INTERVIEW: ‘Doctor Who’ star Peter Davison at L.I. Who

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Always good when you can make a Doctor laugh. [Photo by Adrienne Wise]

Thanks to my friend Jeff, I had vague knowledge of Doctor Who as I was growing up, and my local public broadcasting station used to show one episode per night from Monday through Friday.

But I didn’t really sit down to watch it until “Warriors’ Gate,” a story very late in the much-vaunted run of Tom Baker. That was the guy I knew. I had no clue about regeneration, different actors playing the role and so on. In those pre-internet days, I had yet to discover even the snail-mail version of Doctor Who fandom.

So when that curly-haired scarf guy turned into a younger blond guy a couple of stories later, I was pretty puzzled – but intrigued enough to keep watching. I’m glad I did.

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The young Doctor and his celery. [BBC photo]

Peter Davison played a younger, friendlier, more vulnerable version of the Time Lord. He always tried to do the right thing, but often found things going very wrong. In many ways, his Doctor is the one who hooked me on the series – and for that I’ll be forever grateful.

After Doctor Who, Peter has continued a quite strong career, and I have loved many of his roles over the years – particularly Albert Campion, Margery Allingham‘s adventurous Edwardian sleuth, alongside Brian Glover as his amusing ex-con servant Magersfontein Lugg. (I once wrote a college paper based on the Campion books, which was great fun.)

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A detective and his manservant, solving crimes and having adventures. [BBC photo]

I have also very much enjoyed his return to the role of the Doctor in the Big Finish audios. Some of the best ones have starred Peter, including Spare Parts – a brutal glimpse into the origins of the Cybermen.

Last year, Peter published his memoir Is There Life Outside The Box?: An Actor Despairs – a witty and revealing look at his own life and career. I got to talk with him about the book at November’s L.I. Who convention – along with his thoughts about Big Finish and why he thinks he’s had such a prolific career. (Turns out that it pays to be a nice guy. Shocker!)

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