Archive for the ‘Patrick Troughton’ Category

Patrick Troughton (1986)

September 4, 2009

Here’s a transcript from Patrick Troughton’s appearance at one of the Panopticon conventions. It’s quite a wide-ranging interview, covering his initial acceptance of the role through to his decision to quit after three years.

“The telephone rang. I was in Ireland doing a film called ‘The Viking Queen’, in which I did not play the main part, and I forget who, I think it was Shaun Sutton, Shaun Sutton was at the other end of the phone with this astonishing and preposterous suggestion. It was a fairly quick way of making it die a death, I thought. As each day passed, he kept on asking and offering me more pennies for it. I had a young family, I thought ‘I could get them educated on this’, and after about a week I thought ‘Right, now I can educate the kids, I’ll do the part’. So that’s really why I took it.

“We went to Berman’s, I think it was Berman’s, and we looked through all the old rubbish, really. (laughs) We just got things out of hampers and had a look. It was sort of a ragged imitation of Billy Hartnell, I suppose, only way out. And there was a first script, which was sort of written for Billy but which was written, it struck me, for a very verbose, sort of autocratic Sherlock Holmes who never stopped talking. And I thought ‘That won’t do for me over three years of every Saturday’, so I said first of all ‘No, I don’t see the part like this, I see it really as a listener’. I think this Doctor listens to everyone, tots it all up and then makes his own decision about this.

“Then in comes Sydney Newman, and he starts talking about this cosmic hobo, who obviously doesn’t talk like an intellectual type, autocratic Sherlock Holmes at all. And I leapt at it, what a good idea, and I said ‘A man like that would be more of a listener, wouldn’t he?’, and they said ‘Yes’. So that’s how that came about, really. I was very keen on doing it like that, because to begin with I found myself playing it over the top, mostly because that’s how Sydney Newman was urging me to play it. But Shaun Sutton, who I think was a little wiser than Sydney Newman in many ways, in fact considerably wiser, he said ‘No, no, just do it in your head, old chap’, so I toned it down a bit after that and it was warmer and a bit more successful.

“And of course Michael Craze was responsible for me wearing that absurd Beatles cut, he and Anneke Wills. Just before we went on, we got down to make-up and I’d had a lovely wig fitted that made me look just like Tom Baker, actually, or Colin, and I put it on, and they (Anneke Wills and Michael Craze) both looked at me and said ‘You look like Harpo Marx and we’re not going on with you in that wig’, I said ‘Don’t be ridiculous’, they said ‘No, sorry, no’. So they took if off and started doing things, combing it and lifting it and all that, and I ended up like the Beatles, which is totally out of date. Not that that matters to a Timelord.

“When you’re a character actor you’re having to make decisions all the time, and that’s a question of gaining confidence in the part you play, and that takes the time, really. Whereas with ‘Doctor Who’, the three years of it, you weren’t learning lines, really, you were learning thoughts.

“I was delighted when (Frazer Hines) joined. I knew him way back, because Frazer… (thinks) He’s a good listener, when you’re together just with him, he’s a good listener. And he’s not a bad actor, either! (laughs) We never played practical jokes, never. I’ve never known it to happen. (laughs) There’s no time for all that. All we did in rehearsals was to play Aggravation for three years. That’s a card game. We had penny stakes on it, and we played solidly when we weren’t actually on the set. It kept your mind sane, really. You had to keep to a routine, ’cause when you’re working at that pitch you have to keep to a routine, rather like a very young child or a very old man like I’m getting. And if that routine is broken, you just want to break into tears. There was a director once who bounded in and said ‘We’re going to start rehearsals at ten instead of ten-fifteen’, and that completely ruined our life for about half an hour. (laughs) It’s an astonishing thing, you’d keep going as long as everything was just like the day before, but once it got different… it was very worrying.

“Starting again was rather like jumping on a running bus. I remember that Monday, Tuesday… Monday we read it, Tuesday rehearsed it, Wednesday rehearsed it, half day Thursday then you were on Friday. We filmed every fortnight, and in the end, Frazer and Wendy and I had a sit-down strike and said ‘We’re not going to film at the weekends, because we’re getting tired irritable’. We had a big conference, Shaun Sutton took us out for a lovely meal, tried to talk us out of it, and we said ‘No!’, and in the end the planners, those chaps up in the sixth floor with their little maps and flags all arrange in lovely patterns but who don’t know much about the actual working of a play, they changed their mind.

“You could stay with it, and they wanted me to, for as long as the BBC did it or they got tired of you. That might be at best, one thought, five years. That would have been eight years, and by then one would have been so connected with the character that getting other work would have been very difficult indeed. So that was the main consideration there. Or one could leave. Give up a fortune. And that’s what we decided to do”.

Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Peter Davison (1983)

August 17, 2009

This is one of the best multi-Doctor interviews around. To mark the show’s twentieth anniversary, three of the four surviving Doctors got together on the BBC’s ‘Nationwide’ show. It’s defintely worth watching the clip, because part of the joy is the interaction between them, especially Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee.

Q: Jon, the Doctor always gets away with it. Is that some deep philosophical message, the triumph of good over evil, or is it ingenious fun?

JP: It’s his brilliance! It’s his brilliance and his experience, is it not Patrick?

PT: Oh yes! What are we talking about? Yes! Brilliant, yes!

Q: We must ask him a question because he’s been waiting. Patrick, the character as you saw it, would you like to tell me about that?

PT: Yes. Well it took me time to see the character because I had to follow Billy, and that was the first follow. And it was a question of doing it differently, really, because you couldn’t do it the same. So we had various ideas, first a kind of captain with one of those Victorian… (mimes a hat)

Q: It was the late 60′s when you did it, wasn’t it? I thought that was a Dr. Who of its time, because you had a kind of Beatles haircut, didn’t you?

PT: It probably was, yes. There was a thing about that, actually, because Mike Craze and Anneke, when they saw my wig in make-up -

JP: What wig?

PT: I had a wig, originally, in make-up, they saw it, they said ‘No, we are not going on’, I looked like Harpo Marx.

JP: That’s where Tom got the idea.

PT: So they whipped it off and they dressed my hair like a Beatle.

Q: Peter, it’s now unashamedly for adults, isn’t it, because they’ve put you on later.

PD: Well I don’t think it’s unashemedly for adults, I think it’s always had a fairly adult audience, and I think they tried to give it an extra boost by putting it on in the week, and it’s certainly increased the viewing figures.

Q: Jon, do children still stop you in the street? Do they still think you’re Dr. Who?

JP: Yes, when they don’t think I’m Worzel Gummidge.

PT: Have you seen his Worzel Gummidge? Fantastic.

Q: But do they believe that you’re some sort of supernatural being?

JP: Yes. They say ‘Hello Doc, I wonder if you could help me out with a little bit of trouble’.

PD: But it’s quite extraordinary, because the day after it was announced that I would be Dr. Who, I was called Dr. Who in the street.

Q: They stopped calling you Tristram?

PD: Yes, they did, that ended it. But before I’d even appeared, you know, people were so used to the idea, they even thought they’d seen me, they said ‘I watch you every week’, they were watching Tom!

Q: But it has to be frightening, doesn’t it? (to Patrick) I mean you’re sending it up -

PT: I don’t! I’ve never sent it up in my life! It’s a different attitude to a desperately dangerous situation.

PD: When you’re doing it, you can’t send it up. When you’re in rehearsal, you can’t afford to send it up.

PT: We might do it here.

Q: Have any of you any regrets about doing it? Has it ruined your lives?

ALL: No!

JP: Good heavens, no.

PT: Absolutely not.

JP: The repeats are marvellous.

Q: Listen, it’s been worked out that the Time Lord, he can regenerate himself thirteen times -

PT: Hey?

Q: It’s very mathematical. Listen, 45 years more he’s got to live. What I want to know is, when is a woman going to be Dr. Who?

PD: That depends on when I give up, don’t you think?

PT: What a good idea.

Patrick Troughton (1973)

August 5, 2009

This Pebble Mill interview was recorded in 1973 and is perhaps most notable for Patrick Troughton running rings around the interviewer, who at times says things with which Troughton doesn’t entirely agree. This is transcribed from the original video, which you can see here.

Q: What was it like playing Dr. Who for three years. Was it like a sort of second childhood for you?

A: It was very good fun. We had a wonderful time, with some wonderful people, and it was a very jokey part so, um…

Q: In fact you made it a jokey part, didn’t you, because Dr. Who mark 1 was a little bit more serious, he was older and cantankerous whereas you introduced an element of comedy into it.

A: Well, I thought we had to do something a bit different. My original idea was to black up and wear a big turban and brass earrings and a big grey beard and do it like the Arabian Knights. I thought that would be a wonderful idea, but when I’d finished, I could shave off, take the black off, take the turban off and nobody would know who I was and I wouldn’t be typecast. But they didn’t think that was a very good idea.

Q: You haven’t played very many comedies. Why is that?

A: I play comedy all the time.

Q: No, you see I was just wondering, you see you introduced this element of comedy into ‘Doctor Who’ and yet you were known as a serious actor. Does this mean that really underneath this serious face of yours you would like to play more comedy parts?

