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Peter Davison

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Peter Davison

Peter Davison
Davison at the 2012 New York Comic Con.
Born Peter Malcolm Gordon Moffett
(1951-04-13) 13 April 1951
Streatham, London, England
Spouse(s) Diane J. Russell (1973–1975) (divorced)
Sandra Dickinson (1978–1994) (divorced)
Elizabeth Morton (2003-present)
Children Georgia Moffett (born 1984)
Louis Moffett (born 1999)
Joel Moffett (born 2001)

Peter Davison (born Peter Malcolm Gordon Moffett on 13 April 1951)[1] 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 as the fifth incarnation of the Doctor in Doctor Who, which he played from 1981 to 1984.[2] Also, he played David Braithwaite in At Home with the Braithwaites. Since 2011 he has been playing Henry Sharpe in Law & Order: UK.

Early life

Davison was born Peter Moffett in Streatham, London, son of an electrical engineer who was originally from Guyana. The family then moved to Knaphill in Surrey.[3] During this time, Davison was a member of an amateur theatre company called the Byfleet Players.[4] 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 and a Hoffman Press operator.[3]

Davison studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama.[5] His first job was as an actor and assistant stage manager at the Nottingham Playhouse.[3] He chose the stage name Peter Davison to avoid confusion with the actor and director Peter Moffatt, with whom Davison later worked.

In 1973, aged 21, Davison married Diane Russell.

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 on 26 December 1978. Davison portrayed an alien named "Elmer", who arrives on Earth along with his sister (played by Dickinson) and his mother, known as "the Mama" (played by Margaret Burton).

In the mid-1970s, during a lull in his acting career, Davison spent 18 months working in a tax office in Twickenham.[6]

In 1976, he was offered a prominent role in the 13-segment TV miniseries Love for Lydia opposite a young Jeremy Irons; the series was broadcast on ITV the following year. In 1978, Davison's performance as the youthfully mischievous 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.[3]

Davison and his wife composed and performed the Georgia Moffett, in 1984. They divorced in 1994.

Davison has also appeared in several British sitcoms, including Holding the Fort and Sink or Swim, as well as appearing in dramatic roles.[6]

Doctor Who (1981–1984 and later revivals)

In 1981, Davison signed a contract to play the Doctor for three years, succeeding Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor) and, at age 30, was at the time the youngest actor to have played the lead role, a record he retained for nearly thirty years until Matt Smith (the Eleventh Doctor) took the role in 2009 at age 26. 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.[7] 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.[8][9] The Fifth Doctor encountered many of the Doctor's best-known adversaries, including the Daleks (in Resurrection of the Daleks) and the Cybermen (in Earthshock).

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 future son-in-law David Tennant.[10] Tennant later presented a documentary, Come in Number Five, which examined Davison's Doctor Who years in some detail, and which was included as a special feature on the 2011 DVD re-release of Resurrection of the Daleks. It is one of many DVD releases of his Doctor Who serials in which Davison has appeared as an in-vision interviewee or in DVD commentary recordings.

In 2012, Davison expressed further interest in returning to the role of the Doctor for the series' 50th anniversary,[11] but he did not take part. He did, however, write and direct The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, an affectionate and comedic account of Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and himself attempting to get parts in the Anniversary Special, featuring cameos from numerous Doctor Who cast, crew, and famous fans.[12]

In 2014 Davison pre-recorded a video cameo appearance as himself in Benjamin Maio Mackay's touring comedy show "50 Years of Doctor Who: Preachers Podcast Live 2!" which played Adelaide Fringe and Melbourne International Comedy Festival to great acclaim. This was recorded after the interview Peter conducted with Benjamin's podcast surrounding the Dr Who Symphonic Spectacular.

Davison has been critical of the original series of Doctor Who and has expressed great admiration for the 21st century revival. In 2008, Davison spoke unfavourably of some of the writing for the series during his tenure, claiming: "There were some very suspect scripts we did, knocked off by TV writers who'd turn their hand to anything. Fair enough, but they weren't science fiction fans. You do get the impression, both with the television series now and Big Finish, that they are fans of science fiction and that's why they are doing those stories."[13] Davison has also praised the sexual frisson between the Doctor and his companions in the revived series and claimed: "They were struggling for many years to make the companions more rounded characters and... they never once thought it was a good idea to put any frisson or sexual tension - even in its most innocent form - between the Doctor and companion. I think it would make it easier to write a better character. All I know is they've struggled for many years to write a good companion's part. I don't think they've ever really managed it till Rose, when the series came back."[14] Interviewed in 2013, Davison stated that The Caves of Androzani, The Visitation and Earthshock were his favourite serials from his time on the series, and that Time-Flight was the biggest disappointment because of a lack of budget.[15]

Career 1985-present

Davison and Kate O'Mara at the Doctor Who 50th Celebration.

