Ahhh, the classic British sitcom. A reminder of a bygone era in which the laughter was canned, the situations were highly contrived and the comedy was often cosier than the couches the characters inevitably parked themselves on. An impressive array of big names have slipped through the rift over the years, travelling from the sitcom world to sci-fi territory. Cult Spy
explores the presence of these folks in Doctor Who
Most recently, comedy legend Richard Briers briefly played a dying millionaire in Torchwood
in a far more sedate performance than his bizarre OTT turn as The Chief Caretaker in the underrated 1987 Sylvester McCoy story 'Paradise Towers'. His former sitcom wives are certainly benefiting from the Doctor Who
revival, with The Good Life's
Felicity Kendal also appearing in an upcoming Agatha Christie-themed story. Courtesy of an earlier Slitheen invasion, Briers' Ever Decreasing Circles
wife Penelope Wilton starred as the increasingly tired MP and Prime Minister Harriet Jones alongside both Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant.Torchwood's
superb second series has also witnessed Liver Bird
Nerys Hughes playing both an alien shapeshifter and Rhys's equally poisonous mother. Like Briers, her first foray into the 'Whoniverse' occurred back in the 80s, when she played scientific officer Todd in the 1982 story 'Kinda', in which she battled a giant inflatable snake called The Mara. Pauline Collins, whom Hughes replaced in The Liver Birds
, helped Patrick Troughton investigate 'The Faceless Ones' in 1967 and took on David Tennant as Queen Victoria in 'Tooth And Claw'.
Who would have thought that Trigger from Only Fools and Horses
would mastermind the return of the Cybermen? Roger Lloyd Pack's 2006 turn as the dastardly John Lumic came thirty years after Boycie actor John Challis' appearance as evil henchman Scorby in the Fourth Doctor adventure 'The Seeds of Doom'. Whatever next? We await Denzil's resurrection of the Sea Devils and Mickey Pearce digging the Krotons out of their slime for another crack at universal domination.
The Third Doctor said 'Allo 'Allo!
to actress Carmen Silvera - aka Rene's tone deaf wife Edith - during the 'Invasion of the Dinosaurs'. His successor soon encountered the wartime comedy's friendly Nazi Lieutenant Gruber in 'Genesis of the Daleks', with Guy Siner portraying Kaled military leader Ravon.
The 1983 Peter Davison romp 'Snakedance', featuring the return of the aforementioned inflatable serpent, was notable for Men Behaving Badly's
Martin Clunes camping it up as an arrogant young swine with Pat Butcher earrings called Lon, starring alongside Bread's
Jonathon Morris as the far kinder Chela.
Before suffering from Hyacinth Bucket's domineering ways as husband Richard on Keeping Up Appearances
, Clive Swift portrayed creepy embalmer Jobel opposite Colin Baker in the twenty-second season story 'Revelation of the Daleks'. In the following series, Geoffrey Hughes played the equally sinister Mr Popplewick in 'The Ultimate Foe' - fortunately wearing more clothing than the string vest he was to become famous for as Hyacinth's brother-in-law Onslow. Swift returned to the show in the recent Christmas special 'Voyage of the Damned' as the benevolent alien Mr Copper, last seen roaming the wastelands in South London. In the same story, Butterflies
and As Time Goes By
veteran Geoffrey Palmer played the ship's doomed skipper Captain Hardacre. The actor had earlier featured in two Jon Pertwee tales - 'The Silurians' and 'The Mutants'.
Palmer made a memorable appearance as a sausage-obsessed diner in Fawlty Towers
, but that show's creator and star John Cleese also left a lasting impression on Doctor Who
fans for his hilarious 1979 cameo as an art aficionado in 'City Of Death'. In the Louvre, the former Basil Fawlty comments on the exquisite nature of a distinctive blue box that he mistakes for an exhibit, only for it to dematerialise right in front of him. Now if only Manuel could have been a companion instead of Adric...