Friday, May 14, 2004

Passed Master

Anthony Ainley, the fourth actor to play the Master in the BBC's Doctor Who tv series, reportedly died this week. He played the role opposite most of the Doctors at one time or another, most notably Tom Baker and Peter Davison.  Ainley's last canonical appearance as the Master was with Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor, back in 1989.   Needless to say, it's sad news.  Anthony Ainley was a nice man.  I met him at Visions in the early 1990s, when we were gearing up to do the Doctor Who trading cards for Cornerstone.   

A couple of times that weekend, Ainley said, "I'm just a humble actor, with a lot to be humble about!"  In truth he was better than that. When I complimented his restrained performance in "Survival," he told me that most directors always wanted him to play the Master "bigger"--i.e., over-the-top.  He was good at that, but his more subtle performances were the really memorable ones.   For me he was The Master.


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