Ever wonder what happened to that weird guy from the mail room you worked with years ago? You know the one… never seemed to go home, always had his headphones on, and by the look of his shirt didn’t realize the washing machine had been invented?
Once in a while you might run into the weird copy room guy many years later and find that, shockingly, he went on to be incredibly successful despite still wearing that shirt.
Having been on TV for 36 of the past 50 years, Doctor Who has it’s own version of the mail room guy; the dozens of companions who travelled in the Tardis and then went on to varied careers, and in many cases ditched acting altogether to make their mark. Here’s 5 crazy post Who Careers….
MARK STRICKSON BROUGHT THE WORLD THE CROCODILE HUNTER – We are big fans of Turlough and have already lobbied to bring him back, in no small part due to the terrifically pithy performance of Mark Strickson. But after he left the TARDIS, Strickson also left acting to take on his true passion; hanging in the wild with untamed animals, and then taping it.
We mean he went on to become a respected producer of Nature films for ITV, the Discovery Channel and a host of other networks. And it was in this capacity that pop culture owes him a debt of gratitude for bringing us Steve Irwin, AKA The Crocodile Hunter. While producing the Ten Deadliest Snakes in New Zealand for Animal Planet, Strickson came across Irwin’s then local TV show The Crocodile Hunter and asked him to host the program. Irwin agreed, and Snakes propelled him to even larger fame in the U.S. and across the world until his tragic and untimely death in 2007.
LOUISE JAMESON – PRISON REHABILITATOR
Leela (of no fixed address or last name) joined the Doctor in 1977 and stayed aboard for two series when, having run out of people to threaten with her knife, left the show. Jamieson did go on to a fairly successful acting career appearing in numerous British TV series, but it was her work as a prison rehabilitator that really stands out.
Jamieson was a regular prison visitor during the first few years of her career; and, during the early 1970s, she met Leslie Grantham at Leyhill Prison in Gloucestershire, where he was serving 12 years of a life sentence for murder. She kept up the visits with Grantham even after leaving Who, and perhaps realizing that the television ranks were already replete with blood thirsty killing machines…
…encouraged him to become an actor; and, by 1985, he had secured the role of Den Watts in EastEnders. That’s quite an achievement for a gal who was recruited to Doctor Who mainly to encourage fathers to keep watching after the football results.
JOHN LEVENE – TERRIBLE SINGER
John Levene was a fixture of the Pertwee years in the 70s, portraying the stalwart, if uncomplicated Sargeant Benton.
He wasn’t a companion in the strictest sense since he stayed earthbound, although he did travel in the TARDIS once (1973’s 10th Anniversary episode The Three Doctors) After the show shifted focus and left the Brig and the rest of UNIT behind, Levene quit acting to set up his own highly successful audio visual company. And then…he started singing.
That’s Levene crooning along with Star Trek alum Robin Curtis at a fan convention in 1992. For some reason, that “performance” encouraged Levene to keep up the wailing, and he’s been a regular entertainer on cruise lines and the convention circuits in the years since. He loved singing so much he even released a self produced album called…The Ballads of Sergeant Benton.
Now, we’re not saying this is a case of a one time B-list actor trading on his former celebrity to make a few bucks off devoted fans with a low budget music album, but…it sounds alot like Levene, a one time B-list actor, is trading on his former celebrity to make a few bucks by selling his low budget music album directly to fans. But, more power to him, if someone enjoys it, what harm is it?
JOHN LEESON – FAILED POLITICIAN
If you’ve watched Doctor Who at all in the last 40ish years, you’ve likely seen at least one or two episodes featuring K-9; the Doctor’s loveable, know it all robot dog. The Doctor and K-9 were a formidable team and the best of friends!
Uh…. well anyway, K-9, in almost all versions of the character, was voiced by John Leeson. When K-9 was ultimately written out of the series in 1980, Leeson went on to continue his acting career, appearing in numerous stage productions and children’s TV shows, but acting wasn’t his only pursuit. He’s also actively engaged in local politics; he spent a quarter of a century as Justice of the Peace in Ealing, and in both 2002 and 2010 ran for MP as a Liberal Democrat in the UK general election.
Incidentally, in both elections, Leeson stood as a candidate in Perivale, which is the hometown of Ace in the classic series. Too bad she didn’t encourage a few more voters to support Leeson.
LALLA WARD – ROYAL CERAMIC ARTIST AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATIONIST
The Honourable Lalla Ward, who portrayed Romana’s second incarnation, first appeared on our screens in 1979 after the character, for no reason at all, decided to adopt a new body. Of course, we know the REAL reason Romana had to change bods; because producers decided it was a perfect time to belittle the traumatic, life saving process of regeneration to get around the troublesome off screen issue of Mary Tamm leaving the show.
Romana travelled with the Doctor until 1981, when she decided to stay in E-Space with K-9 instead of returning to Gallifrey. In the real world, after Who, Ward effectively quit acting and focused on another of her passions; ceramic artwork. In fact, she’s become such an accomplished artist her work has raised thousands for wildlife conservation charities and has been featured in the famous National Gallery in London.