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Heroes of Cult: Patrick Troughton

Patrick Troughton was a well renowned versatile actor, decorated war hero, one time Robin Hood and, of course, the second Doctor.

Born in Mill Hill Middlesex on the 25/03/1920 he was the middle child of three. His father George was a solicitor his mother Dorothy a housewife.


He started acting in his local school plays and soon developed a love for it. He also showed a flair for performing and this lead to his parents paying for him to attend the Embassy School of Acting in Swiss Cottage Camden.


His continuing success and development at the Embassy School lead to him being given a scholarship to the John Drew Memorial Theatre Long Island New York. It was here he really developed his art and started to make a name for himself within the New York theatre community.

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His career was interrupted by the outbreak of World War Two. Feeling a sense of duty towards the land of his birth Patrick set out to return to the UK. Whist crossing the Atlantic the ship he was travelling on was attacked and sunk by a German U-Boat. Patrick, along with most of the passengers and crew, escaped via lifeboats. On his return to the UK he signed up and became an officer in the Royal Navy.

Patrick spent most of the war as a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy and was both decorated and mentioned in despatches for bravery numerous times. He was best remembered, by his comrades, for always wearing a tea cosy on his head to keep out the cold.

After the war he resurrected his actor career by appearing in a number plays in small theatres around London. This would eventually lead to him appearing in his first film. A small role in the film Escape which starred none other than William Hartnell.

More film and TV work followed but, his big break came when he became the first actor ever to play Robin Hood in a TV series. The show, simply named Robin Hood, was a hit and Patrick was critically acclaimed. He continued to appear in larger roles on both film and TV until in 1966 he was offered the role as the second Doctor.

He had already turned down a previous role, Jonny Ringo, in the Doctor Who story The Gunfighter. He was also not so keen to take the lead role within the show. He agreed to meet with the shows producers and worked on developing the character, with co-creator Sydney Newman, eventually turning him into a space hobo. William Hartnell approved of his replacement saying ’There’s only one man in England who can take over, and that’s Patrick Troughton’.


Patricks version of the Doctor was more humorous and added a little more action. He played the role until 1969. He left as he found the schedule gruelling and was worried, as many of the actors who played the role in the future were, of being typecast.

His career after Doctor Who was very successful. He continued with some major roles and appearances on both the small and large screen. One of his notable post Doctor roles was as Father Brennan in The Omen. It was in this role he also gave the world of horror films one of its most memorable deaths.

He would also appear, as the Doctor, in three more Doctor Who stories. The Three Doctors, The Five Doctors and The Two Doctors which, is remembered and one of Colin Bakers better episodes.

Patrick died, at the hotel he was staying in, of a heart attack three days after his birthday in 1987. He was attending a three day sci-fi convention at the time. Presenting some old episodes of his time as the Doctor. He had also spent hours meeting fans and signing autographs.

He was the first regeneration of the Doctor and it was down to his skill and his determination not to copy Hartnells interpretation that the character lives on. Instantly the audience has accepted that this was still the Doctor. Different face, voice and personality but, still the same character. This laid the foundation which has allowed the show to continue for over fifty years.

Recommended films and TV appearances (outside of Doctor Who):-

Phineas – Jason & the Argonauts

Robin Hood – Robin Hood

Farther Brennan – The Omen

Arthur – Knights of God

Cole Hawlings – The Box of Delights

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