Patrick George Troughton (25 March 1920 – 28 March 1987) was an English actor most widely known in his role as the second incarnation of the Doctor in the long running British science-fiction television series Doctor Who, which he played from 1966 to 1969.
During his time on the series, Troughton tended to shun publicity and rarely gave interviews. He told one interviewer, "I think acting is magic. If I tell you all about myself it will spoil it" (Howe, Stammers and Walker, 72). Years later, he told another interviewer that his greatest concern was that too much publicity would limit his opportunities as a character actor after he left the role (KTEH interview).
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 (Howe, Stammers and Walker, 68, 74).
Regrettably, many of the early episodes in which Troughton appeared were wiped by the BBC (a full list of Doctor Who episodes missing from the BBC Archives is available here). Troughton found Doctor Who's schedule (at this time, 40 to 44 episodes per season) gruelling, and decided to leave the series in 1969, after three years in the role. This decision was also motivated in part by fear of typecasting (Howe, Stammers and Walker, 75; KTEH interview).
Troughton returned to Doctor Who three times after he originally left the programme, becoming the only former "Doctor" actor to have reprised the role that many times after his original run. The first time was in The Three Doctors, a 1973 serial celebrating the programme's 10th anniversary. Ten years later, Troughton overcame some reluctance to reprise his role and agreed to appear in the 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors at the request of series producer John Nathan-Turner. He also agreed to attend Doctor Who conventions around the world with Nathan-Turner. Troughton enjoyed the return to the programme so much that he readily agreed to appear one more time as the Second Doctor with Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor in The Two Doctors (1985). Reportedly, he also advised a later Doctor actor, Peter Davison, to limit his time in the role to three seasons to avoid being typecast and the young actor followed that advice.
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 1978 and 1984 which prevented him from working for several months. Following each of these attacks, his doctor's warnings were again ignored as Troughton committed himself to a heavy TV and film schedule. Troughton also continued a long-term habit of chain smoking and declined to commit himself to any significant physical exercise despite his worsening health and his early death being predicted as an inevitable consequence by his doctors.
He featured in the 1974 11-part radio adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour. In 1986 he was a regular in the LWT sitcom The Two of Us, and guested in an episode of Supergran in May 1987, which was the last role he recorded. His final television appearance was in the autumn of the same year in Knights of God, which had actually been filmed two years earlier.
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 vigourously in the day's panels, and was looking forward to a belated birthday celebration which was planned for the coming Saturday evening, as well as a screening of the Doctor Who story The Dominators, which Troughton had requested personally, on the Saturday afternoon. He was also scheduled to appear on stage the following Monday with Doctor Who producer John Nathan-Turner and Sylvester McCoy, who had been announced as the Seventh Doctor earlier that month. Jon Pertwee ultimately took the place that had been intended for him on the panel.
Troughton suffered a fatal heart attack at 7:25 a.m. the next day (28 March 1987) just after he had ordered his breakfast from the hotel staff. According to the paramedics who were called, Troughton had died before he had fallen back on to his bed.