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Obituary: Patrick Troughton

By Paul Sinkovitch

None of you can be unaware of the sad death of the second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, aged 67, earlier this year.

The modesty of Patrick Troughton must never be allowed to obscure the career of an actor who was critically acclaimed and greatly respected in all fields of his profession. Very few can claim to equal the range of his acting skills, as displayed in film performances of Shakespearean plays, two of the Ray Harryhausen epics, and his particularly haunting portrayal of a terrified priest in The Omen. On television, Patrick Troughton's presence enriched innumerable drama serials, detective and other action programmes, family shows, children's programmes and situation comedies. He also ventured into the realms of fantasy in Doomwatch, Space 1999, The Box of Delights, and of course, Doctor Who.

It is no hyperbole to state that Patrick Troughton's contribution to Doctor Who was vital in terms of the success of the series, for it required the talents of an actor as versatile and accomplished as Troughton to gain acceptance in the role after convincingly portraying for the first time, the complete metamorphosis of a much-loved character, in this case from a capricious old man into a much younger, milder personality. A legion of fans, young and old, were hooked by the recorder-playing, frantic and whimsical Doctor, one of the most richly textured performances of the role we have ever seen.

Patrick Troughton left Doctor Who after three years in order to avoid the risk of becoming typecast in the role. His subsequent career shows that any fears he may have had were misplaced. At first, his natural reticence made it extremely difficult for us to express our appreciation to him for the many hours of pleasure he had provided, although in recent years he had begun to attend more of the conventions in Britain and the USA, winning still more admirers with his warmth, humour and remarkable knowledge of the early years of the programme. It was at one of these conventions, in Columbus, Georgia, that he suffered his second, fatal, heart attack. He leaves a wife and six children. We have lost not only one of the ablest actors to have played the Doctor, but also one of Britain's finest character actors.

This item appeared in TSV 1 (July 1987).

Reprinted in: Flashback Vol. 1