After Davison left Doctor Who in 1984, he immediately landed a role in Anna of the Five Towns, a period drama. In 1985, he appeared in the television movies Miss Marple Mysteries: A Pocketful of Rye, an All Creatures Great and Small Christmas special, and a feature-length episode of the American show Magnum, P.I. ("Deja Vu", set in the UK).

Davison played Dr Stephen Daker, the central character in A Very Peculiar Practice (1986–88). Written by Andrew Davies, it concerns a university's health centre; Daker is the centre's only effective physician. The black comedy-drama ran for two series and had a sequel with A Very Polish Practice (1992), a television film largely set in a post-communist Polish hospital.

Davison reprised his role as Tristan Farnon in four more series (1988–1990) of All Creatures, although he was absent from 24 episodes of the final three in order to play the lead in Campion, a series based on the period whodunnits of Margery Allingham. Davison's next lead television roles were in the TV movie Harnessing Peacocks (1992) and the sitcoms Fiddlers Three (1991) and Ain't Misbehavin' (1993 and 1995).

In 1995, Davison presented Heavenly Bodies a six-part series about astronomy broadcast on BBC1. This led to him being featured on the cover of Practical Astronomy magazine.[16]

It was not until 2000 that he returned in another major role, that of David Braithwaite in At Home with the Braithwaites. During convention appearances in 2013, Davison cited this as his favorite among the roles he has played.

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 1994 he provided the voice of Mole in the The Wind in the Willows animated special Mole's Christmas. He also played a doctor in Heartbeat episode "A Bird in the Hand".

In 1997 Peter Davison acted the part Buttons in the pantomime Cinderella in the Arts Theatre in Cambridge.

In 1998 he guest starred in the sixth episode of the crime drama Jonathan Creek as the son-in-law of a horror writer who was shot dead on Halloween.

In 1999 he appeared as the outgoing head teacher in the television series Hope and Glory, and had the recurring role of Inspector Christmas in several episodes of the 1999 series of Diana Rigg's Mrs Bradley Mysteries.

He has also starred in the television series as 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 has also worked on the stage. In 1984, he appeared in Gielgud Theatre in 1994. In 1996 he played the role of Tony Wendice in the theatrical production of Dial M for Murder. 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.

In early 2007 Davison appeared in a BBC comedy Georgia Moffett. Davison plays one half of an overworked couple with two irresponsible daughters and his senile mother at home.

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. Also in 2008 he voiced Simon Draycott in the radio adaptation of The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.

He appeared in the popular television show [17]

Davison has made television appearances in an episode of Midsomer Murders, in July 2009,[18] and a guest appearance in Miranda Hart's sitcom, Miranda, on BBC 2 in autumn 2009.

In October 2009, Davison was seen in a small but memorable role as a bank manager in Micro Men, a drama about the rise of the British home computer market in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

In December 2009, he played Denis Thatcher in The Queen, a docu-drama on Channel 4.

Throughout 2010 and 2011 he appeared as Professor Callahan in the West End production of Legally Blonde, which opened at the Savoy Theatre.[19]

In November 2010, it was announced that Davison would be joining the regular cast of the UK version of Law and Order as Henry Sharpe, the Director of the London Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). Davison's debut in the role will be from the beginning of the series' fifth season, alongside fellow Doctor Who actress Freema Agyeman.

He appeared in an episode of the police comedy-drama New Tricks in 2011, and an episode of Lewis in early 2013.

Personal life

Davison married his third wife, actress and writer Elizabeth Morton, in 2003. The couple have two sons, Louis (born 1999) and Joel (born 2001). They both appeared in The Five(ish Doctors) playing themselves. Louis Moffett made his professional theatrical acting debut aged 14, playing Prince Edward in the 2014 Trafalgar Studios stage production of Richard III, credited as Louis Davison, having adopted his father's stage name as his own.[20] His brother Joel also made his theatrical debut aged 13 in the summer of 2014, playing Jack in The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd at the Orange Tree theatre Richmond, credited as Joel Davison.

