Jon Pertwee (1919 - 1996)

This is transcribed from the obituary which appeared on Teletext on 20th May 1996.

Teletext Obituary

Jon Pertwee, the actor best known for his portrayal of Dr Who in the cult TV series has died aged 76.

Jon Pertwee was the comedy actor who turned Doctor Who into a dandy - and won millions of fans.

When after five years he gave up the elegant ruffles and velvets of the mercurial time traveller his next role was very different - as Worzel Gummidge the turnip-headed scarecrow.

He returned to the Doctor Who role for a gruelling stage tour in 1989 and his German-born wife Ingeborg warned it could kill him.

"She thought this could be the one that finished me off - maybe I am a bit long in the tooth for such a long, tough tour," Jon Pertwee said at the time.

"I'm still not sure if it will be too much for me, but I have a lot of nervous energy - hopefully that will keep me going."

Jon Pertwee, best known for his role as Dr Who, was later dismissive of his famous TV adversaries, the Daleks.

The actor, who died of a heart-attack while on holiday in US said they were put together with a sink plunger, an egg whisk and 24 tennis balls and described them as "ridiculous".

By then he was already a household name through classic radio comedy shows such as the Navy Lark, Waterlogged Spa, Up the Pole and the Radio Postman.

Jon Pertwee was born in 1919 into a London theatrical family and was earmarked for showbiz almost from birth - an office job was never on the cards.

His father Roland was a writer, his brother Michael became a screenwriter and playwright and cousin Bill Pertwee became the warden in Dad's Army.

"I suppose anyone named Pertwee has to be an actor or a corn merchant, though I do have an uncle who's head of the Poetry Society", he said.

He entered RADA in the mid 1930's and the principal, Kenneth Barnes, commented that he appeared to have no talent of any discernible kind.

He was eventually asked to leave for allegedly writing rude words on the lavatory walls and was told he had no future in the theatre. Charles Laughton told him dismissal from RADA was one of the best ways of becoming an actor.

His comic role in radio's The Navy Lark aboard HMS Troutbridge lasted more than 30 years and established him as a household favourite.

Later came many films such as Carry on Cleo and Carry on Screaming, Murder at the Windmill and One of our Dinosaurs is Missing. He was a master of dialect and sich a good mimic he could be cast in almost any comic role.

He was married twice - the first time in 1955 to Upstairs Downstairs star Jeam Marsh.

The marriage did not last and he later married the daughter of a German government minister he met on holiday.

They had two children and lived in Barnes, West London.

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