The other day I was catching up on some Gotham episodes I had missed, when a familiar face appeared on the screen. I wasn’t prepared to see Missy in Gotham and yet there she was, as perfectly villainous as she use(d) to be in Doctor Who. Suddenly, I wasn’t watching Gotham anymore; I was watching an alternate version of Doctor Who. It wasn’t Alfred who was chased in a rubbish tip, it was the Doctor, and his pursuer wasn’t Tabitha but the Rani.
How did I come to this fantasy, you might wonder? It’s quite easy really. Michelle Gomez’ character in Gotham triggered it. The Lady has a lot in common with Missy, from the way she dresses to the way she speaks and behaves, and I can’t help but wonder to which extend an actor (or in this case an actress) can feel trapped in a certain role. While Missy certainly had an influence on Michelle Gomez’ acting, it’s quite troubling to see her in a rather similar role. It’s even worse if you consider the timeline: The Lady appeared in 2015, when the actress was already playing Missy in Doctor Who.
Speaking about influence, it makes me wonder just how I have been influenced by Doctor Who since I can’t help but see similarities where a non Whovian wouldn’t see anything but a villain…
Since we are on the topic, let’s take a look at Sean Pertwee. When I first started to watch “Gotham”, I was aware that he was in the show. Thanks to social media and Whovian communities, I was already warned that he looked a lot like his late father, Jon Pertwee. And he certainly does look and sound a lot like him, but I was too busy struggling to understand him (his accent and his expressions are quite the challenge for a foreigner like myself!) to play a game of “let’s compare him to the Third Doctor”.
But then, when I incidentally saw Missy instead of The Lady, I recalled some articles and discussions spotted in Whovians communities. The idea of Sean Pertwee getting a role in Doctor Who is as romantic as seeing Peter Capaldi, a long time Whovian, becoming the Twelfth Doctor. So yes, who wouldn’t want to see Jon Pertwee’s son involved in Doctor Who?
But as tempting as this sounds; is it really such a good idea?
When I imagined a reboot of Classic Who in a previous article, I could easily picture David Bradley take over William Hartnell’s role and give life to the First Doctor in the missing episodes. But I can hardly see Sean Pertwee becoming the Third Doctor should a classic era reboot happen. In fact, I can hardly see him play the Third Doctor, period. Whovians would probably love it for nostalgia’ sake: father and son reunited 45 years later in the same role. But take a step back and think of the consequences. How fast do you think people are going to compare the two versions of the Third Doctor? How long until both versions of the character are scrutinised? When David Bradley became the First Doctor, he also impersonated William Hartnell, because it was for a documentary. He wasn’t meant to become the First Doctor, he was there to pay a tribute (sort of). The fact that he was chosen to play the First Doctor in the coming Christmas Special is a happy consequence because he was stunning in An Adventure in Space and Time. Sadly, the same wouldn’t apply to Sean Pertwee because he will always be Jon Pertwee’ son. So, for nostalgia’ sake, I hope he doesn’t ever get to impersonate the Third Doctor… well, at least not on screen.
That being said, for nostalgia’ sake, I really hope Sean Pertwee gets a role in Doctor Who one day. In fact, he would be a great companion! Try to imagine the Doctor’s surprise when he discovers the face he wore during his third incarnation. In “The girl who died”, the Twelfth Doctor remembers the face he is now wearing, which proves that the Doctor’s face bears meaning. It’s not random, he doesn’t choose, his face is a part of him, a part of his personal history. So, with that in mind, the Doctor meets Sean Pertwee’s character, realises that the man is his third incarnation’s face and you get material for quite an interesting storyline.
So yes, by all means, let us have Sean Pertwee in Doctor Who, but maybe just as a sidekick to a different justice-seeking hero.