The Tour has learned that Scottish actor Hamish Wilson died yesterday (March 28) aged 77. What makes this notable, particularly for fans whose breadth of Doctor Who knowledge is understandingly incomplete, is still Wilson has one of charmingly odd and quirky Doctor Who resumes one could ever hope for.
In the 60’s when an average of 42 episodes of the show were cranked out, it was not uncommon for the regulars would take a week or two off in-season. Their appearances in the show during their absence would be minimized by either pre-taping their segments or by shunting them off-screen entirely with little said to highlight their absence. Our favorite solution to this would be to have someone put in jail for a spell, only to be set free in time for episode 4. But these were planned, scripted solutions necessary for the maintenance of the overall enterprise.
When Frazer Hines came down with chicken pox after production on episode one of The Mind Robber a solution needed to be found quickly. Fortunately for everyone involved The Mind Robber was a story based on storytelling and imagination and ideally suited for a quick, if amusing mid-story change.
When Jamie was frozen in place during an attack, the Doctor to unfreeze him comes a board of cut-out facial features and a blank face to put them one, and of course he gets it wrong. Enter Hamish Wilson.
“I had a phone call from my agent saying they had a job for me. I was working in a job in central London which involved shifting old furniture out of offices and putting new furniture in, and erecting it. The deal was, if I had to go to an audition, I could go away, and this was to go to the rehearsal room – I think it was a church hall – and I would be recording a Doctor Who the following day. It was very good news as it was ‘proper’ work, as opposed to furniture shifting, as I was pretty good at it and fairly nifty with a screwdriver!”
“Frazer Hines had got chickenpox and one of the thing you mustn’t do is enter industrial premises if you’ve got rubella, because there may well be women who are pregnant, and don’t know it, and rubella can damage the foetus. So Fraser couldn’t go in, and they were literally recording the following day, so I went off and spent a complete day doing nothing but blocking, and being shown the moves in various scenes in which Jamie appeared. Patrick Troughton was lovely. He was an actor I’d always admired.”
“It was a remarkable thing to do. Both Patrick and Wendy, who I had most of my scenes with, were so supportive of me as the pig-in-the-middle doing that first episode, and having to get it done so quick. It was great fun working with them, the guest cast, and all of the crew, they really were tremendous.”
Wilson appeared in episodes 2 and 3 before Hines was cleared for work. The process is restoring Jamie was reversed and the story went on. For years we here at the Tour had heard that Wilson was Frazer Hines’ cousin, so the substitution would have made even more sense, but that simply wasn’t the case. Instead it’s just an amusing footnote in the tapestry of Doctor Who.