When I was a teenager in high school, PBS began running episodes of the BBC sci-fi show Doctor Who. And back then, the show had already gone through two doctors before I ever saw it. So the first Dr. Who Doctor for me was Jon Pertwee.
Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the whole idea of Doctor Who, a time-travelling fixer of plot holes in history who goes about appropriating young women as companions and travelling through time and space and other dimensions by using a T.A.R.D.I.S. that manipulates “timey-wimey stuff”, I am afraid there is no hope for you here. I am a Whovian and am not inclined to be a chief explainer of all things Whovian to basically non-Whovians, and especially not never-will-be-Whovians.
I was in college already by the time Jon Pertwee was no longer Dr. Who. And though I also loved Tom Baker as the Doctor, I was forever caught by the heart with the first Doctor I watched and will forever hold in my heart the notion that Pertwee is the real Doctor.
And he was a gifted comedic actor that had a long career stretching back to Vaudeville and would also come to be identified with British comedies like Worzel Gummidge.
He had a prehensile face, capable of many comic contortions, and an ability with voices and characterizations that made you think “multiple personality disorder”.
Jon left us in 1996, but he has had a new life for me through his son, Sean Pertwee. His little boy is practically a clone, though as far as I can tell, a very serious clone. The comic DNA was apparently forgotten on the laboratory shelf.
Sean Pertwee is now playing the ninja butler in the pre-Batman show on Fox called Gotham. He has stepped into the role of Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s butler, and it’s like having my first Doctor back again.
Now, I admit that this post is mostly just fan-gush about people and characters that are mostly forgotten now. But Jon Pertwee lives on in me. I saw him play the Doctor back when some things in life could still be absolutely perfect just as they were.