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The Second Doctor Who


The second Doctor Who was Patrick Troughton, a well known British character actor. Changing the lead actor in a television series was not a new idea even then. But usually, the new actor is not too physically dissimilar to his predecessor, and effectively plays much the same part, with subtle differences in interpretation. What was novel about the Doctor's regeneration was a new actor taking the same part, but playing it as a completely different character. Troughton's portrayal of the Doctor was very complex. On the surface he appeared to be a clown, dressed in scruffy clothes, acting the fool and playing his recorder at inappropriate moments. Yet this concealed an intellect as powerful as his predecessor's, with the moral authority to match. In fact, I think Troughton suffers from an image problem as much as Hartnell. Only a small number of his episodes exist. Most of these are out on video, but by and large they are not his best episodes. Probably because of this underexposure, Troughton is perceived in terms of the received fan wisdom as the clown or "cosmic hobo", whatever that means. But the serious side of his character seems more apparent to me. This Doctor could be secretive, obfuscating and manipulative, sometimes even seeming to be working with his enemies until he found out what they were up to, and how he could defeat them. This is perhaps most apparent in The Evil of the Daleks, sadly missing but possibly Troughton's best story. It is to be hoped that the much trumpeted rediscovery and video release of The Tomb of the Cybermen a few years ago, which also shows up this facet of his character, might have altered fans' perceptions a bit. If there are aspects that make Troughton seem a clown, I think they're his impetuosity and lack of focus. He seems to leave everything to the last minute, and then have to make snap decisions and rush about to try and get everything done in time to save the day.

Best and worst TV stories

Adventures of the second Doctor Who