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Who Lets The Dog Out (2010)

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The Doctor's best friend is up to new tricks in his own spin-off series, writes Scott Ellis

MORE than 30 years ago, John Leeson's career went to the dogs.

Or more specifically, to a particular mechanical dog.

A self-described "bread-and-butter" actor with a background in theatre and television comedy, Leeson had just popped down to his local pub for a couple of beers when he bumped into a director he'd known for years.

"We started chatting and he said, 'You know I might have something for you.'

"And then a couple of weeks later my agent took a call from the BBC that changed everything," Leeson recalls.

"They wanted to know if I was interested in playing two parts on Doctor Who, one as the voice of a virus and the other as the voice of a robot dog.

"It was originally going to be only one short storyline so I thought why not ... and while the virus was killed off pretty quickly by some antibiotics, the dog, K9, has been following me around at heel ever since."

Leeson first gave voice to the iconic science-fiction dog alongside the doctor as played by Tom Baker in 1977.

Since then he's been with the character almost continually, except for a small break in the 17th season (1979 to 1980). And this week, Leeson is back on air as K9 takes up his latest incarnation, starring in his own spin-off series.

Set in a future London, K9 begins as we remember him, popping up out of a hole in time to save a group of Earthlings from alien attack.

When he is "killed" in the process, K9 regenerates in a similar fashion to his old master, reappearing as a much more mobile and better-armed version. "The difficulty would have been to have adventures with K9 in his original form, because he was pretty well Earthbound," Leeson explains. "Mechanically he was a bit deficient shall we say but here, as you'll see, he's got a new freedom of movement - he can fly."

While K9 has a shiny new look, Leeson says the dog's mission is unchanged. "There was criticism when K9 first appeared because a lot of the diehard fans thought K9 and his interactions with Tom Baker as the doctor were too silly and too comedic," Leeson says. "But K9 had a really useful purpose in attracting a younger generation to watch the series and enjoy the fun he could impart. And that's exactly what will be happening again.

"It is quite astonishing [to still play the character] but when you think the way the Doctor Who genre reinvents and regenerates itself it's not perhaps so surprising that K9 is still around.

"It's been an extraordinary privilege to play him and I'm still having a lot of fun."

K9, Saturday, 9.30am, Ten.

GRAPHIC: PHOTO: My regeneration ... the sci-fi dog has returned much better armed and more mobile" he can even fly.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Ellis, Scott (2010-03-28). Who Lets The Dog Out (2010). The Sun-Herald p. Television, p. 3.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Ellis, Scott. "Who Lets The Dog Out (2010)." The Sun-Herald [add city] 2010-03-28, Television, p. 3. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Ellis, Scott. "Who Lets The Dog Out (2010)." The Sun-Herald, edition, sec., 2010-03-28
  • Turabian: Ellis, Scott. "Who Lets The Dog Out (2010)." The Sun-Herald, 2010-03-28, section, Television, p. 3 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Who Lets The Dog Out (2010) | url= | work=The Sun-Herald | pages=Television, p. 3 | date=2010-03-28 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=25 June 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Who Lets The Dog Out (2010) | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=25 June 2024}}</ref>