The Unknown Soldiers
Ten of the best Doctor Who walk-on parts.
You don't have to be a complete Sparacus to know your Michael Sheard from your Cyril Shaps. It's just part of fandom's sweetly obsessive nature that we file and digest the names of Who's guest actors. But spare a thought for the jobbing 'supporting artists' (that's extras in old money), famous for 15 seconds and for whom roller caption credits were rarely due…
Constance Carling, Spearhead from Space
One of the first clues that all is not as it appears at Auto Plastics is the wax-faced, expressionless secretary played by Constance Carling. As wife of BBC producer Alan J W Bell, Carling racked up uncredited walk-ons in numerous episodes of Z Cars and Last of the Summer Wine. Eagle-eyed Monty Python fans may recognise her as the Crunchy Frog-scoffing theatregoer sat next to Eric Idle in the series one sketch, 'Red Indian at the Theatre.'
Harry Fielder, The Face of Evil, et al
Harry 'Aitch' Fielder is the Zelig of '70s and '80s British telly, having turned up as an uncredited tough guy in pretty much everything. His IMDB page credits him with almost 300 film and TV appearances from Yes Minister to Minder, including (count 'em) 13 Doctor Whos and ten Blake's 7s. Listen out for 'Aitch''s brief appearance on the commentary of The Face of Evil DVD where he livens up the proceedings considerably.
Derek Ware, The Ambassadors of Death, Inferno, Claws of Axos, et al
HAVOC (as in 'Action by') head honcho, Derek Ware, cornered the market in stuntman antics back in the day. Notable Who bit parts include a Stan Laurel lookalike who gets bumped off in The Ambassadors of Death's comically inept warehouse fight scene, only to regenerate in a later episode. There's also a two-for-one in Inferno where he not only plays half-Primord Officer Wyatt, but also doubles as the guy he knocks off the tower in a spectacular stunt fall. His golden moment though is as everyone's favourite pushbike-stealing, gibberish-grunting tramp, Pigbin Josh, in The Claws of Axos. Oo, and furthermore, arr.
Sian Pattenden, Mawdryn Undead
In episode four of Mawdryn Undead, poor old Nyssa and Tegan are de-aged by the titular, noodle-bonced weirdo. Young Nyssa was played by Lucy Benjamin, aka EastEnders' Lisa Fowler and one-time real life squeeze of onscreen boyf Phil 'Sontaran' McFadden. More interestingly, appearing beside her is Sian Pattenden as young Tegan, who later made her name as one of Smash Hits' best writers during its heyday before graduating on to the NME, The Face and The Guardian. Pattenden blogged about her memories of appearing in the serial on The Guardian website (have a gander here) and gamely attended 10th Planet's signing event for the Black Guardian trilogy DVD release.
Trevor Ray, Doctor Who and the Silurians
Assistant script editor on the series at the time, Ray (and several other members of the production team) gave the middle finger to Equity by swelling up the ranks for the scenes of the Silurian plague hitting London – he appears as the ticket collector. Ray was no better off credit-wise behind the camera, as his production role was uncredited. Ray also wrote techno-pagan HTV classic Children of the Stones and appeared in the classic Play For Today, The Flipside of Dominick Hide as bisexual Alaric.
Not Harold Pinter, The Abominable Snowmen
A long-running, urban myth in Who fandom was that the late playwright Harold Pinter played Tibetan monk, Ralpachan, in The Abominable Snowman, credited under his acting alias of David Baron. The notion of an acclaimed writer riding high on the success of The Birthday Party and The Homecoming slumming it for a bit part in a cheap and cheerful kids show is a delicious one, but sadly the myth is a load of Yeti balls. The more prosaic truth is that at the time Pinter was writing The Basement, and the character was played by an actor of the same moniker. Ho (pause) hum.
Timothy Blackstone, Genesis of the Daleks
One of the Thal soldiers in Nerry Nation's masterpiece had a colourful history that would have had Mary Whitehouse and Jean Rook reaching for the smelling salts if they'd known about the kind of undesirables infiltrating their least favourite teatime show. Timothy Blackstone was, simultaneously, one of Britain's few hardcore porn stars. His credits include the bizarre Diversions, where he's rogered senseless by smut starlet, Heather Deeley, who proceeds to chop off 'little Timmy' and fellate the dismembered member. Brother of MP Baroness Blackstone, he hit the headlines in 2003 when he was fined on two charges of insider dealing.
Terry Walsh, Planet of the Spiders
When Lupton zaps a hapless hovercraft owner during Planet of the Spiders' interminable chase scene, the poor bloke meets his maker with a beaming smile akin to someone who's just caught the punchline to a particularly ribald joke. It's stuntman, Terry Walsh, and he's visibly overjoyed at having been given a speaking part for once.
John Levene, The Moonbase, The Web of Fear
Our very own Nicholas 'masterclass' Craig, John Levene's first encounter of the Who kind was as a Cyberman in The Moonbase. But such was his raw, primal energy as third Yeti to the left in The Web of Fear that the Who team could no longer ignore this young promising actor's star quality and it was only a matter of time that fame and fortune came beckoning as Sarge Benton in the UNIT years.
Christien Anholt, The Curse of Fenric
A credited, speaking part so not an extra per se. Young Christien Anholt makes an early TV appearance as Corporal Perkins in The Curse of Fenric, a story set in a parallel universe where WWII soldiers appear to be entirely casted by gay porn franchise, Bel Ami. I blame the producer. Anholt's father was Tony Anholt, best known by cult TV spods as Verdeschi in Space: 1999 and Charles Frere in Howards Way where his co-star was his second wife, Tracey (Fires of Pompeii) Childs. Anholt Junior enjoyed C-list success playing second fiddle to Tia Carrere (of Wayne's World fame) in schedule-filler, Relic Hunter, although his career high remains having Georgina 'T Bag' Hale sticking a butt plug up his ass in Preaching to the Perverted.
Feel free to nominate your own personal choice of memorable background artists in the Comments section below. Bok knows there's rich pickings!
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