Neil Gaiman: “Troughton was my favourite Doctor”

Neil Gaiman on Doctor Who’s Patrick Troughton, “silent Cybermen” and ‘The Web Planet’

Author Neil Gaiman
Author Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is set to return to Doctor Who for Series 7 Part 2 with an episode titled ‘Nightmare In Silver’.

It’s set to be the 12th installment and features the classic foes, the Cybermen. It guest stars Warwick Davis, Tamzin Outhwaite and Jason Watkins, and showrunner Steven Moffat has revealed it’s “one of Neil’s creepiest ideas ever.”

But what were some of Gaiman’s most frightening Doctor Who memories? As a fan from the tender age of 3, he revealed ‘The Web Planet’ had the kind of effect on him that the Weeping Angels must do for kids today. “I remember hiding behind the sofa at my grandparents’ house and watching the Doctor and these giant ants and things like that.”

The giant ants in The Web Planet terrified Neil Gaiman as a child
The giant ants in The Web Planet (1965) terrified Neil Gaiman as a child

Everyone has a particular Doctor that epitomises the role and for Gaiman, it was the Second incarnation played by Patrick Troughton (1966-1969). “He was my favourite Doctor,” he tells us. “He just seemed nice. He was terribly competent, and he knew more than anybody else about what was going on.

“There was something funny and sweet about him even though he was getting involved in all these high-jinks and even though you have these silent Cybermen invading the moon and giant yetis in the subways. Somehow you feel that if you were with him, everything would be okay. I definitely hoped that if the TARDIS were to land in my back garden and I went off as a companion, it would be with him because I would probably be alright.”

Doctor Who returns with ‘The Bells Of Saint John’ on 30 March 2013. You can read our spoiler-free preview of the episode here, or read about Neil Gaiman’s Radio 4 adaptation of Neverwhere here.