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Creator / Jon Pertwee

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When Doctor Who needed a charismatic, James Bond-esque Action Hero, in stepped in Jon Pertwee.

"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."
— Talking about his actual real life as a British spy

John Devon Roland "Jon" Pertwee (7 July 1919 – 20 May 1996) was an English actor best known as the Third Doctor in Doctor Who, Pertwee from The Navy Lark, the title character in Worzel Gummidge and Captain Thrice in the first series of Lavender Castle. He was also an actual spy, working undercover for Winston Churchill and alongside Ian Fleming (thereby becoming one of the real life bases for James freakin' Bond) 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. His last TV appearance was in a Vodafone commercial for the UK, as a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo of the Doctor.

He was a huge fanboy of action movies and cool vehicles, which is why his tenure as the Doctor was essentially a serialised action movie. He eventually decided to leave the show after the departures of script editor Terrance Dicks, producer Barry Letts, and Katy Manning (Jo Grant), which happened around the same time as the death of Roger Delgado (The Master). He fulfilled the last year of his contract and developed a good working relationship with new companion Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane), who reportedly cried inconsolably for weeks when he died, and left at the end of the show's eleventh season in 1974. At five seasons over four-and-a-half years in the role (1970-1974), he is currently the Doctor with the second-longest continuous televised tenure after Tom Baker.

He also had a massive nose, which is briefly parodied in "The End of Time: Part 2" with the newly regenerated Eleventh Doctor noting that "[he's] had worse" in terms of nose sizes.

He was the only Doctor (so far) who came up with his own sung Theme Song, titled "Who is 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 (one of which actually used the word "Whomobile" in-story). He appeared once more as the Doctor in a fan project called Devious, which has inexplicably been in Development Hell since 1995.

His son, Sean Pertwee, is also an actor and bears a strong resemblance to his father to the point that many fans would love to see him reprise the role of the Third Doctor in the current iteration of Doctor Who, but Sean has gone on record saying that he views his father's portrayal of the Doctor as sacred and believes he shouldn't touch it. Sean has also related a story about a visit to the set for the revived 2005 series, when he did briefly consider auditioning. When he told some staff members who he was, they responded with indifference, apparently not recognizing either the surname or physical resemblance to someone. He did make a cameo in the 50th Anniversary parody The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, where he and Olivia Colman wonder why they haven't been invited to be in the show's actual anniversary special.

Tropes associated with this actor's work include:

  • Cool Car: The Whomobile. Unlike Bessie, the Whomobile was his (as in, Jon Pertwee, the actor) personally customized wheels. And it's actually licensed to drive.
  • "I Am" Song: "Who is the Doctor?", which he performed in-character as the Third Doctor.
  • Large Ham: Not so much as the Doctor (well, relatively speaking) 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.
  • Look Both Ways: Did an advert for the Green Cross Code, or "Splink".
  • One of Us: Pertwee was a lifelong fan of animation, and even near the end of his life got into arguments with friend and fellow animation enthusiast Spike Milligan over which of them was a bigger fan of Disney's Aladdin.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: As mentioned above, John's son Sean is the spitting image of him.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Both in- and out-of-universe, was this with Patrick Troughton-Pertwee was a consummate professional, while Troughton was more relaxed and prone to joking around on set. This bled over when they worked together in character. However, they did become quite close, and often went to conventions together, where they played the trope to the hilt, joke-bickering whenever they were at a panel together and in one occasion a famous bit where Pertwee chased Troughton with a pitcher of water in revenge for Troughton getting him with a water pistol!
    • The reverse was true with Roger Delgado, who played The Master throughout Pertwee's tenure as Doctor Who; despite playing mortal enemies on screen, the two were close friends. Katy Manning said later that watching them play enemies to the hilt, then immediately go back to laughing and joking with each other once the director called "Cut", was one of her formative experiences as an actor. (Another was Jon leaping to her defence when she injured herself on set on her first day of filming and someone joked that they could just re-cast her role - she was genuinely afraid she was about to get booted from her first big gig, and he was just not having that.)
  • 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 coloured 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".
  • What Could Have Been:
    • He was the initial choice for the part of Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory before the casting of Gene Wilder. However, he turned down the offer due to scheduling commitments to Doctor Who.
    • He was considered for the role of the titular tall-tale-telling baron in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.
    • The role of Captain Mainwaring in Dad's Army was created with Pertwee in mind (Bill Pertwee, his second cousin, would have a recurring role on the show as Chief Warden Hodges).
    • The original stage version of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum starred Pertwee as Lycus alongside Zero Mostel. When the movie was made, the producers decided Pertwee wasn't enough of a marquee name draw, and so they hired Phil Silvers instead. However, shortly after the shooting in Spain commenced, Silvers got into a snit when he found out that nobody in Spain had the slightest clue who he was, and had never heard of Sergeant Bilko. He further butted heads with director Richard Lester who kept making requests of him about his performance, including not wearing his trademark glasses to avoid Anachronism Stew. According to Pertwee, he retreated to the room he was staying in at the producer's villa, and began jumping up and down on the bed repeatedly chanting The Lord's Prayer. Everyone was at a loss as filming couldn't proceed without him, and finally at their wit's end, they decided to contact Pertwee to take on the role after all. However, to Pertwee's chagrin, a production assistant then duly informed Silvers he was fired, at which point he stopped his tantrum and reported for work. Pertwee was compensated with the small role of Crassus.