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Heroes of Cult: Peter Davison

Often referred to as the first young ‘Doctor’ Peter Moffett was born 13/04/51 in Streatham London. He would later change his name to Davison, chosen at random, as there was already an actor director by the name of Peter Moffett.

Peter-Davison-young

Early on in life his family moved to Knaphill in Surrey. It was here where he would later join the local amateur dramatics society the ‘Byfleet Players’. He mixed acting, school and part time jobs (including a stint working in a mortuary) before leaving to join the ‘Central School of Speech & Drama’ in London.

pd vpp

On graduation he became the assistant stage manager at the ‘Nottingham Playhouse’ which would later see him move into becoming one of the resident actors.

pd tp

His break in TV came when he played ‘Elmer’ in the 1975 TV series ‘The Tomorrow People’. This had been only his second role on television and would lead to his first major role playing, opposite Jeremy Irons, ‘Tom Holland’ in the LWT series ‘Love for Lydia’.

If not for the ‘Doctor’ his next major role would probably be the one he would be best remembered for. In 1978 he landed the role of ‘Tristan Farnon’ in the new BBC series ‘All Creatures Great and Small’. Based on the true life events of Yorkshire vet ‘James Herriot’, the main reason for Davidon’s successful audition was the fact he bared a remarkable resemblance to the real ‘Tristan Farnon’.

It was during this time that Davidson also started to dabble with song writing. He would later go on to write, along with then wife actress Sandra Dickinson, the themes to the sitcom ‘Mixed Blessings’ and, more famously, the children s favourite ‘Button Moon’.

He would be offered the role of the ‘Doctor’ in 1980; his first episode aired in ‘81. He had impressed the shows producers with his performance in the TV version of ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’. Replacing the popular ‘Tom Baker’ was not an enviable task. However the producers were excited that they had landed such a high profile actor. Davison still was worried about being typecast so, on advice of his friend and former ‘Doctor’ Patrick Troughton, he only signed for three years.

A big fan of cricket Davison would choose his own costume and even managed to work the sport into a couple of episodes. He also wanted to make his ‘Doctor’ seem a little more human and sociable. In fact the biggest criticism of his tenure was that there were too many companions at once.

True to his word he would leave the show in 1984. He has since gone on to criticise some of the writing of his episodes and has stated he prefers the rebooted to classic ‘Doctor Who’. Despite this he remains popular amongst fans of the show and is a regular on the convention circuit.

He would return to the role on television twice. First for the charity ‘Doctor Who’ & ‘Eastenders’ cross over ‘Dimensions in Time’ and again, along then serving ‘Doctor’ David Tennant, for the 2007 ‘Children in Need’ special ‘Time Crash’. He has also made a number of radio and talking book episodes for ‘Big Finish’.

Since leaving ‘Doctor Who’ Davidson has rarely been out of work. He has had many high profile roles on, TV, radio and the stage; as well as the occasional film role. He would also make a small contribution to the ‘Doctor Who’ 50th anniversary by writing, directing and acting in the comedy special ‘The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot’.

Peter Davisons ‘Doctor Who’ legacy was the fact he opened up the role for a younger actor and took the show into a new decade. He was, and still is, David Tennants favourite ‘Doctor’. Tennant has always referred to him as his ‘Doctor’. So much so that Tennant would later marry Davison’s daughter actress Georgia Moffet who, had previously played Tennant’s daughter / clone ‘Jenny’, in the 2008 episode ‘The Doctors Daughter’. Only in the world of the ‘Doctor’ is something like this possible.

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

Dish of the Day – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Elmer – The Tomorrow People

Stephen Claithorne – Jonathan Creek / Ep: Danse Macabre

Gavin Purcell – Ghosts of Winterborne

Al Dunbar – The Airzone Solution

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One thought on “Heroes of Cult: Peter Davison

  1. Love the clip from “A Man for Emily”. For many years I wondered if I’d hallucinated that darn episode as I seemed to be the only one who remembered it (or The Tomorrow People in general, at least here in the States, though it had a pretty successful run during the early years on Nickelodeon).

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