10 'What Ifs' That Could Have Changed The Course Of Doctor Who

5. Roger Delgado Didn€™t Die

TheMasterdelgado At first, it would appear that the untimely death of Roger Delgado (the first actor to play the Master) in 1973 only caused the part of the Master to be recast. But when you scratch the surface, you€™ll find it runs deeper than that. Because the strange truth is that Delgado€™s tragic passing stopped the Master from being permanently written out. By the end of the Jon Pertwee era, Whovians were suffering from serious Master fatigue. He had appeared in 37 of Jon Pertwee€™s 128 episodes and was fast becoming overused. So the decision was made to make Jon Pertwee€™s last story The Final Game the Master€™s swansong as well, with him dying in an attempt to save the Doctor. But then came the news that Roger Delgado had died in a car crash in Turkey and a drastic rethink was needed. The Final Game was replaced with a new story titled Planet Of The Spiders, resulting in the Master€™s last appearance being at the end of the 1973 story Frontier In Space where he was seen escaping from a taskforce of Daleks. The Master was next seen in 1976€™s The Deadly Assassin where he was at the end of his final Regeneration and was played by Peter Pratt in heavy makeup. This incarnation of the Master next appeared in 1981€™s The Keeper Of Traken where he stole the body of a Trakenite named Tremas and once again became a recurring character, this time played by Anthony Ainley, and appeared infrequently until the programme€™s cancellation in 1989. Were it not for Delgado€™s premature death, it€™s entirely possible that the Master€™s story would have ended in 1974. Villains from the Classic Series are frequently being revived so it€™s more likely that he still would have returned at some point through the use of some kind of timey wimey plot device but he wouldn€™t have had the appearances after 1973 that made him a permanent fixture in Doctor Who€™s catalogue of villains.
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JG Moore is a writer and filmmaker from the south of England. He also works as an editor and VFX artist, and has a BA in Media Production from the University Of Winchester.