Lately, I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time looking at what actors from different episode of The Avengers (the quirky British spy-fi series) also appeared in Doctor Who (the quirky British science-fantasy series).
(Daily Doctor Who #347)
The fact is the two series have a lot of overlap, but it’s not complete overlap. After examining all the Emma Peel episodes (where Diana Rigg co-starred with Patrick Macnee), then going back to the early stories with David Keel (Ian Hendry) or Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman), and then going to later episodes with Tara King (Linda Thorson), and then finally the sequel series The New Avengers (where Gareth Hunt and Joanna Lumley joined Macnee), we found that there were still ten classic-era Doctor Who serials that didn’t have any actors (or writers or producers or directors):
The Edge of Destruction
The Ark in Space
The Face of Evil
Resurrection of the Daleks
The Caves of Androzani
Attack of the Cybermen
Vengeance on Varos
Delta and the Bannermen
But wait, I then thought, what about big budget but unsuccessful big-screen remake film from 1998, with Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman?! Let’s look there…
The Avengers (1998)
• Jim Broadbent (Mother) played the Doctor himself, but only in the 1999 comedy special The Curse of Fatal Death (along with Joanna Lumley).
• Roger Lloyd-Pack (an uncredited Professor) was John Lumic in the two part The Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel with the Tenth Doctor.
• Keeley Hawes (Tamara) showed up in Time Heist with the Twelfth Doctor, as Mrs. Delphox
Hmm, that was interesting, but no real help with our classic stories.
But I’m not ready to give up yet. Let’s go through our ten classic-era Doctor Who serials and see if we can’t find even an uncredited connection with The Avengers with any of them. Now, there may be more than the ones I’ve listed here, but once I find one connection with a serial I’m stopping there.
• Max Faulkner was an uncredited Guard on The Face of Evil and an uncredited Goon in Game, from the Tara King days of The Avengers.
• Steve Morley was Walters in Earthshock, and also an uncredited boy in A Surfeit of H2O back in the Emma Peel days of the The Avengers.
• Peter Roy (an uncredited “Walk on” in Resurrection of the Daleks, according to IMDb) appeared in five episodes of The Avengers in the 1960’s, all in uncredited parts–the first being a Fashion Show Guest in Two’s a Crowd and the last being Perova in They Keep Killing Steed.
• Pat Gorman appeared many times in Doctor Who–including as a Cybermen and a Slave Worker in Attack of the Cybermen and as a soldier in The Caves of Androzani, all uncredited. In The New Avengers, he was an uncredited soldier in Dirtier by the Dozen.
• Anita Graham played Bollitt in Delta and the Bannermen, and appeared uncredited in the New Avengers episode To Catch a Rat as Helga
• I briefly thought that Nick Hobbs who operated one of the Wirrn in The Ark in Space had been involved in The Avengers, but it turned out he was a stunt performer on Avengers: Age of Ultron.
• But apparently, there was an uncredited props buyer on The Ark in Space named Brian Read who was also an assistant set decorator on the 1998 version of The Avengers. His involvement with Doctor Who is not listed in the credits or on IMDb, but it is listed on the Info-text subtitles of the DVD version of the Doctor Who serial. It doesn’t tell me that it’s the same guy who worked on The Avengers, of course, but that guy is listed as a props buyer on other TV and film productions going back to the 1970’s, so I think it’s probably correct.
• Roy Scammell was apparently a stunt arranger on Paradise Towers (also according to the info-text). He also did stuntwork on Bizarre, a Tara King-episode of the The Avengers, where he apparently was the stunt double to actress Sally Nesbitt!
So that covers all of our Doctor Who serials except two..
The Edge of Destruction
Vengeance on Varos
Now, in all of this I have forgotten about the one obvious connection between Doctor Who and The Avengers, which in some ways would technically link every single episode that either show ever produced, and that’s the fact that in a way they were both created by the same person…
Sydney Newman was the TV executive at ABC who took the star of one of his failed projects, Ian Hendry, and built a show around him called The Avengers.
A few years later, he was the TV executive at the BBC who initiated a new children’s science fiction series that would be both educational and entertaining called Doctor Who.
Now, each show grew well beyond his original vision, but he was instrumental in the initial development of both. It might be a bit of a stretch to say that covers Vengeance on Varos (which was released in 1985, nearly 20 years after Newman left the BBC), he can certainly be counted for The Edge of Destruction, which would have been produced under his executive leadership.
I was about to say that this means that the only classic serial missing any such connection as this was Vengeance on Varos, but then I checked one more thing and discovered something surprising.
Big Finish, as you may know, does not just produce licensed Doctor Who audio content. They also do stuff for The Avengers–particularly adaptations of old Avengers comic strips, as well as “missing episodes” from the show’s first season.
Well, one of their releases is listed as The Avengers: The Comic Strip Adaptations Volume 01: Steed & Mrs. Peel, and one actress, who is credited as both Morag McIntosh and Matron, is Sheila Reid! Sheila Reid played Clara’s gran in a couple episodes of the revived Doctor Who…
But she was also Etta in Vengeance on Varos! She’s the woman who is watching TV throughout the story.
So there you go! If we really push it, we can find Avengers connections with every single classic-Who serial!
And a bunch of the new ones as well (not counting Clara’s gran). For the record, these were the ones that we found connections for along the way:
The Idiot’s Lantern, Smith and Jones, Voyage of the Damned, Partners in Crime, The Sontaran Strategem / The Poison Sky, The Unicorn and the Wasp, Turn Left, The Stolen Earth, Journey’s End, The Waters of Mars, The End of Time parts 1 & 2, The Eleventh Hour, Cold Blood, The Impossible Astronaut, The Wedding of River Song, The Power of Three, The Crimson Horror, The Girl Who Died
And that’s that. Maybe someday I’ll go through all audio drama Avengers cast members, and all the uncredited people from the revived series, and see if I can close off some gaps in the later years of Doctor Who.
But that day is not today.