Sunday, July 7, 2013

Jon Pertwee-A Portrait Of An Actor As A Timelord

                                 They say a timelord is immortal-not dying but regenerating,living forever barring accident. Such a thing is not true however of human beings. If he had lived to today,this would've been the 94th birthday of Jon Pertwee. Born in 1919 and passing in 1996,just as Doctor Who made a noble if aborted comeback probably no other actor made more significant contributions to the character of the doctor than Pertwee. His era in the program bought Doctor Who into the world of color television. We also learned the name of his home world,and a good deal about the personal life of the doctor as well. He became less of a mystery yet more of an enigma. This doctor was a "act first,worry later" type of secret agent  figure-with a love for gadgets rivaling only that of 007 himself. He was also a good listener,compassionate,arrogant,dashing and very wise. Pertwee made the doctor into an extremely complex individual. In this case,much related from the actor to the character.

                     Coming from a venerable acting family,Pertwee had youth very ingratiating to someone who would one day play this extra terrestrial time lord who,fundamentally was an anti bullying figure. While at boarding school he himself was a victim of bullying-both from headmasters and other students. Even during drama he was thrown out of many productions. During his time in the Royal Navy he developed his love for gadgets of all sorts that stayed with him the rest of his life. After a long period of acting primarily in children's comic roles he was offered two very significant roles in his native UK-Dad's Army and of course Doctor Who. He chose the latter. And as it turned out this was one of the best decisions of his life. He became very deeply involved in the show-having a great deal of say in the production and casting choices-especially when it came to his leading ladies. He was particularly keen in literally giving the okay to actress Elizabeth Sladen for the role of Sarah Jane Smith in 1973.

                    There are many things I could say about Jon Pertwee. But in my only year and half exposure to Doctor Who he is one of the actors portraying this character whom I have much admiration for. He was primarily a good man who made no qualms about his advocacy of the same types of values the doctor stood for. He probably bought more of himself to the role than either of his two predecessors had-paving the way for actors heavily personalizing their portrayals of the doctor. In many ways he was a non conformist who worked within the rather rigid establishment of early 70's BBC. During his time in the program Doctor Who directly tackled many real life social issues-especially that of nuclear arms race, ecology and feminism.  This was helped by having the doctor largely marooned on Earth during Pertwee's first two series' of the program-surrounded by the well meaning but military based UNIT family. So to the family of this compelling man,in particular his actor son Sean,I hope every Whovian the world (and worlds) over is celebrating the anniversary of this compelling individuals birthday. 

-The following is a video I made in tribute to the late Mr.Pertwee and the incarnation of the doctor he portrayed.
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