Anthony Ainley May 29, 2010 2:57:32 GMT 1
Post by Laurence on May 29, 2010 2:57:32 GMT 1
Best known to millions of television viewers as the satanically evil nemesis of The Doctor, Anthony Ainley as The Master was, in the best tradition of the pantomime villain whom the audience could boo and hiss at, the epitome of the scoundrel that everyone loved to hate. The Master was Abanazer to Doctor Who's Aladdin who used his evil genius and ability to hypnotise lesser minds with nothing more than a hypnotic gaze and if they didn't succumb to his will then he had a deadly weapon, a tissue compressor that killed by compressing the bodies of its targets to the size of a child's doll. In his pursuit of his villainous schemes The Master, like the Doctor, could regenerate himself and change his appearance.
The Master had already been established in Doctor Who during the Jon Pertwee era in the early 1970s. Played with sinister charm by Roger Delgado, The Master soon became a firm favourite with the programme's legion of fans. But Delgado's tragic and untimely death meant that the character was dropped from the show for a number of years until he was resurrected as an emaciated, decaying husk, at the end of his thirteenth and final life. Then in 1981 Doctor Who producer John Nathan Turner decided to bring The Master back in a fully regenerated form. To do so Anthony Ainley portrayed the character of Tremas of Traken, a kindly figure whose body The Master 'steals'. The fact that Anthony Ainley was able to re-establish the character in the footsteps of the highly regarded Roger Delgado was testament to his ability as an actor.
Anthony Holmes was born on August 20, 1932 in Stanmore, Middlesex. His first taste of acting came at the age of 11 when he sang in a school production of HMS Pinafore. It did not put him on the road to acting and on leaving school he worked as an insurance clerk. It was later that he decided to follow his family into the theatre. Although not named on his birth certificate, Anthony was the son of Henry Ainley, a Shakespearean actor famed for his beautiful speaking voice, good looks and charm. Anthony studied at RADA where he won the Fabia Drake Prize for Comedy. Upon graduating he went to work in rep at the Liverpool Playhouse. In 1964 he made his television debut as a police sergeant in It's Dark Outside. His swarthy looks won him a number of villainous roles in horror films, most notably Satan's Skin (1970) and Assault (1971).
On television he starred opposite Glenda Jackson in Elizabeth R (1971) and as Rev Emilius in Anthony Trollope's The Pallisers (1974), which led to his joining Doctor Who. "The Rev Emilius was a rather smarmy character," he once recalled. "The producer John Nathan Turner was working on it and remembered me when he took on Doctor Who. Later he asked me to play The Master. There was a similarity between the two characters. Both wore a superficial air of charm and dignity which concealed a wicked and sly nature underneath." Anthony wore little make-up for the part which he very quickly made his own. He continued, on and off, through 10 Doctor Who stories and the 20th-anniversary special, Doctor Who: The Five Doctors (1983). In "Survival", the last in the final series, the Master confronted the Doctor in a climactic duel after luring him to an alien planet where he was being enslaved by the Cheetah People and turning into one himself - unusually not able to control his own fate. Ainley subsequently appeared as the Master in the Doctor Who: Destiny of the Doctors CD-Rom video game (1998) and was a regular at fan conventions throughout the world where he was frequently mobbed by fans.
He had a good rapport with Tom Baker who had been coached in his early days as an actor by Anthony's brother Richard, who was a drama teacher. Coincidentally, his father had been Jon Pertwee's godfather while Anthony himself had been coached in an amateur production of Rookery Nook by first the Doctor, William Hartnell. For more than 40 years, Anthony enjoyed playing for the London Theatres Cricket Club team, who knew him as an enigmatic opening batsman whose unstinting passion for the sport meant that he would even turn down jobs rather than miss a game. Ainley never married, saying he valued his independence too much. He once listed his unfulfilled ambition as "to play with Faye Dunaway".
Anthony Ainley passed away on May 3, 2004 in London, aged 71.