Origin : Gallifrey
(Actor) Born : 7 July 1919 – 20 May 1996
Doctor Reign – 1970 – 73
The Third Doctor: “I reversed the polarity of the neutron flow!”
The Third Doctor burst onto the screens, in full techno-colour glory in January 1970 – in the season 7 opener; Spearhead from Space – 1970. (although 90% of the viewing public was still watching on black-and-white TV sets).
We were first introduced to the Third Doctor in Spearhead from Space – 1970.. The Tardis landed forcibly (at the beginning of the Doctor’s Earth exile) and the Third Doctor fell out of the door unconcious – in the midst of post-regeneration confusion.
This Doctor was very different, from his two previous incarnations. He was dapper, well turned-out, dashing and confident. This was a Doctor – unlike any previously seen – and was more like a silver-screen movie-star, than a character actor’s take.
The Third Doctor was a physical action-star and knew (Venusian) karate. This Doctor had the first “modern” sonic screwdriver – to help the Doctor, out of jams. The Doctor also owned a classic yellow classic-car called ‘Bessie’. Aswell as the grounded Tardis.
Pertwee had previously starred, in the Carry-on Series and had a long running role on the BBC Radio comedy drama; The Navy Lark. He had tread the boards, a number of times – in between various TV and film roles.
For the first three seasons, the Doctor was stuck on Earth (as part of the punishment metered out by the Timelords – in Wargames – 1969). To pass the time, the Doctor took a special advisory role – with UNIT. Many of the Third Doctor’s adventures-), were about adjusting to a new existence; without a working Tardis. It wasn’t until, The Three Doctors – 1973; that the Doctor finally regained the ability to time-travel.
The reason for ‘grounding’ the Doctor, was intended budgetry reasons but the programme ended up spending as much; if not more – as ratings soared and interest in the programme, increased.
The Doctor spent most time helping UNIT; under the command of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. At this point, Doctor Who was a ensemble piece, with a regular strong-cast of supporting characters. Including; Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Sergeant Benton, Captain Yates, Liz Shaw and Jo Grant. Although the Doctor was stuck on one “primitive planet” [Troughton quote – Wargames]. It didn’t dampen the scope, or imagination of the stories.
Barely functioning, after another regeneration – which resulted in a trip to hospital; we find out that the Doctor has two hearts. The Third Doctor acquires a companion; Liz Shaw – a UNIT scientific adviser (herself). The Third Doctor’s first outing, has the Time Lord battling the sinisterly effective shop dummys; the Auton’s and grotesque leader; The Nestene – in Spearhead from Space
He then went underground – (quite literally!) in The Silurians – to meet the ‘true’ original rulers of Earth. Doctor Who, also went all Star Trek parallel-universe; meeting the evil version of the Brigadier (with eyepatch) – in Inferno; which gave more than a nod to the Star Trek : The Original Series episode Mirror Mirror.
This Doctor, unlike previous incarnations – was not afraid to pick (and settle) a fight. This was a refreshing change, from the previous incarnations; who would attempt to disarm with wit or talk their way out of a situation.
The Third Doctor would frequently resort to karate chops to the neck to incapacitate his aggressors – or resort to sword-fencing. This gave Pertwee’s Doctor, an exciting action-edge, over his predecessors.
The Third Doctor, was no slouch in the brain department, either. It was always fun, watching Pertwee chew scenery – as he belittled a succession of stuffy government ministers and professors; who attempted to beat the Doctor – in a battle of wills.
The Third Doctor, was also joined – by arguably two of the greatest companions in Who history; Jo Grant (Terror Of The Autons) and later Sarah Jane Smith – (Time Warrior). In an age of early feminism; these were as much a step )-up in terms of juicy female characterization, as the era -would allow.
“…Obviously the Time Lords have programmed the TARDIS always to return to Earth. It seems that I’m some sort of galactic yo-yo!” The Doctor – Claws Of Axos
Another inspired element, which added to mix – was the introduction of the antagonisy character; ‘The Master’ – in Terror Of The Autons. The Moriarty-style antypothesis, of the Doctor; brilliantly played – by Roger Delgado.
