Actor Patrick Troughton was born on 25 March 1920 in Mill Hill, Middlesex, England. Troughton attended Mill Hill School and continued to live in Mill Hill for most of his life. While at Mill Hill School, he acted in a production of J.B. Priestley’s Bees on the Boat Deck in March 1937. His brother A.R. (‘Robin’) Troughton shared the 1933 Walter Knox Prize for Chemistry with the future Nobel Prize winner Francis Crick, who also attended Mill Hill School Troughton later attended the Embassy School of Acting at Swiss Cottage, studying under Eileen Thorndike. After his time at the Embassy School of Acting, Troughton won a scholarship to the Leighton Rallius Studios at the John Drew Memorial Theatre on Long Island, New York. In 1939, he joined the Tonbridge Repertory Company.
When the Second World War began, he returned home on a Belgian ship which struck a sea mine and sank off the coast of Great Britain, Troughton escaping in a lifeboat. In 1940, he joined the Royal Navy and was commissioned as a lieutenant with the RNVR, being first employed on East Coast Convoy duty from February to August 1941, and then with Coastal Forces’ Motor Gun Boats based at Great Yarmouth from November 1942 to 1945. During his service with the M.G.B.’s, he was on one occasion involved in an action against Kriegsmarine E-boats which resulted in one of the enemy craft being destroyed by ramming, whilst Troughton’s boat and another destroyed two more with their gunfire. His decorations included the 1939-45 Star, and Atlantic Star, and he was mentioned in dispatches. He used to wear a tea cosy on his head in cold weather in the North Sea.
After the war, Troughton returned to the theatre. He worked with the Amersham Repertory Company, the Bristol Old Vic Company and the Pilgrim Players at the Mercury Theatre, Notting Hill Gate. He made his television debut in 1947. In 1948, Troughton made his cinema debut with small roles in Olivier’s Hamlet, the Joseph L. Mankiewicz directed Escape (one of the stars of which was William Hartnell), and a pirate in Disney’s Treasure Island. In 1953 he became the first actor to play Robin Hood on television, His grandson Sam Troughton played one of Robin’s colleagues in the 2006 BBC TV series of the same name, and Patrick himself made an appearance in The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Richard Greene. He appeared as the murderer Tyrrell in Olivier’s film of Richard III (1955). He was also Olivier’s understudy on the film and appears in many long shots as Richard.
Troughton’s other notable film and television roles included Kettle in Chance of a Lifetime, Sir Andrew Ffoulkes in The Scarlet Pimpernel, Vickers in the episode entitled “Strange Partners” in The Invisible Man, Phineus in Jason and the Argonauts (1963), Quilp in The Old Curiosity Shop, Paul of Tarsus, Dr. Finlay’s Casebook. He voiced Winston Smith in a 1965 BBC Home Service radio adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four and appeared in numerous TV shows, including The Count of Monte Cristo, Ivanhoe, Dial 999, Danger Man, Maigret, Compact, The Third Man, Crane, Detective, Sherlock Holmes, No Hiding Place, The Saint, Armchair Theatre, The Wednesday Play, Z-Cars, Adam Adamant Lives! and Softly, Softly. Troughton was offered the part of Johnny Ringo in the Doctor Who story The Gunfighters but turned it down.
In 1966, Doctor Who producer Innes Lloyd looked for a replacement for William Hartnell in the series’ lead role. Lloyd chose Troughton because of his extensive and versatile experience as a character actor. After he was cast, Troughton considered portraying the Doctor as a “tough sea captain”or a piratical figure in blackface and turban before Doctor Who creator Sydney Newman suggested that the Doctor could be a “cosmic hobo” in the mould of Charlie Chaplin. In the story The Enemy of the World, Troughton played two parts – as the protagonist (The Doctor) and the antagonist (Salamander).
Troughton gave away the secret of what Jamie (Frazer Hines) wore underneath his kilt – “khaki shorts”. Troughton was popular with both the production team and his co-stars. Producer Lloyd credited Troughton with a “leading actor’s temperament. He was a father figure to the whole company and hence could embrace it and sweep it along with him”. Troughton also gained a reputation on set as a practical joker. Unfortunately Many of the early episodes in which Troughton appeared were among those discarded by the BBC however some missing episodes have been replaced by animation- such as The Invasion.
Troughton found Doctor Who’s schedule gruelling, and was afraid of being typecast so he decided to leave in 1969, after three years in the role. However he returned to Doctor Who three times after formally leaving the programme, firstly in The Three Doctors, then
For the 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors in 1983 following the request by producer John Nathan-Turner and finally in The Two Doctors alongside sixth Doctor Colin Baker. He also attended many Doctor Who conventions including the show’s 20th anniversary celebrations at Longleat in 1983. In 2013, the BBC commissioned a docudrama about the early days of Doctor Who, as part of the programme’s fiftieth anniversary celebrations. Troughton appears as a character in the production, called An Adventure in Space and Time, portrayed by actor Reece Shearsmith. In 2014’s “Robot of Sherwood”, a still image of Troughton from 1953 appears among the future depictions of Robin Hood displayed by the Twelfth Doctor to the outlaw.
After Troughton left Doctor Who in 1969, he appeared in various films and television roles. Film roles included Clove in Scars of Dracula, a bodysnatcher in Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Father Brennan in The Omen and Melanthius in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. Television roles included the recurring role of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk in five of the six episodes of The Six Wives of Henry VIII, the villainous Nasca in The Feathered Serpent. He also appeared in The Goodies, Paul Temple, Dr. Finlay’s Casebook, Doomwatch, The Persuaders!, A Family at War, Coronation Street, Softly, Softly: Taskforce, Colditz, Play for Today, Z-Cars, Special Branch, Sutherland’s Law, The Sweeney, Jason King, Survivors, Crown Court, Angels, Warship, Van der Valk, Space: 1999, The Onedin Line, All Creatures Great and Small, Only When I Laugh, Nanny and Minder The Box of Delights and the Two Ronnies” Christmas Special. He featured in the 1974 radio adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour. He also appeared In in 1986, sitcom The Two of Us alongside Nicholas Lyndhurst and guested in an episode of Super Gran. Troughton also appeared in the first episode of Inspector Morse “The Dead of Jericho”. His final television appearance was in Knights of God,
Troughton’s health was never entirely robust and later in his life he refused to accept his doctor’s advice that he had developed a serious heart condition through overwork and stress. He suffered two major heart attacks, in 1979 and 1984. Then On 27 March 1987, two days after his 67th birthday, Troughton was a guest at the Magnum Opus Con II science fiction convention in Columbus, Georgia, USA. Although he had been warned by his doctors before leaving the UK not to exert himself because of his heart condition, Troughton appeared to be in good spirits and participated vigorously in the day’s panels,and was looking forward to a belated birthday celebration, as well as screenings of all of his surviving complete Doctor Who stories, including The Dominators, which Troughton was particularly eager to see again. Sadly Troughton suffered a third and final heart attack and was certified dead at the Midwest Medical Centre in downtown Columbus. From the Medical Centre he was transferred to the Striffler-Hamby Mortuary & Funeral Home on Macon Road, which is about 4.8 miles away. After resting there he was then transferred to the Southern Cremations Services, at Dothan in Alabama (about 119 miles away). His ashes were then shipped back to the UK . In true ‘Doctor Who mystery’ style, Patrick’s ashes got mislaid on the transit home, delaying his funeral by a few weeks. They finally made it home with little time to spare. Having found his ashes His second wife, Sheila, scattered his ashes beneath a newly planted tree in his favourite Bushy Park in Teddington, London.