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Peter Davison Autobiography - Is There Life Outside the Box? An Actor Despairs

Biography

The Basics
Birthname: Peter Malcolm Gordon Moffett
Stage Name: Peter Davison (required by Equity to avoid confusion with director/actor Peter Moffatt)
Birthdate: 13 April 1951
Birthplace: Streatham, London
Parents: Sheila and Claude Moffett
Sisters: Shirley, Barbara, and Pamela

Marriages
Diane J. Russell (1973–1975) (divorced)
Sandra Dickinson (1978–1994) (divorced)
Elizabeth Morton nee Heery (4 Aug 2003 - present) Elizabeth Morton nee Elizabeth Heery Website

Children
Georgia Moffett Tennant - born 1984 Georgia Moffett Tennant on IMDB
Louis Davison (birthname Louis Moffett) - born 1999 Louis Davison on IMDB
Joel James Davison (birthname Joel Moffett) - born 2001 Joel James Davison on IMDB

Grandchildren
Children of Georgia Moffett and David Tennant:
Ty Tennant (son of Georgia, birthname Ty Peter Moffett, adopted son of David Tennant) - born 2002 Ty Tennant on IMDB
Olive Tennant - born 2011
Wilfred Tennant - born 2013
Doris Tennant - born 2015
(baby's name not announced yet) Tennant - born 2019

Official Autobiography
Peter's autobiography "Is There Life Outside the Box? An Actor Despairs" was released on 6 Oct 2016. It can be ordered directly from the publisher or is also available on Amazon. John Blake Books

More or Less Linear Biography
Peter Davison, birthname Peter Moffett, was born in the Streatham district of London, England, on 13 April 1951. There he attended Granton Primary School. In 1961 Peter and his family - parents Sheila and Claude and his sisters Barbara, Pamela and Shirley - moved to Knaphill in Surrey, where Peter attended the Knaphill School. His interest in acting began there as he took part in school plays, and eventually joined an amateur dramatic society, the Byfleet Players. He gained three O-levels at Winston Churchill School, St. John’s, Woking, after which he did several odd jobs, including mortuary attendant, hospital porter and a Hoffman Press operator, before applying for a place at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, where he studied for three years. Graduating in 1972, his first job was as an actor and assistant stage manager at the Nottingham Playhouse, during which time Equity advised him to change his name to avoid confusion with director-actor Peter Moffatt (who later would direct Peter on “All Creatures Great and Small” and “Doctor Who”). He continued to work in several UK repertory companies for three years. In 1973, Peter married Diane Russell. The marriage ended in divorce two years later.

Peter's first work in television was in the episode “A Man for Emily” of “The Tomorrow People” in 1975, in which he played a space cowboy named Elmer, co-starring with Sandra Dickinson, an American actress, whom Peter later married in 1978. Deciding he wanted to focus on television rather than accept stage roles, Peter ended up working as a file clerk in a tax office in Twickenham for the next 18 months. His acting break came in 1977 playing lovesick suitor Tom Holland in the period drama “Love for Lydia”. But his real breakthrough role came next, playing the incorrigible, fun loving Tristan Farnon in “All Creatures Great and Small”. The series ran from 1978-1980, came back for a couple of Christmas specials and then returned from 1988-90. Peter Davison rapidly became a household name.

The 1980’s found Peter in high demand, with lead roles in two comedy sitcoms, “Holding the Fort” and “Sink or Swim”, highly disguised as the Dish of the Day in “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, and writing theme songs for a couple of tv series. In 1981 he was offered the iconic title role in the long running series “Doctor Who”, which he accepted even though it meant at first that he was actually doing three series simultaneously. His self doubts that he was too young for the role were soon dismissed as “Doctor Who” rapidly reversed the slump in ratings of the prior year. Following advice from former Doctor Patrick Troughton, plus his own instincts, Peter chose to work three years in the role, leaving in 1984. His swan song episode, “The Caves of Androzani”, is still considered one of the greatest, if not THE greatest episode in the history of “Doctor Who”. On Christmas day 1984, he became a father when wife Sandra Dickinson gave birth to their daughter, Georgia.

