from the shows.

The urbane actor, who in his earlier, younger roles it must be admitted, came across as a bit frazzled, will introduce the music and let slip a few anecdotes about the famous Time Lord.

It was really great fun when we played it in Sydney early in 2014, Davison says. It's very much a family show, with the music of the Doctor Who series across the years played by a full symphony orchestra.

There will also be clips from the series, including some from the current series featuring Peter Capaldi.

I'll be explaining a few things about the series and about the music, and telling a few stories about my own time as Doctor Who. Actually, it was so popular the first time we were in Australia that I really felt more like a rock star than an actor.

With Doctor Who now more than 50 years old, Davison will have a huge treasury of stories and music to draw on as he takes audiences on a journey through this television phenomenon which has had more spin-offs than a Catherine wheel on fireworks night.

Davison has taken part in many of the spin-offs, including an audio tape version of Doctor Who, charity specials and even a documentary on his time as the fifth Doctor Who presented by his son-in-law David Tennant, who was the 10th Doctor Who.

Davison's daughter Georgia Moffet is an actress who has appeared as a guest on the show alongside her husband.

So the family connection to Doctor Who runs far deeper than Davison's three years on the show. (He reportedly left because he did not want to become typecast, probably the same reason that Matt Smith quit last year.)

Most of the music audiences will hear in the Doctor Who spectacular was written by Murray Gold, though the famous theme tune was written by well-known British composer Ron Grainger.

Murray Gold was not even born when Ron wrote the theme, Davison reminds me.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Banks, Ron (2014-12-10). Musical trip back for Doctor Who. The West Australian p. 8.
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  • Chicago 15th ed.: Banks, Ron. "Musical trip back for Doctor Who." The West Australian, edition, sec., 2014-12-10
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  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Musical trip back for Doctor Who | url= | work=The West Australian | pages=8 | date=2014-12-10 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=25 July 2024 }}</ref>
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