Then & now Sylvester Mccoy, actor
WITH THE LATEST series of Dr Who up and running, there’s no stopping the timelord as he races towards his 50th anniversary, in 2013. Since Dr Who was revived in 2005, the series has gone from strength to strength – in 2053, your great-grandchildren will be tuning in to catch the Doctor’s ongoing battle with the Daleks.
There have been 11 Doctors since the series began in 1963 – and that’s not counting the numerous other actors, including Peter Cushing, who have portrayed the Doctor in film, on stage or in audio. Matt Smith is the Doctor’s current iteration, and by all accounts the young man doing a fine job of portraying the immortal timelord.
Previous Doctors have seldom strayed far from the Tardis, either reprising their roles in TV specials, voicing the character in audiobooks, or making regular appearances at Dr Who conventions for the delight and delectation of the assembled Whovians.
Recent Doctors Christopher Ecclestone and Matt Tennant have had no problem finding work that doesn’t involve Daleks, and Tom Baker, the fourth Doctor, entered a whole new dimension when he provided the narration for hit comedy series Little Britain.
Sylvester McCoy played the seventh Doctor between 1987 and 1989, when the BBC cancelled the show due to falling audience figures and the fact that nobody was fooled anymore by the special effects, which looked like they were knocked up by kids on Blue Peter.
McCoy initially brought a clownish sensibility to his role, which rankled with Whovians. The Scottish actor, born Percy James Patrick Kent-Smith, had actually worked for several years as a comedy actor, performing slapstick and stunts on children’s TV. One of his big talents was for stuffing things up his nose.
After his tenure as Dr Who ended, McCoy found no shortage of stage work, and guested in such TV series as The Bill, Casualty and Rab C Nesbitt. His efforts to break into film, however, were met with disappointment. He missed out on a chance to be in Pirates of the Caribbean, and though he was slated to play Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings, the part went to Ian Holm instead.
But McCoy has somehow found a way into Middle Earth. He has been cast as the wizard Radagast in the upcoming two-part film of The Hobbit. So no more Dr Who conventions, he’ll be too busy doing The Hobbit conventions instead.