The Third Doctor

Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor

1970 saw great changes for Doctor Who as the Third Doctor began his story, and we shall look at how the show developed, and where to get Blu Rays, books and other Third Doctor paraphernalia.

The last time we saw The Doctor he had been tried by his people, the Time Lords, for breaking their laws of non-interference, and sentenced to exile on the planet Earth with a forced regeneration. And we start the new season exactly where we left off with the Tardis materialising on Earth, the new Doctor opening the door and collapsing. He and his Tardis are brought to the attention of UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce), who he had encountered twice before in his previous incarnation. Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart is disappointed to find that the man with the tardis, who claims he knows the Brigadier, clearly isn’t the man he met before and, therefore, doesn’t believe it is the Doctor.

However by the end of their first adventure, defeating an invasion by the Nestene Consciousness, and of living plastic – the Autons, he is resigned to the fact that this is the Doctor, and he offers to give him the resources to try and get the Tardis working, in exchange for his assistance fighting any further alien invasions. And so begins the Doctor’s time as UNIT’s scientific advisor.

The Third Doctor’s companions

The Third Doctor and his 'Fam' - Jo Grant, Liz Shaw, The Brigadier and Sarah-Jane Smith.

The Doctor is assisted, first by scientist Liz Shaw and later by UNIT trainee Jo Grant, and journalist Sarah-Jane Smith. And for much of his time there is the continuous support of the UNIT family – specifically Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, Captain Mike Yates and Sergeant John Benton. Their adversaries ranged from those that were home-grown, such as the  evolved reptiles – the Silurians and their watery cousins the Sea Devils, to alien invaders like  the Axons, the Sontarens and the Daleks. We are also introduced to the renegade Time Lord, The Master, who is a regular threat to Earth and the third Doctor.

The Three Doctors

During his time on Earth the Doctor is called upon by the Time Lords to help them when their energy is being drained by a black hole. As they are powerless to help him, they enable him to help himself by breaking the laws of time and sending his earlier selves to UNIT so they can work together. The three Doctors defeat another Time Lord, Omega, a founder of Time Lord society and cause of the attack on Gallifrey,  and in return the Time Lords release the Doctor from his exile on Earth.

How does the Third Doctor Die?

The third Doctor finally meets his end at the hand of the ‘Eight Legs’ of Metebelis 3, giant mutated spiders in search of a missing blue crystal needed to complete their plans to take over the universe. He realises that the only way to defeat them is to return to Metebelis 3 and face the ‘Great One’ knowing it will probably mean his end. The Doctor succeeds in defeating the ‘Eight legs’ and returns to UNIT, but not before receiving a lethal dose of radiation from the Great One’s cave, forcing him to regenerate into the fourth Doctor.

Play Video

The Third Doctor’s Personality

This incarnation of the Doctor was flamboyant in his dress sense – tending to velvet jackets and ruffled shirts, authoritative in his manner, not reluctant to get involved in the action – often using his skills in Venusian aikido, and fond of his friends – getting visibly upset when his long-time companion, Jo Grant, left him to get married.

The First Master - Roger Delgado

Roger Delgado’s Master was a suave, intelligent, schemer. We first meet him in Season 8 and, in fact, he was an adversary in every story that season, becoming part of the Doctor Who family. He and the Doctor clearly respected each other and even had a grudging friendship – The master was very much a Moriarty to The Doctor’s Sherlock Holmes. In real life Roger and Jon Pertwee became firm friends, and Roger’s sudden death in 1973 in a car accident (at the young age of 55) was a key reason for Pertwee’s decision to leave the series.

Roger Delgado as The Master
Roger Delgado as The Master

Who is Jon Pertwee?

At the time when he took over from Patrick Troughton as the third incarnation of The Doctor, Jon Pertwee had been mostly known for playing comedy parts  – see his turns in Carry On films Cleo, Cowboys, Screaming (and later Columbus), and his role as Chief Petty Officer Pertwee in the long-running radio show The Navy Lark. When it was announced that Troughton was leaving Doctor Who Pertwee asked his agent to apply for the role for him, and was surprised to find that he was already on producer Peter Bryant’s shortlist!

Sean Pertwee (Alfred Pennyworth from Gotham) is Jon’s son, and this is a video of him discussing his dad on what would have been his 100th birthday in 2019.

