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Time Lords Mourn Jon Pertwee

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1996-05-21 Irish Times.jpg

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Former Dr Who's tonight paid tribute to actor Jon Pertwee, who has died aged 76 from a heart attack while on holiday with his wife and friends. The actor played the cult Time Lord for four years during the 1970s and went on to appear as children's character Worzel Gummidge for nearly a decade. Dr Who number four, Tom Baker, said: "I am very sorry to hear the news. I was a great admirer of such a stylish actor". Another, Colin Baker, said he was "devastated". "He was a man of such presence and stature. I can't believe he has gone - it is a great shock. Of all of the interpretations of the Doctor his was the most straight in terms of avoiding comedy. "He felt his Doctor should be an action man, he loved gadgets and cars," he said. Sylvester McCoy, the seventh to appear in the role, said: "I will miss him dearly. When I was a child Jon Pertwee on radio entertained and delighted me, and made me laugh. "As a young man he amazed and excited me with his performance as Dr Who. When I took the role I met him for the first time and he became my great mate." Pertwee, whose acting career spanned 60 years, was found dead in bed by his German-born second wife Ingeborg this morning. He had no history of health problems and had worked right up until the end of his life. He was using the holiday in Connecticut to take a break from his popular one man tour of Britain which he was due to resume on Thursday. Ironically the news comes as the cult science fiction series is about to take off again with a feature-film length special on Bank Holiday Monday, with Paul McGann as the latest Doctor.

Pertwee was philosophical about being typecast by his two most well-known roles, commenting: "I'm very much afraid to say it, but I'm rather a cult figure." He happily attended Dr Who conventions and spoke to fans. Recently he said: "Actors don't retire, they fade away, like old generals. I just want to peter out, not rust out! I get desperately bored when I'm not working." In a recent interview, Pertwee admitted that he would love to play Dr Who again, but said he was too old to manage any stunts. "Of course, I'd love to reprise my role. But only as a guest character, as they did in The Five Doctors. "At 76, I'm too old for all the stunts and the Venusian karate - I might find kicking somebody under the chin difficult nowadays," Pertwee told this week's Radio Times." Others also paid tribute to the actor. Una Stubbs, who starred alongside him in Worzel Gummidge, said: "I am absolutely shocked and saddened and my thoughts and are now with his wife and children." Broadcaster David Jacobs said: "It is too terrible for words. Jon was one of the funniest men that Britain has ever produced, one of the greatest character actors, he was marginally eccentric, he lived his life to the full." Comedian Ronnie Barker worked with Pertwee in the radio series The Navy Lark for nine years. "I thoroughly enjoyed working with him. It was always great fun and we had a lot of laughs. Jon was always very nattily dressed. He was certainly the smartest looking Dr Who." Terry Wogan praised the actor's sense of humour. "He was a big man in every way, with a wonderful sense of humour and sense of the ridiculous. Last time we met in the Garrick Club, he was handing round a bag of fried locusts." Actor Richard Briers said Pertwee had recently been planning a new comedy radio series, in which they were both to star, set in a magistrates court. "We have lost a great personality; he was a one-off," he said.

"We are deeply shocked and saddened. He was a unique performer and much loved by the British public," Ms Shaper said. Pertwee was philosophical about being typecast by his two most well-known roles, commenting: "I'm very much afraid to say it, but I'm rather a cult figure." He happily attended Doctor Who conventions and spoke to fans. He determined to continue working right until the end, saying recently: "Actors don't retire, they fade away, like old generals. I just want to peter out, not rust out! I get desperately bored when I'm not working." Ms Shaper said: "He had been working on a television show, a commercial and his one-man show." But the show was "not strenuous" she said. A BBC statement said: "Jon Pertwee was a unique creative talent whose BBC career spanned The Navy Lark on radio to Doctor Who on television. "He will be sadly missed." As recently as March 16 this year he presented A Short History of Time, a BBC Radio education programme. Producer Merilyn Harris said she was "terribly sorry" to hear of his death. "He was a unique personality and a real institution on both television and radio. "He was enormous fun to work with and really is irreplaceable. His funeral is likely to be held in Britain, his agent said. Una Stubbs, who starred with him in the Worzel Gummidge series, said: "I am absolutely shocked and saddened and my thoughts and are now with his wife and children."

Another former Doctor Who, Colin Baker, said the news had come as a great shock. "Only this morning I had left a message on his answer-machine, we chat to each other quite a lot. I am devastated. He was a man of such presence and stature. I can't believe he has gone - it is a great shock," he said on BBC Radio 5 Live. Commenting on Pertwee's interpretation of Doctor Who, Baker added: "Because of his comic background he was very anxious to play very much as a straight actor. "Of all of the interpretations of the Doctor his was the most straight in terms of avoiding comedy. He felt his Doctor should be an action man, he loved gadgets and cars. "He was proud to play Dr Who and was always very happy to go along to the Dr Who conventions wearing his costume with the ruffles and jacket." Broadcaster David Jacobs also paid tribute to the actor. "It is too terrible for words. Jon was one of the funniest men that Britain has ever produced, one of the greatest character actors, he was marginally eccentric, he lived his life to the full. "Jon had been working so desperately hard over the last year, I have never known a man of his age to have such stamina - he had been all over the country doing his one-man show. I loved him as a friend, he was my dear old mate, I have so many memories," he said.

