Published on August 22nd, 2005 | by Brian A Terranova
K-9, the Most fantastical fantastic machine with a brain there ever was. He could do anything! Unless it involved rolling over a paper clip or walking on grass.
But seriously he was the companion so nice they used him twice.
Looking at the general idea of K-9 I can honestly say that for Doctor Who it was brilliant, but for any other Science Fiction show a robotic dog would have been a laughable idea (The dog from Battle Star Galactica doesnâ€™t count as it was a cyborg.).
From the first moment that K-9 showed up on our screens the general viewing public fell in love, perhaps most Who fans are dog lovers, or maybe they just liked John Leesonâ€™s personality.
Whatever the fascination was, for this one-off character, the production team knew they had a hit on their hands, and just as they did with Jamie McCrimmon before him, they rewrote the last episode of his dÃ©but story to make him a permanent cast member.
From there K-9 saved the Doctor and friends on countless adventures, when his batteries were fully charged and he wasnâ€™t defeated by a bit of water that is.
Now then, how about the design of K-9?
I have always found it to be a unique vision of a dog, most people would go out of their way to make it look like a metal dog, legs and all, but for whatever reason, budget or pure genius, the production team and creators, Bob Baker and Dave Martin, settled on an amalgamation between a computer and a dog. Very apt considering he is a dog that is a computer.
When K-9 had his final story in the Invasion of Time I can only imagine all the sad little childrenâ€™s faces when they had to say goodbye. That is until Tom Baker rolled out the “K-9 MKII” box, then I can only imagine the faces of the children who couldnâ€™t read.
But a summer later, or I assume a summer later (itâ€™s an American thing), we would be shown that K-9 did not have his final say in the show as he helped to bring us the Key to Time.
We should chat about John Leeson for a moment.
How does one go about creating a voice for a robotic dog? I havenâ€™t a clue, but I would refer you to John Leesson and tell you to take notes. They could have used a voice distortion effect or maybe even the Dalekâ€™s voce modulator to make him sound more computerized but instead they chose to have him au naturel, that is with the exception of some silly voice acting.
Silly voice acting that would have sounded silly coming from the mans mouth had he been on screen himself, but for a little metal dog it was perfect. It should also be noted that Mr. Leesons involvement with Doctor Who did not end with his time in the Tom Baker era, during the 5th Doctors reign he spent about 2 minutes trying his very best to keep Sarah Jane Smith safe in “The Five Doctors” and even came back for a stint as our loveable metal pup in the Children in Need charity piece “Dimensions in Time” along side the 7th Doctor.
But did you know (or is it common knowledge by now?) that he did have his face on screen when he portrayed the character Dugeen in the story “The Power of Kroll” when Martin Jarvis had to drop out before recording began?
K-9 was a resilient dog, so when his voice left the show he decided not to go with him, instead he searched around for his new voice and found David Brierley.
With the introduction of David into the role we were shown, just another of Doctor Whoâ€™s funny facts, as were to believe that the voice change of the character was due to robot laryngitis. As a kid I would have said, “what’s going on, why does he sound so different?” to which someone would have said “oh he had laryngitis.” And I would have said, “whatâ€™s lingonberries?”
Nevertheless kids everywhere could sleep safely at night knowing that K-9 was still just around the celestial corner ready to protect them form an evil alien that came our way! That is as long he was accompanied by someone who could pull on his fishing wire if he got stuck on an ant.
But I digress.
As nice as it was to have David Brierley to fill the shoesâ€¦ treads, of our tin terrier he would not stay long. He gave us some good times and made his mark in the longest running Sci Fi series of all time and for that all fans everywhere thank him keeping the battery charged.
But no one can deny that the true voice and personality of K-9 was indeed John Leeson, so in the story “The Leisure Hive” he was brought back and as a special treat to fans everywhere and to the actor himself, they made K-9 drive himself into water and blew him up, making us have to live the story without him.
What a welcome home that was of John.
Much like the sonic screwdriver before him K-9 was the all purpose get out of jail free card, unless of course he wasnâ€™t, so the writers and producers decided to get rid of him once and for all.
He left us in e-space, but when he left he took Lalla Ward with him, so who could feel sorry for the puppy with such a fantastic woman looking over him?
The story doesnâ€™t end here though, our favorite companion Sarah Jane Smith, played by brilliant and lovely Liz Sladen, would receive a gift for the Doctor in 1981. What was this gift? K-9 MKIII, what was the event? The Christmas special “K-9 and Company”.
For many years talk of a new K-9 series would be speculated about, but never truly realized, some loved the idea others not so much, but now with all the talk of K-9 in the new series he has become quite the celebrity.
Who knows if he will sign the contracts of if he has even been approached?
One thing is for sure he will get a nice new coat of wax for the new series when and if it happens, be it the new Who or K-9 and co.
But will he be able to overcome the obstacles the New Series will through at him? No, not the Slitheen, the Gelth, or even the foes he never met, the Daleks, Iâ€™m talking about the pebbles, the blades of grass, and anything over one centimeter tall.
Only time will tell.