Saturday, January 9, 2010

Companions: Ben Jackson

Affiliated with.....First Doctor & Second Doctor
Home planet.........Earth
Home era............1966
First appearance....The War Machines
Last appearance.....The Faceless Ones
Portrayed by........Michael Craze

Ben Jackson first appears in the First Doctor serial, The War Machines, when he meets Polly and Dodo in a London nightclub called the Inferno. As an Able Seaman serving in the Royal Navy, aboard the HMS Teazer, Ben is feeling depressed and angry because he has a six-month shore posting while his ship is deployed to the West Indies, but Polly and Dodo try to cheer him up. When Polly is accosted by another patron in the Inferno, Ben comes to her rescue. Eventually, Ben and Polly aid the Doctor in his fight against the rogue artificial intelligence known as WOTAN. Afterward, Ben and Polly are the bearers of the news of Dodo's decision to stay in 1966 to the Doctor, and accidentally get carried away in the TARDIS when they try to return Dodo's key to the time machine.

Ben is a salt-of-the-Earth kind of fellow, dependable, faithful, but prone to be suspicious when kept in the dark or not understanding what was going on. He is very attached to Polly, considering her posh, giving her the nickname of "Duchess" and appointing himself as both her protector and that of the Doctor's. He is present with Polly when the First Doctor regenerates into the Second, and continues to travel with the Second Doctor.

Eventually, the TARDIS finds its way back to 1966 London (in The Faceless Ones) on the very day Ben and Polly had left (although about a year had passed for them). They decide to remain behind to resume their lives without disruption as the Doctor and Jamie travel on.

What happens to Ben after his return to Earth is not known. The Doctor seems to think that Ben will become an Admiral and that Polly will look after Ben, but it is unclear if this is a prediction or simply wishing them well.

Michael Craze (29 November 1942 – 8 December 1998) was a British actor noted for his role of Ben Jackson, a companion of the Doctor, in the long-running BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who. He played the part from 1966 to 1967 alongside both William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton.

Craze was born in Cornwall. He got into acting by chance as, at the age of twelve, he discovered through Boy Scout Gang Shows that he had a perfect boy soprano voice. This led him to win parts in The King and I and Plain and Fancy, both at Drury Lane, and Damn Yankees at the Coliseum. Once he had left school, he went into repertory and got into TV through his agent. His first television was a show called Family Solicitor for Granada which was followed, amongst others, by a part in ABC TV's 1960 series Target Luna (written by Malcolm Hulke and Eric Price and produced by Sydney Newman).

At the age of twenty Craze wrote, directed and acted in a film called The Golden Head which won an award at the Commonwealth Film Festival in Cardiff. Following Doctor Who, Craze worked on several ITV productions, including one episode (The Last Visitor) of Hammer Films' first TV series Journey to the Unknown in 1968. Other television roles include parts in Dixon of Dock Green and Z-Cars. In the 1980s Michael acted only occasionally and also managed a pub.

He was originally meant to play the role of Krelper in the 1984 Doctor Who story The Caves of Androzani, However this was vetoed by the then producer John Nathan-Turner and the part was recast.

Craze died of a heart attack on 8 December 1998. He had fallen down some steps the previous day while picking up his neighbour's paper for her, and owing to a heart condition, they were unable to operate.

Michael Craze's brother is actor Peter Craze. Coincidentally Peter Craze has also appeared in Doctor Who in a number of guest roles but never worked with his brother on the series.

Craze's name was used by comedians Matt Lucas and David Walliams for a character in their sketch show Little Britain: "Sir Michael Craze" in the programme is a theatrical agent.

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