Doctor Who: The “Other” Doctors – JON CULSHAW

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Chris Morley finds a Dead Ringer for Who...

In consideration of those who've graced us with non-canonical Doctors in various mediums, what of a man who found great success in impersonating the real deal? Jon Culshaw's spot-on rendering of Tom Baker's distinctive tones was for many the centrepiece of both the radio & television series of Dead Ringers. As a fan himself he was only too happy to poke a little gentle fun at Doctor Who.

The 2001 series Alter Ego gave Culshaw the chance to interview the real Tom while in character as Baker's Doctor, in a display of extreme comic surrealism!

He'd also spoken to the man he so accurately sent up in prank phone calls for Dead Ringers before adding Peter Davison, Colin Baker & Sylvester McCoy to his list.....

A talent which has now been appropriated for audio readings of Fourth Doctor era stories - you can hear him narrating the likes of The Ark In Space, his next project is a similar take on Death To The Daleks. BBC Audio were understandably delighted to secure his services! Commissioning editor Michael Stevens said,
 “Jon is of course famous for his uncannily accurate impression of Tom Baker as the Doctor, and so he’ll be bringing his aptitude for the Doctor to book! Jon is also a keen fan of the programme himself, and has been delighted to immerse himself in the adventure on Terra Nova, as Nerva Beacon is renamed in the book.”

Listeners to The Kingmaker, a Fifth Doctor audio, would also have heard him give voice to the man in the cricket gear's previous self, when the Fifth Doctor listens to the Fourth Doctor's dictated notes for the incomplete (and fictional) work "Doctor Who Discovers Historical Mysteries". Jon also appears in the Big Finish production in another role as Earl Rivers.

Purely as a fan, he would present The Doctor & Douglas for Radio Four, a look back at the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy author's time as script editor for Season Seventeen. And when UK Gold ran a retrospective leading up to the 1996 TV Movie, guess who was among the contributors singing the praises of Tom Baker's seven years in the TARDIS, also popping up to reminisce over his childhood Doctor, Jon Pertwee? Casting his eye back over the Pertwee years, Culshaw would say,
"I loved feeling genuinely very scared but at the same time he could fix it. You could be terrified but knew the Doctor knew exactly what to do."
And since its return in 2005 he's had plenty of fun at its expense, adding Tenth Doctor David Tennant into his repertoire - Tennant would also appear as a regenerated Tony Blair during an episode of Dead Ringers...

His first line as Blair's new incarnation mirrors his own having emerged as the latest product of the handy Time Lord way of cheating death at the end of The Parting Of The Ways, but with "Labour" a replacement for "teeth".
"Hello. Okay. Ooo, new teeth. That's weird."
As the Fourth, Jon would also visit the London Eye to the bemusement of tourists, a location that would of course feature during the Ninth Doctor's debut story, Rose. Like the Fourth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston's Ninth has not escaped the Dead Ringers treatment. In a Christmas 2005 sketch he was impersonated by Phil Cornwell, alongside Mark Perry as Patrick Troughton's Second, Kevin Connelly's take on Sylvester McCoy's Seventh Doctor and Culshaw as host the Tenth & guest the Fourth...

Cornwell would also star in a sketch in which it appears Eccleston's comedically Northern working class family are disappointed in him for taking the role of the Doctor as they're dyed in the wool Star Trek fans, before taking a cameo role in Doctor Who itself. He popped up in The Fires Of Pompeii as a stallholder. You'll remember that he was the one who sold the TARDIS to Caecilius?

Maybe that's why he had to go shopping for a new one?

The man of many faces as impersonated by the man of many voices.

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