Christopher Morley pays tribute to the Second Doctor's companion, Jamie McCrimmon.
Today, September 22nd is Frazer Hines birthday, which is the perfect opportunity for us to pay tribute to his long and invaluable contribution to Doctor Who. It might come as a surprise to many of you, but amazingly, given his role as Jamie McCrimmon alongside Patrick Troughton's Second Doctor, he isn't actually a Scot!
The Yorkshireman first appeared in The Highlanders, following Troughton's first full outing as Doctor Two in The Power Of The Daleks. McCrimmon is first seen as a piper among a band of Jacobite Scots & welcomed aboard the TARDIS in exchange for giving the Doctor a few bagpipe lessons.
While we never saw him actually display any skill on the Scotsman's instrument of choice, what he did give the Doctor was something akin to a ' best friend'. Staying at his side until the Second's swansong in The War Games, & returning alongside him in The Five/Two Doctors specials...
Hines still holds the record as the longest-serving male companion in the history of the series (and could have stayed longer had his idea of Jamie subsequently staying on to travel with the Sixth Doctor & Peri Brown been seriously considered).
It's testament to Pat & Frazer that their Doctor-companion pairing is so well remembered. Both had difficult jobs in that Troughton had got the nod to replace William Hartnell's First Doctor...
...while Hines would eventually serve as substitute for Michael Craze's Ben Jackson & Anneke Wills's Polly Wright after their departures in The Faceless Ones, who'd seen him as a sort of surrogate younger brother.
He'd also outlast Victoria Waterfield (Deborah Watling, whose tenure alongside the dream team of Two & Jamie lasted from The Evil Of The Daleks- Fury From The Deep), with whom he'd enjoyed a close, almost brotherly bond. (Before she went, though, she did at least get the chance to perform alongside her father Jack, who played Professor Travers in The Abominable Snowmen & The Web Of Fear). After her came Zoe Heriot (Wendy Padbury), with whom Jamie served from The Wheel In Space-The War Games.
After 117 episodes of Who, Frazer Hines retired to the countryside, sort of. As from 1972-94 he was a regular on Emmerdale, playing farmer Joe Sugden- yes, really! And as part of his research for the part he gamely learned to milk cows & dip sheep. Surreal, yes. But also quite true. Take a look at this if you still don't believe it!
In November of 2007 he donned the kilt once more & returned to the Who family to voice Jamie in a new series of Big Finish Companion Chronicles audio dramas (starting with Helicon Prime).
But that wasn't the only string to his bow. He also displayed a rather brilliant ability to mimic his late & much-missed old mate Pat, enabling these new adventures to feature both the Second Doctor & his faithful Caledonian friend. If you've heard the 50th anniversary celebration The Light At The End, you'll have actually been listening to two companions also portraying their Doctors- William Russell stepping in for William Hartnell & Hines doubling for Troughton.
Of course he's a presence on the fan convention scene as well, offering a first-hand account of a well-remembered era of the ' classic' series made otherwise near impossible thanks to the BBC wiping the majority of the broadcast episodes..gah!
Here he is talking about his friendship with the great Beatle-cut admirer & recorder fan.
Of course, his was among the first reactions sought following the unearthing of The Enemy Of The World & The Web Of Fear in Nigeria two years ago. Quite rightly he was involved in the 50th anniversary celebrations, too- if the Second Doctor & friends hadn't been such a success following that first 'renewal' there might have been a very real chance of the programme itself ending with Bill Hartnell's exit.
But happily, end it did not, & Jamie is still held in warm regard as is Two- both held in great esteem with good reason. Their camaraderie also extends into the various Who literary ranges. Where the Doctor goes, Jamie follows, even into what might be termed the real-world Land Of Fiction between the pages of books! But having mentioned the Land, why does he look different for part of The Mind Robber?
The famous ' rearranging Jamie's face' sequence was necessitated after Frazer caught a nasty bout of chicken pox, forcing him to miss episodes two & three. He wasn't the only Hines on set either, as his brother Ian was one of the Clockwork Soldiers! He'd also made an uncredited cameo as a guard in The Enemy Of The World. So the Hines contribution to proceedings goes beyond what's more widely reported.......
He could have had a vastly different initial departure but for the expansion of The War Games, too. A story named The Laird Of McCrimmon was pitched by Mervyn Haisman & Henry Lincoln, which would have seen Jamie taking the TARDIS back to his Scottish ancestral seat at some point after the Battle of Culloden & taking over as laird after the current incumbent dies. The Great Intelligence would be on the scene too, seeking to possess the poor old piper helped by its Yeti once more. With talk of a love interest in the form of Fiona, a local girl, who knows how McCrimmon's life might have turned out?
We'll never know, lads & lasses. Ultimately what curtailed the whole thing was a dispute between the co-writers, as well as a wider row over copyright with the BBC. Further intrigue surrounds his travels with Two in their Season 6B adventures- how does he appear to know about the Time Lords in The Two Doctors when his mind was apparently wiped in The War Games? And how does the Second Doctor know that both Jamie & Zoe had that done to them in The Five Doctors? That's saying nothing of 'why is the Doctor seemingly going along with the lie that Victoria is away studying graphology'?
The novels World Game & Players could be said to be the beginnings of the Doctor's service as a Celestial Intervention Agent, as part of which he regains Jamie as a companion & gets a new TARDIS with police box exterior ( though going by The Two Doctors, the interior of the Type 97 model is vastly different from Two's preferred Type 40). But of course his CIA service would naturally end, meaning a new face for him & a return to Scotland for Jamie........
Happy Birthday Frazer Hines. And thanks for all the Who!