Fifth American Doctor: Mark Harmon

1982–84. Honorable mentions: Michael Gross, David Michael Hasselhoff, Pierce Brosnan, Michael Keaton

Supporting Cast
Adric: Lee Curreri
Nyssa: Heather Locklear
Tegan Jovanka: Diana Canova
The Master: Edward Mulhare

Mark Harmon was chosen as a physical contrast to Barry Newman, as well as for his critically acclaimed role in the prime time soap opera Flamingo Road. At 29 years old, Harmon was the youngest actor to have played the Doctor. However, he only agreed to play the role for 3 years to keep from getting typecast. Harmon reportedly got this idea from second Doctor Leslie Nielsen. Harmon’s Doctor was a youthful pacifist, portraying 19th century upper-class values of chivalry, science, and golf. British actor Peter Davison based his Stephen Daker in A Very Peculiar Practice on Harmon’s sensitive, deliberate, and occasionally indecisive performance.

Prior to Doctor Who, Lee Curreri was best known for his role as the intense keyboard prodigy Bruno Martelli in the film Fame and its spinoff Fame television series. When Fame was cancelled, he immediately auditioned for and won the role of Adric. As a young boy, Curreri’s letter praising Doctor Who was published in Starlog magazine. Having started playing Adric the previous year, Curreri left the show — and acting altogether — to become a full-time musician. His breakthrough in this capacity was the soundtrack to The Killing Edge, the 1986 sci-fi thriller starring Matthew Waterhouse.

Heather Locklear made her earliest screen appearances in minor roles on CHiPs, 240-Robert, Eight Is Enough, and The Return of the Beverly Hillbillies. She’d already been working on Dynasty in 1981, but had a falling out with producer Aaron Spelling. Through her agent, Locklear auditioned for and won the role of Nyssa. Her good friend Sarah Sutton said Locklear “…pulled off [Nyssa’s] complicated and conflicting character with surprising ease and grace.”

Diana Canova made her television acting debut in Happy Days, then guest-starred in Chico and the Man, Starsky and Hutch, and Barney Miller. It was Canova’s recurring role on Soap that made Doctor Who producers want her to portray Tegan Jovanka. Once describing her character as “just a mouth on legs,” Canova’s Tegan was a perfect counter balance to Heather Locklear’s Nyssa. Her loud, smart, and stubborn performance inspired Janet Fielding‘s portrayal of Deborah Simons in Hold the Back Page.

Edward Mulhare‘s busy career, starting from the late 1940s, was on the wane by the 1980s. Doctor Who producers remembered his role of the poltergeist Captain Daniel Gregg in The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, as well as his later roles on Hart to Hart and Battlestar Galactica. He got the role of the Master when Ricardo Montalbán quit the show to do Fantasy Island. His performance as Arthur Sydney in the Hart to Hart episode “The Man with the Jade Eyes” won him the role of the Master.

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One thought on “Fifth American Doctor: Mark Harmon

  1. I do have a hard time picturing Harmon’s Doctor dressed in 19th Century Golf Clothes – I guess he’d wear a “duster” rather than a long coat, and a walking cap rather than the brimmed panama 🙂

    So when do we get a look at the 6th American Doctor…,after these fine choices (and each group is getting better) I’m curious whom we might get as Six,Peri and Mel…

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