Here’s a transcript of a short interview with Michael Craze, who playe Ben. Along with Anneke Wills’ Polly, Ben was the first companion to witness a regeneration, and here he talks about his first impressions of Patrick Troughton.
“By the same token that it wouldn’t have been anything without William Hartnell starting, I don’t think it could have carried on with anyone but Patrick Troughton. He was one of those actors where you knew his name, and then you thought ‘Of course I know Patrick Troughton, who did he play?’. Pat always played characters, you’d never recognise him in the street from his roles before ‘Doctor Who’. He was well-known in the business, and then when people said ‘Don’t you remember he was in so and so?’, you went ‘Oh, of course he was’.
“You could have put all sorts of other people in the role and I think it would’ve sunk like a lead balloon. I think it was the devotion and the real integrity and the insight that Pat brought to the character that allowed it to carry on. He wasn’t just saying the lines, the emotion came with it. He might suddenly change the position of an object if he was fiddling, and you’d respond, which is good acting because it’s instantaneous and you’ve got to be able to do that.
“I remember him struggling to start with, with the character, because in the very beginning he had this imagined character of the cosmic hobo and he was struggling to find the level for it. When he started, he had the big tall hat and the whistle, and I could see him working within himself to see how far he could go, and how far his mannerisms… internally I could see him working at it, which was the mark of a very good actor, the Stanislavsky thing of working the character out. And he was doing this in rehearsals. And Anneke and I used to tease him, and say ‘Oh take that bloody hat off, for God’s sake’. Once he got over the initial trauma of creating the character, I think he settled in very well.
“It was hard work because although it was fun, it was very strict because it had to be right. He was very professional in that he insisted everything was right, the props were right, but it was light-hearted because he wasn’t strict like William Hartnell. He loved company, he loved young people, or younger people, he wasn’t that old himself. And he was just a great fun person. Everything could be turned into a joke. He was a humble person, he didn’t mind making mistakes, he didn’t mind other people making mistakes, he was just a very nice person. Not at all egotistical or anything, he was one of the guys and we all got on together”.