1995: Jon Pertwee's Last Appearance As The Doctor

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Wil's always been a little devious...


In April 1995 Jon Pertwee reprised the role of the Third Doctor for the final time. Not for the BBC, nor for a TV documentary celebration or anything like that, but for a fan-made film called Devious.

Devious began production in 1991, at a time when a large number of fan-made audio, film and video productions were undertaken to keep the Doctor Who brand alive during the "wilderness years" of the show. Many of these productions featured either characters who were effectively the Doctor in all but name (such as The Stranger series with Colin Baker), or non-BBC-owned characters and monsters from the TV series that had been licensed direct from their creators (such Downtime), but none of them featured an actual Doctor playing his actual Doctor.

Set between The War Games and Spearhead From Space, Devious stars amateur actor Tony Garner as an interim incarnation of the Time Lord, or the "Second-and-a-Halfth Doctor" as he is referred to. The whole production began when it was noted that Garner looked like a cross between Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee, fueling the story idea of the Second Doctor only regenerating halfway.


Still, it's one thing to find some amateur actors, round up your mates, knock up a TARDIS console, gather some props and attempt to make a Doctor Who fan film, but an entirely different one to get a genuine bonefide Doctor involved.

It's certainly not how the project began life, with the official website stating that Devious was meant as "something only intended for our friends to see and enjoy", but after 4 years of filming and a conversation with John Nathan-Turner the Devious production team managed to secure the services of 75 year old Jon Pertwee for an afternoon of filming in a living room in Worthing.

As you do.

The story of that day is one that needs reading, and rather than just recount it here I urge you to pop over to the Devious website page 'When Jon Pertwee came to tea' where they do it extended justice. Pertwee was not in the best of health, and needed a cane to move around, but once the camera rolled he became the Third Doctor, as if he'd never left the role.


Devious includes several other cameos, including Anneke Wills reprising her role as Polly. It also features the Cybermen and the Daleks (naturally), and in a cleverly incorporated plot-line it's the Dalek's that are responsible for the characters aging, as they possess a mechanism which makes time jump around. This isn't just helpful to get around Pertwee and Wills aging, but also for the fact that, nearly 25 years after production first began, Devious is still incomplete and filming. Occasionally.

The eventual plan is that it will comprise of six 25 minute episodes, but whether they will ever see the light of day is unknown. But you can see the Pertwee sections already, as they were included as part of The War Games special edition DVD...





Not only would that 1995 filming session be Pertwee's last appearance as the Third Doctor, but it was amongst his very last acting jobs. The great man passed away just a year later.

Although incomplete Devious has quite a legacy. The TARDIS console and walls which were constructed for the fan-film, along with the Dalek props, were borrowed in 1999 for use in The Curse of Fatal Death. In 2004, the console room was borrowed for use in a four-part news report on the history of Doctor Who, and The TARDIS exterior, complete with Yale key-and-lock, has also appeared in a few retrospectives.

The biggest, and arguably the most impressive thing though is the utilisation of Pertwee's recorded material in the Big Finish 40th Anniversary production, Zagreus. What a surprise that was for many a listener. And what a great job Big Finish did with incorporating it.


The final scene of Devious is a redo of the Third Doctor's first appearance in Spearhead from Space. April 1995 Jon Pertwee was filmed coming out of the TARDIS (with a stunt double doing the fall), just as he did on January 3rd 1970. Making something of a perfect circle for his time as the dandiest of Doctors.

Images source.

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