Davison's daughter from his second marriage is actress David Tennant, who played the Tenth Doctor, and has three children, Ty (born 2002), Olive (born 2011), and Wilfred (born 2013).[21]

Views and advocacy

In 2010, Davison was one of 48 celebrities who signed a letter warning voters against Conservative Party policy towards the BBC.[22]

On 21 April 2010, Davison appeared in a party election broadcast on behalf of the UK Labour Party, following in the footsteps of fellow Doctor Who actor David Tennant and Jon Pertwee's son Sean Pertwee. Quoted in The Guardian, Davison said:

I'll be voting Labour without a doubt. I tremble at the idea we might put a Tory government back into power. I think back to the last time a Conservative government was running the country and can't believe we might do it. I'm also a big Brown fan; he might not have that slick charm that we seem to buy into these days, as we did with Blair, which turned into a big mistake, and as we seem to be doing with Cameron. With Brown, it's substance over style; he's a career politician, who has spent his life working to help people. I like that he isn't slick, unlike Cameron, who's only been in politics for a few years.[23]



Year Title Role Notes
1974 Warship Constable Monk
1975 The Tomorrow People Elmer Davison's future wife, Sandra Dickinson was also in the programme.
1977 Love for Lydia Tom Holland 13-part series for LWT
1978–90 All Creatures Great and Small Tristan Farnon
1979–82 Once Upon a Time Himself
1980 Pebble Mill at One Himself Appeared to discuss his new role in Doctor Who
1980–82 Sink or Swim Brian Webber
1980–82 Holding the Fort Russell Milburn
1981 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Dish of the Day Appears alongside then wife Sandra Dickinson
1981–84 Doctor Who The Doctor
1982 This Is Your Life Himself
1985 Fox Tales Various Voice only
1985 Anna of the Five Towns Henry Mynors
1986–88 A Very Peculiar Practice Dr Stephen Daker
1986 Agatha Christie's Miss Marple Lance Fortescue Episode: "A Pocket Full of Rye"
1986 Magnum P.I. Ian Mackerras Episode: "Déjà vu"
1988 Tales of the Unexpected Jeremy Tyler Episode: "Wink Three Times"
1989–90 Campion Albert Campion
1991 Fiddlers Three Ralph West
1992 A Very Polish Practice Dr Stephen Daker
1992 Kinsey Bob Stacey
1993 Harnessing Peacocks Jim Huxtable
1993 Dimensions in Time The Doctor A celebration of Doctor Who's 30th Anniversary; shown as part of Children in Need
1994 Heartbeat Doctor Episode: A Bird in the Hand
1994–95 Ain't Misbehavin' Clive Quigley
1995 Mole’s Christmas Various Voice only
1995 Heavenly Bodies Himself A 6-part series about astronomy
1996 Cuts Henry Babbacombe
1997 Dear Nobody Mr Garton
1997 Harry Hill Himself
1997 Scene Episode: "A Man of Letters"
1998 Jonathan Creek Stephen Claithorne Episode: "Danse Macabre"
1998 The Stalker’s Apprentice Maurice Burt
1998 Verdict Michael Naylor Episode: "Be My Valentine"
1998 Wuthering Heights Joseph Lockwood
1999 Molly Mr Greenfield
1999 Hope and Glory Neil Bruce Episode 1
1999 The Nearly Complete and Utter History of Everything Ferdinand Magellan
2000 The Mrs Bradley Mysteries Inspector Henry Christmas 3 episodes
2000 It’s Only TV… But I Like It Himself
2000–03 At Home with the Braithwaites David Braithwaite
2003 Too Good to be True Robert
2003–07 The Last Detective DC ‘Dangerous’ Davies
2004 Hardware Himself
2005–08 Distant Shores Bill Shore
2006 The Complete Guide to Parenting Professor George Huntley
2007 The Wright Stuff Himself
2007 Fear, Stress and Anger Martin Chadwick Appeared alongside his daughter, Georgia Moffet
2007 Marple Hubert Curtain Episode: "At Bertram’s Hotel"
2007 Doctor Who The Doctor "Time Crash" Special mini-episode for Children in Need
2008 Al Murray's Happy Hour Himself
2009 Unforgiven John Ingrams
2009 Al Murray’s Multiple Personality Disorder Nazi doctor
2009 Micro Men Bank Manager
2009 Midsomer Murders Nicky Frazer Episode: "Secrets and Spies"
2009 Miranda Mr Clayton Appeared alongside Patricia Hodge, his co-star in Holding the Fort
2009 The Queen Denis Thatcher Episode: "The Rival"
2010 Sherlock Planetarium Voice Episode: "The Great Game", uncredited
2011 New Tricks Charles Allenforth Episode: "The End of the Line"
2011–14 Law and Order: UK Henry Sharpe
2013 Lewis Peter Falkener Episodes: "The Ramblin Boy", parts one and two
2013 Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor Himself Guest
2013 Doctor Who At the Proms Himself Guest
2013 Pat & Cabbage Michael
2013 The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot Himself Also Writer and Director
2013 Doctor Who Live: The Afterparty Himself Guest
2014 Death in Paradise Arnold Finch Episode series 3.2
2014 Toast of London Himself Episodes: "The Moose Trap", "High Winds Actor"


