Return to Doctor Who contents page
Return to site index

The Third Doctor Who


The third Doctor Who was Jon Pertwee, a comedian and light entertainer best known for his major role in the radio comedy The Navy Lark. He might seem a surprising choice to follow actors of the calibre of Hartnell and Troughton - even more suprising, given his pedigree, was Pertwee's decision to play the role of the Doctor almost dead straight. His Doctor was a brilliant scientist, who didn't suffer fools gladly. Sometimes this made him seem patronizing and arrogant. Exiled to Earth for a large part of his incarnation, he was initially deeply resentful of his situation, and intolerant of the small-minded attitudes of humans, especially the military thinking of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. After a time, he settled in - so much so that even when his exile was rescinded, he still spent most of his time on Earth, and regarded it as his home. Pertwee's first season in 1970 was his best - it had a new, more adult style than Doctor Who was used to, and was presented in a more realistic manner. I feel Pertwee was better suited to this presentation than the subsequent seasons, which reverted to a more light-hearted style, and the cosy atmosphere of the "UNIT family". Pertwee's Doctor is often characterized as a dashing man of action. Combined with his elegant Regency buck image, we can see how he was modelled after the glamourous secret agent type characters who were so popular on television in the late sixties and early seventies - such as Steed in The Avengers, and most obviously Jason King of Department S. Pertwee drove a vintage car, and was even proficient in a rare Venusian martial art. Until about five years ago, I never used to be particularly keen on Pertwee's Doctor, probably becase my memories of him were somewhat vague. With an increase in video releases and a number of repeats, I came to a new appreciation. Though I could not say outright that Pertwee was my favourite Doctor, I would accord him that status jointly with his successor, Tom Baker. There is however quite a large faction of fandom which holds Pertwee in very poor regard. I think this is a shame. We owe Jon Pertwee a lot. It was during his time that Doctor Who became a phenomenon. He was such an immediate success in the role, that the future of the series was assured for many years to come.

Best and worst TV stories

Adventures of the third Doctor Who