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Who would have thought he'd last?

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Get ready to hide behind the sofas this weekend, as the Beeb goes Doctor Who crazy

ASSUMING the role of Doctor Who can be a life-changing experience, as Peter Davison discovered after playing the legendary Time Lord for just two years.

Even now, 15 years after stepping away from his blue police box, hardly a day goes by without him being button-holed by fans of the cult show, anxious to chat about his amazing on-screen adventures.

He gets letters from Doctor Who devotees all over the world and is still highly sought after to attend conventions, particularly in America where the sci-fi show enjoys phenomenal cult status.

But in recent years Peter has been declining such invitations, simply because he finds them overwhelming.

"Everyone is so enthusiastic about the show and wants to talk to you about every little detail," he says.

"Some people are so fanatical they will drive half-way across America just to get an autograph.

"To be honest, I always thought I let them down rather because I am just me, not some amazing time traveller.

"Their devotion to the show is tremendous and I'm delighted they still enjoy it but having to smile non-stop for two or three days at a time at these conventions is the real draw-back.

"It's much harder than it sounds, so these days I give them a miss."

When he took the part in 1982, he knew that he was stepping into a role that was rather special.

After all, he was following in the footsteps of William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker, all of whom had worked wonders in establishing the Doctor as one of British TV's greatest ever characters.

But although he moved on to a succession of TV hits, Doctor Who has always been there to haunt him.

"Playing the great man was a really enjoyable experience and it's wonderful to be associated with a TV classic," says Peter.

"But in acting terms it was rather a strange job because you tend to act around the special effects and speak in scientific jargon."

So, after 20 intergalactic stories spread over 69 episodes, he felt it was time to return to the real world, handing over the controls of his time machine to Colin Baker.

He was followed by Sylvester McCoy and finally, three years ago, it was Paul McGann who played the Doctor.

All of them will be seen again as the man himself tomorrow when BBC2 hosts a special Doctor Who night.

Fans will be treated to more than three hours of programmes, introduced by Tom Baker, the highlight of which will be a 40-minute documentary about the whole Doctor Who phenomenon.

It reveals how the Doctor, one of the most enduring sci-fi characters ever created, came into being.

The Doctor's assistants, who included a young Bonnie Langford, and the show's writers, spill the beans on the background to the series, and there is a 30-minute documentary on some of our hero's most memorable adversaries, including the Cybermen, the Sea-Devils and, of course, those unforgettable Daleks.

Doctor Who, with its bizarre gadgetry and often clumsy special effects, was originally intended for undiscriminating junior viewers.

So, who would have thought that when the image of a 50s police box, set amid the rubble of a junkyard, flickered on to TV screens 36 years ago accompanied by that unforgettable theme tune, it would have such an impact on successive generations of children and adults?

Doctor Who Night is on BBC2 tomorrow at 8.55pm.

GRAPHIC: CULT: Left to right, William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker as Doctor Who. Below, Peter Davison who also played the great man

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  • APA 6th ed.: (1999-11-12). Who would have thought he'd last?. Evening Chronicle p. Family Extra, p. 9.
  • MLA 7th ed.: "Who would have thought he'd last?." Evening Chronicle [add city] 1999-11-12, Family Extra, p. 9. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: "Who would have thought he'd last?." Evening Chronicle, edition, sec., 1999-11-12
  • Turabian: "Who would have thought he'd last?." Evening Chronicle, 1999-11-12, section, Family Extra, p. 9 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Who would have thought he'd last? | url= | work=Evening Chronicle | pages=Family Extra, p. 9 | date=1999-11-12 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=15 July 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Who would have thought he'd last? | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=15 July 2024}}</ref>