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Published on March 11th, 2013 | by Philip Bates

Jon Pertwee: The WWII Hero

Jon Pertwee has got to be admired. As the Third Doctor, he battled Daleks, Axons, Silurians and the Master. In real life, he was as much a hero as his Time Lord counterpart.

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In an interview with two journalists – David Southwell and Matt Adams – before his death in 1996, printed in full for the first time in Doctor Who Magazine, Jon revealed that he served as a senior intelligence agent during the Second World War – though he kept this fact quiet for much of his life for fear of breaching the Official Secrets Act. He told the pair:

I did all sorts. Teaching commandos how to use escapology equipment, compasses in brass buttons, secret maps in white cotton handkerchiefs, pipes you could smoke that also fired a .22 bullet. All sorts of incredible things. It suited me perfectly as I have always loved gadgets… I don’t remember much of my first meeting with Churchill except he gave me some priceless advice. He told me to always watch people, that there was a lot you could learn about someone’s character from the little actions they make – which was great advice for an actor.

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Pertwee, of course, is famous for his love of gadgets, with the Third Doctor taking any opportunity to grab himself a hovercraft, a helicopter or a quad bike… and reverse the polarity of the neutron flow!

Jon even served alongside James Bond creator, Ian Fleming, who recommended him for a job liaising with the French (though he didn’t fancy the work, so messed up the job interview on purpose).

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A promotion also meant he narrowly escaped death, as he recalled:

I was on HMS Hood and I got called to the captain’s cabin. I was told I had passed the captain’s test and I was now a fully fledged officer cadet. I had 20 minutes to pack before being transferred back to Pompey barracks for training. It saved my life. Of the 1,418 crew, only three survived.

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You can read more extracts from the interview here – or simply pick up the full two-part interview in Doctor Who Magazine #457 and #458. They’re a unique look at the brilliant man who took on the most iconic role on television between 1970 and 1974, and highly recommended.

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About the Author

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When he’s not watching television, reading books ‘n’ Marvel comics, listening to The Killers, and obsessing over script ideas, Philip Bates pretends to be a freelance writer. He enjoys collecting everything.




2 Responses to Jon Pertwee: The WWII Hero

  1. avatar Matt Adams says:

    Thanks for the kind words! We’re glad our interview has finally seen print after so many years!

  2. avatar Caity says:

    Thanks to David and Matt for a very interesting and illuminating interview – I enjoyed it immensely.

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