|Birth date:||25 March 1920|
|Death date:||28 March 1987|
|In the DWU|
|Main roles:||Second Doctor|
|Main time period active:||1966-1969|
Life and career
Troughton's notable film roles include Sir Andrew Ffoulkes in The Scarlet Pimpernel (1954), Phineas in Jason & the Argonauts (1963), Father Brennan in The Omen (1976), Melanthius in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977) and Cole Hawlings in a BBC television dramatisation of the John Masefield children's book The Box of Delights (1984), in which he played the very Doctor-like role of a mysterious but benevolent old man with magical powers who has the power to travel through time.
He also guest-starred in the British comedy television series The Goodies in the episode "The Baddies", in episodes of Terry Nation's science fiction television series Survivors and in Minder and The Persuaders!. In 1953 he became the first actor to play the famous folk hero Robin Hood on television, starring in six half-hour episodes broadcast from 17 March to 21 April on the BBC, and titled simply Robin Hood (Vahimagi, 42). He also played the Duke of Norfolk in two episodes of the 1970s miniseries, The Six Wives of Henry VIII.
Troughton featured in the 1974 11-part radio adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour. In 1986 he appeared in the ITV sitcom The Two of Us. His final television appearance was as a guest star on Supergran.
Adopting the role
In 1966, Doctor Who Producer Innes Lloyd decided to replace William Hartnell in the series' lead role. Lloyd later stated that Hartnell had approved of the choice, saying, "There's only one man in England who can take over, and that's Patrick Troughton" (Howe, Stammers and Walker, 68). Lloyd chose Troughton because of his extensive and versatile experience as a character actor. After he was cast, Troughton considered various ways to approach the role, to differentiate his portrayal from Hartnell's amiable-yet-tetchy patriarch. Troughton's early thoughts about how he might play the Doctor included a "tough sea captain" and a piratical "Arabian Knight" figure with a blackface, a grey beard, brass eye-rings and a turban. On "Pebble Mill at One", Troughton stated that this way, when his work on Doctor Who finished he could wash the blackface makeup off, shave his beard, remove the turban and eye-rings and then he would not get typecast because no one would recognise him. Of course this idea was rejected for obvious reasons. Doctor Who co-creator Sydney Newman suggested that the Doctor could be a "cosmic hobo" in the mould of Charlie Chaplin. This was the interpretation eventually chosen (Howe, Stammers and Walker, 68–69).
When the First Doctor, played by Hartnell, died at the end of Episode 4 of The Tenth Planet, he regenerated (using the word "renewal") into the Second Doctor, played by Patrick Troughton.
Era as the Doctor
During his time on the series, Troughton tended to shun publicity. As he famously told one interviewer, "I think acting is magic. If I tell you all about myself it will spoil it" (Howe, Stammers and Walker, 72). Years later, he told another interviewer that his greatest concern was that too much publicity would limit his opportunities as a character actor after he left the role (KTEH interview).
Troughton was popular with both the production team and his co-stars. Producer Lloyd credited Troughton with a "leading actor's temperament. He was a father figure to the whole company and hence could embrace it and sweep it along with him." Troughton also gained a reputation on set as a practical joker (Howe, Stammers and Walker, 68, 74), often assisted by co-star Frazer Hines, who played Jamie McCrimmon. Troughton and Hines were especially notorious for "de-bagging" fellow cast member Deborah Watling (Victoria Waterfield), even during the filming of Fury from the Deep tossing her into ice cold sea foam.
Regrettably, many of the early episodes in which Troughton appeared were disposed of by the BBC; a full list of Doctor Who episodes missing in the BBC Archives is available here. Troughton found Doctor Who's schedule (at this time, forty to forty-four episodes per season) gruelling, and decided to leave the series in 1969, after three years in the role. This decision was also motivated in part by fear of typecasting (Howe, Stammers and Walker, 75; KTEH interview).
Returns to the role
Troughton returned to Doctor Who three times after he originally left the programme, first in The Three Doctors, a 1973 serial celebrating the programme's tenth anniversary. Ten years later, Troughton overcame some reluctance to appear again as the Second Doctor and agreed to appear in the twentieth anniversary special The Five Doctors at the request of series producer John Nathan-Turner. He also agreed to attend Doctor Who conventions around the world with Nathan-Turner and to make the occasional television appearance as himself. Troughton enjoyed the return to the programme so much that, with Frazer Hines as Jamie, he readily agreed to appear one more time alongside Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor in The Two Doctors (1985).
Troughton's health was never entirely robust. Stress, a heavy smoking habit, a drinking problem - like William Hartnell, Troughton was a heavy drinker — and a heavy television and film workload did not help. His heavy smoking eventually led to an operation to remove one of his lungs (Who And Me, autobiography of Barry Letts). He refused to accept his doctor's advice to live a more healthy lifestyle and to adopt a physical exercise regimen. He suffered two major heart attacks, one in 1978 and the other in 1984, which prevented him from working for several months. His doctor's warnings were again ignored.
On the weekend of |27 March 1987, Troughton was a guest at the Magnum Opus Con II media fan convention in Columbus, Georgia. He was in good spirits throughout the day's panels and looked forward to a belated birthday celebration which was planned for the coming Saturday evening and a showing of The Dominators which Troughton had requested, on the Saturday afternoon. Videotape footage purported to be of Troughton speaking to fans at this convention, exists and has been posted to YouTube. In this final recorded piece of the actor during his life, Troughton is shown playing his trademark recorder for the last time. Unfortunately, discerning viewers may notice that he is in physical distress. Troughton can be seen in unusual discomfort throughout his session with his fans, clearing his throat repeatedly. This was a warning sign of what would result in his demise.
Troughton suffered his third and final heart attack at 7:25 AM the next day (28 March 1987) just after he had ordered his breakfast from the hotel staff. According to the paramedics who were called, Troughton had died instantly. He was 67.
- Howe, David J., Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker. Doctor Who: The Sixties. London: Virgin Publishing, 1993. ISBN 0-86369-707-0.
- Troughton, Patrick. Interview with Terry Phillips. KTEH, San Jose, California. 1985.
- Vahimagi, Tise. British Television: An Illustrated Guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press / British Film Institute. 1994. ISBN 0-19-818336-4.