50th Anniversary Retrospective: The 2nd Doctor

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John Hussey continues his monthly retrospective, this time looking at the second Doctor, Patrick Troughton.

With the build-up to the grand occasion in 2013, i.e. Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary, over the next year I shall be analysing and discussing the different incarnations of the Doctor one-by-one as we slowly come closer and closer to the big day. Today, I move on to the second Doctor, Patrick Troughton.

The Origins of the Second Doctor

William Hartnell started to get health problems through his increasing irritability, signs to his growing illness of arteriosclerosis. This caused him to forget lines and lose his temper with the cast around him, especially the newer ones joining him in the TARDIS. This wasn’t appreciated on set and due to this and Hartnell’s desire to leave down to his own personal reasons, the man who brought the renegade Time Lord to life was fading away from the screens of British televisions.

The idea came about to change the appearance of the Doctor’s face in order to keep the same character onboard the show. This hadn’t been done before on television, nor was it heard of, but the production team decided to give it a go and would go on to create the iconic transition of ‘regeneration’. The tricky task at hand was to find a suitable replacement for Hartnell and so they decided to go with a younger actor; namely Patrick Troughton.

During production of film ‘The Viking Queen’ in Ireland, Troughton was first asked to take over the role. He refused the offer initially, believing he was incapable of taking on the part. He was very fond of the show and Hartnell’s portrayal of the character, due to watching it with his kids, and was astonished to even be asked. He was very unsure whether he could continue Hartnell’s legacy. After much persistence from the BBC, Troughton was persuaded but was very wary due to his fear of being typecast by the popular character. Sydney Newman managed to bring Troughton down to Earth and allowed him to pick his own style. After many chops and changes, Troughton decided to go for ‘the cosmic hobo’ idea and played the character in a very clownish way before slowly mellowing down over his reign. It’s fair to say the then production team took a huge gamble, but it surely paid off. This experiment has lead to the show surviving for 49 years, and of course, how can we ever forget Patrick Troughton’s fantastic portrayal as the new Doctor.

Character Traits, Personality and Catchphrases


The Second Doctor was much lighter than his predecessor; he was less serious and more comical. He also became more heroic within his adventures, showcasing his change of personality into believing it is his right to prevent the evil that he encounters on his journeys (which he admits during his trial in ‘The War Games’.) The Second Doctor would tend to run away a lot more and act very cowardly in order to repel his enemies, while constantly trying to find a way to defeat them. In some ways, this defence was a cunning disguise to fool his enemies of his true intellect.

The action side certainly developed with the Doctor becoming more physical in the way he defeated his enemies. He wouldn’t fight them directly, but certainly came up with schemes in order to destroy them, examples being when the Second Doctor caused a civil war on Skaro which resulted in the apparent extinction of the Daleks (‘The Evil of the Daleks’) and then later on he caused The Ice Warriors’ fleet to collide with the Sun (‘The Seeds of Death’). He was very laid back and certainly more happy and outgoing than his predecessor. This is probably due to his younger appearance. His clothing didn’t change much; it simply became a looser and scruffier version of his original outfit, hence his nickname of ‘the space- hobo’. The only new addition was a small bowtie.

One of the Second Doctor’s biggest traits was having arguments with his companion Jamie McCrimmon. It was a funny ritual they had. They were good friends, while containing a comical side within their adventures together; one great example being when he grabs his hand while entering the Cybermen’s city on Telos and upon realising this, he quickly let go.

The whole grandfather act was dropped after his Regeneration and became more of a friend to his female companions, although it didn’t stop him from giving them encouragement like before. The best example is his family speech to Victoria in ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’, encouraging her to look towards her bright future onboard the TARDIS, living a life that no one else can, while remembering the light of her past (i.e. her father Edward Waterfield) and shroud away the dark (the Daleks killing Edward). He became very attached to his companions, especially Jamie who travelled with him from his second adventure all the way up till his final journey. The Second Doctor was saddened to see Jamie and Zoe forced to forget about him and their adventures (after their first encounter together) at the hands of the Time Lords.

The Second Doctor developed quite a few catchy catchphrases and phrases which he used over his adventures. The first one was a little something between him and Jamie:

“Jamie, when I say run, run. Run!”

The other famous line was used whenever he was in danger: “Oh, my giddy-aunt.”