Year Title Role Notes
1993 The Airzone Solution Al Dunbar
1994 The Zero Imperative Patient One
1994 A Man You Don’t Meet Every Day Robert
1994 Black Beauty Squire Gordon
1995 The Devil Of Winterborne Gavin Purcell
1996 Ghosts Of Winterborne Gavin Purcell
1999 Parting Shots John


Year Title Role Notes
1972 Love’s Labour’s Lost Nottingham Playhouse
1973 The Taming of the Shrew Open Space
1973 Midsummer Night’s Dream Royal Lyceum Theatre
1973 Hamlet Royal Lyceum Theatre
1974 Two Gentlemen of Verona Royal Lyceum Theatre
1974 Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Royal Lyceum Theatre
1980 Barefoot in the Park Paul Bratter Churchill Theatre, Bromley and UK tour
1982 Cinderella Buttons Assembly Hall Theatre Tunbridge Wells
1984 The Owl and the Pussycat Felix UK tour
1991 Arsenic and Old Lace Mortimer Brewster Chichester Festival Theatre
1992 The Decorator Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
1992–1993 The Last Yankee Leroy Hamilton Young Vic Theatre and Duke of York's Theatre
1994 An Absolute Turkey Valetin Gielgud Theatre
1996 Dial M For Murder Tony Wendice UK tour
1997 Cinderella Buttons Arts Theatre, Cambridge
1998–1999 Chicago Amos Hart Adelphi Theatre
2001 Under the Doctor Dr Jean-Pierre Moulineaux Yvonne Arnaud Theatre and Comedy Theatre, London
2007–2008 Spamalot King Arthur Palace Theatre
2009–2012 Legally Blonde Professor Calahan Savoy Theatre

