Doctor Who actor Frazer Hines comes to Sydney for SupaNova

Coming to Australia: Second Doctor companion actor Frazer Hines.
Coming to Australia: Second Doctor companion actor Frazer Hines.

His legs helped inspire author Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books and even got sixties playwright Joe Orton’s pulse racing so it’s perhaps surprising that Doctor Who producers once considered ditching the iconic kilt worn by Second Doctor companion, Jamie McCrimmon.

“After about 18 months they said: ‘Frazer do you want to get rid of the kilt?’. I said ‘no, I want to keep it’,” said actor Frazer Hines ahead of his appearance at Sydney’s SupaNova in June.

“I thought if I start wearing trousers, then I start wearing my own jeans, then I start wearing my own cowboy boots. In the end it’s just Frazer Hines with a Scottish accent. So I always wanted to keep the kilt for this space hobo and his kilted companion.”

Outlander fans should be grateful for this decision. It was the sight of Jamie’s legs that saw Diana Gabaldon set her series of books in eighteenth century Scotland after watching the Highlander companion in an old episode of Doctor Who. The series of novels is now a hit television series thanks to the Starz network.

Hines met the American author in Edinburgh in 2009

“She told me the story that she went to church the next day [after watching the Doctor Who episode] and she kept thinking about my legs and my kilt from the previous day. I thought: ‘Diana, can you pay my mortgage now? I must have made you a millionairess!,” he joked.

Hines was starring in UK soap Emmerdale Farm when he heard the news that Doctor Who had rated a mention in sixties playwright Joe Orton’s diaries. The gay writer wrote that the show was “rubbish” but admitted to “mentally undressing” Jamie. Orton even entertained casting the Doctor Who star in his play Entertaining Mr Sloane, something that never eventuated for a variety of reasons including, said Hines, “because I had a reputation for the ladies”.

The lure of his legs notwithstanding, Jamie McCrimmon’s 1960s pairing with the Second Doctor, played by Patrick Troughton, is one of the most popular in the series’ history – a fact even more impressive as many of these stories no longer exist due to an old BBC policy of purging early black and white episodes.

Hines is quick to answer when asked which of his stories he would most like to see recovered.

“I’d love to see (1967’s) Evil of the Daleks. That was a lovely story with the Daleks actually being friendly and Patrick Troughton actually jumped on the back of them and they were playing trains,” he said.

The Highlanders (Jamie’s first story) would be a good story to animate for DVD because there’re only four episodes and there were no monsters so the fans can’t say ‘that doesn’t look like a Dalek, or that doesn’t look like the Macra’.”

But it’s thanks to the availability of the existing Second Doctor stories on DVD that has seen Hines garner a new generation of fans.

“It’s amazing at conventions, 12-year-old kids will come up and say I wasn’t alive [when your episodes aired] but my dad got me watching your shows,” he said.

“They love the black and white because it’s scary. It’s lovely for me and it’s great for Patrick’s stories. I’m really pleased at that.”

Power of black and white: Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor.

Power of black and white: Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor.

Hines shows a keen interest in Doctor Who’s current series and delights in retelling a story about being invited to visit the Cardiff set in 2015 while 12th ​Doctor Peter Capaldi was filming.

“At the end of the scene he turned and pointed at me and said ‘If it wasn’t for this guy and his Doctor we wouldn’t be here now working’, and they all turned around and gave me a round of applause,” said Hines. “I thought that was so lovely of Peter Capaldi. He didn’t have to do that.”

With Jodie Whittaker set to take over the iconic role later this year as the first female Doctor, Hines makes no secret of his thoughts on the possibility of the kilted Jamie McCrimmon making a return to the show.

“I’ve always said I’d love my character to come back. I think you could say to Jodie Whittaker: ‘I’m sorry Doctor, I think my legs are better than yours!”.