ATTENDING ALL WEEKEND!
Peter Moffett, now better known by his stage name Peter Davison, was born on April 13, 1951, in the Streatham area of London.
On leaving school at the age of sixteen, he took a variety of short-lived jobs ranging from hospital porter to Hoffman press operator. He was still keen to pursue an acting career, however, and so applied for a place at drama school. He was accepted into the Central School of Speech and Drama and stayed there for three years.
Davison’s first professional acting work came in 1972 when, after leaving drama school in the July of that year, he secured a small role in a run of Love’s Labour’s Lost at the Nottingham Playhouse. This marked the start of a three-year period in which he worked in a variety of different repertory companies around the UK, often in Shakespearean roles. He then made his television debut, playing a blond-wigged space cowboy character called Elmer in A Man for Emily, a three-part story in the Thames TV children’s series The Tomorrow People. He later provided the theme tunes for a number of TV series, including Mixed Blessings (1978) and Button Moon (1980). Davison played the romantic lead, Tom Holland in Love for Lydia (1977), a London Weekend Television (LWT) period drama serial transmitted in 1977.
His greatest acting success came when he played Tristan in the BBC’s All Creatures Great and Small (1978), based on the books of country vet James Herriot, a highly successful series, which ran initially for three seasons between 1978-1980. His success in All Creatures Great and Small brought him many other offers of TV work. Amongst those that he took up were lead roles in two sitcoms: LWT’s Holding the Fort (1980), in which he played Russell Milburn, and the BBC’s Sink or Swim (1980), in which he played Brian Webber. Three seasons of each were transmitted between 1980 and 1982, consolidating Davison’s position as a well-known and popular television actor.
In December 1980, while on the BBC’s lunchtime magazine program Pebble Mill at One, he announced he was taking the lead role in Doctor Who. He discussed with the presenter a number of costume ideas sent in by viewers and was particularly impressed by a suggestion from one of a panel of young fans assembled in the studio that the new Doctor should be ‘like Tristan Farnon, but with bravery and intellect’. In 1981, Davison signed a contract to play the Doctor for three years, succeeding Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor) and, at age 29, was at the time the youngest actor to have played the lead role, a record he retained for nearly thirty years until Matt Smith (the Eleventh Doctor) took the role in 2009 at age 26. Attracting such a high-profile actor as Davison was as much of a coup for the program’s producers as getting the role was for him, but he did not renew his contract because he feared being typecast. The Fifth Doctor encountered many of the Doctor’s best-known adversaries, including the Daleks (in Resurrection of the Daleks) and the Cybermen (in Earthshock).
Davison returned to play the Fifth Doctor in the 1993 multi-doctor charity special Dimensions in Time and in the 1997 video game Destiny of the Doctors (audio only). He continues to reprise the role in a series of audio plays by Big Finish Productions. He returned once again in Time Crash, a special episode written by Steven Moffat for Children in Need; in the episode, which aired on November 16, 2007, the Fifth Doctor met the Tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant, who would later become Davison’s son-in-law.
Although he has taken occasional roles in theatre, radio and film, most of the actor’s work has been in the medium for which he is best known: television. His credits have included regular stints as Henry Myers in Anna of the Five Towns (1985), as Dr. Stephen Daker in A Very Peculiar Practice (1986), as Albert Campion in Campion (1989) and as Clive Quigley in Ain’t Misbehavin (1994) all for the BBC, and as Ralph in Yorkshire TV’s Fiddlers Three (1991). In addition, he has reprised his popular role of Tristan Farnon on a number of occasions for one-off specials and revival seasons of All Creatures Great and Small. In addition, he has appeared in a number of video dramas produced by Bill Baggs Video. In 2003 and 2004 he appeared as quiet and unassuming detective ‘Dangerous’ Davies in The Last Detective (2003), the Meridian TV adaptations of Leslie Thomas’s novels.