Radio and CD audio drama

Year Title Role Notes
1985–1987 King Street Junior Eric Brown BBC Radio 4 Series 1 and 2
1995–1996 Change at Oglethorpe David Clare BBC Radio 2
1999 Sirens of Time The Fifth Doctor Big Finish
1999 Phantasmagoria The Doctor Big Finish
2000 The Land of the Dead The Doctor Big Finish
2000 Red Dawn The Doctor Big Finish
2000 Winter for the Adept The Doctor Big Finish
2000 The Mutant Phase: Dalek Empire, Part 3 The Doctor Big Finish
2001 Loups-Garoux The Doctor Big Finish
2001 Primeval The Doctor Big Finish
2001 The Eye of the Scorpion The Doctor Big Finish
2001 Excelis Dawns The Doctor Big Finish
2002 Spare Parts The Doctor Big Finish
2002 The Church and the Crown The Doctor Big Finish
2003 Nekromanteia The Doctor Big Finish
2003 Creatures of Beauty The Doctor Big Finish
2003 Omega The Doctor Big Finish
2003 Zagreus Reverend Townsend Big Finish
2003 No Place Like Home The Doctor Big Finish
2003–2006 Rigor Mortis Dr. Anthony Webster BBC Radio 4
2004 The Axis of Insanity The Doctor Big Finish
2004 The Roof of the World The Doctor Big Finish
2005 The Game The Doctor Big Finish
2005 Three’s a Crowd The Doctor Big Finish
2005 The Council of Nicaea The Doctor Big Finish
2005 Singularity The Doctor Big Finish
2006 The Kingmaker The Doctor Big Finish
2006 The Gathering The Doctor Big Finish
2007 Circular Time The Doctor Big Finish
2007 Renaissance of the Daleks The Doctor Big Finish
2007 Exotron and Urban Myths The Doctor Big Finish
2007 Son of the Dragon The Doctor Big Finish
2007 Return to the Web Planet The Doctor Big Finish
2007 The Mind's Eye The Doctor Big Finish
2008 The Bride of Peladon The Doctor Big Finish
2008 The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul Simon Draycott BBC Radio 4
2008 The Haunting of Thomas Brewster The Doctor Big Finish
2008 The Boy That Time Forgot The Doctor Big Finish
2008 Time Reef and A Perfect World The Doctor Big Finish
2009 Key 2 Time: The Judgement of Isskar The Doctor Big Finish
2009 Key 2 Time:The Destroyer of Delights The Doctor Big Finish
2009 Key 2 Time:The Chaos Pool The Doctor
2009 Castle of Fear The Doctor Big Finish
2009 The Eternal Summer The Doctor Big Finish
2009 Plague of the Daleks The Doctor Big Finish
2010 Cobwebs The Doctor Big Finish
2010 The Whispering Forest The Doctor Big Finish
2010 Cradle of the Snake The Doctor Big Finish
2010 The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories The Doctor Big Finish
2011 Heroes of Sontar The Doctor Big Finish
2011 Kiss of Death The Doctor Big Finish
2011 Rat Trap The Doctor Big Finish
2011 Hexagora The Doctor Big Finish
2011 The Elite The Doctor Big Finish
2011 Children of Seth The Doctor Big Finish
2012 The Four Companions The Fifth Doctor Big Finish
2012 The Emerald Tiger The Doctor Big Finish
2012 The Jupiter Conjunction The Doctor Big Finish
2012 The Butcher of Brisbane The Doctor Big Finish
2012 The Burning Prince The Doctor Big Finish
2012 1001 Nights The Doctor Big Finish
2012-13 Welcome To Our Village, Please Invade Carefully Richard Lyons BBC Radio 2
2013 The Lady of Mercia The Doctor Big Finish
2013 Prisoners of Fate The Doctor Big Finish
2013 Eldrad Must Die The Doctor Big Finish
2013 1963: Fanfare for the Common Men The Doctor Big Finish
2013 The Light At The End The Doctor Big Finish

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
1997 Destiny of the Doctors The Doctor Voice only


  1. ^ GRO Register of Births: JUN 1951, 5c 47, Battersea, Peter M. G. Moffett, mother's maiden surname Hallett
  2. ^ "Doctor Who – Classic Series – Episode Guide – Fifth Doctor Index". BBC. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d Davison, Peter; Yvonne Swann (22 February 2007). "All Roles Great and Small".  
  4. ^ "Peter Moffett aka Peter Davison". 
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b Peter Davison biography at the BFI
  7. ^ Starlog (102). 1986. 
  8. ^  
  9. ^ Interview with Peter Davison (April 2009)
  10. ^ "Who Needs Another Doctor?".  
  11. ^ """Peter Davison on Doctor Who's 50th anniversary:"I don’t think it will involve the older Doctors.  
  12. ^ "The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, BBC Red Button Review".  
  13. ^ "Peter Davison ('Doctor Who')". Digital Spy. 12 March 2008. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  14. ^ Doctor Who': Peter Davison talks the 50th and kissing companions"'". Digital Spy. 5 November 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  15. ^ "'"Peter Davison: 'I was quicker than most Doctors. BBC News. 21 November 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  16. ^ Practical Astronomy, Volume 1, number 5, dated March 1995
  17. ^ "Unforgiven".  
  18. ^ – Episode List"Midsomer Murders". Archived from the original on 26 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  19. ^ "Legally Blonde The Musical"Casting Complete for London's , Playbill, 10 September 2009
  20. ^ "Peter Davison Doctor Who Q&A Panel (5th Doctor) - Comicpalooza 2014". Retrieved 9 July 2014. 
  21. ^ Duncan, Andrew (26 October – 1 November 2013). "Geeks should rule the world". The Radio Times. p. 13. 
  22. ^ "General Election 2010: leading stars oppose Tory BBC plans". The Daily Telegraph (London). 25 April 2010. 
  23. ^ "My vote". The Guardian (London). 11 April 2010. 

External links

  • Peter Davison at the Internet Movie Database
  • Peter Davison Biography – British Film Institute
  • Violence & Vulnerability – Peter Davison article at
  • Chicago TARDIS 2011 – Peter Davison Interview on The Omega Podcast
  • Works by or about Peter Davison in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
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