Friday 6 November 2020

Geoffrey Palmer (1927 - 2020)

There are many actors who have appeared in Doctor Who on two or more occasions. Far fewer are the number who appeared in both the Classic and New iterations of the programme. And I can't think of many at all who were killed in every story they appeared in. And there's certainly only one person who fits all that and had a Doctor Who director for a son and a "companion" actor for a daughter-in-law - Geoffrey Palmer.
Sadly, news comes today that he has passed away, at the age of 93.

His first appearance in the show was in 1970's The Silurians, in which he portrayed the civil servant Masters. This was the type of role he was often given. Masters appears mid-story, and dies midway through the penultimate episode, victim of the Silurian plague virus.
The scene at Marylebone Station of him getting off a train was him actually getting off his real train from his home in Gloucestershire.
He returned later in the Pertwee era as another official - the unnamed Earth Administrator in The Mutants. In this, as well as not even having a name, he is assassinated in the very first episode.

When the programme returned in 2005, his son Charles directed a number of stories during the Tennant and Capaldi eras. Geoffrey himself appeared in the 2007 Christmas Special, Voyage of the Damned, playing the doomed Captain of the Titanic spaceship, who sacrifices his life for the financial benefit of his family. Charles Palmer was the husband of actress Claire Skinner, who was the temporary companion opposite Matt Smith in The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe, the 2011 Christmas Special.
Palmer, born Geoffrey Dyson Palmer in 1927, came to public prominence in the 1970's in a number of sitcoms - most notably Butterflies, and the Reggie Perrin series (getting his own spin-off series). He also featured in a classic episode of Fawlty Towers - the one about the dead guest and the toxic kipper.
Another big sitcom hit was As Time Goes By, which ran for almost ten years. He starred opposite Judi Dench in this, and the two were to be seen together on screen on many occasions - including the Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies. All his scenes were with Dench's "M".
Palmer was awarded an OBE in 2004.

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