Any concerns about typecasting as the Doctor were dissolved as Peter immediately moved into the period BBC drama “Anna of the Five Towns”, then continued on to more television work over the next years in the unique series “A Very Peculiar Practice” (an often stated favorite of Peter’s), a return to the role of Tristan in “All Creatures Great and Small” specials and rebooted series, “Campion”, “Fiddlers Three”, “Ain’t Misbehavin’”, guest appearances on various television shows such as “Magnum PI” and “Miss Marple” and more, including roles in tv movie “Harnessing Peacocks” and the films “Black Beauty” and “Parting Shots”, plus returning as the Doctor in the 1993 DW 30th Anniversary special “Dimensions in Time”. He has continued his close association with “Doctor Who” through the present time.

His marriage crumbled and Peter and Sandra divorced in 1994. He continued working as a guest on tv series such as “Jonathan Creek” and “Hope and Glory”, was a presenter on BBC’s astronomy program “Heavenly Bodies”, and also performed in radio and theater for a number of shows.

The special features on Big Finish’s “The Secret History” provide a jolly recounting of the late ‘90s encounter when Peter Davison met his current wife Elizabeth Morton. They were wed in 2003.

How Peter and Elizabeth met...

PD: Hello my name is Peter Davison and I play the Fifth Doctor.
EM: Hello my name’s Elizabeth Morton and I play various voices and dying people….and…
PD: (laughing) …Plague victims…
EM: … plague victims, citizens mostly
PD: The original Meddling Monk was played by Peter Butterworth. And his son Tyler Butterworth is a good friend of both of ours. And in fact set us up… because we are now married … He set us up on a kind of blind date really. Well, that is, he invited us to dinner, and we met him at this restaurant. And when we sat down, he just went suddenly, “Oh, I’ve got a train to catch” and disappeared, and left us alone. And the consequences of that have been enormous for the… uh… for the nation.
(both laughing)
EM: I seem to remember you said that you needed to find a good piano teacher and I was having piano lessons at the time.
PD: Oh, that’s right yeah that was my…
EM: That was rather a kind of spurious in.
PD: Oh no, it was absolutely true and I must see you again because I need a new piano teacher.
(laughter)
PD: Anyhow so to continue our plug for the Davison Heery Morton household… We have two sons, and I’ve got a daughter, of course, as well… Georgia… who happens to be married to the Tenth Doctor… but our two sons have just been in theatre as well. One has been in “Richard III”… Martin Freeman’s “Richard III”… and the other was recently in “Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd” at the Orange Tree Theatre. And there was one night, I think the 27th of September… is that right?... when we were all on stage at the same time, because I’m doing a play called “The Vertical Hour”… So… the Davison Dynasty took over the West End.
EM: So the Meddling Monk you know…
PD: He’s got a lot to be responsible for…
EM: He’s got a lot to answer for...
PD: Peter Butterworth.



(photo "All Star Mr & Mrs", 7 Sept 2016)

Their son Louis was born in 1999, and son Joel in 2001. Both would like to be actors and, of course, to play the Doctor.

In 2000-2003, Peter returned to in a leading role as David Braithwaite in the highly successful comedy (or possibly quirky tragedy) “At Home with the Braithwaites”, another often mentioned favorite role of his. That same year he acted with future son-in-law David Tennant in the first of three episodes he did for “The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries”. Next up were roles as Dangerous Davies in the highly popular series “The Last Detective” (2003-2007) and Dr. Bill Shore in “Distant Shores” (2005/2008). Other tv programs from the 2000s included lead roles in “The Complete Guide to Parenting”, “Fear, Stress and Anger”; a major role in tv movie “Unforgiven”, guest roles in “Hardware”, “Agatha Christie’s Marple”, “Midsomer Murders”, and memorable cameos in “Micro Men” and “The Queen”, plus doing radio and audio work for BBC and Big Finish, plus again returning to the theater for several productions, including his performance as King Arthur in “Spamalot” and the unpleasant Prof. Callahan in the long running hit “Legally Blonde the Musical” (2009-2012).

In 2010-2014, while still appearing in “Legally Blonde” on stage, Peter also appeared back on television as Henry Sharpe, Director of the Crown Prosecution Service, on “Law and Order: UK”, plus guesting on several other series. In 2013, the 50th Anniversary of “Doctor Who”, Peter was kept very busy with personal appearances, Big Finish tales, and writing, directing and acting in his own brilliant 50th Anniversary tribute video, “The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot”.

In 2015 Peter joined the cast of the hit West End musical “Gypsy” in the role of Herbie, for which he was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical. Three new Fifth Doctor adventures were recently released in 2016 by Big Finish.

