Spoilers are precisely defined here. Rules vary by the story's medium. Info from television stories can't be added here until after the top or bottom of the hour, British time, closest to the end credits roll on BBC One. Therefore, fans in the Americas who are sensitive to spoilers should avoid Tardis on Sundays until they've seen the episode.


You may be looking for his DWU counterpart.

Ian Don Marter (28 October 1944[1][2]-28 October 1986[3][4]) played companion Harry Sullivan in Doctor Who from Robot to Terror of the Zygons and again in The Android Invasion. He also played the minor role of Lieutenant John Andrews in the Doctor Who story Carnival of Monsters.

In addition to acting, Mater wrote several Target novelisations of TV serials, including two published posthumously. He sometimes wrote under the pen name Ian Don.


Early career[]

Marter married Rosemary Heyland in 1968 and later had two sons, Rupert and Toby. After graduating from Oxford University in 1969, Marter worked at the Bristol Old Vic theatre, where he was a stage manager and acted in various minor roles. To supplement his low actor's wages, he worked for a time as a milkman and a schoolteacher.

Doctor Who[]

In 1970 he auditioned for the regular role of Captain Mike Yates in the eighth season of Doctor Who. Although he was offered the part, he was unable to accept due to other commitments. He sufficiently impressed the production team to be kept in mind however, and was cast in a supporting role in the 1973 story Carnival of Monsters, broadcast as part of the tenth season of the programme.

In 1974, he was cast as companion Harry Sullivan, a character developed by the production team when they thought the Fourth Doctor might be portrayed by an older actor who would be unable to handle the more physical action scenes. However, after Tom Baker was cast and proved himself capable of said scenes, this was no longer an issue. Harry was written out after just one season, despite being a popular character and gelling well with Baker and other lead Elisabeth Sladen. Marter was the third Doctor Who regular to be cast following a guest appearance; the first two were Peter Purves and Nicholas Courtney.


Marter remained involved with Doctor Who after his departure from the cast. He co-wrote the script for a potential feature film version, provisionally titled Doctor Who Meets Scratchman in collaboration with Baker and film director James Hill, although this never came to pass. The intention was to have Baker's Doctor come face to face with Scratchman, an ancient British word for the devil. The finale of the film would have taken place on a giant pinball table, the holes in the table portals to other dimensions. The project fizzled out due to lack of funding and the dire state of the British film industry.

Later acting career[]

Marter's acting career outside of Doctor Who consisted mainly of guest roles in series such as the BBC's Bergerac (in 1985) and Granada Television's The Return of Sherlock Holmes (in 1986). He also had minor roles in films, such as The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) and The Medusa Touch (1978).

Ventures as a novelist[]

He also became involved with the writing of novelisations of Doctor Who stories for Target Books, penning nine adaptations in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Marter's novelisations were sometimes controversial; most notably for the use of the word 'bastard' in his novelisations of The Enemy of the World and The Invasion.[source needed]

In addition to his Doctor Who novelisations, he adapted several 1980s American films, such as Splash (1984) and Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986) for Target and their Star Books imprint. Some of these books were published under the pen name Ian Don.

Marter also wrote an original spin-off novel for Target, Harry Sullivan's War, starring the character he had played on screen, published in 1986, only weeks before his death; this was the second original Doctor Who-related novel ever published, after Turlough and the Earthlink Dilemma.

Marter died suddenly at his home in London on his forty-second birthday in 1986 (some sources erroneously give his date of death as being two days later[source needed], 30 October) after suffering a heart attack brought on by complications of type 1 diabetes. As a result, he has the sad distinction of being the first companion actor to pass away.

At the time of his death, Marter had been planning a sequel to Harry Sullivan's War and an adaptation of the unused Doctor Who Meets Scratchman script. He had also just completed work on two novelisations, The Reign of Terror and The Rescue. Both were published posthumously. The last of Marter's Doctor Who novelisations was The Rescue, which was completed by range editor Nigel Robinson after Marter's unexpected death.

Marter is, to date, one of only six Doctor Who actors (the others being Colin Baker, David Banks, Glyn Jones, Mark Gatiss and Tom Baker; though production individuals like Victor Pemberton also technically appeared in acting roles) to write licensed fiction based upon the series.

According to some who worked with Marter, he was a bisexual man but tended to keep his sexuality secret during his life.[5][6]

Posthumous acknowledgement[]

Though Doctor Who and Stratchman was never produced in any format during Marter's lifetime, the project - and consequently much of the original concept & material written by Marter and Baker - would be adapted, by Baker himself alongside James Goss, for the 2019 novel Scratchman. Marter received an acknowledgment "as a friend and a good egg" at the end of the novel, presented in such as way that also implies the existence of a fictional Ian Marter who lives within the Doctor Who universe, as a friend of the Doctor.



Doctor Who[]

As Harry Sullivan


Target Novelisations[]

The Companions of Doctor Who[]


  1. REF: Who-ology: The Official Miscellany
  2. Doctor Who Official (28 October 2012). Ian Marter (1944 –1986) was born on this day… We remember him fondly as Harry Sullivan.. Twitter. Retrieved on 13 December 2016.
  3. Whyte, Nicholas (19 March 2007). The Doctor Who novels of Ian Marter. Strange Horizons. Retrieved on 13 December 2016.
  4. Find a Grave
  5. Courtney, Nicholas; McManus, Michael (2005) Still Getting Away With It: The Life and Times of Nicholas Courtney, ISBN: 1871330734
  6. DWM 501

External links[]