The stars of Patrick Troughton's Doctor Who – just before they joined the show
Never-before-published photographs from the Radio Times archive of a long-forgotten 1966 drama series.
Ever heard of This Man Craig? Chances are few of you will have. It was a drama series that ran for 52 episodes on BBC Two in 1966/67, with a small selection repeated on BBC One.
Only two episodes now exist in the BBC archive. The series was produced by BBC Scotland and starred John Cairney as an idealist young teacher, Ian Craig, at a secondary school in fictional Strathaird.
It has all but faded from public memory, but a file of photographs was recently recovered from the collection of Don Smith, the Radio Times photographer who died last year. It is unlikely that he took these pictures himself (RT rarely despatched him to Scotland and they don’t bear his stamp), but in years gone by Don made a point of salvaging and preserving many photographs that would have otherwise been discarded.
They are intriguing for Doctor Who fans because they show some of the stars of Who, working on This Man Craig only a few months before they would be travelling together through time and space. They have never been published before, and are the second in the our series of archive treasures to celebrate Doctor Who's 60th anniversary.
Nine months before he became the second Doctor, Patrick Troughton guest-starred in the episode A Wise Father. (The photos were taken on 5th January 1966; the programme aired on 28 January 1966.) Troughton played an obsessive and deeply troubled schoolteacher, Alec MacGregor. In these photos, he can be seen with Judy Parfitt as his wife, Sheila Arthur as their daughter, and John Cairney as Ian Craig.
One month later, Frazer Hines, who’d be playing the Doctor’s Highlander companion Jamie McCrimmon by the end of 1966, appeared in the episode Sticks and Stones. (The photos were taken on 9th February 1966; the programme aired on 11th March 1966.) He played Keith Mitchell, a schoolboy whose relationship with a girl was deemed "unsuitable" by her local councillor father (Ronald Fraser). Elizabeth Sellars guest-starred as Keith’s mother Mary.
Hines recalls This Man Craig clearly. "In the first episode with Elizabeth Sellars as my mum, I worked as a bookies’ runner at the dogs at night," he tells RadioTimes.com in 2023. "John Cairney and I got on really well. We used to do impressions of Hollywood film stars in between takes. In fact, I did two episodes playing different characters."
Strange but true. Just six months later, shortly before he became Jamie, Frazer Hines was cast as a completely different lad, Carew, in the episode Swimmer in a Shallow Cup. (These photos were taken on 31st August 1966; the programme aired on 8th October 1966.) "Ah, the plaster was fake as my character was a gymnast – on the hanging hoops – and of course I fell off," says Hines. In one of the pictures, playing his father Alec Carew, is Ronald Leigh Hunt, who later appeared with Hines in the 1969 Doctor Who serial The Seeds of Death.
As this was a Scottish drama series, had he been using his Scottish accent on TV before playing Jamie in Doctor Who? "Oh, loads of times, more Scots than English. But no, I was in fact English in This Man Craig, in the episode where Ronald Leigh Hunt was my dad. Maybe Scottish in the one with Elizabeth Sellars as my mum."
In a case of even stranger multiple casting, William Russell (early Doctor Who companion Ian Chesterton) guest-starred in three episodes of This Man Craig as three totally different characters. Also appearing in a 1966 episode was Barry Letts, in one of his last acting roles before he became a director and, from 1969, the producer of Doctor Who. Unfortunately, none of their performances are captured in our photographs.
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Happily, we do have pictures of Deborah Watling when she appeared in This Man Craig. She played Clare Maitland, whose role the Radio Times billing described thus: "An English girl, with all the outward symptoms of a snob boarding school education, finds herself a wretched misfit in the more informal atmosphere of Strathaird."
She features in the pictures alongside Anthony Newlands as her father and the show’s star, John Cairney. (The photos were taken on 21st September 1966; the programme aired on 5th November 1966.) By the spring of 1967 Watling would, of course, be playing companion Victoria Waterfield alongside Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines in the Doctor Who classic The Evil of the Daleks.
The black-and-white photos are just a sample from a bulging file for This Man Craig – another example of the Radio Times Archive preserving, by chance, many precious images from productions that the BBC itself no longer retains.
Next time: we return to Skaro and Draconia…