I just stumbled across this vintage interview with Peter Davison from 1982 as the actor looked back on his first year as the star of the longest running sci-fi program on TV. As Tom Baker was a relative unknown and Jon Pertwee a stage performer/song and dance man before being cast as the Doctor, Davison was the first real actor to play the role of the face-changing Timelord since veteran character actor Patrick Troughton.
The Fifth Doctor offered the production staff the opportunity to remake both the character of the Doctor and the program as a whole for the first time in a very long while. Whereas the previous era starring Tom Baker had delved into comedy and fantasy, Doctor Who of the 1980′s was determined to become more directed toward science fiction, meaning that viewers would see more aliens and quarries posing as alien worlds than ever before. The concept of the ‘historic’ adventure was also revived, bringing the Doctor and his companions to the 1920′s and 17th Century.
Despite such a wide variety of stories in 1982, no season of Doctor Who is perfect and I wager that if Peter Davison was quite pleased with Earthshock, he must have been heartbroken by the follow up story Time Flight featuring an offensive caricature of the Master, pantomime rejects posing as the Concorde flight crew and monsters made of scrubbing bubbles. It’s interesting to see the actor being cagey about his plans regarding staying on board as he had been advised by Doctor #2 Patrick Troughton to give the series 3 years before moving on.
Based on the negative experience of his second year (from poor scripts to studio strikes and the 20th Anniversary hassle), Peter Davison already had work lined up for when he left for good in ’83.