Dr Who – Patrick Troughton – the Second Doctor

Patrick Troughton


"There's only one man in England who can take over, and that's Patrick Troughton"

were the words of William Hartnell, when he gave over the mantle of Dr Who to his successor!


Patrick Troughton was the second doctor, he played the role from 1966 to 1969, his style was completely different to that of William Hartnell, and Hartnell's departure and Troughton's new style marked the way all doctors would be, i.e. each played the doctor in his own way!

Troughton who died in March 1987 aged just 67, was born on 25 March 1925 in Mill Hill, Middlesex; a place he was to continue living for most of his life. Wanting to be an actor from a young age, Troughton attended the Embassy School of Acting at Swiss Cottage, London, he then went on to win a scholarship to the Leighton Rallius Studios at the John Drew Memorial Theatre on Long Island in New York!

Patrick TroughtonBefore and after Dr Who, Troughton was actor always working, his first role on television (he did appear on the stage, and in films but TV acting was what he loved), was in 1947 playing Horatio in a TV film of Hamlet, and his final acting role was in 1987 playing Arthur in the TV series, Knights of God (although this was filmed some two years earlier); and between that time he appeared in many many TV series and films, and, in 1952, he was the first man to play Robin Hood on our TV screens! Some of his other credits include: Escape (1948), The Woman with No Name (1950), The Franchse Affair (1951), Kidnapped (1952), The Black Knight (1954), The Scarlett Pimpernel (1956), The Count of Monte Cristo (1956), The Moonraker (1958), The Cabin in the Clearing (1959), Danger Man (1961), Wuthering Heights (1962), The Old Curiosity Shop (1962/3), Smugglers Bay (1964), A Tale of Two Cities (1966), Dr Finlay's Casebook (1962-70), A Family at War (1970-72), Little Woman (1971), Hawkye (1973), Z-Cars (1975), Warship (1976), The Omen (1976) Lorna Doon (1977), Treasure Island (1977), Edward and Mrs Simpton (1978), Bogner (1981), Nanny (1981/82), Kings Royal (1982/83), The Box of Delights (1984), The Two of Us (1987), Super Gran (1987). Troughton was, like many of his contemporaries prolific in the amount of roles he was able to take on, I have not included anywhere near even half of the list. Television was a different world and character actors who would take on roles whether large or small, starring or supporting, were able to work consistently.

Patrick Troughton

Troughton took on the part of Dr Who in 1966, Doctor Who creator Sydney Newman had suggested that the Doctor could be a "cosmic hobo" very much in the mould of Charlie Chaplin, and this was the interpretation that Troughton, after much consideration chose. Troughton was a popular Doctor, and the first one whose face showed in the title credits. He played the Doctor in all for 127 episodes, being the only Doctor who 'came back' three more times, briefly playing the Doctor again in 1973, 1983 and 1985. Some of the most memorable episodes were in 1967/68 where he played both the Doctor and his arch enemy Salamander in The Enemy of the World. His trademark was a recorder, which he would tootle on in times of stress, and it was actually Troughton’s own. It was during Troughton's tenure that we learned Doctor was a Time Lord – a race of powerful beings who observed the Universe.

Troughton was generally accepted to a friendly and professional actor to work with, all of the cast and crew of Dr Who at the time enjoying having him in theleading role.

Giving very few interviews, during his time as the Doctor, he did embrace the world of conventions and it was in 1987 (just two days after his 67th birthday) having travelled to the USA, to attend the Magnum Opus Con II science fiction convention in Columbus, Georgia, that he suffered a third and fatal heart attack. Troughton's health had not been good some time and despite doctors warnings for him to take it easy, he continued a busy schedule of work. Troughton died instantly from a massive heart attack at 7.25 am in his hotel, after ordering breakfast.

The second Doctor brought a new dimension to the role, and will always be remembered for the craft he brought to the role, and his personality off screen.

Interesting facts:

  • Troughton was the first actor who left a role in order to avoid being typecast, and in the acting world, doing that same thing became known as “Doing a Troughton”.
  • He has three grandsons, two of which have carried on the acting line – Sam Troughton who starred in the BBC production of Robin Hood in 2006/09 and who most recently appeared in another BBC Series, The Town, and Harry Melling who starred as Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter films. Sam's younger brother Jamie is a Cricketer, who Captains Warwickshire and has played for the England One Day International Team.


Link HERE to read the first in our Dr Who articles; about the very first – William Hartnell.


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