Doctor Who News David Burton

Published on June 19th, 2013 | by Philip Bates

So: Was David Burton the Doctor?

The history of Doctor Who is fascinating; not just what is, but also what could have been. And one of the biggest wells of secrets is over the show in the 1990s, a grim decade wherein only one adventure was ever made.

We all know and love Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor – but was there another Eighth Doctor, another plan to revive the series? That’s what the documentary, Dr. Forever!: Lost in the Dark Dimension, investigates, something expanded upon by Nothing at the End of the Lane, the Doctor Who research and restoration magazine and website.

Jon Pertwee stars in Doctor Who: Inferno

The documentary appears on the Inferno: Special Edition release and producer, James Goss (Dead of Winter; The Hounds of Artemis), was especially interested in David Burton’s infrequent assertions that he filmed two pilots for a new series of Doctor Who after it was cancelled in 1989.

Burton is probably best known for his extensive theatre work, including The Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan. This particular rumour began when he arrived at a school fete in Holmesdale in a car emblazoned quite unceremoniously with ‘The New Doctor Who’ written on it. It gained weight when he claimed that he was offered the role of the Eighth Doctor after appearing in a musical, Lock Up Your Daughters, directed by Day of the Daleks’ Paul Bernard. Nothing at the End o the Lane, explains:

“According to his 2012 interview, Burton clearly says that it was Paul Bernard who contacted him a few months later and asked him to go with the director to a meeting at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. At the meeting with various other people, it became apparent that Burton was being offered the lead role of the Doctor in an independent pilot and that Paul Bernard himself was going to direct the production.


Sadly, Paul Bernard died in 1997, but it’s interesting to note that in the various interviews that were conducted with him after the time of the supposed pilot’s shooting, no reference was ever made to this independent production.”

What’s more, Carole, Paul’s widow, checked the director’s diaries and couldn’t find any proof of his involvement with resurrecting Doctor Who.

Nonetheless, Burton maintains that he played the Eighth Doctor.

You can find out more by grabbing a copy of the Inferno: Special Edition DVD, or simply heading over to Nothing at the End of the Lane’s website now!


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About the Author


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.

15 Responses to So: Was David Burton the Doctor?

  1. avatar lee moone says:

    I was in an actors co-op agency at the time and Mr Burton’s CV would regularly be sent to us for representation. He was cast aside time and time again because his CV was vague and read as though he had only Extra work on it. Not once was Dr Who mentioned, which would have been a of immediate interest to us. When I saw his picture in DWM at the time (the same publicity photo that would arrive at our door) I knew it was a publicity stunt to drum up interest in his career. Nice try Mr Burton, but you really should ‘fess up.

  2. avatar yorkshirened says:


  3. avatar Spider-pope says:

    He can maintain he was the 8th Doctor as much as he wants. Without any evidence at all there is no reason to believe him.

  4. avatar FrancoPabloDiablo says:

    Does that mean any of us can declare we were cast as The Doctor? In that case, so was I!

    • avatar Spider-pope says:

      I’m The Doctor and so’s my wife!

      • avatar FrancoPabloDiablo says:

        So is my daughter! So is my cat!

  5. avatar Spartacus says:

    No, I was the Eighth Doctor!

  6. avatar Al says:

    NATEOTL suggests maybe it was a fan production. That’s possible – everyone knows about “Devious” and how they even got Jon Pertwee involved and they’ve been working on it for years. Maybe this was something similar but it never saw the light of day. I can’t imagine the BBC allowing an outside entity to make Doctor Who, not when the show was still technically in production (if the 1989 time frame is correct).

    • avatar Al says:

      Which reminds me, didn’t DWM run a report circa 1991 on a press conference or something where a new actor was announced as the Doctor for a stage play or some such? I might be mis-remembering the 1991 report on Burton, though.

    • avatar TonyS says:

      If I remember right, David Burton does say in the interview that it was an unofficial production. Goodness knows there have been enough of those. That Paul Bernard’s widow can find no trace of filming in his diaries is more significant.

  7. avatar Hoosier Whovian says:

    I am Davros! :)

  8. avatar TimeChaser says:

    I remember reading about this ages ago in DWM. It was called “Doctor Who and the Monsters of Ness”, and his companions were twin girls named Cinnamon and Spice, or something like that. Sounds like it would have been a disaster, frankly.

  9. avatar Geoff says:

    I think he was probably just hustling and trying to get work as actors do and why not. He’s obviously a bit of a character hence the cheesy Proton! Unfortunately for him it looks like the only part he’s made for in terms of his physical appearance is that now indefinitely shelved Jimmy Saville biopic!

  10. Just to correct you there Al, I didn’t actually suggest that it was a fan production. I was pointing out that some other people think it might have been that and I presented the reason why I think it’s fairly conclusive that it wasn’t.

  11. avatar H G Wells says:

    I seem to recall Mr Burton was the doctor, but when I reprogrammed my time machine, I missed a couple of years and only he remembers his time in the role. Never mind David, I’m sure your star will shine one day.

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