Archive for the ‘Jon Pertwee’ Category

Jon Pertwee (1985)

October 4, 2009

Here’s Jon Pertwee talking to DWM about his time on the show, including his thoughts on the character of Liz Shaw, his favourite (and least favourite) monsters, and his return for ‘The Five Doctors’.

“In my opinion, Caroline John didn’t fit into ‘Doctor Who’. I couldn’t really believe in her as a sidekick to the Doctor, because she was so darned intelligent herself. The Doctor didn’t want a know-it-all by his side, he wanted someone who was busy learning about the world. Although Caroline and I worked well together, I don’t think it did the series any harm when she left, incidentally to have a baby, and not because she was sacked or anything melodramatic like that.

“I remember when we were filming in some BBC training premises for ‘Spearhead From Space’, I went for a little walk about the place, being perennially inquisitive. I found, in the course of my walk, a little Victorian bathroom with the most amazing Victorian bah and shower. I went rushing back to Derek Martinus and said ‘Look what I’ve found – we’ve got to use it’. He came along, agreed it looked supuerb, and we used it.

“The tattos were a little mistake from younger and more foolish days. I always thought it was quite amusing to have the Third Doctor, who was so pre-occupied with being the archetypcal gentleman, displaying a nice big piece of arm adornment – and nobody said anything when filming, so they were seen on screen. Perhaps people were frightened of offending me so early on in my time!

“I was very fond of the Ogrons, who were wonderful, because they were so big, even I was terrified of them. I was also extremely pleased with the Draconians, who were the most beautiful pieces of work. I remember one of the worst were the Primords in ‘Inferno’, which was partly directed by Douglas Camfield. The whole filming was going very nicely, we all thought, the script was a good one, full of frightening bits for the audience, and lots of action for the Doctor. Then they unveil these ridiculous werewolf things with great false teeth and fur-covered rubber gloves. They were awful. I remember asking Douglas if he was serious about using them, and although I don’t think he was very happy about it, it was too late to do anything about it. Olaf Pooley, who was playing the main villain in the story, caused a great stir when he refused point blank to be made up as one of these things, and I have to admit, I saw his point.

“I was delighted to appear in ‘The Five Doctors’ and I thought it was a great shame that Tom declined to take part. Of course, it would have been nicer to have had a bit more to do, but that was necessarily a problem, considering the amount of characters Terrance Dicks was trying to cram in. Generally, I thought I was done justice, and I told John Nathan-Turner then that I wouldn’t mind coming back to do the odd special occasionally.”

Jon Pertwee (1990)

September 18, 2009

This is another transcript, it’s two radio interviews with Jon Pertwee, which I’ve merged. He talks about his family, about being hired to play the guitar and sing ballads in ‘Doctor Who’, and about ‘Worzel Gummidge’.

Q: Do you enjoy travelling?

A: Yes, because I’m a great wriggler. I never stick with one specific thing in show business, I started riding the Wall of Death when I was sixteen, on a motorbike, and I worked in the circus. Then I was in repertory theatre, which took me all over the country. Then I was in the Navy, then I worked in vaudeville. When that died I went into cabaret, and that took me all over the world, I worked in New Zealand, America. I don’t like nightclubs because there are too many people and they’re too ill-mannered.

Q: Is there one thing that really stands out?

A: Well, yes, when you’re getting out there in front of a cabaret audience, you know within half an hour if you’ve got them or not, and if you’ve got them then to hold them for an hour and a half is a great challenge and enormously rewarding. There are no venues left in England for cabaret.

Q: Did you come from a show business family?

A: Yes, indeed, my father was in Hollywood, as a scenarist, my brother Michael Pertwee is a playwright and scenarist, and my cousin Bill – do you have ‘Dad’s Army’ in America? No, I suppose not, it’s too English. It wouldn’t travel very well, I don’t think.

Q: You’ve mentioned that your father was great friend of Leslie Howard?

