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Ian Marter: Misc


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Ian Marter speaking at a Doctor Who fan convention in 1983

Ian Marter (born 28th October 1944 in Coventry, England; died 28 October 1986 in London) played companion Harry Sullivan in Doctor Who from "Robot to "Terror of the Zygons," and again in "The Android Invasion." He also wrote several books for the Target novelisation, including several that were published posthumously.

He sometimes wrote under the pen name Ian Don.


After graduating from Oxford University in 1969, Marter initially worked at the Bristol Old Vic theatre, where he was a stage manager as well as acting in various minor roles. To support his low actor's wages, he also worked for a time as a milkman and a schoolteacher.

In 1971 he auditioned for the regular role of Captain Mike Yates in the eighth season of Doctor Who, and although he did not win the part, he sufficiently impressed the production team to be kept in mind and cast in a supporting role in the 1973 story "Carnival of Monsters," broadcast as part of the tenth season of the programme.

In 1974, he was cast in the role of Harry Sullivan, a character developed by the production team when they planned that the incoming Fourth Doctor would be portrayed by an older actor, and thus would not be able to handle the more physical action scenes. However, after Tom Baker, who was 40, was cast, this was no longer an issue and Harry was written out after just one season, despite being a popular character and gelling well with Baker and other lead Elisabeth Sladen. Marter was only the third Doctor Who regular to be cast following a guest appearance; the first being Peter Purves, and the second being Nicholas Courtney.

Marter remained involved with Doctor Who after his departure from the cast. He co-wrote the script for a potential feature film version, provisionally titled Doctor Who Meets Scratchman, in collaboration with Baker and film director James Hill, although this never eventually came to pass. The intention was to have Baker's Doctor come face to face with Scratchman (an ancient British word for the devil). The finale of the film was to have taken place on a giant pinball table, the holes in the table being portals to other dimensions. The project fizzled out due to lack of funding and the dire state of the British film industry at that time.

He later became involved with the writing of novelisations of Doctor Who television stories for Target Books, penning nine adaptations in the late 1970s and early 80s. Marter's novelisations were somewhat controversial, most notably for his use of the word 'bastard' in his novelisation of the 1967 story The Enemy of the World.

The last of Marter's Doctor Who novelisations was The Rescue, which had to be completed by range editor Nigel Robinson due to Marter's unexpected death. Marter is, to date, one of only four Doctor Who actors (the others being David Banks, Glyn Jones and Mark Gatiss) to write licensed fiction based upon the series, and the only actor of ongoing status on the series (the others being one-off or occasional guest stars).

He also wrote an original spin-off novel for Target, Harry Sullivan's War, starring the character he had played on screen, which was published in 1986, only weeks before his death (this was the second original Doctor Who-related novel ever published, after Turlough and the Earthlink Dilemma). Marter planned a sequel to this and an adaptation of the unused Doctor Who Meets Scratchman script at the time of his death. In addition to his Doctor Who novelisations, he wrote adaptations of several 1980s American films such as Splash and Down and Out in Beverly Hills for Target and their Star Books imprint. Some of these books were published under the pen name 'Ian Don'.

Marter's acting career outside of Doctor Who consisted mainly of guest roles in episodes of series such as the BBC's Bergerac (in 1985) and Granada Television's The Return of Sherlock Holmes (in 1986). He also had minor roles in several films, such as The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) and The Medusa Touch (1978).

Marter was married, and had two sons. He died suddenly at his home in London on his forty-second birthday in 1986, after suffering a heart attack brought on by complications of diabetes. He has the sad distinction of being the first companion actor to pass away, and only the second major Doctor Who actor to die (the first being William Hartnell more than a decade earlier).

At the time of his death, Marter had completed work on two final novelisations, The Reign of Terror and The Rescue, both of which were published posthumously.

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Ian Marter. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the TARDIS Index File, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA).

This article uses material from the "Ian Marter" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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