DOCTOR WHO - Companion Pieces - HARRY SULLIVAN - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Christopher Morley pays tribute to the Fourth Doctor's companion Harry Sullivan, as played by Ian Marter.

June 1974 would herald the beginning of one of the best-loved eras of Doctor Who's history- the coming of the Fourth Doctor! Joining the new, scarf-clad incarnation of the Time Lord & his regular companion Sarah-Jane Smith for the entirety of Season 12 & two stories of 13 was Harry Sullivan ( as played by the late Ian Marter)- the Navy medical officer seconded to UNIT called in to assess the Doctor's physical state in the immediate aftermath of his regeneration.

He quickly learns the eccentricities of his patient, & while the Brigadier may not have any immediate cause to worry about the Brontosaurus...
'I tell you, Brigadier, there's nothing to worry about! The Brontosarus is large and placid! And stupid! If the square on the hypotenuse equals the sum of the square on the other two sides, why is a mouse when it spins? Never did know the answer to that one.'
...Sullivan would soon be left in no doubt as to who was boss...
'You may be a doctor. But I'm the Doctor. The definite article, you might say.'
Proving quite the counter-argument to Harry's assertion of his own medical qualifications...
'No, Doctor, I'm the doctor, and I say you're not fit!'

He was taken on as the third member of the newest TARDIS team, & quickly found himself aboard
The Ark In Space. Messing about with the helmic regulator aside, he quickly proves his mettle by turning skills honed on Earth towards helping the colonists of the Nerva Beacon against the Wirrn. Next came The Sontaran Experiment, the shortest story of Who's entire Seventies run at two episodes long. Notable for entirely different reasons was the following week's Genesis Of The Daleks!. A regular chart topper in ' best episode of all time' polls, its retrospectively acknowledged as a first strike of the Time War as first mentioned in Series One of New-Who, with the Doctor facing the mother of all ethical quandaries as he dithers over whether or not to destroy his greatest foes at the point of their creation...

'Do I have the right? Simply touch one wire against the other, and it's it? The Daleks cease to exist? Hundreds of millions of people, thousands of generations, can live without fear, in peace, and never even know the word "Dalek"?'
Time to jump from one classic enemy to another for Revenge Of The Cybermen! A penultimate outing for Harry as a regular member of the good ship ' Sexy', it was also a return to the Nerva Beacon as well as a last appearance as regular villains for the men from Mondas ( at least until Earthshock) & the uncredited Who musical d├ębut for Peter Howell, who was asked by producer Philip Hinchcliffe to add to/embellish the original score by Carey Blyton. Thus concluded the Fourth Doctor's introduction- he would of course go on to become a popular figurehead. No less than Steven Moffatt himself would conclude that ' most people are going to remember the one with the scarf'.

Going into Season 12, Harry would depart at the conclusion of Terror Of The Zygons
before making a surprise return for The Android Invasion, with Marter playing both Harry & his duplicate.

But although he was best known for portraying Sullivan, Ian had also previously played John Andrews in Carnival Of Monsters. He would go on to enjoy a second career as a writer of Target novelizations of several ' classic Who' stories.

Beginning in 1977, he'd start by penning Doctor Who & The Ark In Space. The following year he'd add Doctor Who & The Sontaran Experiment to his portfolio, with 1979 bringing Doctor Who & The Ribos Operation. Then in 1981 he got to work on Doctor Who & The Enemy Of The World, another year passing before he got going on Earthshock. Next up wasThe Dominators. Continuing with the Second Doctor, The Invasion followed in 1985, as he kept up a rate of roughly a novel a year.
Come 1987 he was posthumously working backwards! The Reign Of Terror was his first attempt at tackling the First Doctor. His second would be his last such effort- 1988's TheRescue. Sadly Marter died of a heart attack just weeks after publishing Harry Sullivan's War, which expanded on his best-known character's back-story...

Set ten years after Harry's left UNIT well behind, it sees him trying to get to the bottom of murky events which have seen an attempt made on his life. Published in September 1986, it reinforces many of the changes made to Doctor Who in the post-Tom Baker era- the Brigadier features, having retired from UNIT duty to teach Maths, as does Sarah-Jane.

Had things panned out differently we might remember Ian as Captain Mike Yates! He auditioned for the role which would eventually go to Richard Franklin in 1971, & while he didn't get that part he was placed on file by the production team & given a call two years later for the role of John Andrews.

He'd graduated from Oxford in 1969, becoming a stage manager at the Bristol Old Vic as well as starting out on the road towards acting- topping up his meagre wages in that regard with second jobs as a milkman & then a teacher. 

His casting as Harry Sullivan was based in part on the idea that the Fourth Doctor could be played by an older actor who would be unable to take on the physical demands of the sort of action sequences Jon Pertwee had specialised in. Tom Baker's acceptance of the role changed all that, & so Harry was phased out after just one series. What a series it was, though, eh? Please do have a jelly baby.........

Previous Companion Pieces 
Jamie McCrimmon
Victoria Waterfield
Rory Williams
Clara Oswald
Evelyn Smythe

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