New to Doctor Who or returning after a break? Check out our guides designed to help you find your way!



You may wish to consult Patrick Troughton (disambiguation) for other, similarly-named pages.

Patrick George Troughton (born 25 March 1920 in Mill Hill, London, died 28 March 1987 in Columbus, Georgia[1][2]) played the Second Doctor from 1966 until 1969, beginning with an uncredited appearance at the conclusion of The Tenth Planet, continuing from The Power of the Daleks to The War Games.

He reprised the role in The Three Doctors, The Five Doctors and The Two Doctors. Since his death in 1987, his appearances in modern multi-Doctor stories were represented by archive footage and body doubles.

Two of his sons, David and Michael, have also played various roles on Doctor Who, as well as one of his grandchildren, Harry Melling, who appeared in the Big Finish audio adventure The Whispering Forest.

Life and career[]

Career overview[]

Troughton was best known as a film and television actor, decrying theatre as "shouting in the evenings".[3] Making his broadcast debut in 1946,[4] science fiction came early in his career with a BBC adaptation of the Karel Čapek play R.U.R.. Another early role in a TV adaptation of Hamlet led to his casting as the Player King in Laurence Olivier's 1948 film version of the play.

In 1953, he became the first actor to play the folk hero Robin Hood on television, starring in six half-hour episodes broadcast on the BBC. In homage to this, an image of Troughton as Robin Hood appeared briefly in the 2014 Doctor Who episode Robot of Sherwood as part of a computer database detailing the legend of the hero.

At the time of his Doctor Who casting, Troughton was best remembered for Paul of Tarsus, but his favourite role had been Daniel Quilp in The Old Curiosity Shop.[4] In 1964, Smuggler's Bay had been his first brush with Frazer Hines, who recalled in 2005: "the day before filming began, I'd actually put my hand through a plate glass window, and I turned up with these great bandages on... Years later, when I saw Patrick for Doctor Who, the first day of filming he said 'How's the hand?'. He remembered. And that was the sort of man he was."[5]

Troughton's fears that Doctor Who would typecast him thankfully proved misguided when he started rehearsals for The Six Wives of Henry VIII a week after leaving the series.[3] In the '70s, he took guest roles in Doomwatch, Colditz, Z-Cars, Survivors and Space: 1999. Meanwhile, film roles included Clove in Scars of Dracula (1970), Father Brennan in The Omen (1976) and Melanthius in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977).

In the ‘70’s and the '80s, Troughton ventured into comedy, appearing on The Two Ronnies and The Kenny Everett Television Show alongside sitcom roles in Foxy Lady and The Two of Us. He also enjoyed a guest spot on The Goodies episode “The Baddies”.

He played Cole Hawlings in a BBC dramatisation of John Masefield's children's book The Box of Delights (1984), in which he played the very Doctor-like role of a mysterious but benevolent old man with magical powers who has the power to travel through time.

The last programme Troughton worked on was Supergran, in 1987, but Knights of God, a 13-part series he had filmed in 1985, was broadcast later, making it the final new production he was seen in on screen.[3]

In 1966, months before taking the role of the Doctor, he was almost cast as Johnny Ringo in The Gunfighters. (TCH 7)

Doctor Who[]

Adopting the role[]

Patrick as the Doctor Doctor Who Annual 1968

An early promotional image of Troughton as the Doctor from Doctor Who Annual 1968.

In 1966, Doctor Who producer Innes Lloyd decided to replace William Hartnell in the series' lead role. Lloyd later stated that Hartnell had approved of the choice, saying, "There's only one man in England who can take over, and that's Patrick Troughton" (Howe, Stammers and Walker, 68). Lloyd chose Troughton because of his extensive and versatile experience as a character actor. After he was cast, Troughton considered various ways to approach the role to differentiate his portrayal from Hartnell's amiable-yet-tetchy patriarch. Troughton's early thoughts about how he might play the Doctor included a "tough sea captain" and a piratical "Arabian Knight" figure with dark skin, a grey beard, brass earrings and a turban. On "Pebble Mill at One", Troughton stated that this way, when his work on Doctor Who finished he could wash the blackface makeup off, shave his beard, remove the turban and earrings and then he would not get typecast because no one would recognise him. Of course this idea was rejected for obvious reasons. Doctor Who co-creator Sydney Newman suggested that the Doctor could be a "cosmic hobo" in the mould of Charlie Chaplin. This was the interpretation eventually chosen (Howe, Stammers and Walker, 68–69).

Troughton's casting was announced by the press on 2 September 1966.[3] Strangely in retrospect, it was suggested he would be playing a "'tougher' Dr. Who" than Hartnell's, with his turn in the theatre as Adolf Hitler cited.[6] The handover from Hartnell to Troughton (what would later become known as a regeneration) occurred on screen on 29 October 1966 in episode 4 of The Tenth Planet.

Era as the Doctor[]

During his time on the series, Troughton tended to shun publicity. As he famously told one interviewer, "I think acting is magic. If I tell you all about myself it will spoil it" (Howe, Stammers and Walker, 72). Years later, he told another interviewer that his greatest concern was that too much publicity would limit his opportunities as a character actor after he left the role (KTEH interview).

