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Delgado, Roger (1918-1973)


Main image of Delgado, Roger (1918-1973)

Best remembered as the original Master in Doctor Who (BBC, 1963-1989, 2005-present), Roger Delgado's piercing eyes and sinister good looks ensured him a string of roles as suave yet untrustworthy foreigners. In reality he was a cockney by birth; an extremely shy man, most comfortable at home with his slippers and brandy.

Born in Whitechapel to a French mother and Spanish father, he joined the BBC in 1950, lending his cultured tones to numerous radio productions. His big-screen debut came with The Captain's Paradise (d. Anthony Kimmins, 1953), and he went on to appear in over 30 films. It was on television, however, that he had most impact, playing the duplicitous Mendoza in Sir Francis Drake (ABC, 1961-62). He appeared in many of the ITC action drama serials of the 1960s, and after being cast as the Master ("Moriarty to the Doctor's Holmes") in 1971, he came to rival lead actor Jon Pertwee in popularity.

Delgado had asked to be written out of the series when he travelled to Turkey to shoot his first comedy role in the (uncompleted) Bell of Tibet. He was killed when his taxi driver lost control of the vehicle and plunged into a ravine.

Richard Hewett

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