The Master, was the next step-up from the Time Meddler; being a fellow Time Lord and in every way the Doctor’s intellectual equal – and a dangerous opponent. The Master had a working Tardisp, with a functioning Chameleon circut (it could change shape – unlike the Doctors). The Master, came to be quite the thorn – in the Doctor’s side, appearing in every episode of season 8; perpetrating various nefarious schemes.
Other Master highlights, included;- Terror Of The Auton’s, The Claws of Axos & Daemons. The Master, also appeared in – The Sea Devils but this serial was definitely stolen – by the titular monsters.
The Master’s last Pertwee era appearance – (as played by Roger Delgado) was Frontier In Space. Sadly, Delgado passed away and the Master character would not appear again; until well into Tom Baker’s – Fourth Doctor era.
The Daleks made notable reappearances in – Day Of The Daleks, Planet Of The Daleks & Death To The Daleks, was to reintroduce the familiar Dalek infiltration and control of a future Earth society. Also included, an interesting subplot of a group of freedom-fighters, being locked in a ‘temporal causal time paradox’. By going back in time and assassinating a notable figure (the freedom-fighters believed they would change the future) but they were infact, perpetuating the future – that they were trying to change.
The Doctor worked out that this was the problem, went back in time and stopped the loop from continuing. This idea of a time-paradox was interesting but bizarrely, for a show about time-travel was not repeated – in the classic era.
The Cybermen were strangely missing from Pertwee’s tenure (fleeting cameo in Carnival Of Monsters ) but with so many other new villians created – during the era; including the Sontarans (Time Warrior), The Master, Silurians and Sea Devils. It wasn’t like the Cybermen, were desperately missed.
The standout serial of the Third Doctor’s reign was the 10th anniversary; The Three Doctors. Featuring, the return of William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton – as Doctor’s one and two; alongside Pertwee’s – number three.
All three, had great chemistry and each of their scenes together were a joy, as they bickered and squabbled. Due to his deteriorating health, Hartnell’s role was cut back to a small cameo, coming in to set Doctor’s Two & Three – straight; when their arguments were getting out of hand – or they were stuck.
This serial is also notable, as the Third Doctor finally won back the right to time-travel, again; by helping out the Time Lords. Their reward was to gove the Doctor a new ‘time de-materialization’ circuit.
The Doctor went all ‘green’, literally – in The Green Death, fighting off the disgusting green giant maggots – caused by human pollution; which was a deliberate nod to early environmental concerns (in a clever nod – to a non-alien Earth monster episode).
The Doctor’s final serial – Planet Of The Spiders, had the Doctor’s past catching up; as a rare blue crystal “borrowed” from Metabelis 3, was liberated and returned to the indigenous race of giant spiders (known as “8-leggeds”); who were using the crystal to become all powerful. During a skirmish with the 8-leggeds, the Doctor sustained a lethal dose of radiation and upon returning to earth, collapsed on the floor at Unit – and promptly regenerated (with help from an old Time Lord friend).
Interestingly though, this was the first time in Doctor Who; history, that the term “regeneration” – is actually used.
“A tear, Sarah Jane? No, don’t cry. While there’s life, theres…..” Third Doctor’s – last words
The thing that instantly stands out – about Pertwee’s time overall, is the change of the show’s tone. Out went the slow dramatic tension and deliberate buildup – and in came action, fun – and chase sequences.
The show took quite bold liberties with the show’s formula by effectively grounding a time-travelling alien – on Earth. It didn’t suffer from this hampering and infact, went on – to be more popular than ever!
This was personified, by Pertwee himself, who played the most action-orientated Doctor – to date. All in all – a golden era in the history of the programme was begun.
Season Seven – 1970
Season Eight – 1971
Season Nine – 1972
Season Ten – 1972-1973
Season Eleven – 1973 – 1974
Season Twenty – 1983
The Five Doctors⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