Sylvester McCoy, the seventh and final doctor in the television run which ended in 1989, heard the news during rehearsals for a stage play this morning, and was "very upset". "I will miss him dearly," he said. "When I was a child Jon Pertwee on radio entertained and delighted me, and made me laugh. "As a young man he amazed and excited me with his performance as Doctor Who. "Then he astonished me with his transformation into the glorious Worzel Gummidge. "When I became Doctor Who I met him for the first time and he became my great mate. "One of the joys of going to the Doctor Who conventions was knowing he would be there. "He would have me crying with laughter at his tales. "Even in his 70s he was a man of 30 when he was surrounded by young people."

Actor and writer Bill Pertwee, who was Pertwee's second cousin, said today that Jon had given him his first job. "I met up with him in the late 50s and told him that I was thinking of going into the Business. He said I could come and be his stooge for a summer season of variety performances. "It's a sad loss to his families and to the business. He was an actor's actor. He was brilliant on radio - a great voices man. He was also marvellous on stage and television," the actor, who played the warden in Dad's Army, said. Comedian Ronnie Barker worked with Pertwee in the radio series The Navy Lark for nine years. "I thoroughly enjoyed working with him. It was always great fun and we had a lot of laughs. Jon was always very nattily dressed. He was certainly the smartest looking Doctor Who. "I last saw him at a party I gave last summer. He was in good spirits and looked very healthy," he said. Terry Wogan also paid tribute to the actor's sense of humour. "He was a big man in every way, with a wonderful sense of humour and sense of the ridiculous. Last time we met in the Garrick Club, he was handing round a bag of fried locusts."

Doctor Who number four, Tom Baker, said: "I am very sorry to hear the news." He said although he had never actually worked with Pertwee, he was "a great admirer of such a stylish actor". In a recent interview, Pertwee admitted that he would love to play Doctor Who again, but said he was too old to manage any stunts. "Of course, I'd love to reprise my role. But only as a guest character, as they did in The Five Doctors. "At 76, I'm too old for all the stunts and the Venusian karate - I might find kicking somebody under the chin difficult nowadays," Pertwee told this week's Radio Times." He commended the choice of Paul McGann as the new Doctor Who. "Paul McGann is a fine choice as the Doctor. He's a great actor, though I do still have to get used to the idea of him in the role because all of us played it differently," he said.

Actor Richard Briers said Pertwee had recently been planning a new comedy radio series, in which they were both to star. "He rang me about six months ago, trying to get a new radio comedy off the ground. It was to have been set in a magistrates court. "Our daughters were good friends, which is why I knew him. I was very sad to hear today's news. We have lost a great personality; he was a one-off," he said.

Steve Wickham, former co-ordinator of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society, said: "This is terribly sad news. "It is almost unbelievable because he was such a fit chap - all the scuba diving and motorcycling. "For many fans in their thirties who grew up with him, Jon was the Doctor, and they remember stories from his time, like the shop dummies who come to life or the giant maggots. "As the third doctor, he was more of a father figure than the first two, and that was also when the programme started going out in colour. "It also became more action-packed, because he enjoyed all that and used to write his own stunts. "He was one of the most popular guests at our conventions, and it didn't take much to set him off on one of his stories."

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  • APA 6th ed.: Brown, Jackie Burdon and Jonathan (1996-05-20). Time Lords Mourn Jon Pertwee. Press Association .
  • MLA 7th ed.: Brown, Jackie Burdon and Jonathan. "Time Lords Mourn Jon Pertwee." Press Association [add city] 1996-05-20. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Brown, Jackie Burdon and Jonathan. "Time Lords Mourn Jon Pertwee." Press Association, edition, sec., 1996-05-20
  • Turabian: Brown, Jackie Burdon and Jonathan. "Time Lords Mourn Jon Pertwee." Press Association, 1996-05-20, section, edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Time Lords Mourn Jon Pertwee | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Time_Lords_Mourn_Jon_Pertwee | work=Press Association | pages= | date=1996-05-20 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=24 January 2020 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Time Lords Mourn Jon Pertwee | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Time_Lords_Mourn_Jon_Pertwee | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=24 January 2020}}</ref>
  • Title: Former Dr Who, actor Jon Pertwee dies
  • Publication: The Irish Times
  • Date: 1996-05-21