Peter's long awaited autobiography, entitled, "Is There Life Outside the Box? An Actor Despairs", was released 6 October 2016. It is now available from the publisher or from Amazon or Amazon UK. Here are some book-related comments from Peter...

Peter comments from a BBC Radio Wales interview with Aled Jones
It’s been interesting, because, when you get to my age, you know, your life sort of fragments. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle. I remember moments, but then you kind of forget the order they came in. And so it’s been reassembling my life.
.....
I hope to have a little subtitle which I was very keen on which says “An Actor Despairs”,
because at drama school... when you go to drama school, you always get given a book,
and one of the books you carry around is Stanislavski’s “An Actor Prepares”, and I just thought, “An Actor Despairs”. The logic to it is... and people say, “well, have you got any writing to spare”, but oddly actors are always in that position because you can always look at yourself as being a failure or a success. I’m not a movie star, you know... so even movie stars, if they don’t get that latest role, despair. Their life is over. It’s foolish and silly, but you know I think everyone feels that way.
.....
I guess I haven’t done badly, and I’m very happy.

Peter comments from Gallifrey One 2016 Peter Davison panel:
It's going to be possibly the most boring book you've ever read, because (a) I'm trying not to make anything up. And when I've talked to other people who've written their autobiographies, they just say 'oh, make it up.' But what's the point of that? So I'm trying not to make anything up, which makes just me telling the truth in an amusing way rather difficult sometimes. But I am writing it myself... which again, I'm not a writer... is quite hard.

Peter comments from FanX16 Peter Davison panel:
I don't know what it'll be like 'cause I'm doing it myself... (discusses how others use ghostwriters)... It may be terrible but at least I've written it.
(My comment back to him: It will not be terrible!)

On his Twitter account:
Be afraid, be very afraid.


Links to the complete referenced interviews:
BBC Wales interview with Aled Jones
Gallifrey One 2016 Peter Davison panel
2016 FanX16 Peter Davison Q&A

Link to a Bella magazine article (2000) on Peter which features some early photographs:
Doctor Who Cuttings Archive - Peter Davison At Home with the Braithwaites star

Post-Autobiography
Recently, Peter has just completed a guest appearance on "Grantchester", roles in a film "End of Term", a film "Patrick", and the tv miniseries "Liar". He was also a contestant (with wife Elizabeth) on "All Star Mr and Mrs" and a participant on ITV's "Sugar Free Farm". He also did a cameo performance in daughter Georgia'a film "You, Me and Him". As of October 2019, he still has several unreleased film/tv projects including Dream Horse, The Trial of Christine Keeler, and End of Term.

Recently Peter has had a guest appearance on "Vera", a scene stealing cameo role in "Say My Name", a voiceover narration in "The Name of the Rose", and a supporting role in the mini-series "Gentleman Jack". He has just completed a second series of episodes for "Great British Car Journeys" (aka "Vintage Roads Great and Small") with his "All Creatures" co-star Christopher Timothy; while simultaneously filming a six part mini series called "Life". He also continues his work with Big Finish, and appears at numerous conventions. Stay tuned.

Peter Davison on The Wright Stuff
It's almost like they are people who've had the evil gene removed from them.
Peter is a long-time supporter of the
Down's Syndrome Association.
Their official website can be found here:
Down's Syndrome Association

He spoke eloquently and passionately on the subject on "The Wright Stuff" (6 Oct 2016), which you can view here:
The Wright Stuff .


Resources: IMDB, Wikipedia, British Film Institute, Big Finish, Convention Appearances

Page updated 14 October 2019
 


Peter Davison and Diane Russell on the bus to the Isle of Wight Festival 1969
Photo: Peter Davison via Herald Scotland


Peter Davison with daughter Georgia Moffett

Peter Davison with
daughter Georgia Moffett




Sandra Dickinson and Peter Davison
with daughter Georgia




Peter Davison and Elizabeth Morton




Family at home 2011
Photo: Peter Davison via Herald Scotland




Peter with sons
Louis and Joel in
"Five(ish) Doctors Reboot"


Peter Davison and Georgia Moffett

Peter with Georgia
on his opening night in "Gypsy"
Photo: Getty Images




Elizabeth and Peter
"All Star Mr and Mrs"
2016
     
A Message from Peter You can have your regrets in some way, but everything that happens to you that's bad actually contributes to who you are.
 
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