When The Second Doctor was forced to regenerate by the Time Lords, it was time for a new actor to take control of the TARDIS. That man was the late Jon Pertwee, who would have celebrated his 98th birthday today.
Already a popular actor and entertainer, Pertwee played The Third Doctor for five seasons between 1970 and 1974. At the time, this made him the longest-running Doctor, until Tom Baker came along. Pertwee debuted in Spearhead From Space, also famous for introducing the Autons. As part of the Time Lords’ punishment, The Third Doctor was exiled on Earth with his TARDIS disabled. Consequently, Pertwee’s era was far more earthbound, and instead of travelling across the universe he worked as a scientific advisor for UNIT. This saw him teaming up with Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (played by the late Nicholas Courtney) and crossing paths with rival Time Lord The Master (played by the late Roger Delgado). Throughout his tenure, Pertwee’s Doctor starred alongside three of the most popular classic Who companions – Liz Shaw, Jo Grant, and Sarah Jane Smith.
“Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow!”
Personality-wise, Pertwee’s Doctor was the dandy to Patrick Troughton’s clown. Suave and sophisticated, The Third Doctor was known for his dapper outfits and authoritative approach to handling situations. He was also (literally) more hands-on than his predecessors, mastering the art of Venusian Aikido to take down his foes. With the TARDIS out of action, this Doctor also needed to find new ways of getting around. This led to the introduction of yellow roadster Bessie and the hovercraft-like “Whomobile”.
The Third Doctor finally got his freedom back after the events The Three Doctors. This tenth anniversary special saw him team up with the first two Doctors to defeat the legendary Omega. He eventually met his end in Planet of the Spiders, killed by a lethal dose of radiation. Famously, one of the reasons behind Pertwee’s decision to leave the show was the death of his good friend Roger Delgado.
After Doctor Who, Pertwee would enjoy further success playing the title role in Worzel Gummidge. He would also return to reprise his Doctor Who role in 1983 for the twentieth-anniversary special, The Five Doctors.
He’ll always be one of my favorites.
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