A: (aghast, with a smile) But ‘Doctor Who’ was a serious part! It wasn’t an unserious part at all, gracious me, Billy had made him this crotchety old gentleman, he was very serious and I had to be very serious too. But the way I made him serious was to make him a bit of a clown to start with, a sort of offbeat thing, but that… we started rather wild, and we mellowed as the time went on.

Q: Was it difficult making the change from Dr. Who back into a normal acting role, because you went into a historical role after that, didn’t you?

A: Yes, it was a bit difficult. When you’re in a part for three years you, well let’s say you get rather in the habit of playing it and into that way of thinking, and I suddenly had to play a very serious Duke of Norfolk and instead of reading up on Norfolk, although I did that, I found myself thinking of all the ways I could be different from Dr. Who, because I only had a week between finishing one and rehearsing the other, so I had to watch that very carefully and it was just a bit difficult.

Q: You played lots of villains’ parts, you played lots of heroes too, in fact am I right in thinking you were the first Robin Hood on television?

A: Yes, yes, that’s right, about the time that Stalin pegged out. It was me and Stalin on the front page.

Q: What was it like, because you had to do it live in those days, didn’t you? You didn’t have such things as recorded plays.

A: Yes, we did that live. In one scene we had back projection which – of course everyone knows what that is – which is a sort of slide that comes in and it was a picture of the forest, you see. And on this occasion we’d got a film crew to do the back projection and I don’t think they quite realised that we were live on television. Anyway we started the scene… Leonard Sachs, I think it was, and myself… and there was a great crashing and banging behind us and we thought what’s going on here…

Q: Rather a strange noise in Sherwood Forest.

A: And there was a sort of shout of ‘Right, it’s your end’, ‘No, it’s your end’, and we turned around and the forest had come in sideways, and all the trees were that way round instead of that way round. And then there was more crashing and banging and the screen went blank, and then all the trees came up right and we had to go on playing.

Q: That was a sort of early science fiction in the middle of Robin Hood, almost.

A: Yes, yes, one could say that.

Q: As I said earlier on, you’ve also played a lot of villainous roles as well. What attracts you to that?

A: Nothing attracts me, I just get cast as them occasionally.

Q: You must enjoy playing them.

A: Oh I’ve always enjoyed playing things, but I just take what part comes along, it’s like a great big lucky dip, it’s lovely. And you know, different people see me as different things and… um…

Q: Do you enjoy playing the real character parts? Perhaps you can get more into a villain?

A: Yeah, as long as they’re well written, super. Marvellous.

Q: You tend to be someone who’s avoided interviews and talking to the press a lot over the years -

A: Who said that?

Q: You did, you told me that earlier on!

A: (smiling) What a lie! I never said anything of the sort. What I said was I always enjoy having interviews with the BBC, which is quite a different thing.

Q: Yes, but you did say that you like to keep the illusion of the character, didn’t you?

A: Did I? Oh yes, keep the illusion of the character, what do you mean?

Q: Well you’re interviewing me now, you explain to me what you meant by that.

A: Well I don’t know whether I said that. Well I think what we mean here is that it’s important to take the part seriously, really, that’s all it boils down to, which means doing your homework on it. The Americans… (pauses, laughs) better not say that really. Ten years or fifteen years ago they called it the Method, what it really means is thinking about what you’re doing at home before you come and do it, really.

Q: And what it means is Patrick Troughton the actor enjoys keeping himself apart from the character that he plays, he’s two separate people. Anyway -

A: I didn’t say that either!

Q: You did!

A: It’s lies, all lies!

Patrick Troughton (1985)

August 5, 2009

This is a transcript from a 1985 American interview with Patrick Troughon. It covers his early acting¬† career and his thoughts on how he should play the Doctor back in 1966 when he took over from William Hartnell. I’ve transcribed the interview word for word from the original recording, although I’ve missed out the um’s, er’s and long pauses.

Q: I suppose we should begin by dispelling a myth that you hate doing interviews. Is it true?

A: No, it’s not that I hate doing interviews, um, and it doesn’t worry me at all, but being a character actor… it’s a mistake for such an actor to promote their own personality too much because it’s counter-productive where their actual work is concerned. They’ve got to be a sort of nothing, you see, and only come to life as a person, where the viewer’s concerned, in the story. And I think that was the reason, really, if you go on promoting yourself, the audience gets to know you too much instead of the people you’re trying to portray. It makes your job harder.

Q: Well we would like to get to know you a little better.

A: That’s very nice of you.

Q: When you were doing ‘Doctor Who’, there had already been a previous one, was the programme very popular at that time?

