Thursday, May 30, 2013

Six Degrees of Peter Cushing -- Doctor Who -- May 30, 2013

This post is part of  the Peter Cushing Centennial Blogathon, hosted by Pierre Fournier at his excellent blog Frankensteinia (

In my first post for the blogathon, I looked at the ways Peter Cushing was connected to other famous horror movie actors, using the concept of Six Degrees of Separation.  In my second post, I compared him to other actors who have portrayed Sherlock Holmes. In this post, I will compare him to other actors who have played Doctor Who.  In my last post, I will dig a little deeper into Degrees of Separation.

Doctor Who

Doctor Who is a British science fiction television program that premiered on the BBC in 1963 and stayed on, with a couple of gaps, till the present.  Doctor Who is a Time Lord, who travels through space and time in his ship, the Tardis, which externally resembles a police call box.  When the actor who plays the Doctor leaves the show, the character regenerates and takes a new form and personality.  The Doctor is usually accompanied by one or more companions.  Many companions have come and gone over the years. Some have come back. 

The first Doctor, from 1963 to 1966, was William Hartnell.  William Hartnell has a Peter Cushing number of two.
2.  In 1956, William Hartnell appeared in Private's Progress with Christopher Lee.
1.  As we saw in my first post, Christopher Lee appeared in many movies with his best friend, Peter Cushing.

Hartnell's first companion, the Doctor's granddaughter Susan Foreman, was played by Carole Ann Ford.   Carole Ann Ford has a Peter Cushing number of two.
2.  Carole Ann Ford was in Horrors of the Black Museum in 1959 with Michael Gough.
1.  Michael Gough was in The Skull in 1965 with Peter Cushing. 

Feeling limited by the character of Susan Foreman, Carole Ann Ford left the show in 1964.  The Doctor met Vicki, who had been stranded on a planet.  The Doctor and Vicki formed a relationship like the one between the Doctor and Susan, but Vicki was more active in their adventures.  Vicki was played by Maureen O'Brien, who has a Peter Cushing number of two.
2.  In 1998, Maureen O'Brien was in The Land Girls with Ann Bell.
1.  In 1965, Ann Bell was in Doctor Terror's House of Horrors with Peter Cushing. 

In 1965 and 1966, Peter Cushing appeared in two feature films, Doctor Who and the Daleks and Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D., based on two of the television serials. I saw one or both of these on Creature Features, a late night horror show on Oakland station KTVU and enjoyed them.  Peter Cushing's Doctor is not considered canonical because he was not a Time Lord, just a man from Earth.  The Doctor traveled with two granddaughters in the first movie, and a granddaughter and a niece in the second.

The second canonical Doctor Who was Patrick Troughton from 1966 to 1969.   The spittoon haircut was an interesting touch.  Patrick Troughton has a Peter Cushing number of one, having appeared with him in The Black Knight in 1954. 

Jon Pertwee played the third Doctor from 1970 to 1974.  Like Patrick Troughton, John Pertwee has a Peter Cushing number of one, having played in The House That Dripped Blood with Cushing in 1971.

Tom Baker, the fourth Doctor from 1974 to 1981, was the first television Doctor I saw.  Because of that, he is still my favorite.  Tom Baker has a Peter Cushing number of two. 
2.  In 1973, Tom Baker appeared in Ray Harryhausen's The Golden Voyage of Sinbad with Robert Rietty. 
1.  In 1961, Robert Rietty appeared in The Naked Edge with Peter Cushing. 

Elisabeth Sladen played Sarah Jane Smith, companion to the third and fourth Doctors, has made several return appearances and has starred in a spinoff series.  Elisabeth Sladen has a Peter Cushing number of two.
2.  Elisabeth Sladen was in Ferry Cross the Mersey in 1965 with Mona Washbourne.
1.  Mona Washbourne was in The Brides of Dracula in 1960 with Peter Cushing. 

Leela the Sevateem warrior, played by Louise Jameson, was a popular companion of the fourth Doctor. Louise Jameson has a Peter Cushing number of two.
2.  In 2012, Louise Jameson was in Run For Your Wife with Simon Williams.
1.  In 1977, Simon Williams was in The Uncanny with Peter Cushing. 

