William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker are all about to appear in the Doctor Who spin-off show, The Sarah Jane Adventures.
All four actors are previous incarnations of the Doctor, who is currently played by Matt Smith, 27. Three of them – Hartnell, Troughton and Pertwee, the first, second and third Doctors, respectively – died some years ago, but will be seen in the story via video footage taken from old episodes of Doctor Who, as will, Baker, 76, who recently reprised the fourth Doctor role he left nearly 30 years ago, in a series of BBC audio plays written by Paul Magrs.
It’s all part of an adventure that sees two of the Doctor’s former companions – Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) and Jo Grant (Katy Manning) – invited to his funeral. However, all is not what it seems and
The story is written by Russell T Davies (Torchwood), who was Doctor Who’s showrunner until handing over the reins to Steven Moffat (Sherlock). Davies turned down an earlier offer from his successor to write for Doctor Who so soon after leaving the show, but then jumped at the chance to write the eleventh Doctor into episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures, which he still oversees.
Moffat is pleased at the writer’s change of heart, but joked to the Daily Star: “Typical. We invite Russell back and he tries to kill off the Doctor.”
Though both Sladen and Manning were companions to Pertwee’s third Doctor, Sladen first entered the TARDIS after Manning had left and, until this story, the pair have never actually appeared together in the Doctor Who universe. The pair are, however, happy to be working together at last, and pleased to be working with both Smith and Davies. Sladen told the Daily Star: “Uniting the past and present is a real homage to Doctor Who.”
Meanwhile, Manning told TV Choice:
[Smith’s] physicality is one of the most extraordinary things I have seen. I think it’s wonderful and so appropriate, so creative with this new Doctor.
I mean look at the acts this young boy’s had to follow! It isn’t easy and I think he has done a miraculous job, from the moment I saw him.
[Pertwee] would be thrilled.Death of Doctor Who
As well as old Doctors and former companions, the story – Death of the Doctor – will feature some of the most famous monsters of the Who universe – Davros, Daleks, Sea Devils and Sontarans – and introduce a new alien race, the Shansheeth. The story will also introduce a new character to the series – Jo's grandson, Santiago Jones, played by Finn Jones (A Game of Thrones).
Speaking about the Doctor's returning companions, Smith told TV Choice that it was, "a real privilege to be working with two companions. It’s funny because you get such a bond working with the actress who plays your assistant. It would be really difficult if I didn’t get on with Karen Gillan [Amy Pond in Doctor Who] [. . .] just talking to Lis and Katy about their time in Doctor Who is fascinating.
Previously, five Doctors were seen in Doctor Who itself – in a story to celebrate the show's twentieth anniversary in 1983. The Five Doctors, written by Terrance Dicks, starred Peter Davison (fifth Doctor), Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee. Richard Hurndall took over the role of the first Doctor, as Hartnell had died in 1974. However, Hartnell was seen in a clip from Terry Nation's 1964 Doctor Who adventure, The Dalek Invasion of Earth. Tom Baker was unwilling to take part, having only left the show two years earlier, but appeared in clips taken from an unfinished 1979 story, Shada, which had been written by Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy).