Michael Troughton

Doctor Who:

‘You could have put all sorts of other people in the role and I think it would’ve sunk like a lead balloon. I think it was the devotion and the real integrity and the insight that Pat brought to the character that allowed it to carry on.’ (Michael Craze)

Enemy of the World - one of my favourite stories. Dad's ability to change from one character to the other in the studio was breath taking. He had filmed some split screen sequences in Ealing the week before transmission but they turned out to be faulty and were never used.

Dad’s final characterisation of the Doctor that secured a continuation of the series has been described as a clown or a ‘cosmic hobo’ – whatever that is? It was neither of these. Pat’s portrayal was brave, complex and departed absolutely from his predecessor. Only on the surface did he appear to be a clown, tramp, hobo, drawing on child-like qualities, dressing in scruffy clothes, playing his recorder when all around him was in chaos, delving excitedly into a bag of jelly babies and acting the fool to confuse his dangerous enemies. This was just a veneer. Concealed within and plain to see was a powerful intellect, a great thinker, a solver of puzzles, a doer of good, a wild wizard who could calmly play a hand of cards when faced with danger. Even as he delved into his seemingly bottomless pockets and withdrew with a mad flourish such useless items as gobstoppers, conkers, string, half-eaten apples or a bag of marbles, one always knew that each of these ludicrous objects would have purpose and meaning and eventually save the day. The fact that he would always leave everything until the last moment and then have to make a snap decision simply showed us the workings of an eccentric genius – this was Dad’s Doctor.


Consequently, whenever I watched my father as Doctor Who I was never really sure that he was going to be able to ‘beat that monster’ or ‘save the planet from destruction’. This in a way was more frightening than having a Doctor who was in total control of the situation like Bill Hartnell’s wise white-haired version. It was this ineffectual and indecisive characterisation of my dad’s Doctor that left me with a feeling of doubt and worry whenever he came up against a problem. I felt the need almost to shout out advice in order to help him, yell at him to run because there was a monster behind him or calmly explain a problem that confused him. This ability to draw the audience in and involve them totally within the story was a wonderful strength of my dad’s Doctor.


Michael Craze summed up Patrick’s unique qualities brilliantly,


‘By the same token that it wouldn’t have been anything without William Hartnell starting, I don’t think it could have carried on with anyone but Patrick Troughton. He was one of those actors where you knew his name, and then you thought, ‘Of course I know Patrick Troughton, who did he play?’ Pat always played characters, you’d never recognise him in the street from his roles before Doctor Who. He was well-known in the business, and then when people said, ‘Don’t you remember he was in so and so?’, you went, ‘Oh, of course he was.’ ’


To be continued...

© Michael Troughton

Adobe Muse