Era and Stories

The Second Doctor’s era was very action-packed and filled with adventurous stories. The show went away from its historical and dark themes, even to the point of having the final historical story with Jamie McCrimmon’s debut story ‘The Highlanders’. From then on all period stories featured an alien threat instead of a historical enemy. The show became lighter to a degree, while still maintaining its serious nature and of course; the death count. Many of the stories lessoned the slow progression and featured more in your-face-action with the Second Doctor confronting alien races who tried invading Earth or planets. It progressed his love for Earth even further, especially with showcasing how often he defended it.

Continuing from the ideas placed in ‘The War Machines’, The Doctor returned to working with the military in ‘The Web of Fear’ against the second threat of the Yeti. This was a major development, especially with the introduction of character Lethbridge-Stewart. This concept introduced the idea of U.N.I.T., the United Nation Intelligence Taskforce, who were a special organisation created by the United Nations in order to investigate the strange and unusual (which often led to alien incursions).

After the success of Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, he was brought back as the Brigadier of U.N.I.T. and expanded his friendship with the Second Doctor during their battle against the Cybermen. This invention was due to budget reasons with then Producer Derrick Sherwin and Script Editor Terrance Dicks opting to exile The Doctor on Earth during his next incarnation with an organisation to help him fight alien threats during that period. This era also became popular with showcasing stories with space-bases and space-stations, creating the popular base-under-siege format which is still popular to this day. The final addition to Doctor Who mythology/history was the introduction of The Doctor’s race, the Time Lords, who were introduced in the Second Doctor’s final adventure ‘The War Games’.

His companions also became very action hero, especially with Jamie McCrimmon; the Scotsman from the Highlands who became the Second Doctor’s bodyguard and trusted friend. He essentially was the younger version of Ian Chesterton. It continued from the character elements of the later First Doctor companions in which they retained a very heroic nature and confronted their enemies. Jamie was from the Highland wars and so was essentially a warrior, and it reflected on his personality of showing of his strength, especially when provoked. On the other side, he was a very fun character, if sometimes a little bit simple when it came to explanation of scientific information. But once explained, the Scotsman would simply say ‘oh ah’. Apart from Polly and Ben (who were introduced during The First Doctor’s era) all of the Second Doctor’s companions were from different times within Earth’s history. Victoria was from the Victorian era while Zoe was from the 21st Century. There is also the special case of Lethbridge-Stewart and Corporal Benton. Though they do not travel with the Second Doctor, they are classified as companions, especially more within The Third Doctor’s era when they became main characters.

The Second Doctor’s era was also famous for introducing three new and reoccurring concepts;

  • The pseudonym ‘John Smith’
  • The Sonic Screwdriver
  • The Doctor’s face within the title sequence

John Smith was invented by Jamie in ‘The Wheel in Space’, who noticed the name as a brand upon a medical container and would from then on become a reoccurring theme for The Doctor to use that name as a form of disguise. The Sonic Screwdriver was first seen in ‘Fury from the Deep’ and quickly became established as The Doctor’s right-hand tool, capable of many different forms of jobs – especially when it came to escape or fending off enemies. Finally the new title sequence was introduced in ‘The Macra Terror’ where Patrick Troughton’s face was added to the sequence. It became a natural step forward to include the new actor within the opening credits and this would become the tradition for years to come (until The TV Movie where the actors name would appear instead of their face).

The Second Doctor’s era continued the shows popular use of travelling to alien planets. Here are some of those destinations and their allotted story:

  • Vulcan – ‘The Power of the Daleks’
  • Skaro – ‘The Evil of the Daleks’
  • Telos – ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’
  • Dulkis – ‘The Dominators’
  • Gallifrey – ‘The War Games’

Here are the historical settings the Second Doctor went to and the alien invaders he faced during those stories:

  • Victorian England – The Daleks
  • Tibet, 1930s – The Great Intelligence and The Yeti

The era also generated the theme of ‘returning characters’, which became a reoccurring theme throughout the show from the Second Doctor onwards. Here are the reoccurring characters of this era:

  • Professor Travers – ‘The Abominable Snowmen’ and ‘The Web of Fear’
  • Lethbridge-Stewart – ‘The Web of Fear’ and ‘The Invasion’

Corporal Benton was introduced in ‘The Invasion’ and would become a reoccurring character upon his return in ‘The Ambassadors of Death’ the following season.