A: Yes, my father wrote many of Leslie Howard’s early films, and I remember as a small boy living in our home in Devonshire, Leslie Howard came down to spend a holiday with a rather charming lady, staying in a hotel not far away, Merle Oberon. A very beautiful lady, much appreciated by Leslie Howard. My cousin married Laurence Olivier, so I lived with him when I was training as a student, in his house in London. My grandmother was an opera singer, my aunts were with Gilbert and Sullivan. Dame Edith Worth was my aunt.

Q: How did ‘Doctor Who’ come about?

A: My specific role? Well I was involved in a radio show called ‘The Navy Lark’, which was the longest-running radio show in the history of broadcasting, and it went all over the world, including the United States. I’d be interested if you could find a longer-running show, we ran for eighteen and a half years. I know ‘The Easy Aces’ ran a long time, but not that long. We ran eighteen and a half years, Leslie Phillips and myself and an English comic actor called Ronnie Barker who’s now a very big star, and one of the cast said ‘Why don’t you put yourself up for Doctor Who?’. I said ‘Why would they want an eccentric, long-nosed comic to play Dr. Who?’

I called my agent and mentioned it, and there was a very long pause on the other end of the phone. I said ‘I’m sorry, forget it’, and he said ‘No, no, I don’t think it’s a very good idea but I’ll try it’ so he rang up and spoke to the BBC and the producer of ‘Doctor Who’ said ‘Well who are you suggesting?’ and he told them, and there was a long pause, and equally long pause, and my agent said ‘I had exactly the same reaction’, and he said ‘No, the reason I’m so staggered is that his name’s the second on our short-list’, and I had been for two years. They’d been considering me for two years and I didn’t even know it.

I think Dr. Who was more or less me. The first one I did, I played for laughs. I had a dreadfully funny scene where I put on various hats. My original producers gave me the job because they wanted me to play the guitar and sing ballads.

Q: In the programme?

A: In the programme, yes. Pat Troughton played his penny whistle, so they thought I could play ballads, but no, we got rid of all that?

Q: Looking at the enormous popularity of ‘Doctor Who’, is it down to the individuals who played him, or is there a magic we don’t see?

A: No, there’s a magic that you do see, pure escapism. People are sick of the kitchen sink and they want to escape.

Q: And typecasting doesn’t bother you?

A: Yes it does, it bothers me very much indeed. I no longer wish to carry everything on my shoulders, I don’t necessarily want to be a leading man any more. I want to do what my friend Leslie Phillips has done so brilliantly now, he’s stopped being the sort of silly-ass light comedian.

Q: Taking on very challenging and serious roles.

A: Absolutely, and brilliantly too. That’s what I’d like to do, and I’m having a devil’s own job to persuade young director that that’s what I can do. And they say ‘Oh, Doctor Who’ and I say ‘Hang on, what’s the connection between the elegant dandified folk hero science fiction figure and the filthy old scarecrow with a carrot for a nose?’, and you remind them and they say ‘Oh yes, but it’s a cult thing’. Everything I’ve done has been culty. ‘The Navy Lark’ was culty.

When I was making ‘Doctor Who’, if anybody thinks I was making a lot of money, they’re crazy. I think I got £350 for an episode. That’s for a week’s work, and I couldn’t do anything else. When I was doing ‘Worzel Gummidge’ I could do some personal appearances at the weekend.

Q: There’s a wonderful Blue Peter clip from 1973 where you introduce the Whomobile, and it looks so tacky.

A: Oh, but I assure you it wasn’t tacky at all, it was superbly put together. Absolutely magnificent, it was the best-looking thing you’ve ever seen in your life. Everything worked, apart from the ejector seat, the computer worked, enough for photographically, when you pressed the button, all the lights flashed. It did nearly ninety miles an hour, it was very very fast. It was designed by a man named Peter Farris in Nottingham, and he did it in two mouldings, and it stopped the traffic wherever it went. We had to put it on a low-loader because people ran into it while they were looking at it.

