When it comes to Doctor Who, the character often wins over the audiences because they are kind-hearted and in many ways, are the saviour (or Doctor) we need. While a lot of focus does get given to the ‘new’ breed of Doctors, for fans of the old school we are spoilt for choice with who is the best. One that is high on my list has to be Jon Pertwee, which is why The Doctors: The Jon Pertwee Years was such a joy to watch.
A collection of interviews, The Doctors: The Jon Pertwee Years features Jon Pertwee himself, Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Caroline John (Liz Shaw), Nicholas Courtney (The Brigadier), Richard Franklin (Captain Yates), and John Levene (Sergeant Benton). Interviewed by the voice of the Daleks, Nicholas Briggs. Each interview with the stars of Doctor Who is around one hour in length, so you can imagine how interesting the Jon Pertwee one is. Mainly focusing on the Doctor Who show, the internet also looks at the actor’s life and how he got into acting. We also see a visit by Worzel Gummidge at the end of the interview, which is a nice touch for a fan of Pertwee’s scarecrow character and surprising doesn’t feel forced.
What comes across with this interview is just how warm a man Pertwee was, and how much he loved working as The Doctor. The fact he had so many stories to share is somewhat of a treasure-trove for Doctor Who fans. Looking at how he took over from Patrick Troughton is especially interesting, and he does reveal a lot, including some of the hijinks that took place behind the scenes.
It is important to note of course that The Doctors: The Jon Pertwee Years isn’t just about Pertwee himself but the other actors too. Another highlight of course is to hear Nicholas Courtney talk about his time as the Brigadier. A character who outlived the numerous Doctors (in the show at least) he has plenty of stories to tell, again showing a love of the show that is infectious for those who want him talk.
When it comes to the companions, it is interesting to hear Katy Manning and Caroline John talk about being in Doctor Who. The fact they are so proud of it, and being in the show is nice to see, and the fact they don’t have a bad word to say about the cast is refreshing. All too often classic shows tend to have horror stories of tension behind the scenes, which thankfully Doctor Who does not (unless it is hidden behind nostalgia of course).
While Richard Franklin and John Levine (Captain Yates and Sergeant Benton) may not be as attention grabbing as the other big names, it doesn’t mean that fans won’t remember them fondly. The two actors again have interesting and amusing stories to tell, and both make a point of emphasising how much of a family the cast was. If anything, this is exactly the image that Doctor Who fans want to see for their favourite show, especially in the classic years. One interesting omission in this collection of interviews is Elisabeth Sladen, who was of course the much-loved Sarah Jane Smith. While I would have loved to see her interviewed here, it seems her passing in 2011 has excluded her from this documentary. This is my only gripe with The Doctors: The Jon Pertwee Years, as I’m sure she would have had plenty to add based on her experiences too.
The Doctors: The Jon Pertwee Years features six hour-long documentary interviews with the actors, so it is a collection you probably don’t want to watch in one sitting. Nicholas Brigg though really does well as the interviewer, giving us a glimpse into the world of Jon Pertwee era Doctor Who, and making us fall in love with it even more.
Fans of old school Doctor Who will love this, though it is obviously made for them and fans of the actors. Fans of TV history will probably get a kick out of the interviews too. Based on my love of the ‘Original Doctors’ and the history of cult shows, I loved it.
The Doctors: The Jon Pertwee Years is available on DVD in the UK now.