Doctor Who, Innovating Television: Patrick Troughton

I’m finally getting back to my promise of creating a series of portraits based on the actors who have portrayed the Doctor in this classic BBC science-fiction program. Patrick Troughton took over the role in 1966 from William Hartnell, who was there in the beginning. This was a huge thing, conceptually for a television program of any kind to attempt.

Sure, actors have replaced other actors in roles all the time. It happens on the stage regularly and people don’t really bat an eye… but there is an understood contract with the audience in play when it happens. The actor agrees to do his best to continue the role began by another and the audience agrees to ignore the change in actor and assume the character is the same as it has always been. This is far easier to do in a play, where it is a single story being played out over and over again. Serialized television, however, asks you to accept that the new stories with a different actor are still happening to the same character as before.

Some shows cannot pull off the switch. When an actor decides to leave a role, or unfortunately is taken by surprise death in real life, studios have to make a tough call as to whether to attempt to continue the role, and even the show, without that actor or write off the role, or cancel the show. Many a show has been derailed by a casting change.

But with Doctor Who, the BBC did something quite genius that hadn’t been tried before… they not only didn’t ask you to ignore the change in actor… they specifically asked you to embrace the change by acknowledging it within the show itself. Regeneration was offered as an explanation of how a Timelord could restore a failing body to new life. The old personality and facade goes away and is replaced by a new persona with all the memories and experience of the previous edition. The viewer doesn’t have to ignore anything, it’s all incorporated into the story! You get to know the new Doctor as he gets to know himself. The grandfatherly curmudgeon was thus replaced by the scheming amiable prankster, and the show marched onward.

The second actor tasked to continue the role of the Doctor was Patrick Troughton


While Hartnell is properly credited for being a huge part of the show’s early and ongoing success… Troughton is sometimes not given enough credit for establishing the template that would allow this show to endure for more than 50 years now! Patrick Troughton unquestioningly convinced you that he was both the same Doctor that always was AND an entirely new Doctor you had never before seen. His run in the role made it possible for all the other actors that followed.

Similar to my first illustration in this series, this one is in black and white as well. The TV show did not change over to color production until the third doctor (Jon Pertwee coming soon). I like the look of this style of illustration and feel like it pairs well with my previous drawing of the first Doctor.

Please let me know what you think and remember, if you’d like an original commission by me or would like to hire me as an Illustrator, please use the Contact page and let me know as much as you can about your request.

5 responses

  1. Agreed totally about the importance of Patrick Troughton in Doctor Who history. I think the reason he was underrated for so long was that many of his episodes were missing. Now that quite a few have either been re-discovered or re-created via animation it’s possible to really appreciate the amazing performance he gave as the Doctor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I still haven’t seen too many of his episodes myself. I had to sell my DVDs a while back and didn’t get to watch all of them before I did so, unfortunately… but I did watch Tomb of the Cybermen, which was one of the ones they animated lost episodes to complete. I’ve also seen him in his multi-Doctor stories since he was in three of those!


  2. Looking forward to our family’s favourite Dr Who – David Tennant. hope you don’t plan on going through the Dr Who list in chronological order!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t decided as yet. I wanted to do the first two because they were the ones who essentially made everyone else possible… and also, because I could do the spiffy black & white only illustrations, which is something I’ve been wanting to do. I thought maybe jumping to Peter Capaldi since he is current… and then randomly bouncing around after that… and hopefully not taking 50+ years to do them all 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. […] my first color illustration in my portrait series. My earlier illustrations of the first Doctor and the second Doctor were in black and white with shades of grey as a homage to how their episodes were shot and […]


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