Frazer Hines holds a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest serving Doctor Who companion, having appeared in 117 episodes of the classic series – including all of second Doctor Patrick Troughton’s stories bar the first – as Highlander Jamie McCrimmon.
Frazer shares his memories from his time on the show with STACK ahead of his appearance at the Supanova Comic Con & Gaming expo in Sydney this weekend.
Do you still enjoy doing the convention circuit?
I never get tired of talking about happy days. Working with Patrick Troughton, Deborah Watling and Wendy Padbury – those were fun times.
Is it mostly older fans that come to meet you, or are there younger ones now who have discovered Doctor Who through the new series?
It’s amazing. Young kids will come up with a CD or DVD and say, ‘My dad got me watching it – will you sign this for me?’ They love the black and white because it’s scarier than colour.
Shadows are scarier in black and white! The old black and white Frankenstein movies are still scarier than the Hammer horror ones in colour. Black is more of a colour in black and white.
It’s quite an achievement to be the longest running Doctor Who companion…
When I was offered The Highlanders all those years ago, if I had thought, ‘I can’t be bothered doing four episodes of a children’s show, I wouldn’t have seen Australia, New Zealand and parts of America. Doctor Who has given me a great living – it’s shown me the world.
Was there any talk of Jamie leaving the show prior to your last story, The War Games, in 1969?
My agent wanted me to leave earlier and there was a newspaper article about it. Patrick said to me, ‘I’ve just read the papers and you’re leaving!’ I told him I didn’t want to but my agent did. He said, ‘My contract runs out in six months time, wait and we’ll leave together.’ So I signed for another six months, and then Wendy Padbury said, ‘I’m not going to stay if Jon Pertwee is taking over because he’s much taller than me – I’ll leave with you guys!’ So we all left together.
What are your fondest memories from your time on Doctor Who?
Working with Patrick. And we had some great movie stars on the show – Jack Watling, Guy Middleton, Wanda Ventham… all these film actors doing Doctor Who! And they were such humble people and lovely to work with.
Do you have an all-time favourite story from that period?
I’d love them to find The Evil of the Daleks, because the Daleks became friends with Patrick and they played trains [laughs].
If they animate another story, I think The Highlanders would be good because there’s no monsters in it, and fans couldn’t say ‘that doesn’t look like a Dalek or a Cyberman.’
The missing stories Web of Fear and Enemy of the World were recently found and returned to the BBC archives. What were your feelings seeing those again?
That was brilliant! For years I’ve been saying that Enemy of the World is Patrick Troughton at his best, and people would say, ‘Oh yeah, he plays two parts, it’s been done before.’ But when they finally found it, and they saw it, it was suddenly, ‘Oh my God, Patrick is so good in it!’ And it opened their eyes to how good a story it is.
There’s a marvelous story about Web of Fear. We wanted to film in Covent Garden tube station, and they said no. So the boys built a set and after the episode was broadcast, London transport rang the BBC and said, ‘You’ve obviously broken into Covent Garden Station and filmed, so we’ll have to sue you.’ When they saw that it was a set, they thought it was amazing. Nowadays there are green screens, but those boys built an underground station – it should have won a BAFTA for special effects!
What did you think of the series when it came back in 2006?
I wasn’t a fan of the young Doctors, but I loved Peter Capaldi. I like an older Doctor. I met him when I was doing a play in Cardiff and he was so nice to me. He said to his crew, ‘If it wasn’t for this guy Frazer, we wouldn’t be working here today.’ A lovely and gracious man – he left too soon.
Is it true that Jamie inspired the TV series Outlander?
That’s right. Diana Gabaldon saw an episode of The War Games and loved Jamie’s kilt and his bravery. I met her a few years ago and she said how she had gone to church the next day and kept thinking of my character, my legs and the kilt. So she had to write this story with a character called Jamie Fraser and with a bit of time travel involved. I begat this TV series, which is wonderful!
• You can meet Frazer Hines at Supanova Comic-Con & Gaming expo at Sydney Showground Olympic Park on June 15–17, 2018.