Play Video

Third Doctor Dalek episodes

The Third Doctor faced his most evil foes four times – on Earth in The Day of the Daleks, fighting invisible ones in Planet of the Daleks, joining forces with powerless ones in Death to the Daleks, and being surprised by them at the end of Frontier in Space. Jon Pertwee, however, was never particularly impressed with them, always saying that aliens on another world were never as scary as “coming home and finding a Yeti on your loo in Tooting Bec”.

Jon Pertwee reading a paper, sitting in front of a yeti!

Third Doctor Stories

Season 71970Spearhead from Space4 episodesBlu Ray
Season 71970The Silurians7 episodesDVD
Season 71970The Ambassadors of Death7 episodesDVD
Season 71970Inferno7 episodesDVD
Season 81971Terror of the Autons4 episodesDVDSeason 8 Box Set
Season 81971The Mind of Evil6 episodesDVDSeason 8 Box Set
Season 81971The Claws Of Axos4 episodesDVDSeason 8 Box Set
Season 81971Colony In Space6 episodesDVDSeason 8 Box Set
Season 81971The Daemons5 episodesDVDSeason 8 Box Set
Season 91972Day Of The Daleks4 episodesDVD
Season 91972The Curse Of Peladon4 episodesDVD
Season 91972The Sea Devils6 episodesDVD
Season 91972The Mutants6 episodesDVD
Season 91972The Time Monster6 episodesDVD
Season 101973The Three Doctors4 episodesDVDSeason 10 Box Set
Season 101973Carnival Of Monsters4 episodesDVDSeason 10 Box Set
Season 101973Frontier In Space6 episodesDVDSeason 10 Box Set
Season 101973Planet Of The Daleks6 episodesDVDSeason 10 Box Set
Season 101973The Green Death6 episodesDVDSeason 10 Box Set
Season 111974The Time Warrior4 episodesDVD
Season 111974Invasion Of The Dinosaurs6 episodesDVD
Season 111974Death To The Daleks4 episodesDVD
Season 111974The Monster Of Peladon6 episodesDVD
Season 111974Planet Of The Spiders6 episodesDVD

Third Doctor Audio Dramas

Back in 1993 Jon Pertwee returned as the 3rd Doctor in a 5-part audio drama called The Paradise of Death. It reunited him with Elizabeth Sladen (Sarah-Jane Smith) and Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart) and also Barry Letts who produced the series during his tenure and wrote this script. It was first broadcast on BBC Radio 5, and later on BBC radio 2.

During that Radio 2 repeat, the episodes were accidentally aired out of order. This led to so many complaints that the BBC  realised they had under-estimated the size of the audience. Having realised this they commissioned a sequel – The Ghosts of N-Space, which was broadcast in 1996. More stories would probably have followed but sadly Pertwee died in May of that year.

Both of these stories are available on Audible. Also on Audible are readings of the classic target novelisations such as The Claws of Axos and The Daemons.


The Third Doctor’s audible adventures also continue thanks to the creative people at Big Finish. We have had stories told from the companion’s point of view, narrated by the likes of Katy Manning (Jo Grant) Caroline John (Liz Shaw) and Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart). And now Big Finish have taken the big decision to recast the Third Doctor who is now played by Tim Treloar,  who does a very commendable audio recreation of Jon Pertwee! You can find their Third Doctor stories here.

See below for a trailer.

Play Video

You can also buy the Target audiobooks and some Big Finish plays on CD from Amazon (UK / USA).

Third Doctor Collectables and Books

Sideshow model of the Third Doctor

Third Doctor Sixth Scale figure by Big Chief Studios
Sideshow (USA)

3rd Doctor Sonic Screwdriver

3rd Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver
Amazon UK / Amazon USA

Mini-bust of Jon Pertwee as the 3rd Doctor

Jon Pertwee mini-bust by Titan Merchandise
Amazon UK / Amazon USA

Sea Devil resin figure with gun

Sea Devil resin figure
Amazon UK / Amazon USA

Front cover of the book "I am usually referred t as The Master" a biography of the first Master - Roger Delgado

Biography of Roger Delgado, the first Master – “I am usually referred to as The Master”


Figures from Eaglemoss of the the 3rd Doctor, Jo Grant, Brigadier Letbridge-Stewart and Sergeant Benton

Doctor Who Figurine Collection Companion Set #12: 3rd Doctor, Jo, Grant & Brigadier
Forbidden Planet (UK) / Entertainment Earth (USA)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the dashing Third Doctor; if you have please leave a comment, or subscribe to the e-mail list.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *