British Actor

Patrick Troughton was the second actor to take on the mantle of British television's Dr Who in the long-running science-fiction series of the same name, playing the role for three years, from 1966 to 1969. This was by no means the only part he played on television, and he also had a full and varied career as an actor in the theater and in the cinema, but it is for his flamboyant and quixotic portrayal of BBC's celebrated Time Lord that he is usually remembered.

Troughton followed William Hartnell as Dr Who after his predecessor, suffering from multiple sclerosis and disillusioned with the changing character of the programme (which had originally been intended to have a strong educational content), withdrew from the series. Troughton determined at once that his Doctor would be in marked contrast to the white-haired dotty professor-type depicted by Hartnell and in his hands the Doctor became a colourfully whimsical and capricious penny-whistle playing eccentric who could be testy, courageous and downright enigmatic as the mood took him. Such a radical change in character was made possible within the confines of the programme through the introduction into the script of the concept that the Doctor underwent a mysterious regenerative metamorphosis at various stages of his centuries-long existence.

Troughton settled quickly into the role and children throughout Britain cowered behind the sofa as Troughton's Doctor did weekly battle with such fearsome alien foes as the Daleks and the Cybermen. After three years, he finally passed the responsibility for playing television's famous Time Lord on to Jon Pertwee.

By the time he was selected to play Doctor Who Troughton had long established his reputation as a performer in a wide range of roles and productions, being particularly well regarded as a Shakespearean actor. Among the most acclaimed of his previous appearances had been his performance as Hitler in the play Eva Braun at Edinburgh's Gateway Theatre in 1950 and supporting roles in Laurence Olivier's Shakespearean film epics Hamlet and Richard III. On television he had made appearances in such enduringly popular series as Coronation Street, in which he was George Barton, and Doctor Finlay's Casebook. Notable among his later credits on the small screen were the series The Six Wives of Henry VIII, in which he was cast as the Duke of Norfolk, the World War II prison camp drama Colditz, and the sitcom The Two of Us, in which he gave his usual good value as Nicholas Lyndhurst's grandfather Perce (after Troughton's death Tenniel Evans took over the role). Always a jobbing actor who was ready to turn his hand to a variety of roles of contrasting sizes, his familiar face would pop up in all manner of series and he guested on Special Branch, The Protectors, The Goodies, Churchill's People, Minder and Inspector Morse to name but a few.

But it was with Doctor Who that Troughton's name was destined to remain indelibly linked in the last years of his life. His death, indeed, occurred while he was actually attending a Doctor Who convention in Georgia, U.S.

-David Pickering


Patrick Troughton as Doctor Who

PATRICK GEORGE TROUGHTON. Born in London, England, 25 March 1920. Attended schools in London; Embassy School of Acting, London; Leighton Rollin's Studio for Actors, Long Island, New York. Married three times; children: Joanna, Jane, Jill (stepdaughter), David, Michael, Peter, Mark, and Graham (stepson). Served in Royal Navy during World War II. Joined Bristol Old Vic, concentrating on Shakespeare productions, 1946; made film and television debuts, 1948; achieved fame as central character in television's Doctor Who, 1966. Died 28 March 1987.


1962-63 Man of the World
1966-69 Doctor Who
1970-71 The Six Wives of Henry VIII
1972-74 Colditz
1982-84 Foxy Lady
1986-87 The Two of Us


1950 Toad of Toad Hall
1953 Robin Hood
1955 The Scarlet Pimpernel
1960 The Splendid Spur
1987 Knights of God


Hamlet, 1948; Escape, 1948; Cardboard Cavalier, 1949; Badger's Green, 1949; Waterfront, 1950; Treasure Island, 1950; Chance of a Lifetime, 1950; The Woman With No Name, 1950; White Corridors, 1951; The Franchise Affair, 1951; The Black Knight, 1954; Richard III, 1955; The Curse of Frankenstein, 1957; The Moonraker, 1958; Misalliance, 1959; Phantom of the Opera, 1962; Jason and the Argonauts, 1963; The Gorgon, 1964; Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, 1973; The Omen, 1976; Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, 1977.

STAGE (selection)

Eva Braun, 1950.


Haining, Peter. Doctor Who, the Key to Time: A Year-by-year Record. London: W.H. Allen, 1984.

Peel, John, and Terry Nation. The Official Doctor Who and the Daleks Book. New York: St. Martin's, 1988.

Tulloch, John, and Henry Jenkins. Science Fiction Audiences: Watching Doctor Who and Star Trek. London; New York: Routlege, 1995.

Tulloch, John, and Manuel Alvarado. Doctor Who: The Unfolding Text. New York: St. Martin's, 1983.


See also Doctor Who