Heroes of Who: Jon Pertwee

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Paying tribute to Jon Pertwee on his date of birth.

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By David Selby

If someone delineates the character of the Doctor, I immediately think of Jon Pertwee’s era.  Pertwee epitomized exactly what the Doctor is, was, and ever shall be: an alien, partially integrated into human society; witty, shrewd and charismatic, with his share of idiosyncrasies and even flaws. The Third Doctor admired humanity, whilst often acting slightly pretentious (take his argument with the Brigadier in Inferno). The Doctor embodied a prevailing self-importance that often shrouded his deeper feelings of compassion and even forgiveness from our visibility. Despite this, the Third was one of the most caring, considerate incarnations of the Time Lord.

Pertwee always played the part with admirable charm and vigour. He managed to retain a stellar performance even when the other protagonists weren’t up to their usual calibre (The Three Doctors) and executed all of his character’s core traits with precision. Pertwee was lovable, as a Doctor and as a human being – relatable. When Pertwee’s tenure came to a tragic end in Planet of the Spiders, his compelling performance pulled at the heartstrings of many. Pertwee was to reprise his role only once more, in The Five Doctors.

Little was known about Pertwee’s private life until a recent discovery that he worked as a secret agent in World War Two, even reporting directly to Winston Churchill. The introduction of the Third Doctor was based around a massive change for the show – the Doctor would now have gadgets, work for a secret military organisation and even drive around his own ‘stylish’ car. It’s rather fitting that at this time, a man who worked with hi-tech gadgets and provided major intelligence during the war would take this role.

I can’t even think of what Doctor Who would have been like without Jon Pertwee. He’s one of the many faces that have defined Doctor Who to this day, and I’m sure, in its 50th year, that many will look back on him as the greatest Doctor of all time.

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By Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull

The fact that Doctor Who is entering its golden anniversary without three of its leading actors is a complete tragedy. William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee were all taken from us far too soon, but we keep their legacy going by revisiting their wonderful outings as the Doctor, and remembering them in the show’s fiftieth year. Out of the aforesaid three, Pertwee is my favourite and he and Sylvester McCoy are tied as my most-liked Doctor.

Pertwee brought something new to the role that audiences hadn’t seen before; he ditched the grandfatherly/bumbling uncle seniority and replaced it with a more advisory change of personality. He acted like Sarah and Jo’s mentor and friend, as apposed to the First and Second Doctor who treated their companions differently, the former serving as an overseer to Ian, Barbara and Susan. The Third Doctor era also changed the format of the show, with the Time Lord being banished by his own species to reside on Earth. There was also an advance in U.N.I.T the militaristic workforce that the Doctor so advised for, their officers, such as the beloved Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, became supporting characters in the Third Doctor’s adventures. Jon was a breath of fresh air, and some people overlook this, thinking that he didn’t impact much on the show. Jon Pertwee was one of the greatest things to ever happen to Doctor Who.

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