Peter Davison played the fifth Doctor from 1981 to 1984.  He was my first regenerated Doctor, so I didn't like him as much as I liked Tom Baker.  Peter Davison has a Peter Cushing number of two.
2.  Peter Davison was in A Man You Don't Meet Every Day in 1994 with Joanna Wake.
1.  Joanna Wake was in One More Time in 1970 with Peter Cushing. 

Colin Baker was the sixth Doctor from 1984 to 1986.  I didn't watch the show much while he was the Doctor.  Colin Baker has a Peter Cushing number of two.
2.  Colin Baker was in The Harpist in 1999 with Barbara Murray.
1.  Barbara Murray was in Tales From the Crypt in 1972 with Peter Cushing.

Nicola Bryant played Perpugilliam (Peri) Brown, an American, as a companion to the fifth and sixth Doctors.  Nicola Bryant has a Peter Cushing number of two.
2.  In 1998, Nicola Bryant was in Parting Shots with Joanna Lumley.
1.  In 1971, Joanna Lumley was in The House That Dripped Blood with Peter Cushing

Sylvester McCoy was the seventh Doctor, the last Doctor before the series ended for the first time in 1989, and my favorite after Tom Baker.  Sylvester McCoy has a Peter Cushing number of two.
2.  In 1979, Sylvester McCoy was in Dracula with Donald Pleasance.
1.  In 1960, Donald Pleasance was in Suspect with Peter Cushing. 

The eighth Doctor, played by Paul McGann, appeared in one television movie in 1996.  I remember watching it and I remember Doctor Who fans debating whether he should be considered canonical.  I don't remember why.  Paul McGann has a Peter Cushing number of two. 
2.  Paul McGann was in Afraid of the Dark with Gwyneth Strong in 1991.
1.  Gwyneth Strong was in Nothing But the Night with Peter Cushing in 1973. 

The eighth Doctor's companion, Doctor Grace Holloway, was played by Daphne Ashbrook.  Daphne Ashbrook is the first person I have encountered with a Peter Cushing number of 3.
3.  Daphne Ashbrook was in Quiet Cool with Fran Ryan in 1986.
2.  Fran Ryan was in Scandalous John with José Nieto in 1971.
1.  José Nieto was in Alexander the Great with Peter Cushing in 1956. 

When the series returned in 2005, Christopher Eccleston was the ninth Doctor.  He wore a less flamboyant costume than his predecessors.  Eccleston stayed for only one season.  He has a Peter Cushing number of two.
2.  In 1991, Christopher Eccleston was in Let Him Have It with Michael Elphick.
1.  In 1973, Michael Elphick was in ...And Now the Screaming Starts with Peter Cushiing.

David Tennant Played the tenth Doctor from 2005-2010.  I liked his interpretation.  David Tennant has a Peter Cushing number of two.
2.  In 2009, David Tennant was in Glorious 39 with Christoper Lee.
1.  As we have seen, Christopher Lee was in many movies with Peter Cushing. 

Billie Piper played Rose Tyler, who was companion to both Eccleston and Tennant.  Billie Piper has a Peter Cushing number of two.
2.  Billie Piper was in Evita with Harry Fielder in 1996.
1.  Harry Fielder was in Top Secret! with Peter Cushing in 1984.

The eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, has played the part since 2010.  I have not seen many of his episodes.  Matt Smith is the first Doctor with a Peter Cushing number of three. 
3.  Matt Smith was in Bert and Dickie in 2012 with John Bird.
2.  John Bird was in A Promise of Bed in 1970 with Vanessa Howard.  
1.  Vanessa Howard was in The Blood Beast Terror in 1968 with Peter Cushing. 

Jenna-Louise Coleman played companion Oswin Oswald.  Jenna-Louise Coleman has a Peter Cushing number of three.
3.  Jenna-Louise Coleman was in Captain America: The First Avenger in 2011 with Richard Armitage.
2.  Richard Armitage was in The Hobbit in 2012 with Christoper Lee.
1.  As we have seen, Christopher Lee was in many movies with Peter Cushing. 

