Doctor Who fans in Lancashire got to toast show’s 60th anniversary with former star Peter Purves

Fans of Doctor Who were given the opportunity of commemorating the TV show’s 60th anniversary in the company of one of its stars during an event at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).
Peter Purves and Professor Andrew Ireland in the room where scenes for the Doctor Who missing episode recreation were filmed.Peter Purves and Professor Andrew Ireland in the room where scenes for the Doctor Who missing episode recreation were filmed.
Peter Purves and Professor Andrew Ireland in the room where scenes for the Doctor Who missing episode recreation were filmed.

How is UCLan connected to Doctor Who?

Doctor Who is the longest running science fiction series in the world, and the UCLan’s involvement with it includes Alumnus Mandip Gill who played companion Yasmin Khan opposite Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor from 2018 to 2022, and back in 2019, when the university recreated a missing episode of Doctor Who: Mission to the Unknown.

The recreated missing episode which can still be viewed, premiered on the Doctor Who YouTube channel to critical acclaim, delighting science fiction fans all over the world. To date the episode has been viewed 259,710 times.

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Preston actor and Dr Who fan favourite Peter Purves – who played Steven Taylor, a space pilot from future Earth and companion to the first Doctor Who from 1965 to 1966 – was also made a UCLan Honorary Fellow in 2022.

Returned to the franchise, this year Petere appeared in Tales of the TARDIS, a new six-part series available on BBC iPlayer that reunites classic Doctor Who duos as they board a very special TARDIS on a nostalgic voyage through space and time.

What was the event?

Organised by Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Ireland, a special event held last week celebrated the many connections UCLan has with the popular series.

The event took place in the UCLan’s Media Factory, in the exact same space where the university recreated and filmed scenes from the missing Doctor Who episode, as was attended by Prestonian Peter.

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Sadly, almost all the episodes Peter appeared in have been lost. For this reason, Mr Purves has always given his full support and backing to Professor Ireland’s acclaimed recreated lost episode, which brought together university colleagues, students, and graduates, in acting, filming, staging, makeup, set construction, and costume roles.

Doctor Who fans who attended the event enjoyed a screening of the recreated missing episode and a Q&A conversation with Mr Purves. Mandip Gill took part in a pre-recorded interview that was played in, as she was busy filming for a new project. Dr Sarita Robinson, the Associate Dean of the School of Psychology and Humanities also presented a talk on the psychology of Doctor Who. There was also a full-sized Dalek in the room, flanked by deadly Varga plants.

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What was said at the event?

During the event, Peter Purves said: “Almost all my episodes are missing. Everyone who played Doctor Who’s companion after me earned considerable royalties because the science fiction series has a worldwide appeal. I have never earned a penny from it.

“When I heard about Andrew’s recreated lost episode I tweeted a message to my followers about the project, without saying too much, and the Doctor Who fans went mad for it. It’s people like Andrew who kept the show alive. Really, it died in 1989 but once it came back to our screens it’s gone from strength to strength and I’m thrilled to be a part of it once more.”

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Professor Ireland added: “I’ve always been a fan of Doctor Who - it gave me a love of television, shaped my career, and inspired my PhD. I love the character of the Doctor because rather than relying on weapons, it is brains, thinking and intelligence that is relied upon to win the day and conquer adversity. That’s a great role model, and an important message there for us all.”