Doctor Who – The Master (Part 4 -The Also Masters )

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Before we wrap up our exploration of the Master, I feel it’s important to consider those who, while maybe not as memorable or quick to mind as the others, have also assumed the guise of that most diabolical of Gallifreyans.

Master Gordon TippleLet us first start with the shortest on-screen Master. That would be Gordon Tipple from the 1996 movie. Doubtless you’ve forgotten the interesting slant he put on the character as he is stoically exterminated by squeaky Daleks. For years, I thought the name Gordon Tipple was similar to David Agnew or Alan Smithee, i.e., names you put in the credits when you don’t wish to be identified or, as  in the case of “Shada,” you’re the script editor and producer and the Beeb’s guidelines forbid you from your names appearing in the credits lest they should have to pay you an extra fee. But, believe it or not, Gordon Tipple is an actual jobbing actor. He’s been in tens of things you may have never watched or were even aware of. He’s even popped up on The X-Files a few times. Go figure.

As for his portrayal, well, there’s nowt much y’kin say. His appearance, decked out in a Delgado-esque suit, amounts to a handful of seconds before his Master is blasted into oblivion. Cue opening titles with the Pertwee logo.

Master William HughesNext up on our list of also-rans is William Hughes, surely the youngest actor ever to play the Master, from the Season Four two-part finale, “The Sound of Drums” and “The End of Time.” As the eight year-old Master, he is shown the Untempered Schism, a rip in the fabric of space and time, through which a Time Lord can see the time vortex. According to legend, being exposed to the Untempered Schism can lead a Time Lord to discovering their true purpose or can drive them mad.

As an actor and a Master, Hughes has two expressions: blank bewilderment and bewildering blankness. C’mon, son, a simple eye twitch would be an improvement. Truly, his performance makes Pia Zadora look like Joan Plowright.

For those who do not possess a fixation over what’s canon (like me), the Master pops up in the Big Finish Productions’ Doctor Who Unbound series. In “Sympathy For The Devil,” an alternate take on the Third Doctor’s era, the Master is played by Mark Gatiss. However, not much is known about him apart from his writing & acting in an obscure British science fantasy TV series and co-producing a modern retelling of an obscure literary detective series. Less said, the better.

Master Derek JacobiFinally, there is Sir Derek Jacobi from “Utopia.” With his true Time Lord nature hidden inside of a fob watch, similar to what the Doctor used in “Human Nature”/”Family of Blood,” we first meet him as Professor Yana, a doddering, yet well-meaning scientist trying to save humanity from the end of universe (itself an ironic position considering the Master’s past activities). When Yana finally discovers his true nature, we are given precious few minutes to enjoy the 180-degree turn in his character.

 

The_Master_(Scream_of_the_Shalka)Clearly, Jacobi (himself a veteran of the BF “Doctor Who Unbound” series and who also played the Master in the alternate Ninth Doctor animated story, “The Scream of the Shalka” ) enjoys the chance to play an evil bastard. But, alas, his time is brief as he is shot and regenerates into a newer, younger, more maniacal Master. And more on him next time.

 

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