It appears that Peter Cushing is well connected with other people who played Doctor Who.   

After seeing so many people with a Peter Cushing number of two in my first post, I decided to compare Peter Cushing with another actor who was born in 1913 and died in 1994, Burt Lancaster.  The photo shows Lancaster with Ava Gardner in the excellent 1946 film  The Killers, which was loosely based on a short story by Ernest Hemingway.  I calculated Burt Lancaster numbers for the people mentioned in this article. Burt Lancaster's Peter Cushing number is ... 2.

actorBurt LancasterPeter Cushing
William Hartnell22
Carole Ann Ford22
Maureen O'Brien32
Patrick Troughton21
Jon Pertwee21
Tom Baker22
Elisabeth Sladen22
Louise Jameson22
Peter Davison22
Colin Baker32
Nicola Bryant22
Sylvester McCoy22
Paul McGann22
Daphne Ashbrook23
Christoper Eccleston 22
David Tennant22
Billie Piper22
Matt Smith33
Jenna-Louise Coleman 33

Burt Lancaster's results are similar to Peter Cushing's.  I still haven't seen a number higher than three. 

Just out of curiosity, I calculated my own Peter Cushing number.  My Peter Cushing number is a three.
3.  Me.  
2.  A relative of mine was an associate producer on the television show Time Trax back in 1994.  British actor Shane Briant played a role.  Briant went on to have a busy career, including the upcoming Hobbit with Christopher Lee. 
1.  Shane Briant was in Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell with Peter Cushing in 1973. 

Shane Briant and a couple of other actors including Joe Mantegna give me a Burt Lancaster number of four. 

Most of the images in this post come from the excellent site LucyWho (  The calculations of Peter Cushing numbers come from The Oracle of Bacon (

Thank you to Pierre Fournier for hosting this blogathon.  Thank you to my fellow bloggers for sharing your time, talent and imagination with all of us.  It has been a wonderful experience. And thank you to the people who have taken the time to visit this blog and read my humble contributions.  We bloggers thrive on comments. 

Six Degrees of Peter Cushing -- Horror Films
Six Degrees of Peter Cushing -- Sherlock Holmes
Six Degrees of Peter Cushing -- Doctor Who
Six Degrees of Peter Cushing -- And Now the Screaming Stops

Updated 08-August-2013: Peter Capaldi is the twelfth Doctor.  He has a Peter Cushing number of two, having worked with John Mills in Bean in 1997.  John Mills worked with Peter Cushing in The End of the Affair in 1955.  Peter Capaldi has a Burt Lancaster number of one, having worked with him in Local Hero in 1983.  I was hoping the Doctor would regenerate as a woman or a person of color, but Peter Capaldi is a good choice. 

Updated 22-July-2017:
 I was happy to learn that Jodie Whittacker will be the thirteenth Doctor.  Jodie Whittacker has a Peter Cushing number of two.  She worked with Bernard Hill in The Kid in 2010.  Bernard Hill worked with Peter Cushing in Trial by Combat in 1976. 


Caftan Woman said...

Even more fun!

Jason T. Carter said...

These posts are brilliant!

There were a few other companions that traveled with the Doctor #10 and #11...Martha Jones (my personal favorite from the rebooted series), Donna Noble, Amy Pond, and I suppose you could include Rory Williams as well as he tagged along with the Doctor and Amy for much of seasons 5-7.

Can't wait to see tomorrow's post!

JT, The Writer's Journey

Joe Thompson said...

Patricia: Glad you liked it.

Jason: I found a list of companions and I was stunned. I just picked a few I remembered and/or could find pictures of. My last post for the blogathon is out there now.

Craig Edwards said...

This one is a corker, because I've been a Who fan for 30+ years - and it's amazing to me how many actors have a PC number of 2!

Joe Thompson said...

Craig: That's funny when you mention being a Who fan. I like the character and the band and the Abbott and Costello routine and the Doctor Seuss characters. There are a lot of good whos out there.

At first I thought I was doing something wrong when I got so many 2s, but then I saw that 199,213 actors have a 2, so it makes sense.