Q: Patrick Troughton was obviously a friend.

A: Yes, we did ‘The Three Doctors’ and ‘The Five Doctors’. He was a magical man, he was a kook, he was strange, he wasn’t like other fellows. He was an ad-libber actor. I remember when he came in on my show, and he was a guest, and he was underneath the TARDIS and he was doing something, the cue was ‘I can’t find the circuit’, and he said ‘Oh where is the wretched thing?’, and I said ‘What?’, he said ‘Come on, I’ve given you the line’, I said ‘No you haven’t, he said ‘Well it’s near enough’ (laughs), I said ‘No it’s not, I’m Dr. Who now, I know you did that when you were in it’. He was wonderful, very free, I loved to watch him.

Q: Actors of your generation seemed to be very much larger than life figures.

A: Yes, I suppose they were, well certain types of actors. Roger Delgado was a brilliant actor, very hypnotic eyes. ‘Doctor Who’ is OTT, you can’t be serious, Daleks with sink plunger and egg whisks. It’s very hard work. I didn’t play Dr. Who right over the top, I played him straight.

Q: One of the newest stars of British television is ‘Worzel Gummidge’, isn’t he?

A: About eight or nine years ago I was doing a crime quiz show called ‘Whodunnit?’, which started in America, but you made a terrible mistake in America, you see our programmes, you say ‘That’s good’, you buy the programme, and instead of showing it to your audiences, you put your own people in them and you alter all the dialogue. We won’t let that happen with ‘Worzel Gummidge’. Worzel’s a mangled word, it’s a kind of turnip.

Q: What is the difference between British and American comedy?

A: I think it has heart. It’s not cold. We’re not one-liners, we’re situation comedy people. I can’t tell a one-liner, but I can tell a joke that lasts four and a half minutes.

Jon Pertwee (1989)

August 29, 2009

Here’s a transcript of Jon Pertwee talking to Terry Wogan in 1989. He was promoting ‘The Ultimate Adventure’, the stage play in which he reprised the role of the Doctor, but he doesn’t really talk about that -instead, the dominant theme seems to be ‘wind’, which got him expelled from RADA and blew him off course in a hovercraft while filming ‘The Sea Devils’.

Q: You’re back as Dr. Who on the stage after a fifteen year gap, are you glad to be back?

A: Oh, sure, the money’s good.

Q: Do you miss being Dr. Who?

A: Yes, I do from time to time. But I enjoyed being Worzel Gummidge too.

Q: You followed William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton. What gave you the inspiration for the flamboyance?

A: The clothes? Well that was a bit of luck, really. I wanted to wear something very severe, like a suit, but they said no, that was too severe. So in order to do something for the front cover of the Radio Times I put on an old velvet smoking jacket, and a cape, and a frilly shirt from Mr. Fish, who was very trendy at the time, and stood like that on the front cover, and they said they liked it. I said ‘Well how are we going to explain it?’, so in the first story they had me go into a changing room and nick a lot of clothing from various doctors. Some doctor had a hat, some doctor had a coat, then I put them on, went outside and leapt into an old motor car, an old Vauxhall 1938 and drove off, and that eventually became Bessie.

Q: I think the programme was maybe at its peak when you were in it. Maybe the technology got taken over by things like ‘Star Wars’…

A: Yes, well we kept things pretty simple, and we kept the threats on Earth when I was there, the majority of the time anyway.

Q: Yes, you fought off a number of Cybermen in your time –

A: No I didn’t! Daleks, yes. And a giant spider got me in the end. Well, not in the end, but he got me! (laughs)

Q: Did you do your own stunts?

A: Yes. Yes, I did, much to the infuriation of Terry Walsh, my stuntman. I did everything that I could apart from falling. If it was riding motorbikes or speedboats or climbing down ladders from helicopters, I did that. If it was falling, I didn’t know how to do that, and if I broke something then everybody’d be out of work.