A: Yes it was. Billy had been doing it for three years by the time I was asked to do it. I think he was getting tired, and I don’t think he was a particularly well man toward the end. He had circulatory trouble, something like that… and I thought that perhaps the programme was beginning to be played out a bit, I thought that the joke was beginning to be over, and I was astonised when they asked me to do it and I thought ‘oh dear, no’ and gosh, to recreate a character like that… it’d probably only last about six weeks with me anyway, and it’s just not worth doing.

Q: And three years later…

A: (laughs) Twenty-three years later!

Q: Sorry, yes. But three years after you took it on, were you still astonished that the joke was still going on?

A: Ah, no I don’t think so by then, because it had been very popular with me. It had been with Billy too. It was a lovely part, I loved doing it and the family audience liked me very much in it, and I regretted leaving it very much, but again you can’t stay in one job forever, not as a character actor.

Q: You pop up in a lot of places that are unknown to American audiences. Do you like that, do you like being hidden and yet there?

A: Do you mean a lot of parts? Oh yes, I love it, I love the variety. I’ve always done wildly different parts. I started in the classical vein, in the Bristol Old Vic, and then the Robert Donat company in London and at the Mercury Theatre doing T.S. Eliot plays and all that, and I got a very good grounding in all that sort of thing. But then I got into television, which was the¬† very early days,1948, when it was all live, and I got a chance there of playing every sort of part under the sun. Goodies, baddies, costume, modern, everything, and it was a small audience, 300,000 in those days, only in London – look at it now! – and the directors tended to use you a lot because once an actor had done television they knew the ropes, to a certain extent, and a director could rest easy in his mind because at least they’d done it and they knew roughly what was going to happen, they didn’t have to tutor somebody in a new medium. And it was completely new, it was a cross between the theatre and film that had never really been attempted before, and you needed to do it in order to be relaxed in it. Not that you ever were relaxed in live television!

Q: Do you miss the live aspect?

A: No! No way! It was a bit amateur really, you get on camera, you get a boom in and actors dry up, you have to cut and then the vision mixer goes crazy upstairs because he doesn’t know where he is. After all, it’s a professional job and you’ve got to produce a professional article, and so although those days are wonderful fun, when you’re younger one can cope with it all, it was a little bit hit and miss, but there was some tremendous stuff because as you know the adrenaline flows quite considerably when you’re doing a live act.

Q: What about the stage? You say you got your beginnings on the classical stage.

A: Yes, well I had a long history of being a character actor, playing every sort of part you could possibly imagine – swashbuckling heroes, lots of Dickens, things like the dward Quilp in ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’, which was a big success and a part I look back on with great love and excitment. That sort of thing, wild comedy, and baddies I used to play. So I had a long experience of playing every sort of part. And this, as it turned out, was an opportunity to exercise the lighter side, the more mischievous side of my nature, which I grabbed with both hands.

To begin with I was thinking of playing it (‘Doctor Who’) rather serious and tough. It was very difficult, you see, following Billy, it had never been done before. The whole concept of the Doctor going on was totally new and no-one knew if the audience would accept that at all, and so one was jumping in at the deep end, and although one had carte blanche and could do whatever you like with it, there had to be continuity, he had to be otherworldly, he comes from another planet, this was the most important thing, and so to begin with I had all sorts of ideas like playing a tough army captain sort of thing, like some of the parts I used to play, then I thought when this is all over I’ll have to go back to playing parts in television again and people will know me as Doctor Who, so what I’ll do is I’ll black up, put a turban on and big earrings and play it like Conrad Veidt, that sort of thing, then when I took it all off, no-one would know. But they stamped on that, the powers that be, they thought it was a very bad idea.

And then there was this lovely idea of Sidney Newman’s to play him very light, like a sort of Chaplineqsue sort of character, although I hasten to add without the skill of Mr. Chaplin. He was such a genius of a mime. But that’s what Sidney Newman had in mind, he kept egging me on to do strange wonderful things in the way of mime, which I was incapable of doing, so I tried to do it all up there in my head. And it was a wonderful relief to play a sort of saucy part, you know, a bit of a bungler – or was he? You don’t know whether he’s bungling or not, really, or whether he’s got his tongue in his cheek, he’s got a real twinkle in his eye. It was a lovely part to live with for three years because it was a happy part and so one was happy. You can’t avoid it rubbing off when you go home, a bit. And I had a young family, and that was lovely too, that kept me in touch with my audience. Although it was a family show, it was 50% kids, and having kids of, what, five, seven and nine, it kept me in touch with the sort of thing that the audience wanted, which was nice.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 38 other followers