Polly and Ben Jackson

Upon seeing the First Doctor Regenerate into The Second Doctor, the Jacksons began to question the man that stood before them; believing him to be some kind of imposter. It took a while before they accepted his word of being the Doctor, with Ben taking slightly longer, and they happily continued their travels in time and space. At the end of ‘The Faceless Ones’ they decided to leave, upon realising they had landed on Earth moments after they left in the TARDIS for the first time.

Jamie McCrimmon

The Second Doctor met Jamie during the events of ‘The Highlanders’ and in the end the Scotsman from the past decided to join the Time Lord on his adventures in the TARDIS. Funny, strong and easily wound up; Jamie became close friends with the Second Doctor, also in a sense becoming his defender in dark situations. But his adventures came to an unexpected end due to the Time Lords erasing his memory of their adventures together and sending him back home at the end of ‘The War Games’.

Victoria Waterfield

After being held hostage and having her father killed by the dreaded Daleks in ‘The Evil of the Daleks’, The Second Doctor decided to take the Victorian orphan onboard the TARDIS. Victoria’s first adventure was in ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ were she slowly adjusted to the life the Doctor leads. The sweet and innocent child eventually decided to leave in ‘Fury from the Deep’ to join the Harris family.

Colonel/Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart

Lethbridge-Stewart was at first a Colonel within the military and met the Second Doctor during the Yeti invasion in the London Underground in ‘The Web of Fear’. Afterwards he was promoted to Brigadier of the newly established organisation U.N.I.T. and later met the Second Doctor again during the Cybermen invasion. At first he was sceptical towards aliens, but later became an honourable, military driven soldier who was very loyal to The Doctor and became a good friend of his (the best you might say).

Zoe Heriot

The mathematical genius Zoe Heriot was a para-psychology librarian onboard the Wheel in the 21st Century. Zoe encountered the Second Doctor during a Cybermen attack and decided to sneak onboard the TARDIS after the battle. The Second Doctor allowed her to join them, but warned her of the grave dangers that she might face. Zoe continued to travel with The Second Doctor until the end of his time where he faced the mighty wrath of the Time Lords judgement while she was sent back to her own time with no memory of their adventures together beyond her first encounter.

Corporal Benton

Not exactly the top of his class (nor the brightest of soldiers) but when it came to a crisis, Corporal Benton was there to lend a hand against the threat of the Cybermen in ‘The Invasion’.

Encountered Villains and Monsters


The Daleks

The first enemy the Second Doctor encountered was his deadly enemy the Daleks. In ‘The Power of the Daleks’ he discovered three dormant Daleks in a crashed spaceship, but upon the interference of the Human Colonists, the Daleks are revived. Slow but sure, the Daleks managed to regain their power by being sly to the Humans who don’t know the true danger that lies before them. Upon the Daleks return to power, the Second Doctor moves into action and puts a stop to their plans and ultimately destroys them. They later returned for the final story of the Second Doctor’s first Season, ‘The Evil of the Daleks’, were they held Professor Edward Waterfield prisoner in order to help conduct experiments for their sinister purposes. The Daleks also lure the Doctor in by stealing his TARDIS and use Jamie as a guinea-pig in order to discover what the Human-Factor is. Once the experiments are done, The Second Doctor is brought before, for the first time, the Dalek Emperor who wishes to use the TARDIS to spread the Dalek-Factor throughout time and space. The Doctor prevents this by infecting Daleks with the Human-Factor and causes a civil war within the Dalek City on Skaro. The Doctor deems this the Daleks’ ‘final end’.

The Cybermen

The cybernetic creatures made a return shortly after their first appearance in ‘The Tenth Planet’, this time trying to invade the Moonbase in the year 2070 in ‘The Moonbase’. Due to lack of energy, the Cybermen eventually went into hibernation on their adopted planet Telos, after their home-world of Mondas was destroyed in ‘The Tenth Planet’. In the following season’ opener, ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’, a human expedition team went in search of their ancient tombs after centuries of hibernation but it was revealed to be a trap by the Cybermen who wished to lure in intellects in order to convert them into the next generation of Cybermen. The Second Doctor managed to intervene and resealed them back into their tombs. This was also the first encounter of the Cyber-Controller and the Cybermats, although it was thought that the Cyber-Controller was destroyed. The Cybermen returned once more for that season’s final episode ‘The Wheel in Space’. They tried to invade the space-station known as the Wheel and attempted to use the stations direct radio link with Earth as a beacon for their invasion fleet. This story also saw the return of the Cybermats. The Cybermen made one last return in this era the following season for the eight-part epic ‘The Invasion’. It was revealed at the end of Episode Four that insane businessman Tobias Vaughn was in league with the Cybermen and was planning to help them invade Earth, which in return allows him to rule Humanity. Vaughn was killed by the Cybermen after they double-cross him and he turned on them in return. With the aid of U.N.I.T. and Zoe’s mathematical skills, the Cybermen’s fleet and advance invasion forces were destroyed. It’s fair to say that the Cybermen were the Second Doctor’s main enemy.

