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"I don't sell mines, Doctor. I sell planets!"

September 8th, 2009 (12:06 am)

The Times reports the death of the actor Iain Cuthbertson. They emphasise his leading role in Sutherland's Law in the mid-1970s, and his portrayal of Charlie Endall in Budgie and Charles Endall Esquire, but (as well as being Father in the 1970 film The Railway Children) he is also remembered for telefantasy roles, such as the laird who is sceptical about the merits of the return of hydroelectric power in the final episode of Survivors, and Garron, the conman from Hackney Wick let loose on the galaxy, in Doctor Who's The Ribos Operation.

It's long been a point of fan conjecture, based on anecdotes and other hints, that Iain Cuthbertson was cast as Garron on the understanding that, if Tom Baker didn't turn up for work at the start of season 16, Cuthbertson would clear his schedule and take over as the Doctor.[1] I don't know what a Cuthbertson Doctor would have been like, but he had a certain screen presence which shows some promise.

[1]A similar arrangement might have been made with Geoffrey Bayldon, who played Organon in The Creature from the Pit, the first story of season 17 to be recorded, the next year.

ETA How could I forget his appearance in Children of the Stones?