Q: You nearly killed half a crew once, didn’t you?

A: I’m afraid so. Well, Barry Letts, my producer, said ‘You can drive anything, can’t you?’. I said ‘Well no, not without a bit of practice’, he said ‘Well there’s a hovercraft, why don’t you have a go at that, we’ll see if we can get that into the programme’. Well we got it into the programme, but he never gave me any time to practice. I kept saying ‘Can I practice?’, he kept saying ‘Not yet, not yet, I’ll let you know when’, and he never told me until he said ‘Okay, go’, and I had to come up a river bank on the river Severn, go between two cameras and go over a stuntman who was playing an old tramp and as he lay back I went over the top of him with the hovercraft. Well I did this, but unfortunately there was a very strong wind at the time and it pushed me to the port side and I wiped out the entire camera crew. It was very dangerous, because you’ve got propellers roaring around both down there and up there, so it could be very dangerous. Barry said ‘Can you do it again?’, and he said to everyone ‘Go round the other side, go round the other camera’. They all went round the other camera, and they said to me ‘Allow for the wind’, and I said ‘Yes, I’ll allow for the wind’. So I did it again, and I allowed for the wind, but there wasn’t a wind and so I wiped out the other camera.

Q: You were born into a very theatrical family, you had no choice, you had to be an actor. Did you ever play this theatre? (referring to the studio where ‘Wogan’ was taped)

A: I certainly did, when it was the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, I remember very well that I came out of the stage door one night and I’d gone very well, which was difficult in vaudeville, especially in Glasgow where they threw everything at you… but I came out, and there was an enormous Irish gentleman – there were a lot of them about Shepherd’s Bush in those days – he was leaning up against the wall and he went ‘Oi!’, I said ‘Me?’, he said ‘Come over here’, he said ‘Here you are, sign that’. I said ‘Of course, how could I resist such a charming invitation’, I signed it and gave it to him, and he threw it away! To this day I don’t know who he thought I was!

Q: Did you ever recover from this?

A: Never!

Q: You were continuously expelled from school, weren’t you?

A: Yes, I was. That’s a family trait, well not my brother Michael, he was very well behaved, but –

Q: You got expelled from RADA?

A: Yes, I got thrown out of RADA, I’m afraid. I’d refused to be a wind. There was a lady who taught Greek dancing and Greek tragedy, and I just had to go ‘Wooooo’ and I thought it was terribly expensive for my poor father to pay for me to be a wind. So I rebelled, I refused to be a wind.

Q: Didn’t Noel Coward speak highly of you once?

A: Well yes, Kenneth Barnes told me I had absolutely no talent whatsoever of any kind in the theatre, so I was in a play at the end of my season and, just before I was about to be expelled, I played two parts, I played the man who was murdered in the first act and the man who found out who murdered me in the last act, with full make-up and moustaches and so on. And at the end of the show, Kenneth Barnes said to Noel Coward, who was the guest of honour, ‘Was there anyone you thought had particular talent in the company?’, and Noel Coward said ‘Yes, very good performance from the man who was murdered in the first act, and I particularly liked the man who played the detective in the last’. (laughs) So I promptly gave him a kiss, which was a very dangerous thing to do, and I never looked back!

Q: How did you get involved with ‘Worzel Gummidge’?

A: Well when Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall asked me to do a movie that they’d written of Worzel Gummidge, of course I jumped at it, but unfortunately the movie hit the wall, they didn’t get the distribution that they wanted, or the money, so I said ‘Could you give me a pilot, cheap?’, and they gave me a pilot, bless them, and we sold it to television. The BBC turned it down flat, incidentally, they said it had no future at all (laughs), so I then took it to Thames because I knew they’d jump at it, having just done ‘Whodunnit?’ for them, and they turned it down flat too. Then there was a man called Lewis Rudd at Southern Television, a man of great perspicacity, and he said ‘I think it’s wonderful’ and we made it, and within five or six weeks we were something of a cult.

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.