I did all sorts. Teaching commandos how to use escapology equipment, compasses in brass buttons, secret maps in white cotton handkerchiefs, pipes you could smoke that also fired a .22 bullet. All sorts of incredible things. It suited me perfectly as I have always loved gadgets.John Devon Roland "Jon" Pertwee
— Talking about his actual real life as a British spy
(1919-1996) was an English actor best known as the Third Doctor in Doctor Who
from The Navy Lark
and as the title character in Worzel Gummidge
. He was also an actual spy
, working undercover for Winston Churchill
and alongside Ian Fleming
, a fact he managed to keep hidden all his life and which finally came to light in 2013. Like his predecessor as the Doctor
, Pertwee died of a heart attack while visiting the United States.
He was a huge
fanboy of action movies and cool vehicles, hence why his tenure as the Doctor was essentially a serialized action movie. He eventually decided to leave the show during a shakeup in the cast and staff — the departures of script editor Terrance Dicks
, producer Barry Letts and Katy Manning
(Jo Grant), and the death of Roger Delgado (The Master) convinced him that his Who
family was breaking up, and though he fulfilled the last year of his contract and developed a good working relationship with Manning's replacement, Elisabeth Sladen
, he left at the end of Who
's 11th season in 1974. (Some stories relate Pertwee getting out of a renewal of his contract by asking for a hefty pay raise, which the producers couldn't meet. It's been said that had either Katy Manning
stayed or Delgado not died — The Master was scheduled to die in a grand finale for the character — Pertwee might have stayed with the show for a longer period.) At five years in the role (1970-1974), he is currently the Doctor with the second-longest on-screen tenure after Tom Baker
He was the only Doctor (so far) who came up with his own sung Theme Song
, titled "I Am The Doctor". He also commissioned the Fan Nicknamed
"Whomobile", which was used in two episodes and kept by Pertwee as his private Improbably Cool Car
. After the classic series ended, he played the Doctor in the Third Doctor Radio Dramas
, and once more in a fan project called Devious
which has inexplicably been in Development Hell since 1995
Tropes associated with this actor include:
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Pertwee once met with a French official for an interview. He thought it was going to be a liason position with de Gaulle's Free French, who he actively disliked, and did everything possible to screw up the process. When it turned out that he didn't get the job, Pertwee confessed to Ian Fleming(his superior) that he'd deliberately bollocksed the interview. Fleming, in Pertwee's words, then called him "a blithering idiot", and told him the interview had actually been about a job in Tahiti.
- Cool Car: The Whomobile. Unlike Bessie, the Whomobile was his (as in, Jon Pertwee, the actor) personally customized wheels.
- Cool Old Guy: Look at the title image up yonder. Need we say any more?
- Large Ham: Not so much as the Doctor or Worzel Gummidge, but his guest role on The Goodies shows he could munch scenery with the best of them. Chief Petty Officer Pertwee, on the other hand, was, like everyone else on The Navy Lark, a gourmet diner of scenery.
- Made of Iron: In real life, Pertwee was insanely lucky — During World War II he was injured several times, apparently even once waking up on a morgue slab where he had been left for dead. In addition to that, he was taken off the crew of HMS Hood and assigned to shore duty just before the battleship left for her fateful encounter with the German battleship Bismarck; out of an original complement of 1,418, just three crew members would survive. In a more funny vein, he also early in his Navy career apparently rammed a pier with a mail boat. "Ev'rybody down!", indeed. During much of the filming of Doctor Who, Pertwee was suffering from back/spinal troubles that sometimes made the stunts or martial arts moves painful for him to perform. He did them anyway.
- One of Us: Always took a chance to show up in public as The Doctor for the fans, and loved the role as much as the audiences did. He was also a major fanboy of action movies and cool vehicles, and, interestingly enough, animation. In fact, shortly before he died, he engaged in arguments with friend and fellow actor Spike Milligan over which one of them was the biggest fan of the Disney animated film Aladdin. His last acting job, ever, was as The Doctor — he had agreed to perform in a fan-film, Devious, which is soon, finally, to be released.
- The Mentor / Team Dad: Acted this way towards both Katy Manning and Elisabeth Sladen, to the point that Manning's departure from Doctor Who was one of the catalysts for his own leaving the role. Even though technically Sladen was paired up with Tom Baker for more time in Doctor Who, Sladen considered Pertwee's Third Doctor as her Doctor, and she was inconsolable for a week after Pertwee died.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: He and Patrick Troughton were actually close friends, but played up this trope in public appearances because Doctor Who fans enjoyed the dynamic.
- Wag the Director: Positive example. He was a big fan of action movies and cool vehicles, hence why most of his Doctor Who episodes are colored by his personal tastes. Neither the writers nor the fans had a problem with this, the former especially loving to indulge him. In fact, it can be argued that the almost completely gratuitous car/gyrocopter/Whomobile chase that took up nearly the entirety of the second episode of his last serial was a "farewell present" to him from the writers, who knew of his love of fast vehicles and action-movie sequences. He was also surprisingly humble about his characterization as the Doctor, merely asking that the writers give him "a moment or two of charm".