Troughton was popular with both the production team and his co-stars. Producer Lloyd credited Troughton with a "leading actor's temperament. He was a father figure to the whole company and hence could embrace it and sweep it along with him." Troughton also gained a reputation on set as a practical joker (Howe, Stammers and Walker, 68, 74), often assisted by co-star Frazer Hines, who played Jamie McCrimmon. Troughton and Hines were especially notorious for "de-bagging" fellow cast member Deborah Watling (Victoria Waterfield), even during the filming of Fury from the Deep tossing her into ice cold sea foam.

Regrettably, many of the early episodes in which Troughton appeared were disposed of by the BBC; a full list of Doctor Who episodes missing in the BBC Archives is available here. Troughton found Doctor Who's schedule (at this time, forty to forty-four episodes per season) gruelling, and decided to leave the series in 1969, after three years in the role. This decision was also motivated in part by fear of typecasting (Howe, Stammers and Walker, 75; KTEH interview).

Although he died more than 30 years before the announcement of the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor, he was quoted as to approving the idea of a woman playing the role.

Returns to the role[]

Troughton returned to Doctor Who three times after he originally left the programme, first in The Three Doctors, a 1973 serial celebrating the programme's tenth anniversary. Ten years later, Troughton overcame some reluctance to appear again as the Second Doctor and agreed to appear in the twentieth anniversary special The Five Doctors at the request of series producer John Nathan-Turner. He also agreed to attend Doctor Who conventions around the world with Nathan-Turner and to make the occasional television appearance as himself. Troughton enjoyed the return to the programme so much that, with Frazer Hines as Jamie, he readily agreed to appear one more time alongside Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor in 1985's The Two Doctors.

Archive footage[]

As with several other actors to have portrayed the Doctor, archive footage of his appearances was used in later episodes, most notably The Day of the Doctor.

Troughton hood

Patrick Troughton portraying Robin Hood, as seen in a spaceship's database.

The eighth series episode Robot of Sherwood also featured an image of Troughton, one of several images illustrating the legend of Robin Hood. Although this image was obviously chosen due to Troughton's associations with the series, he was not identified.


Troughton's health was never entirely robust. Stress, a heavy smoking habit (he quit smoking in the '60s but the damage to his body was already done), a drinking problem — like William Hartnell, Troughton was a heavy drinker — and a heavy television and film workload did not help. His heavy smoking eventually led to an operation to remove one of his lungs (Who And Me, autobiography of Barry Letts). He refused to accept his doctor's advice to live a more healthy lifestyle and to adopt a physical exercise regimen. He suffered two major heart attacks, one in 1978 and the other in 1984, which prevented him from working for several months. His doctor's warnings were again ignored.

On the weekend of 27 March 1987, Troughton was a guest at the Magnum Opus Con II media fan convention in Columbus, Georgia. He was in good spirits throughout the day's panels and looked forward to a belated birthday celebration which was planned for the coming Saturday evening and a showing of The Dominators which Troughton had requested, on the Saturday afternoon (although he had admitted to a fan during a Q&A session he found the story to be rather dull). Videotape footage purported to be of Troughton speaking to fans at this convention, exists and has been posted to YouTube. In this final recorded piece of the actor during his life, Troughton is shown playing his trademark recorder for the last time. Unfortunately, discerning viewers may notice that he is in physical distress. Troughton can be seen in unusual discomfort throughout his session with his fans, clearing his throat repeatedly. This was a warning sign of what would result in his demise.

Troughton suffered his third and final heart attack at 7:25 AM the next day (28 March 1987) just after he had ordered his breakfast from the hotel staff. According to the paramedics who were called, Troughton had died instantly. He was 67.


Troughton was the father of actors David and Michael Troughton. He was the grandfather of Warwickshire cricketer Jim Troughton, and actors Sam Troughton and Harry Melling. The latter is most known for playing Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter franchise, and the former for playing Much in the 2006 Robin Hood BBC series.


Archive interviews with Troughton was used as part of the audio commentary for the DVD release of The Underwater Menace, and the documentaries The Power of the Daleks - From Script to Screen (which also included an interview he gave for The Doctor Who File, which was read out by an actor) and Second Time Around.

Frazer Hines and Michael Troughton recreated the role of the Second Doctor for Big Finish's audio adventures, whilst David Troughton portrayed a cloned version in AudioGO's Serpent Crest audio series.

The Second Doctor's appearance in The Name of the Doctor and The Day of the Doctor were represented by archive footage and body doubles.

In the DWU[]

In Bafflement and Devotion, an extremely meta-fictional story, Paul Magrs mentioned that the Second Doctor "was" Patrick Troughton. It should be noted that Iris Wildthyme (one of the main characters in the story) was also described as "being" an actor, but not in the sense of actually being said character, but a lookalike.


As the Second Doctor


Doctor Who[]

Other Roles


Doctor Who[]


Reference works[]

External links[]