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"Insight into the enigma"
on 30 January 2013
Patrick Troughton was always a bit of an enigma. He did give interviews especially toward the end of his life, but would usually tell anecdotes speaking about the making of Dr Who and not about himself. Well now, we can all learn a great deal more.
Michael Troughton is able to fill us in on Patrick Troughton's childhood and the road that lead him to acting. There are insights based on memories of conversations with his mother, (Patrick T's 1st wife), other family membersand the man himself plus contributions from his brother ( from the "2nd family") and notes from his own diaries plus letters from and to his father and the man's diary entries.
This gives us many interesting glimpses into the real man e.g MIchael's mother believed he was compelled to act, never did it because simply he needed to and was never happy doing anything else
Similar to Jessica Carney's biography of her grandfather William Hartnell the highly recommended "Who's There?" (#1), Michael has portrayed his father warts and all. he details the complex relationships that resulted from Patrick T having a 2nd family who he lived with, while still married to Michael's mother. There are explanations given as to why Michael believes this happened (a theatrical season in America may have led him to consider he married too young) and the balance of the still many postive attributes of the man. It's a bittersweet portrayal because while he emerges as a man who did treat women in his life very badly, he could still clearly be a very likeable person.
The main meat of the book is of course his acting career and the main course there is Dr Who. But you won't want to miss out on information about a courageous war record as well.
Michael's research into the career of his father is 1st rate. There is a lot of inforation about things long lost from the archives or never recorded in the 1st place. Examples include;
A 1st brush with sci-fi in a live BBC adaptation of the famous play RUR in 1948(#2). We get reviews from the paper and memories of his 1st wife watching on an early television set.
His performance as Quilp in The Old Curiosity Shop (reported by some as his favourite role) where we learn he did a Lon Chaney and put himself through discomfort to get the look right.
The inside view on his time as Dr Who fears of typecasting, dissatisfaction when stories were poor, delight when they went well and his affection for his co-stars are rivetting. He was reluctant to do a 3rd year and later regretted it.
He had concerns about returning for the Three Doctors but was encouraged to "ask about the fee first" and had endless amusement at Jon Pertwee losing his temper at poor props for The Five Doctors. His attitude to the Doctor following that 1st return was to keep his portrayal somewhere safe in case it was needed again.
We round off with how he was won round to the convention circuit and found he quite enjoyed it.
If you enjoyed "Who's There"and/or are a big fan of Patrick Troughton's work then this is definitely for you.
#1 How about a 50th Anniversary of Who new edition Miss Carney?
#2 Michael Troughton says this may be the 1st SF television programme, sadly not. 10 years earlier (1938) the BBC did an earlier adaptation of RUR but it's an understandable mistake particularly as it had the same director as the '48 one-Jan Bussell.