Peter Davison

Peter Davison (born Peter Moffett 13 April 1951) is an English actor, best known for his roles as Tristan Farnon in the television version of James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small and the fifth incarnation of the Doctor in Doctor Who, which he played from 1981 to 1984.

Early life

Davison was born Peter Moffett in London, son of an electrical engineer who was originally from Guyana. The family then moved to Knaphill in Surrey. Before becoming an actor, he gained three O-levels at Winston Churchill School, St John's, Woking, Surrey, and then had several odd jobs, including a stint as a mortuary attendant.

Davison studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama. His first job was as an actor and assistant stage manager at the Nottingham Playhouse. He chose the stage name Peter Davison to avoid confusion with the actor and director Peter Moffatt, with whom Davison later worked. His first television work was in a 1975 episode of the children's science fiction television programme The Tomorrow People, alongside American actress Sandra Dickinson whom he married in 1978. The couple composed and performed the theme tune to Button Moon, a children's programme broadcast in the 1980s. Davison subsequently appeared alongside Dickinson as the Dish of the Day in the television version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1981), whose producers considered it humorous for an actor known for playing a veterinary surgeon to appear as a cow. The two divorced in 1994.

In 1977, Davison had a prominent role in the 13-segment TV miniseries Love for Lydia opposite a young Jeremy Irons.

In 1978, Davison's performance as the ne'er-do-well Tristan Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small made him a household name. Davison has said that he was mainly cast in the role because he looked as if he could be Robert Hardy's younger brother.

Davison also appeared in some British sitcoms, including Holding the Fort, Sink or Swim and Ain't Misbehavin', as well as appearing in dramatic roles.

Doctor Who (1981–1984 and later reprisals)

In 1981, Davison signed a contract to play the Doctor for three years, succeeding Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor) and, at age 29, is still the youngest actor to assume the lead role. Attracting such a high-profile actor as Davison was as much of a coup for the programme's producers as getting the role was for him, but he did not renew his contract because he feared being typecast. Reportedly, Patrick Troughton (who had played the Second Doctor and whom Davison had watched on the programme as a teenager) had recommended to Davison that he leave the role after three years, and Davison followed his advice. The Fifth Doctor encountered many of the Doctor's best-known adversaries, including the Daleks (in Resurrection of the Daleks) and the Cybermen (in both Earthshock and The Five Doctors). However, Peter Davison has since stated that he also felt too young for the role, and if given the chance at the role now he would have made a better Doctor.

Davison did, in fact, return to play the Fifth Doctor in the 1993 multi-doctor charity special Dimensions in Time and in the 1997 video game Destiny of the Doctors (audio only.) He continues to reprise the role in a series of audio plays by Big Finish Productions. He returned once again in "Time Crash", a special episode written by Steven Moffat for Children in Need; in the episode, which aired on 16 November 2007, the Fifth Doctor met the Tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant.

After Doctor Who

After Davison left Doctor Who in 1984, he did not work on another popular series until 1986, when he played Dr Stephen Daker, the ingenuous hero of A Very Peculiar Practice, written by Andrew Davies. The surreal comedy-drama was revived several years later as A Very Polish Practice. Davison also played the lead in Campion, a series based on the period whodunnits of Margery Allingham. This, and the opportunity to play Tristan Farnon again in 1985 and 1990, kept Davison busy until the early 1990s, when he gradually faded from the public eye. He continued to appear occasionally on television, including playing the leads in Fiddlers Three (1991) and Harnessing Peacocks (1992) and an appearance on the American show Magnum, P.I., but it was not until 2000 that he returned in another major role, that of David Braithwaite in At Home with the Braithwaites.

Davison has appeared in several radio series including Change at Oglethorpe in 1995 and Minor Adjustment in 1996. In 1985 he appeared in the BBC Radio 4 comedy drama series King Street Junior, as teacher Eric Brown, but he left after only two series and was replaced by Karl Howman (as Philip Sims). In the 2000s, he starred in the comedy series Rigor Mortis.

In 1999 he appeared as the outgoing headteacher in the television series Hope and Glory. He has also starred in the television series The Last Detective (2003–) and Distant Shores (2005) for ITV, in the latter of which he also played a doctor. In 2006 he appeared as Professor George Huntley in The Complete Guide to Parenting. He has also appeared on the TV series Hardware as himself.

Davison made a guest appearance in the first episode of the second series of the BBC Radio 4 science fiction comedy series Nebulous, broadcast in April 2006.

Davison also worked on the stage. In 1991 he appeared in Arsenic and Old Lace at the Chichester Festival Theatre. Further theatre appearances include: The Last Yankee, by Arthur Miller at the Young Vic Theatre and later the Duke of York's Theatre, London in 1993, and Vatelin in An Absolute Turkey, by Georges Feydeau, at the Gielgud Theatre in 1994. In 1996 he played the role of Tony Wendice in the theatrical production of Dial M for Murder, the play on which the movie by Alfred Hitchcock was based. He also appeared as Amos Hart in Chicago at the Adelphi Theatre in 1999, and as Dr Jean-Pierre Moulineaux, in Under the Doctor at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley and later at the Comedy Theatre, London in 2001.

Beginning in 2003, Davison has starred as Dangerous Davies in The Last Detective for ITV. In early 2007, Davison appeared in a BBC comedy Fear, Stress and Anger, which also starred his daughter Georgia Moffett. Davison plays one-half of an overworked couple with two irresponsible daughters and mother-in-law at home.

Prior to her casting in Fear, Stress and Anger, Davison's daughter Georgia auditioned for the role of Rose Tyler in Doctor Who, and she recently played the role of the Tenth Doctor's daughter in the "Doctor Who" episode The Doctor's Daughter. Georgia Moffett is Davison's daughter by his marriage to Sandra Dickinson; he has two other children, sons Louis and Joel, with his present wife, Elizabeth Morton.

Davison performed as King Arthur in the London production of Spamalot. He first appeared in the role on 23 July 2007 and his final performance was 1 March 2008.

He also appeared in the popular television show Al Murray's Happy Hour in March 2008.

It was recently announced that Davison would be appearing in the next series of Midsomer Murders, due to be broadcast in late 2008/early 2009.


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