Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Peter Davison Discusses DOCTOR WHO's 50th Anniversary

To days to come...

In a new Q&A interview with The Independent at this past weekend's Sci-Fi Weekender convention in North Wales, actor and Fifth Doctor Peter Davison was asked about the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who and how the series still factors into his everyday life.

On the enduring appeal of Doctor Who, Davison remarked, "Well, there are several enduring appeals really.  I think one is that science fiction has itself a very strong appeal because it’s almost limitless in its imagination.  It can be doing all sorts of different stories.  It can be doing a period story, a futuristic story, an alien invasion story, a story on other planets, and I think that appeals to those younger people with imagination.  I think they’re drawn to it.  It helps of course that we’ve managed to have several actors play one part, unlikely we could have got one to go on for 50 years.  I was probably the first Doctor who grew up watching Doctor Who.  Although he’s from another planet, it’s a strangely British character."

With the 50th anniversary special about to begin filming, Davison was also asked how he will be marking the anniversary.  "I suppose I’m attending some functions like this," he replied.  "I’m involved in some Big Finish 50th anniversary specials.  Apart from that I don’t know.  I do have a meeting with the producer of Doctor Who just to talk about events, things at Bafta.  There’s a big celebration on the weekend when the series went out originally which strangely falls on the same weekend, that’s as far as I know."

Davison's son-in-law David Tennant was also the Tenth Doctor, so he was asked if they discuss Doctor Who often.  "Doctor Who features quite highly in what we talk about but usually our experiences with it and whatever happens to be going on now.  Both our children – he’s got a son Ty, I’ve got two boys 11 and 13, but they all love Doctor Who."

Freema Agyeman, who played David Tennants companion Martha Jones on Doctor Who, was on Law & Order: U.K. with Davison.  Did they talk about Doctor Who?  "That was weird, we did.  It almost becomes like a little family, the whole Doctor Who thing even if you’ve never worked with them and I hadn’t worked with Freema before that but I’d met her at various functions.  It’s just very nice."

Asked if there was any apprehension when he first took on the role of the Fifth Doctor, Davison responded, "Yes, there was apprehension from two points of view.  One is that I grew up watching it and it’s very weird to be offered a part that you’ve been watching as a fan.  I felt young, the original Doctors were quite old and in my head that was a fixed thing, so I thought ‘Am I too young?’  And then of course, it is a large responsibility, a heavy responsibility in a way to do that part because it is an important character for a lot of children.  But it’s not really a children’s programme.  So, it’s almost like a father figure.  I felt the responsibility of taking that on.  So, it took me a few days to say yes.  But I kind of knew in my heart that I would."

Naturally, the subject of the Fifth Doctor costume's creation and the celery adorning the lapel was brought up.  "Well, I had the idea that it should be based around a cricketing outfit," said Davison.  "My idea was then taken away and developed by the costume designer into something that was actually very comfortable to wear.  I love it but it really wasn’t based on a cricketing outfit by the time they finished with it apart from the cricket jumper and slightly stripey trousers.  The celery was a thing suggested by the producer and my only proviso was that it would be explained before I left the series.  We got the very last episode and I remembered that they hadn’t explained it.  So they inserted something into the last story to the effect that the Doctor was allergic – would have a fatal reaction to a certain gas in the Praxis range – and the celery is an antidote.  In fact when the gas is present it will turn purple and then if I eat the celery I will be saved."

And how did Davison feel when he heard the show was being brought back in 2005?  "I always thought it would come back because it seemed to me like it had lost its way a bit I think, as things do after that amount of time.  It got a bit tired in certain areas and I think it lost its focus – that’s the main thing.  When I heard it was coming back under the auspices of Russell T. Davies, I thought that it was just in good hands.  I knew he was a big Doctor Who fan and I know he’s a brilliant writer.  It seems to me where it has its advantages now over the classic series is that it’s being written by all those people who grew up watching it.  It’s Russell T. Davies first of all, then Steven Moffat the producer, Mark Gatiss who is a big Doctor Who fan and they’re fantastic writers and they’re all writing marvellous stories.  Of course David, who was a big fan of the series growing up becomes the Doctor and so now it’s really being run by the people who were the fans."

Asked if he watches the new series with current Doctor Matt Smith, Davison replied, "I do watch the new series, yes, because my children watch it and I love watching it.  I’ve got to that age now.  Douglas Adams who was a script editor on Doctor Who once said to me ‘The trick about Doctor Who is making it simple enough for the adults to understand and complicated enough to hold the children’s attention.'  And I think I’m now getting to that point where I think I’ve moved into the older bracket, obviously I have, but in brain as well because I do find myself turning to my children saying ‘What’s going on?  What?  Can you explain that?’ They go ‘Oh, Dad, what’s happened is his…’  So, I’m now in that bracket which has to be simple for dad to understand."


  1. I grew up watching Davison as the Doctor. Had the biggest crush on him! I love that it's still part of his life and he's very thoughtful when he talks about it.

    1. The Peter Davison era was my foundation as a Whovian, so I definitely consider him "My" Doctor. I was thrilled when he returned for the "Time Crash" mini-episode a few years ago and I'm still holding out hope that he'll return for the 50th anniversary special somehow. If nothing else, at least he still does Fifth Doctor audio adventures for Big Finish.