The Macra

The giant crabs known as the Macra only appeared once during the Second Doctor’s era within his first season in ‘The Macra Terror’. The Macra invaded a human colony on an unnamed planet and used them as slaves via their hypnotic powers, brainwashing them to drill for a gas, toxic to themselves, which the creatures were dependent on. The creatures were eventually killed by Ben, under the guidance of the Second Doctor, after he destroyed their gas pipes.

The Yeti

The robotic servants of the Great Intelligence were a deadly and reoccurring foe for the Second Doctor. They first appeared in ‘The Abominable Snowmen’ where they guarded their master in 1935 Tibet until the creature created itself a body in order to take over the Earth. The Yeti returned a few stories later in ‘The Web of Fear’ where they invaded the London Underground with their deadly web while The Great Intelligence made another attempt to invade Earth, this time determined to drain the Doctor’s mind to do so. The Second Doctor, with the aid of the military, managed to defeat the creature and repel it back into space. The Great Intelligence and its robotic Yeti have yet to attempt their third invasion…

The Ice Warriors

The Ice Warriors were an honourable race of warriors from the planet Mars. They first appeared in ‘The Ice Warriors’ where one of their race, Varga, was found frozen in a glacier by a group of scientists. The base soon came under siege when the creature made its move and attempted releasing its comrades from their frozen spaceship. The Ice Warriors planned to conquer the Earth due to Mars now being dead and uninhabitable, but were later destroyed by the scientist’s ioniser with the help of The Second Doctor. The Ice Warriors returned the following season in ‘The Seeds of Death’ where they once again attempted to conquer the Earth. This time, a force of their race infiltrated the Moonbase, the T-Mat control station, and attempted to use Humanities teleport device to initiate their invasion. Using deadly seeds spread across the planet, the Ice Warriors attempted to drain the oxygen of Earth so that the planet became like the atmosphere of Mars. An advance guard was then sent down to destroy the Weather Control Station but was prevented by the Second Doctor. He then interfered with the Ice Warrior’s beacon and caused their fleet to collide with the Sun and then he and Jamie finished off the remaining Ice Warriors on the Moon.

The Three Most See Episodes

  • 3. ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’
  • 2. ‘The Invasion’
  • 1. ‘The War Games’

Special Mentions to:

  • ‘The Power of the Daleks’ ‘The Moonbase’
  • ‘The Evil of the Daleks’ ‘The Ice Warriors’
  • ‘The Web of Fear’ and
  • ‘The Seeds of Death’

First Words

The Second Doctor: Slower! Slower! Concentrate on one thing. One thing!

The Incarnation Speech

The Second Doctor: Oh, yes I can when I want to. And that’s the point really. I have to really want to, to bring them back in front of my eyes. The rest of the time they sleep in my mind and I forget. And so will you. Oh, yes you will. You’ll find there’s so much else to think about. Now remember, our lives are different to anybody else’s. That’s the exciting thing. Cause nobody in the universe can do what we’re doing.

Famous Last Words

The Second Doctor: No! Stop, you’re making me giddy! No, you can’t do this to me! No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no!

The Regeneration

The Second Doctor regenerated in ‘The War Games’ due to a forced sentence by the Time Lords. He had no other option but to call upon their help in returning all the different Human warriors, who were being held in the dreaded War Games by the War Lords, back to their own timelines. Due to this they became aware of The Doctor’s constant interference in time, which is defiance to the Laws of Time, and placed him on trial. The Second Doctor managed to defend his case that evil must be fought, and in fact the Time Lords have neglected their responsibilities, but to ends he wished not to see. The Time Lords decided to honour his defence by placing him on Earth in exile, removing his knowledge of how to use the TARDIS, in order to protect the world he is so fond of. As a final piece of punishment, The Second Doctor was forced to Regenerate against his will. As he began to Regenerate, he cycled violently through the darkness of the Time Vortex while at all times protesting against his mistreatment.